University of Minnesota — Vice President for University Services

Ballinger|Leafblad is proud to present the following information on behalf of our client, University of Minnesota, in its search for the Vice President for University Services.



The Mission
The University of Minnesota, founded in the belief that all people are enriched by understanding, is dedicated to the advancement of learning and the search for truth; to the sharing of this knowledge through education for a diverse community; and to the application of this knowledge to benefit the people of the state, the nation, and the world.  The University’s threefold mission of research and discovery, teaching and learning, and outreach and public service is carried out on multiple campuses and throughout the state.

Organizational Overview
Founded in 1851, the University of Minnesota (UMN), with its five campuses is one of the most comprehensive universities in the country.  The University of Minnesota is a world-class public research university based in a vibrant, urban setting next to the Mississippi River, with unparalleled opportunities for collaboration and partnerships.  The University of Minnesota is one of only five universities in the nation with an engineering school, a medical school, a law school, a veterinary medical school, and an agricultural school all on one campus.  UMN is the eighth most active public research university, with more than $880 million in annual research awards.

More than 60,000 students are divided among the five campuses, with 30,135 undergraduate students and 16,444 graduate and professional students enrolled at the Twin Cities campus.

UMN is reducing administrative costs by $90 million over six years and moving those resources into mission driven areas of teaching, research, and community engagement.  In the last decade, UMN created a $292 million Biomedical Discovery District, enabling cutting-edge research across disciplines.

The University of Minnesota’s over 150 undergraduate degree programs and 200 graduate degree programs offer students a tremendous breadth and depth of opportunity in the sciences, liberal arts, agriculture, and business.  With more than 26,000 employees, its large student population, its long-established health care services, and its various research centers, UMN creates approximately $9 billion in total economic impact on Minnesota annually.

Opportunity Overview
The Vice President for University Services is responsible for creating and sustaining a safe, welcoming environment and service culture that supports and advances the teaching, research, and outreach missions of the University of Minnesota system. University Services is driven to deliver exceptional services and places to make discoveries possible and experiences memorable.  The Vice President has leadership and oversight responsibility for six key units of operation supporting the University system. Collectively, these units have over 3,500 employees (2,222 FTE), annual operating budgets of approximately $416 million, and a capital portfolio of over $1 billion in active projects.  This is a system-wide leadership position located in Minneapolis.

Reporting to the Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations, the Vice President for University Services is a system-wide officer overseeing the following functions:

  • Auxiliary Services This unit includes Housing and Residential Life, University Dining Services, Parking and Transportation, Bookstores, and U Market, Printing and Addressing & Mailing Services. It offers convenient, customer driven and cost-effective goods and services that are essential to the University’s academic and administrative success.
  • Capital Planning and Project Management Responsibility spans all five system campuses and the research and outreach centers across the state. The scope of authority includes all planning, design, and construction of new and existing buildings, utility infrastructure, and master planning for all campuses across the University system.
  • Facilities Management Includes responsibility for all grounds, buildings, and utilities supporting 23 million square feet in more than 250 buildings across 900 acres on the Twin Cities campus, as well as support services for the Crookston, Duluth, and Morris campuses.
  • Public Safety This unit provides the University of Minnesota system-wide community with security monitoring and access control services. The department also provides the Twin Cities campus with a professional, sworn-officer police department, student security services, and a 911 call center to advance a culture of safety.
  • University Health and Safety This department monitors and proactively assesses the University’s physical environment to ensure safe and healthy working and living conditions, system-wide, for University of Minnesota students, staff, faculty, and community neighbors.  Units include Biosafety and Occupational Health, Building Codes, Environmental Health and Safety, and Radiation Safety.
  • Management Services A centralized set of shared services that provide support to all University Services units.  Functional areas include Communications, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Project Management.  The systemwide Emergency Management unit also reports under this umbrella.

The Vice President also leads several system-wide cross-functional work teams including the Emergency Management Policy Committee, the System-wide Sustainability Committee, and the Enterprise Geographic Information System (GIS) Steering Committee.

The Vice President works in partnership with the University’s academic leadership to understand the needs of the academic enterprise, ensuring the requisite services and facilities are provided efficiently and effectively to support one of the world’s most renowned public research universities.

Individual Responsibilities
The Vice President works to support the three-part mission of the University in many ways, including managing the institution’s physical environment and assets and providing for the health and safety of students, staff, and faculty. The role also requires leadership and management of the University Services organization and its many departments and functions. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Build and sustain relationships with chancellors, academic vice presidents, faculty, deans and other academic and University leaders to understand the facility and service needs of the academic enterprise across all campuses of the University of Minnesota system. Ensure the efficient and effective delivery of quality services and facilities in alignment with the academic plan.
  • Understand the needs of students and ensure that the University provides the physical environment and services in which they can succeed.
  • Provide leadership in managing, planning, constructing, and maintaining the physical assets of the University.  This includes advancing the Board of Regents goal of reducing the amount of poor and critical space across the system.
  • Advance the University’s commitment to strengthening the security of operations and the safety of the University community.
  • Foster, support, and integrate the concepts and practices of sustainability and environmental stewardship in University operations and services.
  • Provide leadership at the institutional level while integrating the diverse components of the various operations functions with a sense of service to the institution’s faculty, staff, students, and other stakeholders.
  • Advise the Senior Vice President on all physical, operational, and service matters, and serve as a member of the University’s senior leadership team.
  • Foster a University Services enterprise culture. Apply best practices to ensure continuous improvement of services focused on customer-service, cost effectiveness, and accountability in alignment with the University’s strategic plans.
  • Ensure the development, implementation, and maintenance of sound financial policies, procedures, and practices across the University Services enterprise. Optimize available resources, strengthen accountability, control costs, and redirect financial resources both within University Services and toward the core mission and mission support.
  • Respond to short-term concerns while developing long-range strategies consistent with the institution’s academic and financial strategies and ensuring integration of institutional priorities.
  • Ensure the development and oversight of strategic and operational metrics to strengthen accountability and to support strategic resource alignment.
  • Create a positive and respectful work environment incorporating the University’s commitment to equal opportunity and diversity in hiring, retention, and promotion of employees and empowering employees to use their full range of talents and abilities. Provide leadership guidance to the University’s labor relations efforts associated with University Services employees.

Leadership Team Member Responsibilities
As a member of the Senior Vice President for Finance and Operation team, the Vice President for University Services provides decision support and contributes to the overall governance of the University. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Provide accurate, trusted, and timely information to the Board of Regents to assist in their decision-making regarding the physical and operational aspects of the University. Develop and manage Board of Regents policies that fall within the scope of this area of responsibility.
  • Build and sustain relationships with local governments and neighborhood, business, and community organizations to promote the strategic interests of the University. Understand common issues and concerns, and develop strategies to support and strengthen the areas surrounding the campuses.
  • Support the University’s Government Relations, including representing the University at the Minnesota State Capitol and Congress as well as with state and federal regulators.
  • Monitor and respond to the state, local, and national political environment and assess its impact on areas of responsibility within University Services.
  • Serve as a strong advocate for the University of Minnesota’s strategic goals and initiatives with key policymakers, lawmakers, and community members.
  • Work collaboratively with the other members of the Senior Vice President leadership team bringing expertise and a thoughtful approach to problem solving across the various SVP units.

University Services Team and Structure
University Services creates and sustains a safe, welcoming environment and service culture that advances teaching, research and outreach at the University of Minnesota. This means working behind the scenes to make sure the University operations are efficient and effective each and every day. The University Services leadership team has been working to advance four strategic goals: provide mission-advancing places; ensure a safe University; deliver an exceptional campus experience; engage and support employees.  University Services encompasses six work units and employs over 3,500 people.

Essential Qualifications and Personal Qualities

The University seeks a visionary, strategic, and inclusive leader who is committed to the highest standards of excellence, integrity, accountability, and stewardship. The Vice President must possess a reputation for working collaboratively with internal and external constituencies, have demonstrated an ability to inspire commitment, foster innovation, deliver results, and work effectively in a highly visible and public position. Critical to the success of this position, the Vice President must understand the role of operations in a major education and research setting (or similar enterprise) and demonstrate an understanding of how operations support the education, research, and outreach missions of the University.

A baccalaureate degree is required from an accredited college or university; an advanced or professional degree is preferred. A minimum of at least eight years of experience as a senior manager in a complex organization is required. A portion of this experience must include responsibility for the organization’s overall business operation. Knowledge of and experience in public finance, human resources, labor relations, and budgeting, as well as capital planning, building design, construction, and renovation, and project management is required. Professional experience in managing a unionized environment is preferred.

Executive Qualities

  • Strong interpersonal skills with a demonstrated record of establishing effective working relationships with diverse populations and functions, both internal and external to the organization
  • Committed, philosophically and operationally, to delivering quality services in an efficient manner while being sensitive and responsive to the service needs of the entire organization and the concerns of external constituencies and neighborhoods
  • Ability to quickly understand and effectively communicate complex policy and operational issues to a variety of constituencies
  • Documented achievement in resolving multiple complex problems and controversial and high profile issues in a timely manner
  • Demonstrated commitment and contribution to fostering and advancing diversity and inclusiveness
  • Possesses both the wisdom and the political savvy to determine which initiatives are important enough to champion and which ones to relinquish
  • Knowledge of, and experience with  strategic management concepts, business best practices, and principles
  • Ability to apply a systems approach to planning and implementing strategic objectives
  • Ability to manage change within large, dynamic, diverse organization
  • Demonstrated excellent communications skills — interpersonal, written, and verbal

Key Leadership Competencies
The University has adopted the following leadership competencies as prerequisites for all senior leaders

  • Innovates
  • Drives Efficiency
  • Thinks Strategically
  • Aligns Resources
  • Selects and Develops Talent
  • Motivates and Inspires Others
  • Builds Relationships
  • Is Resilient and Courageous
  • Operates with Integrity
  • Learns and Adapts

This position is paid an executive salary and has the opportunity to participate in the organization’s comprehensive benefits program.

For additional information and to apply for the position please contact:

Lars Leafblad, MBA


Marcia Ballinger, PhD

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