Resigning VP looks forward to life outside work

Jessica Burke

Sue Markham, the associate vice president for Facilities Management, announced her resignation Monday. She will step down June 14.
“It’s like leaving family,” said Markham of her decision to resign and leave her staff in Facilities Management.
Markham said that when she came to the University in 1990, she thought the job was a two-year commitment.
“I just became enthralled with the institution and the opportunities here and the importance of the institution in the state,” Markham said.
Her duties were drawn out more than she had expected they would be, she said.
“Basically, the facilities and the steam plant were the two things I came here to do, and they are coming to a close,” Markham said.
The steam plant issue has been controversial at the University, in the state Legislature and the city of Minneapolis since 1988.
JoAnne Jackson, senior vice president for Finance and Operations, said she was able to convince Markham to remain under contract on an as-needed basis to work on steam plant renovation.
“It’s a complicated issue she’s been intimately involved with,” Jackson said.
Markham has pushed for the renovation of the coal-burning steam plant, which is located on the bank of the Mississippi River. Current proposals would allow the steam plant to burn multiple fuels, including coal and natural gas, to heat the University.
There have been many opponents to the University’s choice of fuel and location for the steam plant, however, including the Legislature and Minneapolis City Council.
Both bodies have passed several laws and ordinances dealing with the location, funding and fuel choice for the plant. This has drawn the discussion of the issue out for several years.
But now that the end is in sight for the steam plant issue, Markham said, she would like to have a life outside the office. While she has no immediate plans, she wants to spend more time with her two sons, Nick, 12, and Eric, 17.
Markham praised the staff in Facilities Management.
“This is not a story about me; this is clearly about the employees of Facilities,” she said. “They are the ones who came together and created the changes that you have seen over the last several years.”
While she only worked with Markham for a short time, Jackson said she has come to appreciate Markham’s abilities and business sense.
“I’ll miss Sue,” Jackson said. “She’s put together an excellent staff.”
Markham was recruited for the job by the late Gus Donhowe, who was then senior vice president for Finance, to address concerns the state legislative auditor’s office raised in a 1988 audit of physical plant operations.
Jackson has appointed Robert Schenkel as acting vice president. Schenkel was serving as director of operations for Facilities Management and worked closely with Markham during her time at the University.
Jackson said a search committee has been activated and that Roger Paschke, University treasurer, will head that committee. The search for Markham’s replacement should take about three months. The committee will primarily look for candidates in the area, Jackson said.
Markham said her successor should know that everyone at the University has valuable skills and that everyone here needs to respect these skills in their colleagues.
“We must be partners,” Markham said.
Markham’s successor will face serious facilities concerns with the University’s nearly $1 billion in deferred building maintenance, as well as shortfalls in funding for building upkeep.