Regents Chairman Metzen gives back to his alma mater

by Anna Weggel

University Board of Regents Chairman Dave Metzen said deciding to attend the University was the best decision of his life.

And 45 years later, he’s still here.

“(Serving on the board) is my way of giving back to the University what they gave to me,” Metzen said.

The Board of Regents is the University’s governing body. It includes 12 volunteer members – eight who serve state congressional districts and four who serve at large. Regents serve six-year terms, and the State Legislature appoints them.

As chairman, Metzen works with University President Bob Bruininks as well as other regents and committee leaders to set goals and objectives for one another. Metzen, who has served since 1997, said he works at communication between board members and the regents office.

“The chair is twice as time-consuming (as being a regular regent),” Metzen said.

Although his position is unpaid, Metzen said he comes into the office approximately two to three times per week.

Metzen received three degrees from the University: a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s and doctoral degrees in education administration. He was also captain of the Gophers men’s hockey team his senior year.

Throughout his lifetime, Metzen has worked as a teacher, principal and school superintendent. He is now a consultant in leadership development throughout the Midwest.

Metzen said there are many people vying for spots currently open on the board.

“There are lots of great candidates,” he said. “It will be a privilege and honor to have them on board.”

However, not all 17 candidates will receive spots, as there are only four openings, two of which might be given to incumbents.

“Marvelous people try to get on and do not,” he said.

Difficult times

Metzen said that just like location for real estate, the University budget is the hot topic for the board. He said that since he joined the board, tuition has increased 81 percent.

Bruininks said Metzen has served during one of the most financially difficult times in the University’s history.

“He has been a very strong and steady leader, and I believe the University has been very fortunate to have the benefit of his service,” Bruininks said.

Metzen said he is worried about the future of education.

“Education must be affordable for middle- to low-income people,” he said. “We’re moving in the wrong direction.”

Metzen said he ran for the Board of Regents to ensure education would be accessible and affordable to all people.

“I hope people understand we’re pricing a lot of kids out of going to the University,” he said. “We have to be investing in the talent pool first.”

Metzen said he is dissatisfied with the amount of debt students are leaving college with.

“It’s not the American way,” he said.

Metzen said he generally cares for people who are underrepresented.

“I’m kind of for the underdog,” he said. “I worry about how we treat each other Ö gender issues, racial issues, caring for diversity (and) lifestyle.

“That’s what the University should be about, a great understanding of people.”

Regent Dallas Bohnsack said Metzen has been an “excellent” chairman.

“He makes good decisions in what we are going to look into and debate about,” Bohnsack said. “It’s his job to prioritize the important things that come to the agendas.”

Bohnsack said he likes Metzen’s quick wit and people skills.

“He wears well with people and knows how to lead a discussion and keep it moving,” Bohnsack said. “He keeps us on subject, and he maintains a nice business atmosphere of all the board meetings he’s in charge of.”

When he was 30, Metzen met his wife, Leslie Metzen, the first Dakota County female judge. They have two adopted sons and a new grandson. Besides heading the board, Metzen said, he also enjoys gardening, golfing and cooking.