Mark Ojakian, left, and Nicholas M. Donofrio, chair of the governing board of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system
Mark Ojakian, left, and Nicholas M. Donofrio, chair of the governing board of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system Mark Pazniokas / CTMirror.org

Mark Ojakian, the governor’s outgoing chief of staff and incoming leader of the state’s largest public college system, is an interim president, but he doesn’t have to say so when introducing himself.

“Notwithstanding the interim nature of this appointment, the President shall not be required to reference ‘interim’ in connection with his title as President of the CT Board of Regents,” Ojakian’s four-page contract reads.

Ojakian — who was named to lead the 90,000-student Connecticut State Colleges & Universities last week — has signed an employment agreement that guarantees him the job for two years.

The system’s governing board can terminate his contract by giving him 12 months’ notice or if there is cause — provisions his predecessor’s three-year contract also included.

Ojakian takes over as president after the tumultuous tenures and departures of the system’s previous two leaders.

His contract is largely identical to those of former presidents Gregory W. Gray and Robert A. Kennedy, with a few exceptions relating to his compensation. (Read those contracts here and here.)

  • Ojakian’s pay of $335,000 is less than that of Gray, who was paid $380,000, and Kennedy, who was paid $340,000 and received an additional $20,000 per year in deferred compensation. The  system’s governing board, however, is able to boost Ojakian’s pay after his annual review.
  • Ojakian, a Connecticut native, will not be receiving $25,000 to cover his moving expenses, which his predecessors were eligible to receive.
  • Ojakian’s contract does not provide him with a $25,000 “unvouchered accommodation account,” intended as an expense account, as Kennedy was.

Ojakian will be provided with a car to drive in place of the convertible he currently drives with custom “OJ” license tags, in reference to his nickname. The college system will also pay for his car insurance, vehicle repairs, health insurance and retirement benefits, just as his predecessors were.

Ojakian’s first day will be Sept. 28.

A spokesman for the system said that there is no separation agreement “at this time” for the outgoing president, whose contract guaranteed his employment through June but who has announced he will leave in December.

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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