Shama: U Prez Maybe ‘Home Run’ for Athletics


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Nov 11, 2008
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per Shama:

Joan Gabel takes over as University of Minnesota president July 1 and her tenure will be interesting on many fronts including athletics.

Former Golden Gophers football player Mark Sheffert was a member of the presidential search committee, and he is a shrewd evaluator of people and organizations. It didn’t take him long during the search process to become an admirer of Gabel.

Sheffert has over 40 years of business experience and in 2014 was inducted into the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame. He is former president of First Bank System (now US Bancorp) and now he is founder and CEO of Manchester, a renowned Minneapolis-based firm providing financial and advisory services to organizations. A reserve football player for the Gophers in the 1960s, he is a passionate but sometimes critical supporter of the University on multiple issues including athletics.

Sheffert has long insisted that high profile U sports like football can and should be more successful, and do so on a consistent basis. He told his colleagues on the academics-heavy search committee he wanted the U to hire a person “that understands” the value of Division I sports in this marketplace.

The athletic department reported to Gabel at South Carolina where she is provost. She has been exposed to big-time sports at South Carolina, including the football-crazed South Eastern Conference environment. Her experiences should be beneficial to the U Athletic Department and Gophers fans.

“I love sports—I’m a huge fan,” Gabel said in a 2015 story about her on the University of South Carolina website.

“She is a supporter of athletics. She loves athletics,” Sheffert agreed. “She thinks we can do better in athletics, and I love that too. She said during the interview (process), ‘I think there are a lot of opportunities at the University of Minnesota that haven’t been capitalized on, and we’re going to do that.’ ”

When Sheffert and others on the search committee looked at Gabel they saw a candidate with not only interpersonal skills, but a balanced blend of administrative, academic, law, finance and business backgrounds. “She started off as a commercial litigator. Commercial litigators are the true professionals of the legal field,” Sheffert said. “She was also at Missouri (as) head of the business school.”

Gabel will become the 17th president of the University and the first female. Sheffert is pleased to have Gabel, who quickly earned his confidence, make history at Minnesota. “She did her homework (on the University),” he said. “She knew more about us coming into the (interview) meeting than we knew about her. As soon as I read her resume, I said to myself, ‘This is going to be our next president.’ “

Go Gophers!!

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