Five new regents elected

State lawmakers picked two newcomers and three past regents to lead the U’s governing board on Wednesday.

Christopher Aadland

After a monthslong election process, state legislators have chosen who will fill the five open spots on the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents.

Two newcomers will join three former or current members of the board, which is responsible for overseeing the institution’s entire five-campus system. The newly elected regents will begin their terms immediately, each filling a seat that represents a Minnesota district.

At a joint House and Senate session on Wednesday, lawmakers elected current Regent Dr. Patricia Simmons for the first district spot, former Regent Darrin Rosha for the third, current board Chair Richard Beeson for the fourth and newcomers Michael Hsu and Tom Anderson for the sixth and seventh, respectively.

The election follows a monthslong discussion on candidates’ qualifications and experience, as each lobbied and made their case for appointment at the state Capitol since the beginning of the year.

The Regent Candidate Advisory Council, a group of state leaders and University students, recommended its top picks for the board in January, though the final selection rested in the hands of lawmakers present on Wednesday.

Typically, only one candidate from each district spot moves forward after the RCAC’S recommendations and lawmakers’ considerations prior to the final selection. But this year, both the first and third districts presented a challenge, and legislators struggled to consider only one candidate.

Regent-hopefuls could come forward and participate in the election at any point without a recommendation from the council. They just needed legislators’ approval.

In the third district, Long Lake attorney and former Regent Darrin Rosha, along with former U.S. Rep. Bill Luther, were nominated by lawmakers on Wednesday.

Simmons, a retired Mayo Clinic physician, will serve her third term on the board. After she announced she wouldn’t seek another term, she joined the race last month after another retired Mayo physician, Dr. Claire Bender, dropped out of the race.

Hsu, president of TeeMaster Corporation, contended against Steve Laraway, who was also nominated by legislators Wednesday.

Hsu said with his new appointment, he hopes to lower tuition rates and the cost of attendance.

“Even though everyone can make the argument that a college education is the best investment you can make, there are a lot of people who just can’t get to the point where they can take on $100,000 of debt,” he said. “Even though we froze tuition [for the current budget], the other costs are going to go up. The freeze is only temporary.”

All of the newly elected regents, excluding Rosha, will serve six-year terms. He’s filling the seat vacated by former Regent David Larson, who died in October; therefore, he’ll only serve a two-year term.

Anderson was elected after going against family farm owner, Mike Yost. Yost wasn’t formally nominated by legislators last month and was also added to the ballot Wednesday.

Beeson ran unopposed, selected to serve his second term. He said the knowledge and experience of the regents who are returning will benefit the board.

“Having folks return always takes away that element of surprise,” Beeson said. “Experience is really good.”