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University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel has chosen a Michigan State University dean to serve as her second-in-command.

The U announced Wednesday that Rachel Croson, who leads Michigan State's College of Social Science, will step in to serve as executive vice president and provost next spring if approved by the university's governing board in December. Gabel's first key hire since taking office this past summer, Croson, an economics professor, will replace retiring Provost Karen Hanson.

"She is an accomplished academic leader who brings to this important role an extraordinary breadth of talent, experience and strategic acumen," Gabel said of Croson in a statement.

The university touted Croson's role in crafting a strategic plan for Michigan State, which is still reeling from fallout from the sexual abuse scandal involving former physician Larry Nassar. The U is in the midst of developing its own systemwide strategic plan.

Croson was one of four finalists for the job who visited the Twin Cities campus for public interviews after a national search.

Mila Koumpilova • 612-673-4781