OHE's Pogemiller takes some heat from a fellow DFLer

Pogemiller

Minnesota Office of Higher Education Director Larry Pogemiller didn’t have the easiest first appearance before the state House higher-education committee.

He started his address to the committee saying he was hoping to beef up the research and consultative components of the office, which he said in years past hasn’t been as strong or well-regarded as it should have been.

A couple of representatives made some teasing remarks toward the former state Senate majority leader, who was named just three months ago. But Rep. Gene Pelowski (DFL-Winona) had the harshest tone.

Pelowski

He asked Pogemiller what he was doing to deal with the higher-education bubble, because he said the state could face a crisis if it pops.

(That’s a national issue that’s still being debated in higher ed circles, and it’s unclear what a man in Pogemiller’s position would be able to do about it.)

Pogemiller acknowledged the concern, but said the solution, “is above my pay grade.”

Pelowski responded:

“We can talk about your pay grade, which has gone up dramatically since you took this position. … But if your pay grade doesn’t (enable you to) answer it, can we get someone who can?”

Pelowski didn’t seem impressed with the OHE’s effectiveness, either:

“Your reputation is not stellar.”

Pelowski has been tough before on those appearing before the panel, including MnSCU CFO Laura King and Pogemiller’s predecessor, Sheila Wright. He seems to get peeved about MnSCU spending and officials’ inability to give him data or lay out how they’ve prepared to deal with a particular problem.