MIDDLETOWN--A CCSU professor has been placed on administrative suspension, without pay.
Last week, Ravi Shankar was arrested for the third time this past year for stealing from a Home Depot. In December he was arrested twice--once for driving with a suspended license, and once for evading responsibility for an accident that he fled from. Both of those cases are still pending.
Before that he had previous convictions for two DUIs, operating with a suspended license, reckless driving over 85 mph, interfering with police, giving police false statements in a credit card fraud scheme and violating his probation. He served a 90-day sentence broken up into several periods.
The controversy came to a head when he was promoted to a full professorship while he was in jail serving time for his convictions. Shankar has worked at CCSU for more than 12 years as a poetry and creative writing professor.
After his most recent arrest on July 29 in Middletown, the school said in a statement on Friday that is he was suspended without pay as of Thursday, and his position at the university is pending the results of an investigation into the charges against him. CCSU says the school made that decision on Thursday "after about a week's worth of consideration."
Earlier on Friday, state Sen. Kevin D. Witkos, who represents the district in which CCSU is located, wrote a letter to the president of the university, Dr. Jack Miller, asking for the school to initiate termination proceedings against Shankar.
"He’s supposed to be a leader of the young minds in our state. I just felt that enough was enough," said Sen. Witkos, "He’s been given every opportunity by the university and it’s time that somebody asks for his resignation and that would be me."
He pointed out that the fact that Shankar was promoted while incarcerated has led to the state legislature working on a new bill that makes professors' conduct out side of the classroom applicable to promotion and tenure decisions. Currently, the collective bargaining agreement for professors in the state university system states that the only criteria for promotion is how the professor teaches and operates in his or her field, and how many years he or she has been a teacher.
Witkos also points out that one of Shankar's previous convictions, for credit card fraud, was related to his using school equipment and stealing from school funds. The case was investigated by the school police department.
Witkos says the decision to suspend Shankar was an appropriate first step.
He said, "I applaud them for taking this action. It’s been a long time coming, but we’re actually moving in the right direction and I’m convinced that once the investigation is concluded the facts will show that he should be terminated."