Karen Hanson to remain in her role, providing continuity during presidential transition

Hanson, the executive vice president and provost, will be on leave from January to March 2019, and will return to her role April 1.

by Helen Sabrowsky

After a three-month leave of absence beginning in January, University of Minnesota Executive Vice President and Provost Karen Hanson will return to her role full-time April 1, straying from a previous announcement that she would leave her role at the end of the year.

Hanson, who has held the position for almost seven years, will continue in the role until the next University president names her successor, a process that could take up to a year. Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster will serve as acting executive vice president and provost during Hanson’s leave.

In her August announcement, Hanson cited personal and family considerations as reasons for stepping down, but said a three-month leave will provide her time to attend to them and allow her to return to the University. Hanson said she was interested in returning due to the transition in University leadership.

“It’s a somewhat tender moment for the University with so many changes taking place in the administration and I care about this place a lot and would like to do all I can to maintain the momentum we have and bring stability,” Hanson said.

Regents Tom Anderson and Steve Sviggum said they are confident in Hanson’s ability to provide continuity during the presidential transition.

“I have tremendous confidence in Provost Hanson and I think that’s one of the byproducts of her wanting to stay,” Anderson said.

Sviggum said he is glad Hanson will return to the University and provide a bridge in leadership during the transition to a new president.

Hanson is responsible for overseeing the University’s academics and academic and research initiatives, and is also involved in the University’s budgeting and capital planning.

McMaster previously served as chair of the Department of Geography and as an associate dean for budget and planning in the College of Liberal Arts. While he will likely delegate some of his vice provost responsibilities, Hanson said, McMaster will still maintain a direct line of responsibility in his current role.

“We’ve been talking during the last couple of weeks on how we might lighten his load a little bit so that he can take up some of the things that are usually on my plate,” said Hanson.

Hanson said she will remain in contact with McMaster during her leave and expects the transition to go smoothly.

Sviggum said he is confident in McMaster’s ability to balance the two roles during Hanson’s leave, and stressed that it’s important the next president be able to choose a new provost as the two will work closely together.

During her final stretch of time at the University, Hanson will continue to oversee several initiatives, including the reorganization of the Academic Health Center, child care planning for the Twin Cities campus and the beginning of the University’s systemwide strategic plan.

“What I hope to do is keep momentum going on initiatives we have now and keep stability and continuity for a little bit while the new president seeks out a provost,” Hanson said.