The state college and university system’s chief trustee seems to have raised a few eyebrows with Monday’s blanket statement of support for Chancellor Steven Rosenstone.
In response to a list of faculty union complaints about Rosenstone’s performance, board Chairman Clarence Hightower said trustees gave him their full support “unanimously,” and that it was “unwavering.”
But at least two — Louise Sundin and Philip Krinkie — say Hightower never consulted them before making the statement.
“I don’t believe that the chairman of the board has the purview to speak in such terms,” Krinkie said.
Hightower and other trustees did not immediately respond to calls requesting comment.
A spokesman for trustee Margaret Anderson Kelliher — who is head of the Minnesota High Tech Association — said Kelliher was consulted and agrees with Hightower.
Krinkie said his objection to being included in the blanket show of support “doesn’t mean that I don’t think that [Rosenstone] has fulfilled his role and responsibilities. But he certainly also has, in my estimation, some shortcomings. And there are numerous things that he needs to alter or to work on in his administration of the system.”
Krinkie said the IFO’s letter was a concern to him, because it reflected “a growing distrust, and a growing communications gap between the administration and the faculty.”
He said Rosenstone “hasn’t properly addressed” contract negotiations with the faculty union, and said the chancellor needs to play a more personal role to “restore some trust with IFO leadership.”
Krinkie also said the chancellor needs to get a better idea of how to handle declining enrollment and high executive turnover in the system.
Sundin declined to say what she thought of Rosenstone’s performance.
Despite his critique of the chancellor, Krinkie sounded more concerned with Hightower’s statement than Rosenstone’s performance.
The former state legislator said, “I’ve served on other boards … and I’ve never seen a board that operates the way that MnSCU operates — at least during the last couple of years under Chair Hightower.”
Krinkie said the chairman has told trustees at least once not to make public statements to the news media on a given issue.
“I was appointed by the governor, confirmed by the state Senate,” Krinkie said. “I don’t answer to Chair Hightower, and I certainly don’t answer to Chancellor Rosenstone.”