Board of Regents to interview

Melinda Rogers

When graduate student Kristen Berning applied for the open student position on the University’s Board of Regents she knew she would face some tough competition.
But that didn’t faze her.
“I’ve had a wide variety of experience in governing boards and I thought that would make me a good candidate,” Berning said.
She thought correctly. After serving almost three years as a student representative for the Board of Regents, Berning learned Jan. 5 that she was one of five student finalists to interview for the at-large student position on the board.
The Board of Regents consists of 12 members who oversee all four University campuses. Elected regents serve six-year terms and are not paid for the work they do.
In addition to the five student finalists, the Regent Candidate Advisory Council selected 20 other individuals to be interviewed for five open board vacancies.
After reviewing 134 applications, the 24-member advisory council narrowed the applicant list to 25 candidates they deemed most qualified for the job at their Jan. 5 meeting.
“The RCAC can interview as few or as many people as they want. The number just turned out to be 25 this year,” said RCAC staff member Jennifer Ridgeway.
Every two years one-third of the Board of Regents is open for appointment. This year’s openings include one at-large student position, two at-large positions and one 5th Congressional District position.
If a person is unable to complete his or her six-year term, the governor can appoint a successor through a state constitutional provision.
However, when Regent William Peterson died last October, Gov. Jesse Ventura chose not to appoint a replacement and gave the task of filling Peterson’s position to the RCAC.
“Usually there are four appointments every two years, but the untimely death of Regent Peterson will result in five appointments this year,” said Nedra Wicks, chair of the RCAC.
RCAC members will sit in on all 25 interviews scheduled to take place Jan. 25, 26, 29, 30 and 31 at the state Capitol.
“We’re looking for an array of skills including vision, knowledge and understanding of Minnesota’s higher education system and also governance and leadership experience,” Wicks said.
The council must submit between two and four individuals for each open position on the board to the Legislature. Wicks said the council will decide on which candidates to recommend by the end of the day on Jan. 31. The Legislature will make a final decision in a joint session on Feb. 20.
Board of Regents Chairwoman Patricia Spence says she looks forward to the arrival of new members at the March board meeting.
“It’s exciting (when new members start), but it’s also a lot of work,” Spence said. “There are a lot of responsibilities and a lot to learn.”
Spence herself is running for the at-large position as her term is expiring later this year.
For Berning, learning regent responsibilities is one experience she hopes to have in the near future. Earning the at-large student position would enable her to vote on issues — something she was not able to do as a student representative on the board.
“I’d work to strengthen University outreach to greater Minnesota and maintain land grant integrity,” Berning said.
“I have a deep passion and concern for the University of Minnesota,” she said. “Hopefully I can give back to the University what it has given to me.”

Melinda Rogers covers the Board of Regents and welcomes comments at [email protected]