Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Finds CSUS Board Of Trustees Apparently Improperly Ceded Authority To Fire Presidents, Write Personnel Policies

October 6, 2010

            Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today issued a report to a legislative committee finding that the Connecticut State University System (CSUS) Board of Trustees apparently violated state law by improperly delegating authority to fire system presidents and write human resource policies.

            Blumenthal said only the full CSUS board has the legal authority to terminate university presidents and change human resources policies.

            Blumenthal said that the 18-member board nonetheless improperly delegated its authority to rewrite personnel policies to its eight-member executive committee in 2007. The executive committee then in October 2009 improperly gave CSUS Chancellor David Carter the power to fire university presidents, Blumenthal found.

            On November 17, 2009, Carter used his new authority to inform Southern Connecticut State University President Cheryl Norton of his intent to dismiss her effective December 1. Norton ultimately resigned under an agreement that pays her full salary until May 31, 2011.

            “State law is clear: only the full CSUS board can change personnel policies and terminate presidents,” Blumenthal said. “University boards of trustees are entrusted with the ultimate authority on key leadership decisions -- a powerful and essential check assuring wise and efficient stewardship. Such authority should not and cannot be delegated.”

            Blumenthal’s report recommended that the CSUS Board of Trustees review its delegation of authority to ensure it complies with state law and recommended that the full board review and vote on all improperly delegated executive committee decisions regarding human resources policy since 2007.

            Blumenthal also recommended the legislature change the law to clarify that that the full CSUS Board of Trustees must vote on human resources policies and terminations or suspensions of university presidents.


            Blumenthal’s office discussed the report with CSUS Chancellor David
Carter last month. The full CSUS board subsequently voted to reclaim its authority to write personnel policies and took steps to restore its power to terminate university presidents.

            “I am pleased that the full CSUS board heeded my call to reclaim its statutory authority to set personnel policy,” Blumenthal said. “I hope that the board will reassert its statutory power to terminate university presidents, a core management function that cannot be legally delegated.” 

            The report was requested by General Assembly Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee Co-Chairs Mary Ann Handley (D-Manchester) and Roberta Willis (D-Salisbury), and state Sen. Ed Meyer (D-Branford).