A Maryland Senate committee blocked Gov. Larry Hogan’s nominee to head the state’s Higher Education Commission on Monday after questions were raised about her management abilities.
Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery), chairman of the Senate Executive Nominations Committee, said Monday that he decided not to bring Jennie Hunter-Cevera’s nomination to the committee for a vote because it was “not in anyone’s interest.”
The committee delayed a vote on Jennie Hunter-Cevera’s nomination during two previous meetings.
Raskin said too many concerns were brought to the committee’s attention about the nominee’s past experience.
“This individual is obviously very accomplished, but serious questions were raised about her fitness for this leadership position,” he said.
Hunter-Cevera’s nomination ran into trouble earlier this month when Raskin received a 2009 letter from several faculty members at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute detailing a “no confidence” vote they took against Hunter-Cevera when she served as the institute’s president.
The letter said that the faculty became “disillusioned” with Hunter-Cevera’s leadership. They said she made key decisions “without regard to input from faculty;” conducted “negligible fundraising” for the school; declined to “work productively” with the Universities at Shady Grove and led the school during “rapid turnover” of key central administrative personnel.
Dozens of faculty members, most of them tenured, signed the letter.
Hunter-Cevera said previously that the vote taken by the members of the faculty was from disgruntled employees who did not like decisions she made.
“I stand on my record of moving the university forward,” she said earlier this month.
After the letter from the faculty members, former U.S. Sen. Joseph D. Tydings objected to Hunter-Cevera’s appointment, Raskin said. Tydings previously served on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and was familiar with Hunter-Cevera’s tenure.
Monday was the last chance for the committee to take action on Hunter-Cevera’s nomination in order for the full Senate to consider it.
She is the only cabinet nominee who did not receive approval from the Senate. She has served as acting secretary since Jan. 21.
Raskin said Hunter-Cevera could continue to serve in an acting capacity until the next legislative session. Hogan could then nominate her again next year.
It remained unclear whether Hunter-Cevera would return before the Senate committee next session.
Doug Meyer, a spokesman for Hogan, said Monday that Hogan still supports Hunter-Cevera.
“Nothing has changed about how we feel about her qualifications,” he said.