Board approves new vice president

Elizabeth Cook

At its monthly meeting Thursday, a University Board of Regents committee unanimously approved Karen Himle to become the next vice president of University Relations.

Without discussion, the faculty, staff and student affairs committee also voted to strengthen the Student Conduct Code. It amended the employee recruitment and retention policy as well.

‘An exceptional leader’

If approved by the full Board today, as expected, Himle will begin her new job Jan. 8, 2007. She would replace Linda Thrane, who recently left the University for a similar role at Rice University in Houston.

From 2004 to 2006, Himle was the executive vice president and foundation president at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics. She also worked at St. Paul Companies (now St. Paul Travelers) for more than 17 years, five as the senior vice president for corporate and government affairs.

“I think she’s an exceptional leader,” said University President Bob Bruininks. “She’s been very active in the community.”

In addition, Himle has served on community boards for the Minneapolis Club, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Orchestral Association.

“She’s engaging,” Bruininks said. “She’s intelligent.”

Off-campus jurisdiction

Earlier, the committee unanimously voted to change the Student Conduct Code to apply to off-campus infractions, sending the measure to the full board for a vote today.

Under the revised policy, University officials could sanction students for violating any state or federal law – even off campus – regardless of the outcome or existence of criminal proceedings. Currently, the University can only punish students for on-campus crimes.

Kathryn Brown, University vice president and chief of staff, said the code will be used for “off-campus behavior in limited circumstances.”

But, according to the final draft of the code, students can be sanctioned for breaking the law, adversely affecting a substantial interest or being a danger to themselves or others.

Committee members also expanded the list of possible sanctions. If approved today, the amended code will list 12 possible punishments. They include withholding – or revoking – a student’s diploma or revoking admission to the University.

Rioting and hazing offenders are currently punished based on administrative policies, but will soon fall under the jurisdiction of the conduct code if the Board passes changes today.

Employee policy updated

Changes to the employee recruitment and retention policy were also preliminarily approved Thursday.

Among other revisions, the draft calls for the policy to be easily readable for incoming and current employees.

Carol Carrier, vice president for human resources, said some of the changes include the wording “life-course friendly,” to explain a supportive workplace that “help(s) employees effectively integrate and manage their work and personal life responsibilities.”

The committee also signed off on a subsection that focuses on providing effective preparation and support for incoming leaders.

Regent David Larson said he is concerned about the new draft because it doesn’t include a commitment from management to conduct regular performance reviews.

He said he feels strongly about this section being included in the policy because it is “critical” to high-functioning institutions.

Carrier said wording pertaining to work reviews will be in the performance management policy, which the board will be reviewing in February.