Preparing young people to have a significant impact in the workforce is one of the top priorities for Connecticut’s reorganized system of higher education, says Governor Malloy. And his choice to lead the effort, he says, is someone with the track record to get the job done.

The governor recently appointed Dr. Robert Kennedy, immediate past president of the University of Maine, as interim president of the new Board of Regents of Higher Education.

The board will oversee the consolidated system of four state universities (Central, Eastern, Southern and Western), the community college system, and Charter Oak State College, the state’s online college. The University of Connecticut still functions separately.

Malloy made the sweeping overhaul of the state’s higher education system a central part of his administration’s initiatives. It’s designed to “ensure the success not only of our students but of the corporations that consume our product, our human capital.” 

Dr. Kennedy, says Malloy, is an educator with a flair for business. In his seven years at the helm at Maine, Kennedy “turned the [university] into a job engine and managed that institution with an entrepreneur’s eye…,” the governor said.

“He understands that our resources need to be focused on the students who attend these schools and the preparation they need for the global economy in which they will compete,” adds the governor.

In January, the board will give the governor its recommendations for the permanent president. Michael P. Meotti, interim president, will become the executive vice president and report directly to Dr. Kennedy.

The governor has appointed six people to the Board of Regents:

  • Lewis J. Robinson, Jr. (Hartford), the board’s chairman, is an attorney with a background in business, law and government affairs. After retiring as general counsel of Travelers Property Casualty (Personal Lines), Robinsion has served in a volunteer capacity with a variety of non-profit organizations.  
  • Merle W. Harris (West Hartford) has 45 years of educational experience, serving in several positions at institutions of higher education, high schools, grade schools, and the State Department of Education. 
  • Gary Holloway (New Canaan) is a founder of Five Mile Capital Partners LLC, an alternative investment and asset management company. 
  • René Lerer (Avon) is chairman and CEO of Magellan Health Services.
  • Yvette Meléndez (South Glastonbury) is vice president of government and community alliances for Hartford Healthcare and Hartford Hospital.
  • Zac Zeitlin (Westport) is a former partner of Silver Point Capital, where he ran the firm’s Principal Finance business.

The legislature will appoint four others, and the group will include two students and four nonvoting state agency heads.