Higher Ed Executive Uncertain About Future
For the second day in a row, the Senate’s top Republican called for embattled Board of Regents Executive Vice President Michael Meotti’s resignation. But following a Friday meeting with the governor’s chief advisers, Meotti said “we’ll see what happens.”
Sen. John McKinney’s second call for Meotti’s resignation came after the resignation of Board of Regents President Robert Kennedy Friday morning. But McKinney said Meotti should also step down for accepting a “secret” pay raise.
Kennedy bowed to bipartisan pressure after it revealed he handed out raises to his top executives without the approval of the 15-member board. But soon after Kennedy stepped down, McKinney released a press statement also calling for Meotti’s resignation for initially taking a $47,820 wage increase. He decided to forego that raise on Tuesday.
“His ability to lead our state’s higher education system has been irreparably damaged by his poor judgment in accepting a secret, unauthorized pay raise and his role in threatening to purge the community college system of its presidents and autonomy,” McKinney said. “I urge Mr. Meotti to resign and the Board of Regents to carefully, but expeditiously choose competent new leadership. There is no time to waste.”
McKinney called for a legislative inquiry into what went wrong at the newly-formed Board of Regents.
After a Friday meeting with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s top advisers, Meotti said the board was about to “embark on a transition” but did not say whether that transition would see the end of his employment.
“I’m going to work on the transition and we’ll see what happens,” Meotti told reporters.
Sen. Beth Bye, Co-chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee, said she thought the call for Meotti to step down was political and premature. With Kennedy, Bye said there was clear evidence like letters from Kennedy approving the raises. He’d also publicly admitted he didn’t seek approval from the board.
In Meotti’s case he was given a raise and then turned it back, Bye said.
“That’s all we know right now,” she said.
The Board of Regents will meet this afternoon at 2:30 p.m and will consider and take action to recommend an interim president to the governor. Bye said she hopes the board moves swiftly to find a suitable replacement for Kennedy, though she hopes that person’s salary isn’t as high.
Kennedy’s base pay was $340,000 a year and included a state vehicle. He also had opportunities to earn as much as $45,000 in bonuses. In addition to six weeks of “professional development” and more than two weeks of vacation.
Bye lamented that Kennedy’s poor judgment had overshadowed the good work the state has accomplished on higher education.