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Wheelock named VP U Services

Pam Wheelock is currently board chair of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Minnesota. She’ll take over as vice president for University Services on Aug. 15.
Wheelock named VP U Services
Image by University of Minnesota

Pam Wheelock will be the new University of Minnesota vice president for University Services, the University announced Thursday.

Wheelock was the interim CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota from 2011 until February and has served on its board of directors for nine years — three as board chair.

“I am confident that Pam has the vision, the qualifications, the experience, and the collaborative working style that will be critical to successfully leading University Services,” President Eric Kaler said in an announcement to the University.

In an interview with the Minnesota Daily, Wheelock said her term as board chair at Blue Cross Blue Shield ends next week, but that she’ll remain on the board for another three-year term.

Kaler personally called her earlier this week with the offer, she said. She said she’s thrilled about the appointment and sees the University as a “great institution” with a “great group of people” at University Services.

The other two candidates for the position were Mike Berthelsen, already at the University as associate vice president of Facilities Management and Tom Sorel, commissioner and CEO of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The purpose of University Services is “to make the University work.” It oversees Facilities Management, University Health and Safety, Public Safety, construction and auxiliary services like the bookstores and residence halls.

The vice president oversees 3,400 employees and an annual operating budget of $390 million for University Services, according to the position profile.

Current Vice President for University Services Kathleen O’Brien announced in February that she would retire.

She made $234,874 last year.

Wheelock will take over Aug. 15 and University CFO Richard Pfutzenreuter will serve in the interim, according to University officials. The appointment is pending regents approval at their July 11 meeting.

A major point in Wheelock’s speech during her public forum was looking to the future to decide what University Services should do now.

Bob Baker, director of Parking and Transportation Services, asked Wheelock if she would sell the University’s parking lots since Ohio State University might privatize its parking lots to a private firm for $483 million. Wheelock said that type of plan would not be her “first choice.”

Wheelock referred to the academic bloc as “customers” in her presentation, which caused discontent with faculty members.

“It’s really about rolling up your sleeves and developing a partnership with those that are on the frontline of advancing the academic interests of this institution,” she said.

A search committee chaired by Pfutzenreuter and College of Design Dean Tom Fisher worked with KeyStone Search to find the candidates.

O’Brien is the most recent in a succession of administrative officials to leave their positions at the University, including Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Tom Sullivan, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Frank Cerra and Vice President of University Relations Karen Himle. Administrative turnover is common during presidential transitions.

O’Brien said she’d planned on retiring when former President Bob Bruininks did, but Kaler asked her to stay and help with the transition.

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