House, Senate approve four regents

Appointees list the economy as a key challenge before the board

The state House and Senate jointly confirmed four nominees to fill seats on the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Board of Regents on Monday. Previous regents Clyde Allen, John Frobenius and Patricia Simmons extended their tenures by another six-year term. Local banker Rick Beeson will take a place on the board for the first time. âÄúThe immediate issue, of course, is how do we maintain the quality of education, the quality of outreach and the quality of research in tough economic times,âÄù Allen said after the LegislatureâÄôs approval. âÄúItâÄôs going to be very difficult.âÄù Allen expressed reluctance to raise tuition to compensate for the schoolâÄôs economic woes. âÄúWe need to raise tuition moderately, but we canâÄôt use it to make up for everything else that is falling apart in this recession,âÄù he said. Beeson, who has his orientation to the board on Wednesday, said after legislators approved him that heâÄôll ask to be on the finance committee so he can immediately begin working on balancing the budget âÄî something he called an âÄúenormous task.âÄù He said heâÄôll approach the budget âÄúin a way that preserves the goals of the UniversityâÄôs strategic plan, but at the same time does so with probably fewer resources.âÄù After the Legislature approved the regents, Frobenius said now isnâÄôt the time to talk future issues the board will face, except to say that the University faces âÄúsignificant challenges.âÄù In his time already spent as a regent, Frobenius said he has learned a lot about the UniversityâÄôs role as an economic driver in the state. Additionally, he said heâÄôs met with plenty of legislators, which has reinforced the notion that the University has a broad constituency and many stakeholders that hold it accountable for fulfilling its obligations to the state. âÄúWeâÄôll do the best we can to continue to keep the University of Minnesota strong,âÄù he said. Beeson said a shared interest in the University among the regents, coupled with his background in finance, could help the board make progress in the face of tough economic times. âÄúI think we all do our best work when we believe in the organization and what it stands for,âÄù he said. âÄúI bring that passion as well as skills where the needs are greatest.âÄù âÄî Karlee Weinmann is a senior staff reporter