MN Supreme Court justice takes U post

Jeremy Taff

After serving eight years on the highest court in the state, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Sandra Gardebring resigned Friday to take a job at the University.
University President Mark Yudof appointed Gardebring as the vice president for institutional relations starting Sept. 8, pending Board of Regents approval at the upcoming July meeting.
“While I leave the court with reluctance, I look forward to my work at the University,” Gardebring said in a press release. “It is, in my view, a remarkable civic asset, central to the future success of the state in many ways, as it has been in the past.”
Gardebring will replace Tom Swain, who first came to the University in 1996 during the Hasselmo administration. Swain retired earlier this year and Donna Peterson took over as interim vice president for institutional relations. Peterson will resume her previous position as director of state relations in September.
Robert Bruininks, executive vice president and provost, said he looks forward to working with Gardebring.
“She has a deep appreciation and is committed to the role of higher education in Minnesota,” Bruininks said. “She has not only been a strong force in the development and management of public policy, but has an extraordinary record of public and civic engagement.”
Head of the Humphrey Institute John Brandl first met Gardebring when she was a constituent of his as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Brandl said that Gardebring might have started to miss the action while she was a Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, where responsibilities include reading cases and spending much time alone.
“She likes to mix it up, be with people, deal with political issues,” Brandl said. “I think Sandra needs the change to reinvigorate her.”
A pay increase might help as well. Gardebring will be paid $150,000 per year at her new position; she earned $103,080 per year as a state supreme court justice.
As vice president for institutional relations, Gardebring has some big shoes to fill, Brandl said. The position requires Gardebring to oversee University public relations, alumni relations, fund-raising and lobbying efforts while reporting directly to the president.
“The University is extremely important to peoples’ lives in Minnesota,” Brandl said. “But there’s a danger for the University to seem arrogant.”
It is the job of the vice president for institutional relations to translate the University’s goals to the people of the state, Brandl said.
“She will have to present the best of the University to the people,” he said.