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Norton leaving

05/11/2010
By:

Makayla Silva

General Assignment Reporter

The policy changes in the Connecticut State University System Office, allowing for the non-continuation of SCSU President Cheryl Norton, turned out to be the most un-democratic and un-public scenario imaginable, according to Bob Frew, former SCSU professor of computer science.

“These things are normally brought out in public,” he said. “If they felt that Cheryl wasn’t doing her job they should have set up a tribunal or something like that to evaluate and make public the reasons why they were going to let her go.”

According to Article 10.2 of the Human Resources Policies for the CSU System, Chancellor and University Presidents, each president of a university is appointed by the board, supervised by the chancellor and serves at the pleasure of the board. He or she may be non-continued by the chancellor without cause or explanation.

Furthermore the policy states, “an employee hired on or after Dec. 8, 2006, may be non-continued upon a three-month written notice.”

After the change of HR policies on Oct. 1, 2009, Norton was the first CSU president advised of her non-continuation under the new rules.

There were secret agreements not allowed to be made public about Norton being let go, according to Frew.

“It is just completely ridiculous,” he said. “I am so disgusted with the whole thing.”

According to Inside Higher Ed, a national journal for professionals in higher education, the Board of Trustees (BOT) did not utilize its power to overturn the chancellor’s decision.

Article 10.2 of the HR Policies also states that at the meeting following the chancellor’s public announcement to non-continue a university president, the board may overturn the decision by a majority vote of those in attendance. If no action is taken at that meeting to overturn the chancellor’s action, the non-continuation shall be implemented as noted to the executive committee and president.

The provision was never actually tested, according to Inside Higher Ed, because Norton had already signed a separation agreement on Dec. 9 and the next board meeting was scheduled for Dec. 10.

Recently resigning from his position on the Board of Foundations after six years, Frew said the decision was influenced by the tremendous changes in the CSU System Office during his past 30 years in the Southern community.

“I don’t know how many years back but there were 12 people in the central office,” he said. “And now if you look at the list of people, it’s enormous. There are associate chancellors, assistant chancellors and it’s just top-heavy in terms of administration.”

Frew said the System Office is not well-connected to the individual campuses.

“My concern is that they have really made decisions that are against the well-being of Southern as a campus,” he said. “I just think they have overstepped their bounds.”

Frew said while he is specifically upset with the manner in which Norton was non-continued, he said the chancellor is acting as a “super president,” micromanaging campus affairs.

“I have a passion for Southern and I’m very upset at what has happened to Cheryl. Cheryl was a great leader,” he said. “She had raised this sort of whole environment in terms of student aspirations, the image of the university and the university’s relationship to the community.”

He said there is a subtle hint of camaraderie among upper-level administrators, allowing for the appointment of new interim president Stanley Battle.

“I think to bring in an acting president who is not part of Southern is quite unusual, and I think in a way, snarks at cronyism,” he said.

Frew said Carter is filling positions not just at Southern but also in all areas of the CSU System with his “cronies.”

“A lot of the positions should have been filled with academics,” he said. “I’d say they were filled with friends of the people in authority.”

Jack Mordente, director of Veteran’s Affairs, said in an open discussion between Battle and the faculty union, there was not much talking on the teacher’s side.

“I had it described to me as a dog and pony show,” he said. “Battle had to say what he had to say and he wasn’t interested in any input.”

Subsequently, in an open student forum with representatives of various clubs and organizations on campus, Battle was asked to remain transparent with student media and he nodded his head in agreement.

Following the forum, Battle said, “it really depends what the questions are” when asked if he would answer a few questions on the record.

Mordente said, not only is Battle disrespecting the Southern faculty and staff, but Chairman Karl Krapek and Chancellor David Carter acted similarly at the Board of Trustees Meeting on April 8.

“Krapek and the chancellor were totally disrespectful to us in treating us like we’re stupid, but and I think Krapek basically said it, ‘We do it because we can,” he said.

Mordente said although Krapek thanked him for his comments, he was taken aback from a conversation he had with the chairmen in the men’s room after the BOT meeting.

“He was very pleasant and he thanked me for my comments (at the meeting),” he said. “And then, I don’t know where it came from but I said, ‘Do you play golf?’ And he said yes, and then I said, ‘Do you ever play with Father Sullivan?’ And Father Sullivan is one of the board members who used to be here as our campus chaplin. And he said ‘Yeah, as a matter of fact, we play golf four times a year, on golf courses you couldn’t
play at.”

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