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U of Minnesota President Quits Controversial Board Seat

January 25, 2023

University of Minnesota president Joan Gabel on Monday resigned her position on the Securian Financial Board of Directors, citing weeks of “extremely painful” scrutiny over potential conflicts of interest between her two roles, The Pioneer Press reported.

The company holds $1.3 billion in retirement plan assets for university employees, and its affiliate Minnesota Life Insurance Company is in the middle of a life insurance contract worth $4.6 million a year.

The Board of Regents had approved, by a vote of 9 to 3, a conflict-management plan for her relationship with Securian.

Gabel had said that the board seat came with $130,000 in compensation (on top of the $1 million she will receive for being president). But she said Monday that she had “voluntarily waived the directors’ compensation and have not received any benefits.”

In a letter to the Securian board, Gabel wrote, “The last several weeks have been extremely painful for me and, I’m sure, very uncomfortable for you, as there have been questions regarding my service on the Board of Directors of Securian Financial. This distraction is unfortunate, as my appointment to the board of Securian would only expand the university’s important networks and outreach. However, out of respect for the institution and to eliminate any further distraction of our work, with a heavy heart, I will be resigning my Securian Financial directorship effective immediately.”

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