So you want to be a regent?

Elizabeth Cook

Every six years a student is elected to serve as a University regent with full voting power.

The current student regent’s term has nearly expired and applications to replace her are due to the Regent Candidate Advisory Council by Nov. 8. University officials encourage all students who meet the requirements to apply.

Council Chairman Bob Vanasek said the student regent has the same powers as other members.

The student regent must be enrolled at the University at the time of election. If they graduate during their term, they still hold the position. Undergraduate and graduate students are both eligible. The most recent undergraduate regent was Jessica Phillips, a 1997 Morris graduate, who started her term in 1995.

Lakeesha Ransom, a human resource development doctoral candidate, is the current student regent. Once a replacement is selected, she’ll give up her position.

Ransom said the position can be a lot for a student. Regents, student or otherwise, commit to about 40 hours per month without pay.

“It’s like anything else,” she said. “I had to be mindful of how I planned my day.”

Regents monitor the University and approve policies, plans, annual budgets and educational programs, according to the candidate advisory council Web site.

Regents are expected to “engage in thoughtful discussion around those topics” at the meetings, Ransom said.

She said student regents take their own University experiences into meetings, which brings diverse perspectives to the board.

“The student experience gives me a different lens,” she said.

Ransom said she’s grown professionally and personally through her experience as a regent.

“I’ve learned to approach complex issues from multiple perspectives,” she said.

The student regent plays an interesting role, Ransom said.

People might think a student regent only represents the student population, she said, but the student regent also represents the people of Minnesota.

American studies, economics and political science senior Nathan Wanderman is a student representative to the regents who was nominated by the Minnesota Student Association in the spring.

He said representatives are there to “bridge the gap” between the Board of Regents and students.

Student representatives go to all board meetings, talk with regents, make official statements to the board and voice student concerns. But, unlike student regents, they have no voting power.

Student representatives are elected in the spring. They hold year-long terms and can be reelected.

Third-year law student Joshua Colburn, a student representative, said students can also take concerns to student governments.

Once a student representative is involved, Colburn said, concerns can be talked about at board meetings, or directly with individual regents, depending on the concern.

Representatives produce a report every semester, in which they can express student concerns, Colburn said.

“We’ve had an amazing response rate from administration and the board,” Colburn said.

In December, the candidate advisory council will review applications and select students to interview. Two to four candidates will be selected in January and passed on to the governor.

The governor then will submit a candidate to a 20-member joint House and Senate committee.

Final approval must be granted by a joint session of the Minnesota Legislature.