Staff director resigns from regents post

Kristin Gustafson

After five months as executive director and corporate secretary of the Board of Regents, Andrea Turner resigned last Friday “to pursue other professional opportunities,” according to a University statement.
Regents hired Turner in April after a four-month national search. Turner was the top candidate out of more than 100 applicants for the position, which plans, organizes and researches the regents’ agenda.
Patricia Spence, regent chairwoman, said, “There were some aspects of the job that weren’t a good fit for her professionally.” Spence would not comment further on Turner’s plans. “I think she’s thinking about a lot of things,” she said.
Turner was unavailable for comment regarding her resignation.
The executive director supports the Board of Regents in all matters pertaining to its operation. She also supervises the board’s staff, keeps board meeting minutes and serves as a liaison between the board and University administrators.
Regents Spence and Maureen Reed chose Ann Cieslak, a regent policy and project assistant, as interim executive director Monday.
“I’m pleased to be appointed and honored by the confidence the board has in me,” Cieslak said.
Spence said there is no definite search plan for a permanent executive director, but said Cieslak “clearly demonstrated the leadership skills to be an outstanding interim executive director for the Board of Regents.” The regent staff has confidence in her ability to lead, Spence said.
However, the top priority for the board office is not this transition. Instead, it is the planning for the regents’ October meeting in Rochester, Cieslak said.
“It is a huge undertaking,” she added.
When asked if she would take the executive director position permanently, Cieslak said: “I’m taking it one day at a time, as I think the board is.”
Steve Bosacker, the University’s last permanent executive director, was plucked from the regents’ office in November when Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura appointed him as his interim chief of staff. Bosacker, who had held the University position for four years, resigned in January after Ventura hired him permanently.
Greg Brown, a lawyer with the University’s Office of General Counsel, served as interim executive director. He returned to his former position when the University hired Turner.
Turner left her position as the special assistant to the chancellor for equity and affirmative action and executive director of multicultural affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
“She was a very effective administrator,” said program director Jane Amdahl, who worked under Turner for almost six years at Stevens Point.
Turner was very good at mediating and conflict resolution with faculty, staff and administrators; monitoring hiring procedures for equitability; and working with students of color, said Amdahl.
“She was highly regarded for her speaking,” Amdahl said of her former boss.
But Turner “was excited about the change and the challenge” of the new job, Amdahl said.
In April, when Turner took over the position, she said, “I am thrilled to be joining the highly regarded University of Minnesota system, and I look forward to an exciting and productive tenure.”
Turner came to the University with 11 years of experience in recruitment, staff training development, budget administration and complaint investigation. She holds a law degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio.
Regent William Hogan II said Turner’s departure was “new information” to him. It was a joint agreement between the board and Turner, he said.
Hogan said the regents hoped that the executive director position would meet Turner’s needs, but it didn’t work out.
“Clearly, this is the first African-American female that’s worked in that position in the office,” Hogan said. “That will be missed.”
He added that the board will lose Turner’s background in law as well.
“We are sad to see her leave,” Hogan said.

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