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Reasons behind the Sviggum recommendation

Posted by: Jenna Ross Updated: April 1, 2011 - 1:42 PM

A committee concluded Wednesday that Steve Sviggum's unpaid seat on the U's Board of Regents conflicts with his paid position with the U's Humphrey School of Public Affairs and recommended he choose between them.

In a report released Thursday, the three regents on the committee gave more detailed reasons why they made that choice. Here are several of their points:

  • "The Board of Regents is responsible for making resource allocation and academic program decisions that impact the entire University. The budget of the Hubert H. Humphrey School as well as the degrees it offers are interrelated and components of this decision making process and they cannot be viewed in isolation from the rest of the University."
  • "The Board of Regents discusses and votes on numerous matters related to the University employee compensation and benefits, many of which have a direct impact on active employees."
  • "From time to time, the Board of Regents deals with important questions of academic freedom and responsibility under Board of Regents Policy: Academic Freedom and Responsibility. Regent Sviggum's employment status provides him with rights and responsibilities under the Policy not shared by any other Regents."
  • Sviggum's contractual responsibilities "create an actual or potential conflict of interest under the Code of Ethics, Sec. V, Subds. 2,5."
  • Those duties "create public confusion insofar as Regents Sviggum's contractual employment responsibilities include lecturing on legislative issues and writing opinion essays and newspaper and magazine editorials on political issues, which may conflict with Regent Sviggum's responsibilities under Board of Regents policy Responsibilities of the Board and Individual Regents, Subd. 2, which provides that 'the president is the primary spokesperson for the University, and the chair of the Board is the only other person authorized to speak for the Board.'"

The report concludes:

"The Ad Hoc Group believes it is vital that the Board set an appropriate tone and culture at the top of the institution with regard to avoidance of actual and perceived conflicts of interest. Setting a clear and uncompromising example that the Board holds itself -- and each of its members -- to the highest ethical standards is necessary in our opinion if the University as a whole -- faculty, staff, and students -- is expected to adhere to similar high ethical standards."

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