Bona (Courtesy of MnSCU)

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system trustees named two college presidents today.

Dennis Bona will be president of Northland Community and Technical College, and Bill Maki will president of the Northeast Higher Education District consortium of colleges. Both start July 1.

At a monthly meeting of trustees today, Chancellor Steven Rosenstone called Bona a man of “great integrity and capacity.”

Bona comes from Kellogg Community College in Michigan, where he has served as president since 2010. Prior to that, he served there in other positions, including vice president for instruction, dean of career and occupational education and director of the college’s Regional Manufacturing Technology Center.

He got his associate and bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University, and his master’s and a Ph.D. from Western Michigan University.

Bona comes to Northland after having a rough patch at Kellogg Community College, according to a Battle Creek Enquirer article last month:

“Bona had a tumultuous 2014 at KCC, going on leave during an investigation of allegations of inappropriate interactions with college personnel. He returned to work after the 20-day investigation revealed no substantiation of the allegations against him. In April, the Kellogg Faculty Association passed a no-confidence resolution against Bona.”

Rosenstone told the audience at today’s monthly meeting that Bona raised the topic of the investigation himself in the initial interview with MnSCU’s search advisory committee, and the chancellor said he discussed the case “at length” with Bona in his initial conversation with him.

Rosenstone said conversations with two Kellogg trustees and the investigator of the case made it clear that “there is no truth to the allegation. … The allegation was completely fabricated.”

Reading what appeared to be a comment from a Northland employee, Rosenstone said Bona’s discussion of the case with faculty and staff there left everyone “satisfied with his answers.”

“They have made it loud and clear that we have found their next president,” Rosenstone said.

Trustee Duane Benson said that after Kellogg reinstated Bona, it extended his contract. Benson said he strongly supported Bona’s appointment:

“They’re allegations, and they’ve never been proven. … If we make our decision based on allegations, I think we’re in trouble.”

Bona is replacing Anne Temte, who is retiring.

Maki will head up the Northeast Higher Education District, which is composed of Hibbing

Maki (Courtesy of MnSCU)

Community College, Itasca Community College, Mesabi Range College, Rainy River Community College and Vermilion Community College.

“Bill Maki reflects the qualities that the colleges were seeking,” Rosenstone said.

Since 2004, Maki has been vice president of finance and administration for both Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College. Before that, he was the district’s chief financial and facilities officer, and was dean of student and administrative services at Itasca Community College.

He has an associate degree from Vermilion Community College, and a bachelor’s degree and a master’s from the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Maki will replace Sue Collins, who is also retiring.

The University of Minnesota has another critic. (Alex Friedrich / MPR)

The D.C.-based consumer-advocacy group Public Citizen is calling for a federal investigation of the University of Minnesota’s human-subjects protection program — and says the program’s accreditation should be rescinded.

The announcement, made today, comes after a strongly worded external review last month said the U was not doing enough to protect the subjects of its experiments.

Public Citizen wants that reviewing organization — the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Program — to revoke the accreditation it has given the U. It also wants the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to investigate the program.

Its letter to the association asks why its reviewers found so many serious flaws after having accredited the program.

I called the accrediting association for comment, but was told officials were out at an all-day meeting.

A university spokeswoman sent me this e-mailed response from Dr. Brian Herman, the U’s vice president of research:

The university has as its goal to be the best at all the many processes that are necessary to serve our mission of teaching, research and service.  While we strive for this, we sometimes fall short, and the review process is one way to help us identify areas for improvement.

We’ve created a task force to plan the implementation of the recommendations.  The plan will be complete mid-May 2015.  We will be transparent by proactively sharing information about our actions and progress.

Actions currently underway include increases in staff and resources for training and monitoring, new members with relevant expertise added to the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and a new Research Compliance Advisory Committee that will provide high-level consultation regarding strategic risk management in research that involves human subjects with diminished abilities. We will hold ourselves accountable for taking action.

Here’s Public Citizen’s announcement:

Read more

Lighting the fire. (Peter Cox / MPR News)

With the power of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system on some lawmakers’ minds, I thought I’d quickly revisit last week’s tentative agreement ending the feud between faculty union leaders and Chancellor Steven Rosenstone.

(Faculty concerns over centralized power in the system office was at the core of their concern.)

A question has been the role of politics in the agreement. When Gov. Mark Dayton warned MnSCU in January it would get no funding recommendation unless it ironed things out with faculty, both sides downplayed its significance.

But when I asked MnSCU trustee Duane Benson last week about the agreement, he told me:

“The force unrecognized here is the governor. When he said, ‘No new money,’ I think that got everybody’s attention.”

House higher-education committee Chairman Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls) had a different take. He told reporters last week that Dayton would try to take credit for the agreement. But he said a resolution to the feud:

“… would have happened anyway. I had assurances from the chancellor’s office and [union officials] and others involved that they were going to work together to get it done.”

(Still, Nornes said the agreement will make things easier for higher-ed legislators, saying, “I personally don’t like negative things hanging over me or my committee.”)

Last week Dayton sounded like he’d be keeping tabs on the situation. He told reporters:

“The real test will be: Can they work cooperatively together in the months ahead, which they need to do to turn the situation around?”

MPR News reporters Tom Scheck and Riham Feshir contributed to this report.

You may remember Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system Chancellor Steven Rosenstone calling for an audit two years ago of Metropolitan State University’s payroll operations, whose SNAFUs had been overpaying some faculty while underpaying others. All in all, the university made more than $300,000 in overpayments, and almost $136,000 in underpayments, according to a Read more