Eighteen of the 21 controversial pay raises unilaterally approved last year by the state’s former college president have been determined to be inappropriate.
“Basically, the salaries were competitive before the raises,” said Naomi K. Cohen, the chairwoman of the panel tasked by the Board of Regents for Higher Education to examine the $299,532 in raises awarded earlier this year.
“People are working very hard, but that’s the nature of work… We are not granting those salary increases to those 18 people at this time. [The raises] were suspended and they will remain suspended,” Cohen said Wednesday.
Cohen and the two other regents on the Committee on Administration determination that the raises were unnecessary following a review by an independent contractor paid by the college system.
“Workload increases, by themselves, do not justify [salary] increases,” the review by Owen-Pottier Inc. concluded.
The 18 raises that the panel has decided to stall indefinitely would have cost the system $131,700 a year.
Another $120,000 in raises, however, are moving forward for three top central office officials. Elsa Nunez will make $347,460 a year for her joint role as president of Eastern Connecticut State University and the system’s vice president for state universities. David Levinson, Norwalk Community College President and the system’s vice president for community colleges will make $252,188 a year. Braden Hosch, the director for policy and research will make $149,000 a year, a $24,000 a year boost for temporarily taking on the responsibilities of the director of academic programs and student services.
A raise of nearly $50,000 awarded to the system’s vice president Michael Meotti was forfeited the day after the Mirror disclosed the raise. Meotti has since resigned from the position.
The committee’s decision on the raises during a meeting last week will be presented to the full board of regents at their Jan. 17 meeting, but it is unclear if any action is needed since the raises for these 18 employees were all frozen in October following news that they were inappropriately awarded in the first place by then president Robert A. Kennedy.
Cohen said the independent study validates that the previous salaries did not need adjusting.
The state’s dozen community colleges, four-year universities (except the University of Connecticut) and online college were merged into one board of regents system last year. With that merger came the elimination of 24 jobs in the central office and added responsibilities for the remaining staff.
The independent review reported that best practice in such consolidations does not mean increasing pay with increasing workloads.
“The merger of the systems, does not, by itself, justify major salary increases,” Owen-Pottier reported. “Any increases that may be authorized by the Board must be supported by very convincing evidence of major changes in job content.”
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