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Associated Press, Published May 15 2012

U of M president recommends ending special paid leaves

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The University of Minnesota's president is recommending an end to special administrative paid leaves.

A Board of Regents committee is considering the policy change recommended by President Eric Kaler for administrators returning to the faculty. Departing executives could take traditional sabbaticals, which would be shorter and pay less.

The committee on executive compensation and leaves was formed after the Star Tribune (http://bit.ly/Jk55MB ) reported that past President Robert Bruininks regularly granted administrators transitioning to the faculty lengthy paid leaves at their executive salaries. The report also found Bruininks repeatedly waived a university policy that executives repay their stipends if they leave the school.

Kaler's chief of staff, Amy Phenix, said the exceptions upset taxpayers.

“What made people really frustrated ... was that even though university policy allowed a lot of discretion, the folks did take these leaves at their administrative salaries, not at their resumed faculty salaries,” she said. “Not all of them did return to the university.”

University faculty can take a semester-long sabbatical with full salary and benefits and a yearlong leave at half-salary and full benefits. University policy states that faculty members who do not return to the school must reimburse the university for their salary, retirement contributions and the value of the benefits they have received. It does allow for a written waiver to that rule.

Nearly all of the university's 43 vice presidents, chancellors and deans, among other top executives, are also tenured faculty members eligible for sabbaticals, Phenix said. Getting rid of the administrative leaves would make clear that “if you're a faculty member, you have the same options as every other faculty,” she said.

Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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