Complaint: University president’s board role is conflict

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A regent, a law professor and former Gov. Arne Carlson are demanding state and federal agencies investigate University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel’s role on an financial board.

Regent Darrin Rosha, University of Minnesota law professor Richard Painter and Carlson sent a letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the state attorney general alleging Gabel’s position on Securian Financial’s board is a conflict of interest, the Star Tribune reported Friday.

The university pays about $4.6 million annually to Securian Financial affiliate Minnesota Life to cover employee life insurance. Rosha, Painter and Carlson say in their letter that Gabel’s position on the board raises questions about who is serving university employees’ interests.

Gabel said in a statement to the Star Tribune that the letter is inaccurate and misleading. She said she went through the university’s conflict management process before accepting the board position.

The Board of Regents voted 9-3 earlier this month to allow Gabel to join the board. She agreed to recuse herself from any decisions on contracts between the university and Securian Financial and affiliates. Rosha was one of the three regents who voted no.

Securian spokesperson Jeff Bakken said Gabel’s position as university president wasn’t a factor in Gabel’s board appointment.

The attorney general’s office didn’t have any immediate comment. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission spokespeople didn’t return messages.

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