Regents give Yudof approval to restructure the administration

by Jim Martyka

DULUTH — With only supportive comments, the University’s Board of Regents on Thursday unanimously passed Univeristy President-elect Mark Yudof’s plan for reorganizing central administration during its Committee of the Whole meeting.
When Yudof replaces current University President Nils Hasselmo on July 1, the University’s administration will lose some of its current top positions, give others a more direct line to the president and add a high position to take over the school’s top administrative responsibilities.
“I want to commend (Yudof) for what he’s done,” said Board of Regents Chairman Tom Reagan. “I think you come to us with an excellent plan. … You’ve done your work, and you’ve done it well.”
Other regents shared Reagan’s sentiments. After an introductory presentation from Yudof, the regents passed the structural portion of the plan. The vote was broadcast over live television to all of the University’s coordinate campuses.
Yudof’s personnel recommendations to fill his top positions were approved by the Faculty, Staff and Student Affairs Committee later in the day. The regents, who will vote collectively on the personnel today, are expected to pass the recommendations, as well.
“I think I can say that we are all very pleased with your recommendations for the administration positions,” said Regent Patricia Spence.
Yudof’s plan eliminates the positions of the senior vice president for Academic Affairs, which is currently held by Marvin Marshak, as well as the provosts for Professional Studies and Arts, Sciences and Engineering.
To take over the responsibilities of the eliminated positions, Yudof’s plan adds a post called the executive vice president and provost. Yudof has recommended Robert Bruininks, who is currently dean of the College of Education and Human Development, to fill the position.
At the meeting, Yudof also said that under the executive vice president and provost, he would like to have an administrative position that deals directly with undergraduate students and their concerns, and tracks attendance and graduation. Some administrators said that Marshak, who has been a key figure in several of the University’s top issues, from the legislature to student affairs, would be an ideal person to hold the position.
“I’d have to open up (an application process), but I think he’d definitely be a strong candidate for it,” said Yudof. Although both Yudof and Marshak said they discussed possible positions for him in the administration, both said nothing has been finalized.
Yudof’s plan also adds higher positions in human resources and agricultural policy and promotes the positions of vice president for Student Development and Athletics, the vice president for Research and the dean of the Graduate School. In some of these top positions, Yudof said he will replace some current administrators and open national searches to find people that he feels will work better with his vision.
Since being selected as the next president, Yudof has been outspoken on his plans for the University, especially for the administration.
Yudof’s plan puts more power into the hands of the individual college deans, who would become more involved in their respective schools.
“He satisfied me in that what he was doing was building an administration that would work bottom-up rather than top-down, which is what this University needs,” Reagan said.
Yudof has been working with administrators and faculty members on organizing the plan over the past few months. Although he did receive concerns about job overload from faculty members, for the most part, Yudof said he has received a lot of support.
“This new system will work,” he said.