MSA poll favors Ramaley as president

Tracy Ellingson

If the Minnesota Student Association had the final say, Judith Ramaley would win the University presidency in a landslide.
Ramaley, the president of Portland State University, received 45 votes — 38 more than Auburn University President William Muse — in a straw poll Tuesday at MSA’s forum. University of Texas at Austin Provost Mark Yudof received only three votes.
The poll results do not signify an official MSA endorsement for Ramaley, however. MSA members voted down a motion, made before students took the poll, to use the results for an official endorsement. Instead, several student leaders asked those in attendance to give the regents their individual opinions about who they would like to be president.
The regents are expected to announce their decision Dec. 13.
Matt Musel, the student representative on the presidential advisory search committee, fielded students’ questions during a half-hour discussion, which took place immediately before the vote.
“You all have just had the most thorough discussion (among students) about this at the University,” Musel said, referring to the lack of student involvement in the selection process for the new University president.
Throughout the discussion, students repeated their desires that the new president should have community building skills and an openness to student involvement in administrative decisions. Most of the students who spoke said Ramaley best fulfilled these requirements.
“Six years ago, people referred to Portland State as … paranoid state university,'” said MSA member Kristian Elverum, who presented his argument supporting Ramaley for the forum discussion. “Now they refer to it as a model, urban university.”
Former MSA Vice President Rebecca Mathern also spoke in support of Ramaley, and said students could not ask for anyone better qualified to lead the University into the 21st century. Citing Ramaley’s experience at other large institutions — such as the University of Kansas and Indiana University — and her dedication to students, Mathern told students that Ramaley could best make the changes that need to be made at the University.
“The University is in a make-or-break point in its development right now,” Mathern said, citing tenure reforms, rising tuition costs and a losing football team as examples of areas in need of change. “Judith Ramaley can best make those changes for our university.”
Although an overwhelming amount of support went to Ramaley, Musel spoke positively about all the candidates and said that each are ready to lead the University and are all dynamically different.