UConn's new president, Susan Herbst, has decided that what most urgently needs reforming at the university is ... the athletic department.
So Herbst's first order of business was to hire an expensive consulting firm to contrive reasons to fire UConn's longtime athletic director, Jeff Hathaway, though she already had decided to replace him on the basis of consultation with her own small circle.
Herbst came to UConn this summer insisting that the university didn't waste money, ignoring the scandal just weeks earlier about the huge salaries being paid to university police executives. As Herbst undertook to remove Hathaway, it was disclosed that the UConn Health Center long has been paying nurses overtime nearly equal to their base salaries rather than hire much cheaper part-time nurses -- and maintains this policy only because the nurses union likes it. Now the nurses overtime issue has been absorbed into Governor Malloy's review of overtime throughout state government, letting Herbst off the hook for her embarrassing obliviousness.
A top administrator is entitled to choose her top assistants. But a good administrator doesn't needlessly humiliate someone who has given long and conscientious service. Herbst could have told Hathaway confidentially that she wanted to install her own athletic director and given him a limited time to move on. Instead she spent tens of thousands of dollars on a consultant and then maybe $700,000 on severance pay. As with the police executives and the overtime for the nurses, money continues to be no object at UConn.
Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.