Board of Regents for Higher Education Bill

April 18, 2013

Hartford, CT – State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) released the following statement today re: The state senate passage of HB 6648: AN ACT CONCERNING THE BOARD OF REGENTS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION. The bill would permit the Board of Regents for Higher Education to appoint its own president, who shall serve at the pleasure of the board.

“Current state law promoted and passed by the current Governor gives him the authority to hire or fire the president at any time. A power no previous governor has ever had. This Governor also proposed and passed a law that made the term of any President of the Board of Regents the same as that of the governor. This process is perceived as very political and works to reduce the interest and the number of new applicants.

“As we are currently experiencing, the unintended consequences of this change in policy has made the recruitment for a new president very difficult. The first president hired was forced to resign due to excessive compensation issues. Candidates for this office rightfully perceive that they are taking a big risk. If they assume the position as President of the Board of Regents and the governor no longer holds his office, any new President of the Board of Regents would be putting their position in jeopardy even if they were performing their duties in an exemplary fashion.

“As the administration stated last year, there are some lessons to be learned from some of the mistakes that were made by individuals in the regents system. This proposal is a good first step in implementing better oversight, transparency and accountability and may help to ensure that further abuses in compensation and governance practices in of the higher education system are avoided in the future. A full board should be benchmarking and reviewing executive contracts and salaries as well as perks such as unvouchered expenses.”

Senator Boucher is the ranking member on the Higher Education Committee. The senate passed the bill 28 to 8. The house passed the bill last week. The legislation now goes to the Governor for his signature.