Renewed concern raised over private sector job for U of M president

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University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel is facing renewed criticism over her new position at a financial company.

In December, Gabel accepted a paid job to sit on the board of directors at Securian Financial with an annual compensation of $130,000.

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved Gabel’s position with Securian in a 9-3 vote. The three regents who voted against the Gabel contract with Securian expressed concerns that it was a potential conflict of interest.

One of those opposing regents is Darrin Rosha. He sent a letter to each Board of Regents member asking for a special meeting to reconsider the approval of Gabel’s employment with Securian after he discovered Gabel played a significant role in approving Securian’s contract with the university for more than $ 27 million in 2019.

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“I was able to track down the minutes that showed that the president actively, affirmatively sought and gave approval for the contract,” Rosha said. “None of that information was presented when it was brought before the board.”

One of Securian’s affiliates provides university employees with insurance products.

Rosha said Gabel’s employment with Securian violates state law because state and university employees are not allowed to receive compensation from a contractor if that employee has direct or indirect ties to the oversight and approval of the contract.

“The board was not informed of 15.43, the statute that specifically prohibits people who have influence, or potential influence over contracts, with the state of Minnesota or the university from accepting compensation of any sort from the contractor,” Rosha said.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to President Gabel and Board of Regents Chair Ken Powell but has not yet heard back from either.