Top U lobbyist leaving his post

As the University fights for a large state budget request, it’s losing a long-time advocate.

Cody Nelson

As the University of Minnesota fights for $1.3 billion in state funding this spring, one of its leading lobbyists is leaving his post.

Todd Iverson, the University’s assistant director of state relations, is leaving the institution on March 8, taking with him years of experience and relationships at the state Capitol.

“To lose someone with his connections will be, I think, a little difficult to overcome,” said Ryan Olson, who has worked with Iverson as a University student advocate.

An expanded tuition freeze is at the crux of the University’s lobbying efforts this spring. If lawmakers approve the request, it would lock in resident rates at the graduate, undergraduate and professional levels in 2016 and 2017.

The tuition freeze would cost $65.2 million, and Gov. Mark Dayton’s January budget proposal only included funding for half of that amount.

When contacted for an interview, Iverson declined to comment. Erin Dady, the special assistant to the president for government and community relations, responded to the request through a statement, which praises the long-time lobbyist’s work at the Capitol over the past decade.

In fall, Iverson served as the interim director of the Office of Government and Community Relations.

“His steady presence helped lay the foundation for advancing the ‘U’s’ interests this session,” the statement said. “He will be very difficult to replace.”

Olson, who’s now the director of government relations for the Minnesota Student Association, said the institution’s lobbying efforts will miss Iverson’s expertise.

“I think it’s mostly just that experience and that wealth of knowledge and relationships that … will be definitely missed at the University,” Olson said.

Iverson, a University alumnus, was part of the lobbying team that secured funding for TCF Bank Stadium in 2008.

The University will post for Iverson’s position this week, a University spokesman said in an email. In the interim, the school will use contract lobbyists.