CSU reduces raises for top managers

Connecticut State University officials reduced raises for more than 60 high-ranking managers Friday in response to criticism from Gov. M. Jodi Rell but took no action on Rell’s request to rescind raises for two campus presidents.

The managers, including officials at CSU’s four campuses and at system headquarters in Hartford, had been given pay increases of 8 percent in June, raises that Rell called “excessive” and “intolerable” in light of the state’s fiscal crisis.

The officials will keep 5 percent cost-of-living increases, but the CSU System Board of Trustees Executive Committee rescinded an additional raise of 3 percent that was considered a “pay equity” adjustment based on a consultant’s compensation study.

CSU officials have defended the raises, saying they were part of an effort to keep salaries competitive with those at other universities.

Earlier this week, the committee also reduced raises of 10 percent for system Chancellor David G. Carter and the campus presidents – cancelling a 5 percent pay equity adjustment but allowing them to keep a 5 percent cost-of-living increase.

Rell had asked CSU to eliminate the pay equity adjustments for Carter and the presidents at three of CSU’s campuses and to wipe out the entire raises for President Cheryl Norton, who is on paid sabbatical leave from Southern Connecticut State University, and her interim replacement, Stanley Battle.

On Friday, however, the board’s Executive Committee tabled a motion to rescind Norton’s raise after receiving a letter from Norton’s lawyer saying any reduction would violate a separation agreement signed after Norton was forced out of her job last fall.

“This virtually assures if we grant the governor’s request we’ll be sued,” Karl J. Krapek, chairman of the CSU Board of Trustees, said during the committee’s teleconference meeting.

The committee also was told by David Trainor, the chancellor’s executive assistant, that a salary reduction for Battle would violate a longstanding university policy establishing the salaries for campus presidents.

Battle had been on the job only a few weeks when the presidents of all four CSU campuses received the raises along with other non-union administrators and managers.

“We made the policies in good faith, but we also didn’t realize what the state of the economy was going to be today,” trustee Theresa Eberhard Asch said during a discussion of the governor’s request. The meeting, however, ended without a motion on Battle’s raise.

The governor’s office issued a statement later praising the reduction of raises for managers but blasting the board’s decision not to act on the raises for Norton or Battle.

The governor “still considers it utterly unacceptable that unaffordable salary increases are being paid to a highly paid university president who is not working and to a highly paid university president who is only a few weeks into the job,” said Rich Harris, a spokesman for Rell. “The failure of trustees to resolve this situation is disturbing, to say the least.”

The raises had already been granted when Rell issued a letter 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.

At CSU, the pay adjustments – the third phase of increases based on a 2006 study of administrative pay – had been delayed last year but went into effect this month. Salaries of union and non-union employees were frozen last year, and university officials have said non-union managers’ salaries will be frozen again in fiscal 2012 because of the state’s budget crisis.

The annual base salary for presidents at CSU’s Central, Eastern and Western campuses is $299,460. Under university policy, Battle, as a new president, receives $5,000 less. The base salaries of 63 other managers whose salaries were adjusted Friday range from $118,001 to $241,074.