In an unexpected turn of events Wednesday night, legislators voted to replace University Regent Jean Keffeler, while recommending the reappointments of Regents David Metzen and Maureen Reed.
Legislators made their decision during a joint House-Senate education committee meeting called to recommend candidates to fill four open seats on the University’s Board of Regents.
Senate Higher Education Committee Chairwoman Sandy Pappas said legislators viewed Keffeler as a liability because of her reputation and history with the board. Keffeler was appointed by Gov. Jesse Ventura in July 2001 along with three other regents.
Pappas said Keffeler did not have as much support as the other three 2001 Ventura appointees.
“The others came in with a little bit more of a clean slate,” Pappas said.
Keffeler previously served on the board from 1989 to 1996. She resigned in 1996 after a lengthy tenure battle between regents and University faculty.
“I hoped very much that somehow the Legislature would find a way to continue my service, but it doesn’t look like it’s in the cards tonight,” she said.
Regents Chairwoman Maureen Reed lost her bid for the 6th Congressional District seat to John Frobenius, a former president of the St. Cloud Hospital. Reed did not receive the recommendation from her district Feb. 18.
Sen. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, nominated Reed for Keffeler’s at-large seat. Bachmann said Reed’s experience and leadership were essential to ensure board continuity.
“At this time we’d have a neophyte board with all new members,” Bachmann said. “It’s important we retain our current chair.”
Reed said she expected the race with Frobenius to be very close and did not expect legislators to name her for Keffeler’s at-large seat.
“It is a surprise,” said Reed, who is a physician, medical director and vice president at HealthPartners.
Metzen received overwhelming support from legislators, beating out Gregory Filice in the 4th Congressional District.
Metzen also garnered backing from legislators despite not being recommended by the district caucus.
“This is a big hurdle,” he said. “This is huge.”
Metzen told legislators he lost support because his district wanted a regent from St. Paul. Metzen lives in Sun Fish Lake, Minn.
Metzen was elected to the board in 1997 and is currently the executive director of the Dodge Nature Center in West St. Paul.
Patricia Simmons beat out Al DeBoer for recommendation in the 1st Congressional District. Simmons, a pediatrician, is an executive at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. She serves as chairwoman of a board responsible for creating new business for the clinic.
Legislators recommended Clyde Allen Jr. over former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Roger Moe in the 7th District.
Allen has worked at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., as treasurer and vice president for business affairs since 1983. He also serves as a board member and chairman of the Finance and Gaming Committee of Prairie Public Broadcasting.
The joint education committee also voted to make Ventura’s four other appointments official by approving Frank Berman, Richard McNamara, Lakeesha Ransom and Peter Bell. Bell was appointed in October 2002.
Legislative joint education committee co-chairman and majority whip Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, said he expects the full Legislature to approve the committee’s recommendations March 3.
Under the University’s charter, if the Legislature is unable to vote, the governor can appoint regents.
The 12-member Board of Regents is responsible for directing the University. The board approves long-range policies and programs and the University’s annual budget. Regents serve six-year terms and are not paid.
Kari Petrie covers University Board of Regents and administration. She welcomes comments at [email protected]
Paul Sand covers University Board of Regents and administration. He welcomes comments at [email protected]