Third regent seat opens up

by Brian Bakst

Wendell Anderson announced this week that he will not seek a third term on the Board of Regents, ensuring that at least a quarter of the board will be composed of new members next year.
Earlier this month, Regent Jean Keffeler announced she will resign from the 12-member board Dec. 1, one year into her second six-year term. Last month, Regent Stanley Sahlstrom said he would not seek a third term.
Anderson, whose term expires in June, made his intentions public in a letter to Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, thanking the legislator for permitting him to serve as a regent for 12 years.
Throughout Anderson’s tenure as regent, he has been outspoken on issues relating to University finances. In May, Anderson unsuccessfully tried to stop a 7.5 percent average tuition hike, saying it was time to draw the line on rising tuition. Recently, Anderson urged fellow regents to rally behind, rather than pick apart, an administration-written biennial budget request.
“I love the University. I am a product of the University,” he said. “For some 40 years I have had nearly continuous formal relationships with the University, as a student, state representative, state senator, governor, and regent.”
The Legislature selects regents based on the recommendations and endorsements of the Regent Candidate Advisory Council, a 24-member citizen’s panel that was established in 1988 to recruit and interview candidates.
The announcement from the former governor and U.S. senator is not viewed as a big surprise. Barb Patterson, a staff member of the commission that coordinates the advisory council, said the council will not endorse regents after they have served two terms.
Every two years, four regents are up for re-election. In addition to the expiration of Anderson and Sahlstrom’s terms, regents H. Bryan Neel and Hyon Kim are up for re-election.
Neel and Kim said last month that they plan to run for re-election. The Legislature hopes to select the new regents by Feb. 20.
The departures of Anderson, Sahlstrom and Keffeler mark the second time in the past two years that three new members will be elected to the board. In 1995, regents Warren Larson, Jessica Phillips and Patricia Spence all won at-large regent appointments.
Gov. Arne Carlson will appoint someone to serve in Keffeler’s place, and depending on how an 1851 statute is interpreted, the replacement could serve only through May or as long as until 1998. Carlson’s communication’s coordinator Brian Dietz said Keffeler’s replacement could be named as early as Friday.
Kim Isenberg, the regents’ policy and project assistant, said she does not believe having three new regents will be a problem. “The seasoned members are very helpful and work very closely with the new members,” Isenberg said.