Saturday, May 26, 2012


Administrative Leaves and Severance 

Under University of Minnesota

 Board of Regents Scrutiny 

(See link for full story. Excerpts, emphasis mine, follow)

University of Minnesota presidents will no longer have a free hand on administrators' pay.

Under new rules endorsed by a special committee of the Board of Regents on Friday, the regents will sign off on any "significant, special" compensation changes and will start monitoring severance agreements.

The new policies to be voted on by the full board also would tighten paid leaves for outgoing administrators, of the kind approved by former President Robert Bruininks that provoked a public uproar and legislative scrutiny.

Many regents said they were surprised when the Star Tribune reported that Bruininks granted his departing executives $2.8 million in leaves and severance packages. He regularly approved lengthy paid leaves at their administrative salaries, that report showed, and repeatedly waived a university policy that executives repay their stipends if they left the U.

Kaler called executive compensation packages signed by his predecessor "very generous" and vowed to be more stringent when top officials leave his administration.

Kaler's staff has recommended eliminating the so-called "administrative transitional leaves," in favor of traditional faculty sabbaticals, to give longtime administrators time to re-tool in their discipline. The new rules say that those sabbaticals of up to six months be paid at a faculty salary, rather than the administrative rate. Also, "if an individual is granted a sabbatical, he or she will not receive severance," the policy says.

 Kaler could still grant exceptions and waivers but would need regents' written approval to do so.

At Friday's meeting, regents debated whether new rules on severance ought to be outlined in board policy, rather than administrative policy, which a president could change without board approval. Regent John Frobenius argued for severance rules being a part of board policy. "Somebody needs to set some limits on that authority," he said.

[U of M VP] Brown responded that specific severance provisions probably fall within "the administrative level of detail," rather than the board's broader governance.

Before June's meeting, Beeson will meet with Kaler's staff to fine-tune the policies.

The regents want to make sure they are "not overreacting to the news of the day, versus exercising our governance responsibilities," Beeson said. "We want to find that balance."

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