Malloy: CSU’s Krapek may have read ‘the writing on the wall’

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday he did not seek the resignation of the chairman of Connecticut State University System’s Board of Trustees, but said he wasn’t surprised by Karl Krapek’s decision in light of CSU’s “real tough year.”

“I can certainly understand given the trials and trepidations of that board and some of the decisions they’ve made in the last year that he opted to resign,” Malloy said. “I think everyone is capable of reading the writing on the wall, and sometimes that writing doesn’t exist but maybe they’re just ahead of it.”

Malloy said he did ask for resumes of members of various boards, including CSU’s, with an eye to eventual reorganization. “How that got interpreted, or what people thought of that, I cannot control,” he said.

Krapek resigned abruptly Wednesday morning in a “special emergency meeting” held last minute through a teleconference. Krapek has been on the Board of Trustees for the last 16 years and chairman for the last 2 years.

Sources who participated in the 12-minute conference call said Krapek said he had been asked by Higher Education Commission Michael Meotti to step down.

In an interview Thursday, Meotti said any conversations he might have had with Krapek were a personnel issue that he would not discuss. He also refused to comment on a news report that suggested Malloy dirtected him to seek Krapek’s resignation, but said the governor wouldn’t have had to take that step.

malloy meotti

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (l) and Higher Education Commissioner Michael Meotti at a commissioners meeting Tuesday

“If the governor wants to change leadership at CSU, he can do that,” Meotti said. “His office didn’t have to get a resignation to decide who would be chairman.”

Krapek’s term as a trustee would have expired July 1, 2013. Malloy will get to appoint five trustees and a new chairman to the 14-voting-member board in his first year in office.

The surprise announcement came after a tumultuous year for CSUS, and particularly for Krapek and Chancellor David Carter, who announced his resignation in September.

Carter and the trustees were criticized by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and other state officials late last year after disclosure that top CSUS officials–including Carter and the system’s four university presidents–had been given raises of up to 10 percent despite Rell’s request for moderation in light of the state’s financial problems. The board later reduced the raises to 5 percent.

Carter and Krapek also had been at the center of a controversy over the ouster of former Southern Connecticut State University president Cheryl Norton earlier in the year. Her removal came only weeks after the trustees approved a policy allowing Carter to remove presidents without a vote of the Board of Trustees and with only the consent of the board chairman.

Norton’s removal was the subject of a tense hearing last spring before a legislative committee, where some lawmakers contended that Carter had usurped the power of the board. The board later rescinded the removal policy.

In the aftermath of the controversies, state officials are reviewing the organization and governance of CSUS with an eye to achieving savings.

Krapek did not return calls or emails seeking comment.

In his resignation letter to Malloy Krapek gave no reason for his immediate departure.

“At this time, as you begin your administration leading our state, I hereby tender my resignation from the Board, effective at your pleasure,” he wrote.