UMN regents approve hiring of former board chair as interim Duluth chancellor

University of Minnesota regent David McMillan listens during a Board of Regents meeting in 2019. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)
google news

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents voted 9-2 Wednesday to make its former chairman the two-year interim chancellor of the Duluth campus.

University of Minnesota regent David McMillan listens during a Board of Regents meeting in 2019. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

David McMillan spent 11 years on the board, which oversees $4.2 billion in yearly spending across the U’s five campuses, before resigning from the unpaid position last month to pursue the Duluth job.

He applied for the two-year interim position only after a national search failed to produce “the right candidate” to be Lendley Black’s permanent successor, President Joan Gabel said Wednesday.

Gabel was hired in 2018 while McMillan was board chair and got a significant pay raise from the board in December. In response to complaints about a potential conflict of interest, she took herself out of the decision-making process for picking the interim chancellor.

“Let me be clear: I did not ask anyone to be nominated. I did not ask anyone to apply. I did not promise the job or offer a job to anyone,” she said Wednesday. “While this situation is unusual, there has been careful, transparent steps to address these concerns.”

Gabel called accusations of a quid pro quo with McMillan “false,” “hurtful” and “insulting,” before leaving the room so the board could deliberate.


Chair Ken Powell said Gabel “made a good call” to pass on finalists for the permanent job. And he called accusations that Gabel wanted to reward McMillan for approving her contract extension “completely baseless.”

Mary Davenport called McMillan’s experience on the board “an asset, not a liability.” She said there’s no real conflict of interest in hiring him.

Mike Kenyanya said the fact that the committee unanimously chose McMillan “should have restored confidence” in the process.

Darrin Rosha and James Farnsworth voted against the hire. Farnsworth said it would jeopardize “public trust” in the board.

Rosha sought to postpone the appointment to allow for an outside legal review of whether McMillan’s work on the board to determine the compensation of not only Gabel but also Chief Financial Officer Myron Frans, who led the search committee that chose McMillan, creates a conflict of interest. That motion failed, as did a motion to change McMillan’s appointment from two years to six months with month-to-month renewals.

The board finally voted 9-2 to pursue a two-year deal with McMillan.


The search committee last week informed the board that McMillan was the best candidate out of six who applied – and the only one they interviewed.

The group cited his “high degree of emotional intelligence … willingness to collaborate, energy, humility, integrity, commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as community, transparency, and advocacy for employee development.”

McMillan, 61, earned a bachelor’s degree in Duluth and a law degree at the Twin Cities campus.

A retired executive for Minnesota Power and its parent company, Allete, he has not worked in higher education but “has a significant understanding of higher education challenges and opportunities, particularly within UMN and the University of Minnesota System,” the committee wrote.

google news
Previous articleExchange Whale Ratio Is Trending Up
Next articlePudukkottai Court Recruitment 2022 ( Notification