Mansco Perry III, who oversees investments for Macalester College's endowment and was previously a top Minnesota investment official, has been named executive director of the State Investment Board.

Perry's appointment and salary of $325,000 were approved Wednesday by the board, composed of Gov. Mark Dayton and other state constitutional officers.

Perry replaces longtime executive director Howard Bicker, whom he served as an assistant from 1990 to 2008. The  position is behind-the-scenes but critical: the board manages the state's $68 billion investment portfolio, composed of retirement funds, trust funds and cash accounts.

Perry, 60, grew up in New Jersey, attended Carleton College in Minnesota and the University of Chicago before his first stint on the State Investment Board. He was chief investment officer for the Maryland state retirement agency for from 2008 to 2010 and has been at Macalester since then.

"I was approached several times that it might be available," Perry said of the opening on the investment board. "Everyone knew it was something I had wanted before in my career."

Bicker spent more than four decades with the investment board and has been executive director for 32 years. The state's portfolio has jumped from $6 billion to its current level during that time. He told the board Wednesday that a million-dollar trade that he found frighteningly large in the 1970s is now considered a "rounding error."

Dayton was effusive in his praise of Bicker's tenure.

"Words can't begin to describe, Mr. Bicker, your enormous contributions to the board ... and what that means for the retirement security of thousands of Minnesotans, both retired and in active service," Dayton said. "I can't begin to thank you enough."

"It's been quite a ride," Bicker said. "It's been pleasure and an honor to do this job for a number of years."

Dayton said Perry's salary is in line with managers in similar positions in other states. The governor's salary is currently $120,303.

"I think it's reasonable, given the competitive nature of the business, and the fact that it's at the low end of what other states are offering," Dayton said of Perry's salary. "He's making at Macalester now $319,000. We can't expect him to come over here for less... It's a lot of money, but that's the nature of that line of work."

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