On Campus Blog

MnSCU Chancellor gets 3-year contract

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system quietly signed a new contract with Chancellor Steven Rosenstone in  October, a system spokesman announced today.

The three-year contract raises Rosenstone's base pay and increases or adds various allowances it pays him by tens of thousands of dollars a year.

The low-profile nature of the contract's signing concerns Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona and chair of the higher education finance and policy committee, who said he has no knowledge of a public vote by the trustees. He said he found out about the contract Friday.

"It may not be illegal or improper, but it doesn't pass the smell test," Pelowski said. "It stinks."

MnSCU Board Chairman Clarence Hightower negotiated the deal. He  said the board did not vote on the contract -- but also had no expectation of doing so. He said he served on the board for about nine years under Chancellor James McCormick and could not recall the contract ever going before the board.

Hightower said he could not recall whether MnSCU issued announcements of his contract right after they were signed.

"Could we have done more to be transparent? In hindsight, yeah," he said.

Hightower said the contract has always been available as a public document.

In an email, faculty union President Nancy Black, who also served as president from 2004 to 2008, said the board has been more transparent. She said board documents indicated trustees were scheduled to review Chancellor James McCormick's salary in December 2005.

She said McCormick's 2006 contract was signed just three days before it was to go into effect.

According to minutes from a June 2013 board meeting, trustees authorized Hightower to negotiate the contract for them.

Trustee Philip Krinkie said Hightower had contacted him with details of it.

Krinkie said the lack of a board vote was not a real problem to him. It would have been more transparent to give the board the opportunity to discuss the proposed contact in closed session, he said.

But in his experience at other organizations, he said, board approval in such situations is usually a technicality.

"The reality is: Does it change the outcome?" Krinkie said. "I would say 99.9 percent of the time, no."

Under the new agreement, Rosenstone’s base salary next year is set at just over $387,000. His salary in the first year of his 2011 contract was $360,000, but has since received raises.

MnSCU calculated the increase in allowances for matters such as housing, transportation and supplemental expenses at just over $43,000. In a statement it said that brings total compensation "in line with that of other leaders of higher education systems nationally."

Pelowski said it was not fair that MnSCU negotiated Rosenstone's contract so quickly when it still hasn't negotiated faculty contracts. He said that months ago MnSCU pressed lawmakers for millions of dollars in additional funding so it could settle them -- a sum that it eventually got.

"One would hope that your first priority would be the people who are essential," he said. "Apparently one contract was completed. And the rest appear not to be essential."

Here's the lightly edited original announcement from MnSCU:

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor

Steven Rosenstone Agrees to New Three-year Contract

Rosenstone (Courtesy of MnSCU)

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities announced that the Board of Trustees has entered into a second three-year contract with Chancellor Steven Rosenstone.

Rosenstone, whose current contract is set to expire on July 31, 2014, has agreed to serve through July 31, 2017.

As a condition for entering into the new contract, Rosenstone, who has been serving as chancellor of MnSCU while on an unpaid leave of absence from his tenured (lifetime) faculty appointment as a University of Minnesota faculty member, will resign from the University of Minnesota by August 1, 2014.

The second contract contains additional changes:  Rosenstone’s first contract with MnSCU guaranteed him a two-year appointment as a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Academic Affairs following his term as chancellor; this new agreement eliminates this provision.  In addition, the performance achievement award (up to $50,000) is eliminated in the second agreement.

Under the new agreement, Rosenstone’s base salary for FY 2014-15 is set at $387,250.  This represents a base salary increase of 1.8% in 2013-14 over his FY 2012-13 base salary and a salary increase of 1.8% in 2014-15.

The new agreement increases the dollar amount of employee allowances (e.g. housing, transportation, etc.) by $43,160 to bring total remuneration in line with that of other leaders of higher education systems nationally.

Chancellor Rosenstone’s total remuneration currently ranks 23rd out of the 65 heads of systems of higher education and 115th out of the 225 leaders of public colleges, universities, and systems (source: The Chronicle of Higher Education Salary Survey, May 2014).

The new agreement also creates a Performance Review Committee led by the board chair to evaluate the chancellor’s performance.  The board is expected to receive the committee’s report at its meeting on July 18.

Board Chairman Clarence Hightower said the board unanimously authorized him to negotiate the new contract, adding, “In the years ahead, it is imperative that our colleges and universities work together more effectively to overcome the significant challenges facing all of higher education so that we may continue to meet the needs of our students and communities across Minnesota. We are delighted that Chancellor Rosenstone has agreed to continue to lead our system of 31 colleges and universities, and we are confident that under his leadership they will continue to be the state’s highest value, most affordable higher education option.”