8 Board Members Resign at Still Roiling Minnesota Orchestra

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Minn Orchestra

March 29, 2014; WCCO News

The saga of the Minnesota Orchestra goes on as the board of trustees was decimated this past week with a wave of resignations. As NPQ readers may remember, the Minnesota Orchestra recently resolved a labor dispute with its musicians, but only after an extended lockout of the musicians who had resisted a drastic cut to their compensation as part of a re-organization. The CEO, Michael Henson, was the author of that plan and the man at the helm during the lockout, so it may be unsurprising that at least some of the musicians wanted him gone even after a contract was signed. Henson finally resigned last week, effective as the current season ends in August, but now some board members have followed suit.

“I may never know the real story of how the Board got from a strong vote of confidence for Henson on February 28th to showing him the door on March 20th,” John P. Whaley wrote in a letter to Gordon Sprenger, chairman of the board, as he resigned from the board last week along with seven other members of the 77-member board. The departures were apparently in response to whatever dynamics surrounded the resignation of embattled CEO Michael Henson.

Sprenger said the board resignations were disappointing. “These directors have all been very dedicated members of the board,” he said in a statement. “I hope we are able to get some to reconsider, but I respect their opinions and decisions.”—Ruth McCambridge

  • Amy Adams

    1. Board of “trustees”…? The word “trustee” doesn’t appear in news articles. The MOA has a board of directors.
    2. “Decimated” …? With 77 on the board, ample even by non-profit standards, 8 doesn’t constitute a revolt.
    3. “At least some of the musicians wanted him gone”…???? There was a Unanimous Vote of No Confidence In Michael Henson shortly after the lockout began. http://www.minnesotaorchestramusicians.org/press-release-musicians-vote-no-confidence-in-minnesota-orchestra-ceo/
    4. “As part of a re-organization”…where do you find that reported? That would be a great place to link to an actual news article about alleged re-organizing.
    5. “The departures were apparently in response to whatever dynamics surrounded the resignation of embattled CEO Michael Henson.” If you’re editorializing, then say so. If you’re reporting, then report. This sentence is just unworthy.

  • Rick Cohen

    Hi Amy: Ruth is off-line today, but she wanted to me to get back to you with the observation that the classical definition of “decimation” is the elimination of one of out every ten, not necessarily the complete destruction of an entity or organization (as the term has been increasingly used in common parlance). Thanks for your comment, much appreciated.

  • Amy Adams

    ha! Good point, I guess: if by “classical” you mean the second or third obsolete definition of a word in the dictionary.

    I was taking, like lots of readers might, the word “decimate” to mean “destroy a great number of.”
    And 8 out of 77 just doesn’t justify the hyperbole, in my opinion. (Course, I’m not a board member….)

  • Mike Burns

    How is the loss of 8 from a board of 77 decimating? Were the 8 resignatees the only donors?

  • Linda Murrell

    The Board of Directors (not trustees) was NOT decimated by the resignation of the eight directors. Another slight correction:
    the Minnesota Orchestra recently resolved a labor dispute with its musicians but only after a 16-month lockout by the MO Management of the musicians who resisted a 30% salary cut, among other things. A 30% cut that was asked for, while the Board was aggressively fundraising for a $45 million+ renovation of Orchestra Hall. Dilemma: scuttle the renovation or cut the salaries of the Orchestra musicians? Hmmmm…..Do people go to Orchestra Hall to see the hall or to hear the musicians?

  • Skripach

    Technically speaking, “decimate” means “reduce by a tenth” (it comes from an old Roman army punishment technique), which is exactly what’s happened.