Karl Krapek, chairman of the Connecticut State University Board of Trustees, announced his resignation Wednesday at a “special emergency meeting”– the second leader of the four-campus system to step down in recent months.

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.

CSUS trustee Karl Krapek (r) assists at the 2006 inaugural of Chancellor David Carter.

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 The board later rescinded the removal policy.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, who has been a trustee for 16 years and chairman for the last two years, announced his resignation at a hastily-arranged 12-minute telephone meeting. He did not return calls seeking comment.

In his resignation letter to Gov. Dannel P. 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.

Malloy’s spokeswoman, Colleen Flanagan, said the governor did not speak with Krapek about his stepping down.

“No one asked for Mr. Krapek to resign,” she said.

Trustee Ronald Pugliese said “the entire board was shocked and surprised… As to what caused him to resign? He didn’t say.”

In his resignation letter, Krapek cited the record enrollment of 36,600 students at CSUS’ four campuses, increased graduation rates and financial aid, and a narrowing of the achievement gap between white and minority students.

“Each year, and each class of students, seems more remarkable than the one preceding it. These students do us proud, and I salute each and every one,” he wrote.

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