The University of Minnesota’s longtime general counsel Mark Rotenberg is leaving for Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., officials said Monday. He will start his new position as vice president and general counsel June 3.
As the U’s top legal officer since 1992, Rotenberg’s career has intertwined with many of its biggest news stories, on topics from research grant abuse to sports scandals. He dealt with the paper-writing scandal under Gopher basketball coach Clem Haskins, the naming rights for TCF Bank Stadium and the five-year legal battle between former basketball coach Tubby Smith and Jimmy Williams over a rescinded job offer.
He has served under four presidents and 11 Board of Regents chairs.
Rotenberg, 58, said it has been “a great honor to have served as general counsel of the state’s most important public institution for all these years.”
Rotenberg has navigated the dual roles of general counsel, defending the U as well as investigating its wrongdoing.
“You need on the one hand to be a defender, an adviser, a counselor, a trusted partner,” Rotenberg said by phone from Baltimore. “And on the other hand, you must also be a government lawyer who protects the public interest when the client is engaged in, or alleged to be engaged in, bad acts.
“If you fail at either task, you’re not doing your job.”
In a news release, U President Eric Kaler said, “Mark has epitomized the kind of integrity and accountability that all public institutions like ours strive for.”
A news release praised Rotenberg for his “extraordinary litigation successes,” including cases before the Minnesota Supreme Court. Arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court was a career highlight, Rotenberg said, as was helping to reform the U’s athletics compliance.
“For a program of our size ... to not have had a single major [NCAA] infraction case in over 10 years is something I have been very proud of,” Rotenberg said.
Staff writer Randy Furst contributed to this report. Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168