Sen. Witkos: Board of Regents Should Revoke Shankar’s CCSU Promotion

May 14, 2014

Hartford – State Senator Kevin Witkos (R-Canton) released the following statement today re: the promotion of Ravi Shankar, poet in residence at Central Connecticut State University, to full professorship while in jail. This story was reported by Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie on his blog earlier today:

“I was shocked and appalled to learn that Ravi Shankar was promoted by our state Board of Regents as he currently sits in prison. I am calling on Gregory Gray, Board of Regents President, to immediately reverse the decision to promote Shankar to full professorship,” said Senator Witkos.

“The students at our state universities work hard and contribute a significant amount of resources to fund their education. They deserve to receive an education from high quality professors that make education a priority. They should not be funding benefits for anyone who disrespects our state laws and harms others.

“While I believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, I don’t believe we should reward people until all the facts are in. It’s simple logic. When you go directly to jail, you do not get to pass go, you do not get to collect that $200. That applies to real life too. Our state should not be funding a pay raise and extending a benefits package to someone who has allegedly violated the law repeatedly.

“The Board of Regents’ ethics statement says that it is important for employees to, ‘conduct themselves with the highest degree of honor and integrity and understand that public service is a public trust.’ This ethics commitment has been broken by Shankar, and by those who promoted him today. To gain back the trust of the public, President Gray should revoke this promotion until we have all the facts,” said Witkos.

According to the state’s transparency website, Shankar’s salary as an associate professor in fiscal year 2013 was $70,896.80. Criminal charges pending against Shankar in Connecticut include criminal impersonation, violation of probation, and illegal operation of a motor vehicle while under suspension.

In a statement published by The Recorder of Central Connecticut State University in August of 2012 after his third arrest, Shankar stated, “I take seriously my responsibilities as an educator and a role mode, and am deeply distraught at the concatenation of bad luck and worse judgment that has wrought such havoc on all that I hold dear.”

Senator Witkos reflected on these words, “As the father of a high school student headed to college soon, this is not the type of role model I want for my child.”

Senator Witkos also extended his gratitude for the investigative journalism that broke this story, “I want to thank Kevin Rennie for his impressive and fast work on this issue. It is unsettling to hear this news, but I appreciate the sharing of this information for the greater public good,” he said.