Student Conduct To Get New Director, Staff

Kristina Vakhman, News Editor

Following former Director Christopher Dukes’ arrest and charges of kidnapping and strangulation, Central Connecticut’s Office of Student Conduct will soon have a new director and new staff, albeit temporarily.

“Nothing is different,” Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Peter Troiano, who is heading the search, stated. He said that the incident with Dukes has not and will not interfere with the office’s business. “We will just keep moving forward.”

The university placing Dukes on administrative leave left Assistant Director Stephanie Reis and Secretary Donna Pettinelli alone on staff in the Office of Student Conduct. Reis declined an interview with The Recorder, but Troiano said that she has been “carrying the ball” and “doing the bulk of the work.” However, with the school year having begun, he explained that Reis and Pettinelli will not be able to handle all of the cases that will inevitably come pouring in by themselves.

“We do recognize that we need additional support. The summer was one thing, but the school year is a completely different thing. We need to make sure we have appropriate levels of staffing in place,” Troiano elaborated. 

Student Affairs is in the “final stages” of selecting an individual to temporarily head the Office of Student Conduct. Troiano hopes he will have someone in place by Sept. 10 out of the three candidates he currently has. That person will stay through December, and their status can be renewed through the spring semester if Student Affairs sees it fit to do so.

Troiano also said that additional staff, also in temporary positions, will come in to “support” the department by alleviating the workload that Reis and Pettinelli currently have on their shoulders, as cases have started to land at the office’s door despite the first week of the semester having just ended.

“Some students are feeling the pressure already or they’re making choices that are not the best choices. The reports are coming into Student Conduct and we’re addressing each situation as it comes up,” Troiano said. “It’s about maintaining the appropriate levels of staff and that’s why we’re bringing in someone else to help out with the workload. It’s business as usual.”

Dukes was arrested back in April after allegedly grabbing his estranged wife in a chokehold, binding her with duct tape in the basement of their Hartford residence and punching and threatening to kill her, according to a warrant obtained by The Recorder. He was charged with kidnapping, strangulation, third-degree assault, second-degree breach of peace and risk of injury to a child, according to court documents.

Dukes appeared in Hartford Superior Court last week where he pleaded not guilty on all charges and was required to give a DNA sample to be compared to DNA at the scene of the alleged crime. Dukes posted $450,000 bail back in April at the time of the incident.