CSU reduces salaries for chancellor, campus presidents

At the request of Gov. M. Jodi Rell, Connecticut State University System trustees Monday reduced the size of raises granted this month to Chancellor David G. Carter and the presidents of CSU’s four campuses.

The officials were allowed to keep 5 percent cost-of-living increases, but the Board of Trustees Executive Committee rescinded an additional raise of about 5 percent that was considered a “pay equity” adjustment based on a consultant’s compensation study.

The committee is expected to meet again later this week to consider similar reductions for other top non-union managers who also received the pay adjustments.

Rell last week asked the trustees to cut the raises, calling them “excessive” and “intolerable” in light of the state’s fiscal crisis.

She also said she will order a study of the possible elimination of the central office of the 36,500-student system.

The governor took the action a day after the Mirror disclosed that raises, some as large as 10 percent, had been granted to non-union managers.

The pay hikes for top officials were granted despite a letter from Rell earlier this month asking CSU, the University of Connecticut and the state’s community college system to forgo raises for non-union managers during an economic slump that has resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs statewide. The state is projecting a budget deficit of nearly $3.4 billion for fiscal year 2012.

Neither UConn nor the community college system has raised pay for non-union managers so far this year.

The raises at CSU angered some legislators, including a leading Republican lawmaker who called Monday for Carter’s ouster. The raises “represent a callous and irresponsible abuse of power and a complete disregard for the students and families enrolled in our state universities,” Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield said in a letter to CSU Board of Trustees Chairman Karl J. Krapek.

Beneficiaries of the raises included Cheryl Norton, who is on paid sabbatical after being forced from her job as Southern Connecticut State University president by Carter, and Stanley Battle, her interim replacement. Battle took over at Southern last month.

Krapek said Monday’s action was limited to only the chancellor and presidents, based on a request from Rell in a telephone call Friday. The meeting agenda had been set, he said, before he received a letter from Rell later Friday with additional requests.

In her letter, Rell also asked Krapek to reduce “pay equity” adjustments for other top non-union managers and to eliminate entirely the raises granted to Norton and Battle. In addition to the chancellor and presidents, 63 other managers were given the pay adjustments on top of cost-of-living increases, officials said.

In a statement issued late Monday afternoon, Rell said she was grateful the trustees reduced the raises for Carter and the presidents but “disappointed they did not rescind such raises for nearly 70 other well-compensated employees and I am most disturbed that they did not cancel the regular cost-of-living pay raises for a president who is out on sabbatical and her replacement, who has been on the payroll a few weeks.”

She said, however, the board’s Executive Committee has agreed to meet again this week to address those issues.

In its 20-minute meeting by teleconference Monday, several members of the committee said that the pay adjustments had been part of an effort to make sure that salaries of top officials remain competitive with those at comparable universities. Nevertheless, the committee voted 5-1 to rescind that portion of the raises.

The pay adjustments — the third phase of increases based on a 2006 study — had been delayed last year but went into effect this month, Krapek said.

The only dissenting vote came from John Doyle, who said it had been “a long, slogging fight to get these salary levels up close to where we want them… Whatever the fiscal condition of the state and the universities, if we aren’t able to attract sound leadership in the future, we will suffer.”

Committee member Ronald Pugliese, however, said the university has been able to attract and hire “very, very qualified people” over the past few years. “I do believe we should continue to increase salaries commensurate with the abilities of the people that we have retained but …  I do think we need to take very serious consideration of the state’s fiscal condition,” he said.

As a result of Monday’s action, Carter’s annual base salary was reduced to $380,869. Battle’s salary was reduced to $294,460, and the salaries of the other presidents were reduced to $299,460.