Board of Regents approves Dave McMillan as UMD interim chancellor

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 Wednesday afternoon, coming after Minnesota state legislators send a letter to the Board of Regents, citing concerns over what they say is "a significant conflict of interest."

The letter is signed by Republicans in both the state Senate and House of Representatives, including members of the chambers’ higher education committees.

READ: Letter from the Board of Regents

Dave McMillan is a former regent on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. He stepped down from the board to apply for an interim chancellor position at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

According to the letter, legislators asked 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.

KSTP-TV contributed to the content of this story.