Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Succession at the University of Minnesota

New President Will Be Key

Faculty Consultative Committee
Thursday, February 18, 2010

The University is also facing a leadership change. The Board of Regents is likely to accelerate the search for a new president.

[Ah, excuse me sir, but shouldn't this have been started some time ago?]

Other officers will also leave; Senior Vice President Cerra has made it clear he will be leaving, as have a couple of the other vice presidents.

[See figure above. There is rather a long list of VPs who should grab a 'chute. Hopefully some of their replacements will be able to count past 26. We know that the Chief Financial Officer can count to twenty, but maybe twenty-seven is a stretch?]

The next 12-24 months will have a big impact on decision-making; his concern, Dean Finnegan related, is that the University attract the best leader possible.

[Ah, yes, that is usually the idea. But we have now put ourselves in a spot where this will be very difficult. Who would want to come in from the outside to such a mess? Fortunately, we have someone on deck, just like we did for the last presidential search, and we all know how that turned out...]

If the institution is fighting internally over dollars, a new leader might think twice about coming here, but if it is transparent and pulls together, it will be a more attractive place, because a lot of public research universities are going though the same thing.

[You mean like Ohio State? Or... A new leader might think twice about coming here? This sounds awfully suspicious. Why did we wait so long?]

The transition in the University presidency coincides with the budget cliff, Professor Hanna pointed out, and there are two ways to respond the transformation: The outgoing administration can do it or it can leave it to the new administration.

[Exactly. And by the time the new person comes on board there is not going to be a lot of room to maneuver. So he or she will be in a position of having to come in and do whatever the current bunch has already decided? Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but of course that's our Gang.]

Have the deans talked about the best approach? They have and are not unanimous on the issue, Dean Finnegan said.

[Surprise, surprise. On the one hand it is obvious what should be done. On the other hand, deans like what is comfortable. If someone new came in, who knows what would happen?]

In his opinion, they would like a smooth leadership transition (something on which President Bruininks agrees). The Board of Regents see the 2012 legislative session as very important so would like to have the new leader chosen by then, with a six-month overlap between President Bruininks and his successor.

[So let's take a deep breath and think about this. We haven't even started a search for the new president. We are supposed to go through a thorough search and find the best of all possible presidents. That person is then to come in and work with the present president and get up to speed to go over to the lege in less than a year all battle ready? Is this crazy or what? Does anyone remember what happened the last time we looked for a president? We can't even get a conflict of interest policy together in three years. Lord love a duck.]

The Board would like to see the same kind of transition in the office of the Senior Vice President for the Academic Health Center.

[Isn't that sweet. And will we continue with the cockamamie system now in place? Was there ever any serious discussion of this craziness in the medical school - AHC before it was imposed from the top? The (wo)man in the street in the medical school wants a full time dean.]

Some believe that if the new president is present at the next legislative session, and there is a solid phalanx with President Bruininks and the deans, they will be more persuasive than if the new president is not there.

[Who are those some? Have you a mouse in your pocket? And if some believe that this was such a good idea, why didn't those some push for the initiation of a search quite some time ago?]

It is not clear that the new president will have much of a honeymoon with the legislature, but somehow he or she must help establish the understanding that higher education is Minnesota's future.

[And what exactly do you expect that person to say or do that is any different from what is being done now? ]

That will be a hard sell, but the new president will be key.

[If he or she has a chance to do their job. Not getting that person on board and giving them serious input into what is going to be proposed next year is simply an act of negligence. Something does not smell right about this whole situation.]

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