An associate professor at Central Connecticut State University has been promoted while behind bars, and university officials say they weren’t aware of his incarceration until after the fact.
CCSU poet in resident and associate English professor Ravi Shankar has received full-time status at the university in New Britain – but he’s been in jail awaiting his next court date.
Shankar faces several pending charges from arrests in 2012, including violation of probation, criminal impersonation and motor vehicle charges, according to court dockets.
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He’s also been convicted of driving under the influence and making a false statement, court dockets show.
CCSU President Dr. Jack Miller said he didn’t know Shankar was in jail until after the professor was promoted.
“This is a very complex situation, but the simple answer is, it was my responsibility to inform the Board of Regents and I did not. At the time of the Board action I was not aware that Professor Shankar had been incarcerated,” Miller said in a statement Wednesday. “I have asked my staff to conduct a full investigation of all of the legal actions, when we knew of them, and the various processes involved.”
State Sen. Toni Boucher raised concerns in a statement released Wednesday and said there’s no excuse for what happened.
“Dr. Jack Miller of CCSU has taken responsibility for not alerting the Board of Regents to the alleged criminal case involving the employee in question,” Boucher said in the statement. “Though Miller has taken responsibility for his action, the Board of Regents should be embarrassed. They should be doing background checks when considering a major promotion.”
Boucher said Shankar has been in jail for five days and some of the charges against him have been on the docket for years.
“I am requesting Dr. Gregory Gray meet with the leaders of the General Assembly’s Higher Education Committee to discuss compliance and notification issues for staff under the Connecticut State University (CSU) system,” Boucher said in her statement. “The safety of our students and staff should be paramount.”
State Sen. Kevin Witkos, of Canton, said he was “shocked and appalled” by Shankar’s promotion.
“While I believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, I don’t believe we should reward people until all the facts are in. It’s simple logic. When you go directly to jail, you do not get to pass go, you do not get to collect that $200,” Witkos said in a statement Wednesday. “That applies to real life too. Our state should not be funding a pay raise and extending a benefits package to someone who has allegedly violated the law repeatedly.”
Witkos cites a statement published in the university newspaper in Aug. 2012 after Shankar was arrested for the third time.
“I take seriously my responsibilities as an educator and a role model, and am deeply distraught at the concatenation of bad luck and worse judgment that has wrought such havoc on all that I hold dear,” Shankar told The Recorder.
Two months later, in Oct. 2012, Shankar was arrested for violation of probation, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
He’s due back in court May 22.