Keep regents nonpartisan

The Legislature may have selected a regent candidate inappropriately.

by Daily Editorial Board

The state Legislature may have inappropriately taken politics into consideration when it nominated candidates to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents last Wednesday.

The Legislature selected Laura Brod as its at-large candidate âÄî a position she had not been nominated for âÄî after she failed to be nominated as the candidate for the 2nd Congressional District. Brod had been a Republican State Representative until her term ended in January.

DFL legislators were immediately suspicious, noting that the Republican delegation met twice beforehand to “discuss” regent candidates. Since no DFLers were invited to those meetings, they could very well have been strategy sessions in which Republicans could decide to vote as a single bloc to push their favored candidates.

Bud Nornes, the House higher education committee chairman, alarmingly explained BrodâÄôs selection by saying, “ItâÄôs hard to expect friends to not vote for you.”

This kind of partisan, nepotistic thinking about the board is completely inappropriate, especially from a committee chairman. If legislators think being a friend is a legitimate qualification to become a regent, they need a reminder of their obligation to serve the public.

The board is a serious governing body, not a high school student council. The Legislature needs to take their role of nominating and selecting candidates far more seriously.

The criteria should not be whether a candidate is of the right party or is considered a friend. That thinking has made the board a nontransparent and never-dissenting club. Nominations should go to those committed to changing this culture.