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U of Minn Regents OK new provost contract of $500K-plus

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U of M President Gabel delivers her first report to the Board of Regents.
University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel speaks to the Board of Regents on July 11, 2019. The board voted 8-4 to approve Rachel Croson's contract as the university's next executive vice president and provost.
Elizabeth Shockman | MPR News file

Regents at the University of Minnesota on Thursday approved a salary of more than a half-million dollars for a new provost.

By an 8-4 vote, the board approved Rachel Croson's contract as the university's next executive vice president and provost. Croson, dean of Michigan State University’s College of Social Science, is the first major hire by new University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel.

Several Republican legislators and some regents had criticized Croson's salary as too much, the Star Tribune reported. Her proposed salary exceeds $500,000 when a professorship is accounted for. Croson, an economics professor, replaces retiring Provost Karen Hanson. Hanson, who has held the job for nearly a decade, made about $468,000 per year.

“She is an accomplished academic leader who brings to this important role an extraordinary breadth of talent, experience and strategic acumen,” Gabel said in announcing Croson's hiring.

While Croson’s experience drew praise, critics pointed out that she would be paid more than Hanson even though Croson has never served as a provost.

“It sends the wrong message to students, families, University employees, and taxpayers to be handing out a massive new contract to someone who has never served as a Provost before,” Republican state Rep. Peggy Scott of Andover, said in a statement. On Wednesday, Scott and 19 other Republican lawmakers sent a letter urging regents to delay the contract vote.

Regent Michael Hsu, who also questioned the incoming provost’s base salary, on Thursday proposed an amendment to renegotiate it. His motion was rejected 9-3.

“Optically, it’s a really bad thing for us,” Hsu said of the proposed salary, citing planned budget cuts and faculty reductions at the university’s Duluth campus.

“You’re telling Duluth to save $5 million, and you’re paying the new provost even more money. Many of us have said we’re spending too much on administration already," Hsu said.