The U-of-M Board of Regents votes next Tuesday (12-18) after interviewing their finalist for president today. Regent and former Minnesota House Speaker Steve Sviggum asked South Carolina Provost Joan Gabel how she’ll establish relationships with the legislature. “It’s absolutely critical to our success,” says Sviggum, to which Gabel immediately responded, “Without question.” Gabel contends there are very few areas where the U-of-M doesn’t overlap with lawmakers’ interests in some way. She says, “The nature of the relationship is making sure I think that our elected officials understand all of the different ways that the university creates value.” Gabel says the way to find common ground is through relationships: time, conversation, doing a little homework and keeping up-to-date.
Board of Regents Chair David McMillan asked Gabel how she’ll take the uniquely urban and rural attributes of Minnesota “and match that against what a land grant university has classically been thought of, and what it might evolve to in the future.” Gabel acknowledges it’s a management challenge, not without tension or friction: “It doesn’t mean it’s not hard. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have obstacles to overcome, but overcoming it would be tremendous… what this university can do that no one else can do,” she says.