Why Arne Carlson says the University of Minnesota needs better regents

Former Republican governor Arne Carlson has been on a tear recently.

First he wrote this blog post about administrative pay at the University of Minnesota. Then he wrote a related opinion piece for the Star Tribune, which took aim at the U's Board of Regents.

[audio href="http://minnesota.publicradio.org/www_publicradio/tools/media_player/popup.php?name=minnesota/news/programs/daily_circuit_1/2013/04/08/daily_circuit_130408_arnecarlson_20130408_64" title="Arne Carlson on UMN administrative pay"]His chat with Kerri Miller[/audio]He talked to MPR's Kerri Miller on The Daily Circuit about it, essentially saying that lawmakers need to choose regents who are more vigilant about cutting college costs.

Membership, he said, should be based on demonstrated skill, as well as candidates' recognition that their job is to provide meaningful oversight of the U.

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He said:

"This explosion of administrative costs should never, ever have occurred. And that reflects directly on the Board of Regents. But the ultimate responsibility is with the legislature, who oversees the Board of Regents and appoints them."

Carlson wrote in the Strib that the governor should help gather state leaders to "develop a new approach for creating a competent and visionary Board of Regents, chosen on the basis of competence and not politics."

He also told Miller the U needs to rethink how much it pays its top administrators, noting that many university officials make more than top state and federal leaders.

He mentioned former athletic director Joel Maturi, how now works as a U fund-raiser. He writes that Maturi makes $468,000, compared to the president of the United States, who earns $400,000.

He told Miller:

"You can't have a fund-raiser making more than the president of the United States and then come to the taxpayers and say, 'You've got to pay more taxes to afford us."

Carlson says the U should not use administrative salaries at other universities as a benchmark for its own. He says costs within the whole higher education sector are spiraling out of control.

Note: He also wrote in his blog about the position of Mark Rotenberg, who's leaving the U for Johns Hopkins University:

The lead attorney for the University makes $295,000 or $95,000 more than the Attorney General of the United States, and over $180,000 more than the Minnesota Attorney General and some $78,000 more than the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Here's a recap of the interview on MPR's Daily Circuit blog.