Statement on the new President of the Board of Regents for Higher Education

May 16, 2013

Hartford, CT – State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) released the following statement today re: The Connecticut Board of Regents approval of the recommendation of Dr. Gregory W. Gray as the system’s new president.

“The Board of Regents (BOR) choice of Gregory Gray as the new President of the Connecticut Board of Regents is the first step in what I expect to be a new chapter for higher education in Connecticut.

“Gray the former Chancellor of the Riverside Community College District in California, a system with three community colleges and more than 2,000 employees will now oversee the BOR which governs 12 community colleges, four state universities and the state’s online institution.

“Gray has written about the subject ‘when leaders don’t lead.’ According to Gray, ‘the problem is not about money, programs, or performance, but a lack of leadership. He urged his students to be leaders who define reality for the people they lead, to be risk-takers, and to cultivate autonomous action.’

“I find this refreshing and have great hope that this new president will reinvigorate the culture in the central office, improve morale and bring sound financial management practices of its resources.

“Last fall, the board’s former president, resigned amid controversy after he handed out unauthorized pay increases for staff members totaling $250,000 and garnered a $350,000 salary, $25,000 in un-vouchered expenses, a nearly $40,000 car and other generous benefits while working ‘remotely’, from out of state for six weeks and a $25,000 performance bonus last summer for his ‘good work.’
“As a ranking member on the higher education committee I along with my colleagues, were outraged at the excessive compensation and power grab given to by the Governor’s office to this appointee and asked for his resignation.

“We also have proposed and passed new oversight legislation of the board of regents system to end such abuse in the higher education system. Included are two new policies: one addresses who appoints the president. Previously, it was the Governor.

House Bill 6648: AN ACT CONCERNING THE BOARD OF REGENTS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION ; would permit the Board of Regents for Higher Education to appoint its own president, who shall serve at the pleasure of the board.

“I and my higher education committee co-chairs, along with Senate Minority Pro-Tempore, Len Fasano crafted the second piece of legislation. The new provision requires the BOR and the Board of Trustees for the University of Connecticut to go before the legislature with their budget expenditures, revenue and reserves.

“As the administration has stated, there are some lessons to be learned from some of the mistakes that were made by individuals in the regents system. I hope that these measures will mean a fresh start for a board that is in charge of a very important component of our state’s economy – the higher education of our citizens.

“These new policies will have the potential to have our higher education system function in a less political manner and better reflect best practices in good governance.”

(Senator Boucher is ranking member of both the Higher Education and Education Committees and Transportation represents the towns of Wilton, Bethel, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, New Canaan and Redding.)

Dr. Gray’s new contract includes an annual salary of $380,000 and use of a state vehicle along with the standard benefits of a state worker. Dr. Gray would also receive $25,000 for moving and temporary housing expenses related to his family’s move from California to Connecticut. This money will be reimbursed to Dr. Gray after providing receipts for qualifying expenses. The term of his employment will be three years and the Board of Regents will review Dr. Gray’s performance annually, without contractually stipulated financial incentives. He begins July 1.