Kaler’s admin shift gets mixed reviews

Kaler’s proposal drew criticism from some Board of Regents members.

Youssef Rddad

With the impending retirement  of the University of Minnesota’s chief financial officer, University leaders are revamping a number of leadership positions, but those realignments have drawn some scrutiny from members of the Board of Regents. 
 
 
The reorganization of administrative positions would reduce the number of employees that directly report to University President Eric Kaler. Currently, 17 administrators and other positions directly report to the president. 
 
 
Under a proposed resolution, retiring University CFO and Vice President Richard Pfutzenreuter’s duties would be divided into two positions: a senior vice president for finance and operations, who would be charged with overseeing system-wide financial leadership, and an executive vice president and provost. Both positions will report directly to the president. 
 
 
The University’s athletics director would also report to Kaler’s chief of staff. 
 
 
But during last month’s board meeting, several regents said they want more clarity on the proposed changes regarding the switch and how the two positions would interact.  
 
 
Regent David McMillan said during a February review of the proposal that the chief of staff’s loosely defined role with the athletics director would yield “dotted responsibilities.” 
 
 
When Kaler revealed his proposal at last month’s meeting, a number of regents were surprised it was included. Some board members believed the relationships between administrators would not be included in the reorganization resolution when it was presented. 
 
 
Kaler said during the meeting that he had hoped to pass the resolution so the University could fill the open positions. 
 
 
The proposal comes after some regents have called for more oversight in the athletics department, including final approval of coaches’ contracts. 
 
 
With high visibility and public interest around University athletics compared to other departments, Kaler said the relationship between the chief of staff and athletics director would give him more contact with the athletics department. 
 
 
“I understand that athletics oversight in the Twin Cities campus is a concern for some regents,” Kaler said at last month’s meeting. “I am ultimately accountable for activities of the athletics director.” 
 
 
Regent Darrin Rosha said he felt Kaler’s proposal would allow him to be accountable for the reorganization. Though Rosha said he would be concerned if the restructuring led to higher administrative costs, he did not believe that would be the case. 
 
 
After a lengthy discussion, the regents approved the president’s resolution, with the intention to re-examine at a later date to whom some administrators report.