U of M hires ex-state lawmaker López Franzen to newly created role

A former state lawmaker is joining the University of Minnesota in a newly created role.

The U of M says Melisa López Franzen will serve as executive director of Government and Community Relations starting on Aug. 28.

López Franzen served three terms in the Minnesota Senate, starting in 2012, and served as the DFL Minority Leader last year. However, she opted to not run for reelection last year after redistricting put her in the same district as Sen. Ron Latz.

In her new role, she’ll report directly to the university president and is tasked with leading the system’s work in partnering with local, state and federal officials.

“Melisa is a knowledgeable and dynamic leader. Her meaningful experience in the legislative process, as well as the respect she’s earned from a broad array of state, federal and local officials, will make her an outstanding leader for our government relations work,” U of M Interim President Jeff Ettinger said in a statement announcing López Franzen’s hiring. “Under Melisa’s expert leadership, we will build a balanced, effective government relations team to continue advocating for the University of Minnesota and advancing the work we do every day to serve Minnesotans.”

“I am eager to advocate on behalf of the University of Minnesota,” López Franzen said. “Its research focus and land grant mission are significant assets to our state, and I am humbled by this opportunity to contribute to this great institution.”

A spokesperson for the university confirmed López Franzen will make $250,000 per year.