Board of Regents approves McMillan as UMD interim chancellor, legislators cite concerns over ‘conflict of interest’

UPDATE: The University of Minnesota Board of Regents has approved the appointment of David McMillan to a two-year University of Minnesota-Duluth chancellor position.

The vote was 9-2.

The vote comes after more than three dozen state legislators presented a letter to the Board of Regents, citing concerns over what they say “appears to be a significant conflict of interest.”

Read more about the letter via an earlier version of this report, below.

A letter signed by more than three dozen state legislators and sent to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents cites concerns for what they say “appears to be a significant conflict of interest” due to events leading up to a vote being held Wednesday.

The letter, which can be found at the bottom of this article, is signed by Republicans in both the state Senate and House of Representatives, including members of the chambers’ higher education committees.

As previously reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Dave McMillan — a former regent on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents — stepped down from the board to apply for an interim chancellor position at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

RELATED: ‘A very shabby form of a quid-pro-quo’: U of M regent criticized for seeking UMD chancellor job

According to the letter, legislators are asking the board to vote “no” on McMillan’s candidacy and go back to the initial list of candidates the search firm has, as well as the list of those who applied for the interim position.

McMillan voted to approve a 30% pay increase for U of M President Joan Gabel, which included a base salary of about $700,000 and could pay as much as $1.2 million in the final year of her contract. In addition, McMillan also voted to pass Gabel’s budget, which includes a 3.5% tuition hike.

Gabel is appointing the next UMD chancellor, who then needs approval from the Board of Regents. The salary of the current UMD chancellor is about $310,000.

According to Rep. Marion O’Neill (R-Maple Lake), McMillan is the only candidate named after two searches as of Wednesday morning. In addition, a contract hasn’t been made public, and the two-year contract could be as high as $400,000 per year, according to O’Neill.

The letter also notes that U of M Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations Myron Frans, who heads the internal search committee, tripled his salary by leaving his state job to work at the university, and he reports to Gabel.

Former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson has also sounded off on the position and has called for a legislative audit of the nomination process. Not only does Carlson want an audit of McMillan’s nomination for the position, but the entire power structure at the Board of Regents.

RELATED: Former Gov. Arne Carlson calls for legislative audit after U of M regent resigns seeking UMD interim chancellor position