Friday, May 20, 2016

Richard Pfutzenreuter: He has enriched the common good for decades

Originally posted by MinnPost

By Jay Kiedrowski | 05/13/16

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “public servant”? A person who holds a government position by election or appointment is the dictionary definition. That definition seems too neutral given citizens' views on public servants.

Many in our society might consider a public servant to be an oxymoron — public employees don’t serve; they take salaries and large pensions from the public for minimal service. Others have a higher opinion of public employees and believe they make significant contributions to society’s welfare.

There is a Minnesota public employee retiring in June that is an excellent example of the latter, someone who has enriched the common good for decades. Richard Pfutzenreuter, the chief financial officer of the University of Minnesota, will be leaving a 40-plus-year career of “making a real difference.” His work with state and university finances was often out public view, but it was extremely beneficial.

Studied philosophy

“Fitz,” as he is known to all, studied philosophy at Hamline University in St. Paul, graduating in 1974. What does one do with a philosophy degree? Become a management analyst for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). Perhaps studying philosophy is good preparation for government service given the competing philosophies espoused by those governing our community.

As a young management analyst, Fitz was soon recognized for outstanding performance after only a year in the job, a harbinger for the successful career he was beginning. Even though he had once needed help with high school algebra, Fitz next became a budget analyst at MnDOT. He was recognized for outstanding performance for his fiscal planning in support of statewide transportation improvements.

Those in the Minnesota House of Representatives heard about this special budget analyst at MnDOT and asked Fitz to join them as a fiscal analyst and later fiscal staff director. That is where I first met him. He was knowledgeable, friendly, and cared that good decisions be made. Even though I worked for the governor at the time, Fitz was easy to work with to find areas of agreement to move Minnesota ahead.

A couple of years later, the University of Minnesota was looking for an associate vice president for budget and rinance. Who better than Fitz to help straighten out the finances of the U. He brought integrity, curiosity and diligence to his new position. In that capacity he began serving the first of the four university presidents.

He understands politics

To survive at the University of Minnesota, one has to understand politics. To succeed at the University of Minnesota, one has to promote and implement good ideas within the political system of the university. Fitz’s experience as staff to the state House of Representatives prepared him well to manage in the university environment. He had a special ability to state what he believed to be the best solution in a way that was heard as reasonable by those resisting change.

Fitz became the university’s chief financial officer and vice president, responsible for budgeting, financial planning, accounting, investments, fiscal analysis, and oversight of the university’s debt. He had a way of understanding complex financial matters and explaining them to non-financial people.

His university tenure is marked by remarkable accomplishments:
Financing of the university’s $288 million TCF Bank Stadium;
Financing of the $300 million Biomedical Discovery District;
Balancing the university’s multibillion-dollar budget annually during a period of declining state revenue; and,
Responding to the Wall Street Journal article about excessive administration at the U.

Allocating revenue and overhead

Perhaps his greatest University of Minnesota accomplishment is something that few people even know; Fitz led the development of the “Earned Income & Full Cost Model” for allocating university revenue and overhead to university schools and units. Under this new methodology adopted in 2006, the university’s schools and units get to keep their earned revenue, but have to pay all direct expenditures and allocated overhead. This had the impact of freeing up the schools and units to manage their full costs including reducing their overhead costs through strategic actions.

Fitz’s work was often behind the scenes. He didn’t seek the limelight; he sought positive action and understood that leading from behind can be often more effective. University of Minnesota presidents and regents have been nearly unanimous in their praise of Fitz.

The next chief financial officer of the University of Minnesota has big shoes to fill. They will no doubt approach the job in their own way. Let’s hope they bring the same intelligence and dedication. Let’s hope they will be a true public servant.

By: Jay Kiedrowski
Jay is a Senior Fellow in the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

PNLC Faculty Teaching and Learning in New Zealand

New Zealand is a maritime country about the size of Minnesota with a somewhat smaller population. Māori people make up about 15% of the population but their influence is evident in language, public art, and politics. (Last night I watched a Māori television channel.) The influence of British colonization also is still strong, but waves of immigration from Asian, African, and other European countries also have shaped this independent land. New Zealand is in the process of accepting several hundred Syrian refugees.

John Bryson and I are guests this week of the School of Government at Victoria University of Wellington where we are giving talks about leadership, strategic planning, and cross-sector collaboration. The school has the great advantage of being just across the street from parliament and in the midst of multiple national government buildings. It’s commencement time here as it is at the University of Minnesota, and Tuesday, as I was preparing to give a talk, I walked through a throng of robed graduates who were waiting to parade through the streets of Wellington accompanied by a brass band and bagpipers. I really like the idea of closing down the streets to celebrate academic achievement!

New Zealand’s government is a very centralized system in which the national government exerts considerable authority at the local level. It has been a bastion of the results-oriented New Public Management (NPM) reforms championed by folks like Minnesota’s Public Strategies Group. However, as John and I have consulted with academics and government researchers here, we also hear desires to overcome the tendency of NPM to hamper collaboration among government agencies and with non-governmental organizations. Recently the government has begun the Better Public Services Results program that has rewarded government officials for collaborating across agency lines, and has made substantial improvements in achieving outcomes like greater participation in early childhood education and increased immunization.

Tomorrow John and I will lead a session explaining the potential of collaboration to create public value and showing how the Visual Strategy Mapping method can be used to help people from multiple sectors – government, nonprofit, and business – advantageously collaborate in tackling shared problems. Who knows: Before long, New Zealanders will join the fine Humphrey School tradition of plastering walls with inter-linked yellow ovals or PostIt notes to strategize about important issues.

By: Barbara Crosby
Barbara C. Crosby is associate professor at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and former academic co-director of the Center for Integrative Leadership at the University of Minnesota. She has taught and written extensively about leadership and public policy, integrative leadership, cross-sector collaboration, women in leadership, media and public policy, and strategic planning. She is the author of Leadership for Global Citizenship (1999) and co-author with John M. Bryson of (Leadership for the Common Good: Tackling Public Problems in a Shared-Power World 2d. ed. 2005).

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Mystery of Foundations

There may be myths about the work of foundations and who they serve to benefit, and the PNLC’s April Theory to Practice (T2P) event sought to dig deeper into these questions by talking with practitioners in this field. Kim Borton from the InFaith Community Foundation and Anita Patel from the Bush Foundation brought extensive knowledge from within the foundation world, discussing both the specific work of their own foundations and the broader functions of foundations as a whole. The main focus of the conversation was to address the myths people had about foundations and explain what really happens inside of foundations. To start off they discussed their own foundations, their missions, how they vary from one another, and in the broader sense how every foundation varies from one another.

Kim works at InFaith Community Foundation and she views her role at the foundation to help direct people in their own giving. The community foundation both manages the donors’ gift to the foundation, and their donations to organizations of their choice. On the other hand, Anita works at the Bush Foundation, which is a private independent foundation, where they strive to be involved with the community and help the community with what they need through grant making in key program areas. Comparing just two foundations demonstrates the broad variation in both mission and daily work.

To further explore this variation, Anita said that the Bush Foundation does leadership development, promotes innovation projects, and develops projects to support native governments. Their theory of change states that investing in individuals with big project ideas will in turn help organizations, and create a vibrant ecosystem within the community. Kim explained how the InFaith Community Foundation started to assist people in their charitable endeavors, which will in turn help both donors as well as those in need.

The T2P audience was pleased to learn more about the two foundations specific work, and also develop a broader understanding of the variation between foundations. Kim and Anita both were able to talk a great deal about the way their foundations help out others and that they are not just private/closed off organizations who benefit only those who have connections to the donors. While foundations can seem like impenetrable institutions, these two foundations are engaged in listening to their communities, seeking out innovative ideas and projects that will address needs. Overall, this discussion brought people better insight in the foundation world.

By: Michele Chayka
Michele Chayka works as the principal office and administrative assistant at the Public Nonprofit Leadership Center. Michele graduated from the University of MN with a bachelors in Political Science this past December. Personally she is quite interested in the nonprofit sector and discovering how foundations help both public and nonprofits.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Minnesota State Government Innovation Awards 2016 - Application is Open!

The Minnesota State Government Innovation Awards recognize the great work of state government programs and encourage experimentation and innovation in Minnesota.

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs will recognize up to ten projects incorporating innovation and service redesign strategies.

The 2016 State Government Innovation Awards online entry form opens Monday, May 2 and will close on Friday, June 3

The top three entries will receive a professional video highlighting their project work. All award winning entries will be recognized at an award ceremony on July 21 2016.

Learn more and access the online entry form here.