Pawlenty picks regent

The new regent spent four years overseeing the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

Than Tibbetts

Gov. Tim Pawlenty appointed Michael Vekich on Thursday to fill the vacant seat on the University’s Board of Regents.

Vekich will finish at-large Regent Richard “Pinky” McNamara’s term, which lasts through February 2007.

McNamara announced his resignation from the board a week ago, citing health reasons.

University President Bob Bruininks said Vekich comes to the board with a broad range of experience. Vekich is a graduate of the Duluth campus with a degree in accounting and business administration.

“He is deeply interested in higher education,” Bruininks said.

Vekich, 58, served four years as the chairman of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees. He could not be reached for comment by press time.

The governor’s news release cited Vekich’s extensive record of public service.

Bruininks said Vekich will also bring international business experience ” he was a member of the governor’s recent delegation to China ” and financial knowledge to the board. He added that he didn’t expect the governor’s announcement to come quite so early.

Pawlenty appointed Vekich to be the acting director of the Minnesota State Lottery in 2004 after then-director George Anderson’s suicide.

Regent Frank Berman said his experience makes him a very good addition to the board.

“He was put in to help keep (the lottery) going,” Berman said. “And he did ” I understand ” a very good job.”

Ann Cieslak, executive director and corporate secretary for the Board of Regents, said the governor’s early announcement will allow Vekich plenty of time to meet with the University’s senior leadership and go through orientation.

Many regents said they did not know Vekich well enough to comment on his appointment to the board.

The board does not convene again until February.

Vekich’s experience
> Vice chairman of the Higher Education Services Council
> Appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to the Rochester Higher Education Development Committee
> Certified public accountant
> Board member: Salvation Army, the State Board of

Accountancy, Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco