Gubernatorial ally to become college system’s interim chief of staff

Deputy State Labor Commissioner Dennis Murphy, an administrator with longstanding ties to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, has been named the interim chief of staff for the state’s merged public college system.

Murphy, who was appointed Friday by Philip E. Austin, interim president for the Board of Regents for Higher Education, also will retain his labor title and split his time between the department and the college system.
The transition was reported Friday morning in an email sent by Labor Commissioner Sharon Palmer to her staff.

Murphy will spend 80 percent his time working for the regents’ system and approximately 20 percent of his time working for the labor department, according to the offer letter. Similarly, his compensation will be paid out of both agency budgets. The regents approved a salary for the interim chief “not to exceed” $129,000 per year. Board of Regents Chairman Lewis Robinson Jr. said Austin could select a candidate either from outside or from within the regents’ system.

Murphy’s salary will be $129,000, of which the regents system will pay $106,000 and the labor department will pay $23,000. He will work four days a week at the Board of Regents and one day a week at the labor department.

“We certainly will miss Dennis, although we understand all of the good work being done by the Board of Regents, and look forward to his return to us full time,” Palmer wrote her staff. “I think it’s great that when those in need seek help, they turn to the Department of Labor, time and time again.”

Malloy brought Murphy into his administration in late January 2011, appointing him to serve as deputy Labor commissioner.

Murphy also had been the director of human resources for Stamford from 2004 to 2008, near the end of Malloy’s 14-year tenure as mayor of that city. Between serving in Stamford and joining the Malloy administration, Murphy was a neutral labor arbitrator for several groups, including the American Arbitration Association.

Murphy was among the observers for the Malloy campaign who watched Bridgeport officials handcount paper ballots overnight in the aftermath of Malloy’s close 2010 gubernatorial contest with Republican Tom Foley.

Austin released a statement Friday said Murphy has the “experience necessary” for the job.

“Dennis is already familiar with the Board of Regents and its work through his time as an ex-officio member of the Board [of Regents], and I know he will hit the ground running in this new role… His work in human resources, administration and management for two of Connecticut’s largest cities, and now as the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Labor, has given him a strong background and the experience necessary to help manage a complex like the Board of Regents. In addition, I look forward to working with him on the issues critical to a successful reorganization of this magnitude — the policies and procedures necessary to govern our staff and presidents, a strong working relationship between the Board and myself, and a way forward to push the aggressive change agenda mandated by Governor Malloy and our legislature, and supported by the Board of Regents.”

Murpy also released a statement accepting the appointment.

“I am honored to accept this appointment, and I’m eager to help Dr. Austin and the presidents, faculty and staff at the Board of Regents and on the campuses work together to ensure that our colleges and universities are an affordable, accessible option for students across our state, and that the campuses play a vital role in the workforce development and economic growth of Connecticut,” said Murphy. “There is a lot of synergy between the work going on at the Department of Labor and the Board of Regents, and I believe we can develop this relationship and others for the benefit of the students who choose to attend our schools. I understand there is a very full agenda to move forward at the Board of Regents, and I look forward to being a part of this team.”

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