MnSCU to review how it OKs chancellor’s contract

The chief trustee of Minnesota's state-run colleges and universities says he wants to review the way the system approves contracts for its chancellor.

Board Chairman Clarence Hightower had defended the system's announcement Monday that he quietly negotiated and signed a contract for Chancellor Steven Rosenstone eight months ago without running the final draft by trustees.

He told those attending the board meeting today he's confident that he followed "past precedent" in doing so, but acknowledged questions about the transparency of that process.

"As an institution grounded in public trust, I want to make sure that we don't just rely on precedent, and instead look at ways we can improve," he said.

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He added later, "I'm sorry this has been such a distraction for the board and the public, because it has gotten in the way of the great story we have to tell about the important work the system is doing."

Hightower said he'll create a work group that will study how other organizations approve such contracts, and then make recommendations to the board on what approval process it should use.

In a separate resolution, trustees agreed to award Rosenstone $41,000 out of a maximum of $50,000 in performance pay.

They agreed to approve any future merit pay proposals for the chancellor.

This is the last time Rosenstone will receive performance pay, which was written into his previous contract.

Since then, lawmakers have prohibited performance pay in new MnSCU contracts. Those are awards available to a few dozen top MnSCU executives and college presidents.

Rosenstone is still eligible for merit pay, as are many other MnSCU administrators.

Mark Carlson, vice chancellor for human resources, said legislators set the total amount of money that MnSCU can award its administrators, and system leaders divvy it up as they see fit.

Carlson made a rough calculation that Rosenstone received about $14,000 in merit pay last year.

He said some years MnSCU receives no allotment for merit pay.