U VPs continue their exodus

The University is launching a national search to replace Sullivan, who’s leaving at the end of 2011.

Conor Shine

As incoming University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler prepares to move into Morrill Hall  this July, several top administrators are moving out.
Last week, Provost Tom Sullivan became the sixth of 13 top administrators to announce plans to step down in the past year.  Three of them have already left their posts, including recently retired Senior Vice President of Health Sciences Frank Cerra,  and Vice President of University Relations Karen Himle  âÄî who returned to work in the private sector.
Cerra, Sullivan and current President Bob Bruininks, who will leave office June 30 after nine years as president, all plan to return to the faculty.
Turnover in administration is common during presidential transitions, with some administrators taking the change in leadership as an opportunity to return to the faculty or move into retirement.
Clashes in personality with the new president can also push administrators to leave.
âÄúThey say, âÄòI donâÄôt know if IâÄôm a good fit for this presidentâÄôs style, I think IâÄôll step aside,âÄôâÄù said Jaime Ferrare, a higher-education consultant who works on presidential searches.  
When Northwestern University President Henry Bienen  left the school in 2009, several top administrators delayed their retirements so they could leave with him, NorthwesternâÄôs Vice President for University Relations Alan Cubbage said.
âÄúA president tends to build a team over the first couple years in office, and that team often stays with the president during his or her tenure,âÄù he said.
ItâÄôs important that new presidents have the opportunity to build a cabinet theyâÄôre comfortable with and confident in, Cubbage said.
In order to give Kaler maximum flexibility in assembling his team, Bruininks said he doesnâÄôt plan to permanently fill any of the vacancies that open up during the transition.
Although shake-ups in administration happen during a switch, less âÄúhouse cleaningâÄù is seen now than in the past, Ferrare said.
âÄúThe way it used to be done was a president would come in and say âÄòIâÄôd like the resignation of all the vice presidents. YouâÄôre welcome to reapply, but IâÄôm going to open it up,âÄôâÄù Ferrare said.
Now, with financial hardships, many colleges seek stability, especially in the first year under a new president, he said.
If the new president is an outsider, it can also affect the extent of the turnover.
âÄúWith external candidates, because theyâÄôre not known, thereâÄôs some insecurity on the part of cabinet-level administrators,âÄù Ferrare said.
When Indiana University President Michael McRobbie  took office in July 2007, he had the benefit of 10 years as an administrator at the school and already had an idea of who he wanted in his cabinet, school spokesman Larry MacIntyre  said.
There was little turnover in the first year of McRobbieâÄôs tenure outside of two retirements, MacIntyre said, but three years down the line only four carryovers remain from the previous administration.
The University is launching a national search to replace Sullivan, whoâÄôs leaving at the end of 2011.
Other administrators whose positions will have to be filled include Vice President of Equity and Diversity Nancy Barcelo, who left the position created for her in 2006, to take over as president at Northern New Mexico College last July.
Vice President for Scholarly and Cultural Affairs Steven Rosenstone  and Vice President for Human Resources Carol Carrier will both step down this summer.
Rosenstone, who has been leading the $70 million effort to renovate Northrop Auditorium, will leave to take over the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System.
The departures could have a trickle-down effect, and a new provost could mean further shake-ups among deans at the college level, Ferrare said.
âÄúGenerally that happens about a year into a new presidency, when a new provost is hired,âÄù he said. âÄúThen the deans determine whether they can work with that provost or not.âÄù