Regan Communications Relationship Terminated
Suffolk University decided to end its relationship with Regan Communications public relations firm on Tuesday after concerns about the company’s influence on the school’s governing board. This move comes after last week’s decision that Chairman Andrew Meyer will step down after his term ends this May and President Margaret McKenna will step down when a new president takes office no later than 2017.
The company, led by George Regan, has represented the university for 27 years. The firm was paid just over $292,000 in the fiscal year of 2014, according to the most recent financial information publicly available, reports the Boston Globe.
Regan reportedly did not respond kindly to the university’s decision.
“President McKenna has chosen to blame me for her contentious relationship with the board, rather than acknowledging her own indefensible actions as the true reason for the board’s deep and valid concerns for her ability to lead the university,” said Regan.
The decision to cut ties with Regan was endorsed by alumni and students after it was learned last week that Regan has connections (clients, former clients, and even friends) with at least 7 of the 28 trustees. Julie Kahn, a trustee, is also one of Regan’s employees. Kahn has stated that she plans to leave when her term ends this spring.
Mariellen Norris, the senior associate director of public affairs at Suffolk’s communications office, also works at Regan’s firm. At the school’s request, Norris was let go on Tuesday and given a day to collect her belongings.
When she took office in July, McKenna said she planned to review all of the external contracts with the university, including its long relationship with Regan Communications. McKenna made it clear that she wanted to end the contract after learning the university was paying a tremendous amount to the firm and there was a full time Regan employee in the communications office. Many board members urged McKenna not to challenge Regan. However, the Suffolk student body, including President of SGA Colin Loiselle, agreed it was time to take action.
“It is my understanding that the decision was made by President McKenna and President McKenna alone. I know that she had come in with the intention of review all of our contracts with external vendors and this was a part of that review,” said Loiselle. “They handled our PR, and it’s important to note that we are one of the few colleges that use an outside PR firm.”
Loiselle expressed excitement that the firm was let go, adding that the student rallies of last week may not have directly impacted the decision, but they had a “huge impact” in getting the board to listen.
“The real involvement was that George Regan was heavily involved in and greatly influenced the Board of Trustees,” said Loiselle. “This was a relationship that we saw as a problem and a serious conflict of interest. I publicly called for them to be fired numerous times and was excited to hear that they were fired.”