The state's top two higher education officials resigned within hours of each other Friday after several weeks of mounting criticism over issues ranging from improperly approved salary raises to a clumsy communication with community college presidents that some saw as a buyout offer.
Robert Kennedy, president of the Board of Regents of Higher Education, resigned Friday morning. His second in command, Michael P. Meotti, the board's executive vice president, followed suit eight hours later. Both said they were leaving because they did not want to distract from the reforms that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had hoped they'd accomplish.
At an emergency meeting Friday afternoon, the board of regents sought to restore its image and some order, voting to hire former University of Connecticut President Philip E. Austin on an interim basis and appointing a committee to research the issues that led to Kennedy's resignation.
Earlier this week, Kennedy apologized for approving $262,206 in salary raises to 21 employees — including $48,000 to Meotti — without seeking approval from the board as required. Also, he tried to quiet fears raised by an apparent miscommunication with community college presidents that led some to think they were being pressured to leave.