A state Board of Regents’ presidential search committee voted Thursday to recommend a California community college chancellor to oversee Connecticut’s state university and community college system.

Gregory W. Gray, chancellor of the Riverside Community College District, would become just the second president of the Regents’ system since its creation in 2011. The system includes the four state university campuses, 12 community colleges and Charter Oak State College, an online institution.

“The selection of a new president is great news for our system and most especially, our students,” said Lewis J. Robinson Jr., chairman of the Regents and its search committee. “Dr. Gray has the academic credentials and experience to lead our system, is a proven fundraiser and has first-hand experience in the reorganization of higher education institutions.”

The selection of Gray comes just days after it was reported that another finalist, Jack Warner of South Dakota, was offered and rejected the job. Gray has accepted the post and reached a tentative agreement, pending a vote May 16 by the Board of Regents.

Robert Kennedy, the system’s first president, resigned under fire after disclosures of, among other issues, raises approved for top administrators without board approval.

If approved by the full board, Gray would be paid an annual salary of $380,000 and be provided with a state vehicle, according to the board.

“Serving as president of a statewide system that encompasses both four-year universities and community colleges is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any higher education leader,” Gray said in a statement released by the board. “During my visits with the Board of Regents, stakeholders, and the Governor, I was very impressed by the atmosphere of shared pride and commitment to higher education and student success.”

The system includes all of public higher education outside the University of Connecticut.

Gray’s salary would be $40,000 higher than that of his predecessor, but his total compensation package would be $30,000 less.

According to the board’s calculation, Gray’s total compenation will be worth $390,000, compared to $420,000 for Kennedy, whose benefits included $20,000 in annual deferred compensation, “an annual unvouchered accommodation account” of $25,000, and up to $25,000 for meeting goals and objectives.

The three finalists for the Regents’ post all were men currently leading a college system:

  • Warner has been leader of six of South Dakota’s public universities since 2009. He is the former commissioner of Rhode Island’s Board of Governors for Higher Education. Warner taught in the Boston College Graduate School of Education for 18 years. See his resume here;
  • Gray has been the leader of Riverside Community College in California since 2009. He established the first study abroad program to China by a community college nationwide. See his resume here;
  • Jay V. Kahn is interim president of Keene State College in New Hampshire. Before that he was the college’s vice president for finance and planning. See his resume here.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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