Before retiring last summer as president of the University of Minnesota, Robert Bruininks repeatedly steered money to a tiny leadership center within the Humphrey School of Public Affairs where he will spend the next phase of his U career.
Records obtained by the Star Tribune show that Bruininks, who will earn a $341,000 salary in his new faculty role there, directed at least an additional $355,000 in university funds to the Center for Integrative Leadership since 2009.
That total includes more than $150,000 for two staff members who will follow him to the center -- money that Bruininks put into his final budget as president. He also spent $75,000 from a presidential discretionary fund to cover expenses at the center, including salary for executive director Laura Bloomberg, a former Ph.D. student of his. Bruininks also shifted $110,000 to the center from money in an academic chair allocated to him by the Board of Regents. He earmarked the funds for work that he and others would do at the center.
Bruininks said he made some of the investments to help show the university's commitment to the program at a time when he was asking Marilyn Carlson Nelson of the Carlson Family Foundation for a major donation -- $1 million for the center over five years.