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[Image: ravishankar1.jpg]

No, not that Ravi Shankar. This is the drunk driving, credit card fraud scheming, probation violating Ravi Shankar.

Oh look, he's a poet. Must be one of those POETS people talk about on Friday. Piss On Everything, Tomorrow's Saturday.

And Kozlowski says that "at least as far as I know" his academic record is good too. Who could ask for a more ringing endorsement than that? Alexander Pope had a poem for that: "Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer..."

Quote:Regents To Reconsider Promotion Of Jailed Professor

By KATHLEEN MEGAN, kmegan@courant.com
The Hartford Courant
7:24 p.m. EDT, May 15, 2014

HARTFORD — The state Board of Regents for Higher Education plans to reconsider the decision it made Tuesday to promote a [regionally accredited] Central Connecticut State University professor after learning later this week that he is in jail.

Ravi Shankar, 39, a poet who was promoted from tenured associate professor to full professor on Tuesday, currently is serving a two-week segment of a 90-day "pre-trial confinement," period at the Hartford Correctional Center, his lawyer Jake Donovan said Thursday.

The regents have asked CCSU officials for "an immediate and full investigation" of the process that resulted in CCSU officials recommending Shankar for promotion, board spokesman Michael Kozlowski said Thursday.

The board is "deeply dismayed at the recent turn of events. … We believe that faculty and staff must be held to the highest standards inside as well as outside the classroom," Kozlowski said.

The regents plan to meet next week to decide whether to take any initial action, such as putting Shankar's promotion on hold, and will make a final decision once CCSU completes its investigation, Kozlowski said. The board has the authority to accept or reject a recommended promotion at the state's four regional universities.

Shankar's salary is $75,480; Kozlowski said it's uncertain how much his salary would increase with the promotion.

Jack Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University, said in a statement, "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."

Miller said that at the time of the board vote, he wasn't aware that Shankar had been incarcerated. "I have asked my staff to conduct a full investigation of all the legal actions, when we knew of them, and the various processes involved."

Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, said in a statement that "the Board of Regents should be embarrassed. They should be doing background checks when considering a major promotion."

Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, said he was "shocked and appalled" to learn of Shankar's promotion while in prison and called on Regents President Gregory Gray to "immediately reverse" that decision. Gray wasn't available for comment Thursday, and several board members did not return phone calls.

Donovan said Shankar is in prison because he plea-bargained an agreement that will enable him to get a suspended sentence for violating probation related to two previous cases.

In the first case, Shankar was convicted for giving police a false statement in a credit card fraud scheme in 2011, involving the purchase of $22,000 worth of tickets to an international soccer game in New Jersey, and was sentenced to two years' probation. In the second case, Shankar pleaded no contest to charges of drunk-driving later that year. He was sentenced to six months in jail, which was suspended, and 18 months of probation.

Shankar was charged with violating probation in those cases in 2012, after his arrest for driving with a suspended license, failure to drive in the proper lane and criminal impersonation.

Donovan said Shankar has been serving the 90-day term in increments when he is able to do so during the past year. He's scheduled to be released from jail on Thursday, May 22, and then will have only six days left to serve.

Donovan, who is a former prosecutor, said this kind of a "pre-trial confinement" served in segments is not that unusual.

"It did allow him to structure the disposition" so that he could keep teaching, Donovan said. "It's a very fair disposition. He was not accorded any special treatment."

Had Shankar pleaded guilty and admitted to probation violations, Donovan said, he probably would have been sentenced to 90 days and served half of that.

"I need to stress that his legal situation is separate and distinct from his performance as a teacher," Donovan said. "By all accounts — and I've had quite a bit of contact with his colleagues, who hold him in great esteem — he's apparently very popular with students. He discharges his academic responsibilities quite admirably."

Donovan added: "This guy is no danger to anyone. These aren't crimes of violence. These aren't crimes of a sexual nature. There's nothing going on here. ..Some of our greatest poets, our greatest artists have had problems in life and they've overcome them. Hopefully, they'll see it that way."

Donovan said he doesn't know what university officials knew about Shankar's situation, "but there was no attempt to hide this at all."

Kozlowski said he has heard that Shankar "has tremendous student ratings, they like him very much, and that his academic record, at least as far as I know, is quite good."

Shankar, who has been at CCSU since 2003, is a professor and poet-in-residence at Central and co-directs the school's minor in creative writing.

In 2004 and in 2006, CCSU nominated him for the institution's excellence in teaching award. Shankar is also executive director of "Drunken Boat," an online outlet for international poetry reviews, and chairman of the Connecticut Young Writers Trust, a nonprofit foundation.

Andy Thibault, chairman emeritus of the foundation, said Shankar "is paying his dues, and he's committed to long-term community service on his own by keeping the Young Writers foundation going."

A statement from the foundation said it "firmly stands" by Shankar "as he pays his debt to society for personal mistakes wholly unrelated to his educational mission."