The terms are set for the change in leadership at the University of Minnesota — and the official handoff is next weekend.
The Board of Regents on Friday unanimously approved agreements governing the departure of President Joan Gabel and the anticipated one-year tenure of interim President Jeff Ettinger.
Ettinger, the former Hormel CEO, will be paid $400,000 and is set to begin work next Saturday — the day after Gabel leaves office.
"It's an exciting occasion," Regent James Farnsworth said during a brief meeting of the board. "Looking forward to working with interim President Ettinger."
Regents Robyn Gulley and Mike Kenyanya also commended Ettinger for his commitment to avoiding any conflicts between his work for the U and his recent service on the boards of for-profit and nonprofit entities.
Under the agreement approved Friday, Ettinger must take a leave of absence from the Hormel Foundation and resign as a member of the board of directors of Ecolab and the Toro Co. He also must disclose those ties on the U president's website.
That part of the agreement was carved out with the help of outside counsel.
"I appreciate the work that was done to mitigate any potential conflicts of interest," said Gulley, adding it ensures Ettinger is "working in the best interests of the university."
Said Kenyanya, "I think that reiterates his commitment to the institution and really approaching the position as a public service."
Ettinger said Friday that he has appreciated being part of an "open, transparent process" and that he welcomed the conflict-of-interest provisions of the employment agreement because it enables him to "provide 100 percent focus to the job."
He has been hard at it already.
"It is exciting," he said. "I've had a wonderful onboarding experience. I've met all the senior leaders. I've been to the Capitol twice."
Gabel ran into criticism after deciding late last year to take a paid position on the board of Securian Financial, a company that has more than $1 billion in business with the university. She then announced in January she was resigning from the Securian board.
Last month, Gabel said she had accepted a job at the University of Pittsburgh.
Under her most recent U contract, Gabel earned nearly $706,000 in base pay, and was eligible for performance bonuses and other benefits.
The separation agreement approved Friday does not include any performance bonus for the 2022-23 school year. But the university agreed to contribute $160,000 to Gabel's retirement plan — the amount she would have received if employed through June 30.
She agreed to vacate Eastcliff, the U president's official residence, by June 27, though she had a contractual right to stay for 60 days after leaving office. The mansion is to be a temporary home for Gov. Tim Walz while the governor's residence is renovated.
Gabel is expected to be on hand for the Board of Regents meetings next week.