Aggressive work plan concerns some regents

Kristin Gustafson

With University President Mark Yudof spending up to 10 percent of his time on the men’s basketball scandal, his schedule this year has been demanding.
But as the University begins its $1.3 billion capital campaign, Yudof will spend more time on the road fund-raising, adding to his already demanding schedule.
So when Yudof presented his plans Wednesday for the upcoming year, three members of the Board of Regents’ Presidential Review Committee were concerned whether he can handle all the work.
Yudof’s 1999-2000 work plan, to be presented again Friday in front of the full Board of Regents, has many aspects. It addresses initiatives concerning academic leadership, administrative management, fiscal management, planning, fund-raising and Yudof’s relationship with the board, students, staff, faculty and external constituencies.
But board members are concerned Yudof is stretched in too many directions, said Patricia Spence, board chairwoman.
“Your time is the most precious commodity,” said Maureen Reed, the board’s vice chairwoman. Yudof should keep from being pulled in too many directions and drop items when appropriate, she added.
“We needed to let him know that (the plan) has to be flexible. It is a road map of the direction we are going,” Spence said. “He obviously has to delegate a lot of it and hold other people accountable.”
But the review committee otherwise supported Yudof’s initiatives. The plan consists mostly with strengthening the University community, becoming a more service-oriented University, improving teaching and research and meeting Minnesotan citizens’ expectations.
Following the meeting, Yudof said he hopes to better connect with students through freshman seminars, student events and residential-housing visits.
But finding the time might be tough. The academic fraud allegations have taxed Yudof’s time, emotions and intellect, he said Wednesday.
In addition to perusing the final academic-fraud investigative report received Nov. 2, Yudof is reviewing a Faculty Consultative Committee report released Thursday. Yudof said he is generally sympathetic with the faculty report, which addresses academic integrity as well as student development and athletics.
But while Yudof was not surprised by a letter from men’s athletic coaches in support of men’s athletic director Mark Dienhart, he said he will not base his decision solely on the letter.
“This is not a democratic decision,” Yudof said. “We’re not going to take a vote of the coaches on this decision.”
But personnel changes resulting from the University’s investigation will not be made until Yudof has finished with the report.
“I need to make many decisions,” Yudof said. “I have to look for complicity. Who knew? And who should have known? What is the right management structure here? And are these the right people to carry it out?”

Kristin Gustafson covers University administration and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3211.