All trustees to vote on key issues

The Connecticut State University System Board of Trustees revised a controversial policy Thursday that had led some members to complain they were being been left out of crucial personnel decisions.

The board agreed that all members – not just the board’s Executive Committee – would vote on policies and procedures covering performance reviews, compensation and other matters involving the university’s chancellor and presidents.

Under a policy adopted in 2007, that authority rested solely in the hands of the board’s Executive Committee, but the policy came under fire earlier this year during a legislative hearing on the dismissal of Southern Connecticut State University President Cheryl Norton.

At issue then was the committee’s decision in late 2009 to allow Chancellor David G. Carter to remove campus presidents without a vote of the board and with the consent only of the board chairman.

That policy was adopted only weeks before Carter notified Norton that she would be removed. Some board members had said they were not aware of Carter’s decision to remove Norton until after she had resigned.

At last spring’s hearing, board member Gail Williams told lawmakers that she and other members sometimes had been left out of key decisions by the Executive Committee, describing that committee as the “A  Team” and the rest of the board as the “B Team.”

Eight of the board’s 18 members are on the Executive Committee.

The policy on removing presidents has been the subject of criticism by lawmakers and others and is under review by the CSUS Board of Trustees. It is expected to be discussed at the board’s next meeting in October.

The policy also is under review by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who received a request earlier this year from the leaders of the legislature’s Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee asking for clarification of the policy.

Blumenthal said Thursday he expects to issue his report soon.

“I am pleased that the Connecticut State University System implemented recommendations I made recently to Chancellor Carter to restore the full board’s authority to make personnel decisions and change human resources policies,” he said in a press release in response to Thursday’s vote.

Board Chairman Karl Krapek said the reason for the vote was to engage the entire board in policy matters, particularly as the university confronts the state’s deepening fiscal crisis. “I think it’s more important that we move together as a full board and that this resolution will accomplish transparency and that spirit of teamwork,” he said.

He said he does not agree that board members were left out of decisions but that he has heard their complaints. “If this helps stop that feeling among some of them, it’s a good thing. . . . Hopefully, this helps participation and doesn’t give people the feeling they’re excluded.”

Williams said later she was surprised but pleased by the board’s vote.

“They needed to do the right thing, and they did,” she said. “We’re on our way to being one board again.”