Yudof plans to streamline U administration

by Kamariea Forcier

and Joel Sawyer

A new organizational structure could change the face of the University’s administration, if a plan announced Wednesday by President-elect Mark Yudof is approved by the Board of Regents in May.
Flanked by University President Nils Hasselmo’s Chief of Staff Mario Bognanno and Bognanno’s successor Tonya Brown, Yudof unveiled a plan that would scrap the current provostal structure on the Twin Cities campus and replace it with a system that, Yudof said, would delegate more authority to the University’s colleges.
The new organizational structure would eliminate the offices of Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost for Professional Studies and Provost for Arts, Sciences and Engineering. The plan would also change the title of the head of the Academic Health Center from provost to vice president.
In place of the eliminated positions, Yudof would create one new post titled the executive vice president and provost.
This position will carry out the responsibilities of current senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Marvin Marshak, as well as that of the provosts.
“This person would be a sort of deputy chief operating officer,” Yudof said. “This is the person to whom I can delegate specific system-wide or campus-wide responsibility. This is the person who would take over in my absence or infirmity.”
The new executive vice president and provost position will most likely be filled by Robert Bruininks, dean of the University’s College of Education and Human Development, Yudof said.
If approved by the Board of Regents in May, Bruininks would integrate strategic planning and budgeting across all academic programs. All non-medical based college deans would report to Bruininks.
“This is not to be the czar of the academic program,” Yudof said. “Innovation, creativity, progress takes place at the college level … The administration needs to facilitate that or get out of the way.”
The current provost positions were created in 1994 by University President Nils Hasselmo as a simplification of an earlier system.
Prior to 1994, deans reported to vice provosts and vice presidents, who then reported to Hasselmo.
Under the current structure, provosts coordinate the budgets and programs of the colleges within their provostal unit and serve as the liaison between president and deans.
Yudof’s proposal adds two new positions and promotes two more administrators to positions that will allow them greater access to the president.
A vice presidential position for human resources would be created because, Yudof said, “It is time to give (human resources) a higher profile on campus.”
The plan also calls for a vice president of agricultural policy.
Agriculture “is an essential industry in this state, has been for a long time, employs a lot of people,” Yudof said.
The vice president of research and graduate schools, and the vice president of athletics and student development would be promoted to positions directly under the president. Under the old system, both positions had to report to other administrators.
“It’s not that there’s anything particularly wrong” with the current system, he said. “It’s just that I’d rather have (them) reporting to me rather than someone else.”
Yudof’s plan gained general approval from faculty members with whom he met earlier Wednesday.
Marshak, who will vacate the position he has held for nearly one year, said, “A new president comes in, he wants to rearrange the administration and the people — you have to let him do his thing.”
At this time, only Bruininks was named specifically to take over a new position in Yudof’s administration. Yudof said that he would have a list of appointments ready sometime next week. All staff members would be expected to start their new positions July 1 when Yudof assumes the University presidency.