Regents chair speaks

by Erin Ghere

Amid the chaos of the men’s basketball investigation, Regent Patricia Spence has stepped up to head the University’s governing body.
Spence was unanimously voted chairwoman of the University Board of Regents on Friday and will replace William Hogan II at the end of the month. She was quick to address the increased allegations against Gophers men’s basketball coach Clem Haskins and talks of a contract buyout.
“I’m hoping that Clem will resign and can leave this situation with some dignity,” she said Friday.
However, she later told Minnesota Public Radio she is not in any position to tell Haskins what to do.
Dr. Maureen Reed of Stillwater will take over as vice chairwoman, Spence’s former position. Reed is a physician and the medical director and vice president of HealthPartners. The change marks the first time two women have held the top two positions on the board, though Reed said this should not be the issue.
“The story shouldn’t be the gender,” she said in a statement released Friday. “The story should be the strategic plan and where it’s going.”
Only the third woman to be elected chair, Spence succeeds Jean Keffeler in 1993 and Wenda W. Moore in 1977. Spence was elected to the board in 1995. Her term expires in 2001.
Robert Bruininks, University vice president and provost, said he was not surprised with the regents’ choice.
“Regent Spence is an outstanding leader on the board,” he said.
Before becoming a member of the Board of Regents, Spence was mayor of Little Falls, Minn., from 1983 to 1991, a high school home economics teacher and a gift shop owner. She is now a homemaker in Rice, Minn.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics from the University and has served on the Board of Continuing Legal Education for the Minnesota Supreme Court, the Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Central Minnesota Initiative Fund board.
She said her first two years on the University board weren’t easy because of divisions among the members. When Hogan was elected in 1997, things began to change. Spence said a lot of that had to do with University President Mark Yudof’s leadership as well.
Hogan said he has been partners with Spence for the past two years and supports her in this venture.
He said he has worked to unite the board and institute a process that would elect new chairpersons by unanimous consent only.
“And that is what happened,” he said. He added this is the first time in a long while that the board has been fully united behind the candidate.
Hogan will retain his chairmanship until June 30, when Spence will take over. Hogan will then serve out the rest of his second term. The Board of Regents is comprised of 12 members, one member from each of Minnesota’s congressional districts and four at-large members who each serve six-year terms.