In a move that would have been unthinkable only two weeks ago, executive vice president Michael Meotti has stepped down from the state’s higher education system.
The announcement was made early Friday evening amid a tumultuous day that also saw the resignation of the system’s president, Robert Kennedy. Meotti’s departure came only days after it was publicly disclosed that he had received a raise of more than $48,000 at a time when many other state employees have been undergoing a wage freeze.
Meotti, a former Democratic state senator from Glastonbury who has since moved to West Hartford, has been earning more than $180,000 per year, and his raise pushed the level to more than $230,000 per year. The pay raise became effective in June, but few in state government knew about it until this week.
Meotti wrote to interim president Philip E. Austin that he did “not want to be a distraction to the important change agenda across our seventeen colleges and universities.”
Austin, the former UConn president who came under fire over widespread building and fire-code violations in the UConn 2000 projects, is now running the system along with Board of Regents chairman Lewis J. Robinson.
“Mike’s decision to leave the Board of Regents is one that, while unfortunate because of his years of higher education and public policy experience, will help us move forward from the events of the past few days to focus on the critical issues at hand – moving an aggressive change agenda to ensure the success and the support of our students. We both thank Mike for his work in Connecticut’s higher education community and wish him well,” Robinson and Austin said in a joint statement.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said that credit should go to both Meotti and Kennedy, who was recruited by Malloy from the University of Maine. Kennedy had intended to retire, but he came to Connecticut to work with Malloy in a $340,000 per year job.
“As I said earlier today, there have been many accomplishments at the Board over the last year. And, like Bob Kennedy, Mike deserves a lot of credit for the meaningful changes that took place during his time as Executive Vice President,” Malloy said in a statement.
“Mike’s had a long, distinguished career in public service, in several capacities. Mike shares our view that one of our most pressing obligations is to make sure that all of our young people have the opportunity to pursue a meaningful higher education. During his time at the Board, Mike worked hard to help Connecticut meet that obligation and I want to thank him for his service.
“It’s my hope that with the resignations announced today, the Board can take the time it needs to figure out what went wrong, why it went wrong, and what needs to be done to make sure nothing like this happens again. The implementation of the reforms I proposed, the legislature passed and I signed into law last year need to continue. I also hope these announcements will allow the distractions to end so that we can all refocus our attention where it belongs: on the students.”