Committee vote fails to recommend nominee for U board

The full Legislature will select Steve Sviggum’s replacement Wednesday.

Kevin Burbach

Both higher education committees of the state Legislature met together Tuesday night to recommend who should be the next regent at the University of Minnesota — but failed to do so.

Three candidates were nominated to go before the joint committee Tuesday and present why they should fill the seat vacated by Steve Sviggum in March. After presentations and a round of questioning, the committee voted twice, with Tom Devine and Bob Vogel each receiving a majority from the House and Senate, respectively.

The joint commission, made up of the full House and Senate, will meet Wednesday night to finalize the regent selection.

A third candidate, Belle Plaine public schools superintendent Kelly Smith, received two votes in the first round and was cut from the second round of voting.

The second round of voting left each candidate with a majority of votes from each chamber’s committee. Devine got 11 votes in the House, and Vogel had three, while Vogel gathered seven from the Senate and Devine with six.

According to selection process rules, a candidate must receive a majority of votes from both committees to be recommended to the joint convention. Because neither candidate received a majority of votes from both chambers, the committee made no recommendation.

Though Smith didn’t make it the second round of voting, anybody can be nominated Wednesday night for selection as a regent.

Legislators asked the three nominees questions ranging from the issue of administrative bloat to the alcohol sales in TCF Bank Stadium.

Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said he was impressed with Devine’s involvement with the Legislature and the University. Devine is a University alumnus and has been active in the Alumni Association and the University Legislative Network, among other groups according to his résumé.

He interviewed for a spot on the board last year, but Sviggum, along with Laura Brod, David McMillan and incumbent David Larson were selected instead.

“I think Devine was the most prepared. I voted for him a year and half ago, and you know he has never stopped coming to the Legislature — even when he lost,” Rukavina said.

Vogel graduated from the University of St. Thomas and is currently president and CEO of New Market Bank. He was also on the Scott County Board of Commissioners from 2002 to 2008.

Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, said he voted for Vogel based on how he handled himself during the questioning.

“He seemed to be pretty concise and to the point, and you know, I’m an old broadcaster, I kind of zero in on things like that,” said Nornes, who chairs the House’s higher education committee.

All three nominees who interviewed Tuesday were mentioned as possible regent candidates in December 2010 by the Regent Candidate Advisory Council.