Should Board of Regents pay two presidents at once? [CT Post]

September 9, 2015

CT Post

Seemingly never without controversy, State Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, a ranking member of the General Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, has taken issue with the Board of Regent’s apparent intention to pay for two presidents at once.

Outgoing President Gregory Gray is leaving at the end of December. Incoming Interim President Mark Ojakian is planning to step into the job on September 28.

Board of Regent Chair Nicholas M. Donofrio said his intention is to reduce Gray to the role of an advisor but presumably while still collecting his $380,000 annual salary.

To that, Witkos, who did the math and figures it will cost the state an additional $95,000 by paying two leaders at once, released the following statement:

“The wastefulness and inefficiency of the Board of Regents has never been more evident than now. Why is the Board of Regents paying two huge salaries for the same job at the same time? It’s ridiculous. President Gray failed to make the Board of Regents successful. So he resigns, gets replaced and still gets to keep collecting his paycheck for three months? What world are they living in? If Dr. Gray is truly being kept around to ‘advise’ on special projects I hope to see a detailed report on all of these as well as monthly updates highlighting exactly what taxpayers are getting from two president salaries.

“The Board of Regents is like a tape worm, eating up more and more taxpayer funds every day. There’s no limit. Money is being poured in, and it’s quickly absorbed in salaries before it even comes close to reaching our students. This is another example of repeated, outrageous wasteful habits, and shows why the Board of Regents is thoroughly flawed. Our schools and our students deserve better.”

The board oversees 17 colleges and universities in the state. Since it was created at Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s insistence with approval from the General Assembly in 2011, the system lost one president to scandal for giving out unauthorized raises and is losing Gray after he fell out of favor with both faculty and lawmakers. Ojakian is taking on the role after having served as Malloy’s chief of staff.