Top education officials refute MCC president’s memo about buyouts

Three top higher education officials are strongly refuting a report that the state’s 12 community college presidents risk termination if they do not accept a buyout offer by the end of the month.

Michael Meotti, executive vice president of the state college system, and the co-chairs of the legislature’s Higher Education Committee all are directly contradicting information one college president told her faculty in an email Monday afternoon.

“Here’s what the community college presidents were told by Steve Weinberg, Vice President of Human Resources, at a meeting on September 24th,” wrote Gena Glickman, president of Manchester Community College:

“1. All twelve community college presidents were offered a buy-out option that must be confirmed by October 31, 2012.

2. Presidents contracts are in place until the end of June 2013.

3. After October 31st, a decision will be made to renew or not renew contracts for those presidents who do not accept the buyout option.”

Glickman, who has been Manchester’s president for four years, declined to comment further and referred all questions to Robert A. Kennedy, the president of the college system at the Board of Regents. Glickman’s office would not provide any documentation to substantiate the accuracy of her statement.

Calls and emails to the other 11 community college presidents were not returned Monday or Tuesday.

After reports began to surface about the buyout referenced in Glickman’s email, the co-chairwomen of the Higher Education Committee met at the state Capitol complex Monday and said that Glickman’s email was “blatantly inaccurate.”

“There is no truth to this rumor,” state Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, the co-chairwoman of the committee, said about reducing the number of presidents.

“I was furious when I first heard this. But I was assured there are no plans to phase out these positions,” said Rep. Roberta Willis, D-Salisbury, the other chairwoman.

When the community colleges were merged into one system with the state’s four four-year state colleges, Willis said she was assured that there would always be a president for each community college.

“That hasn’t changed,” she said.

Meotti said he has seen Glickman’s email and said that there are no plans to eliminate the positions of the presidents. He added that any individual college president’s routine evaluation would be the basis for non-renewal, not another reorganization.

“These positions will exist. Getting rid of them does not square with what we are doing,” he said. “This is a very unfortunate distraction to the educational work we are trying to achieve.”

He noted that there has been some resistance among some college leaders to implement a new state law that will limit when college freshmen can be forced to take, and pay for, non-credit remedial courses.