Regents determine University policies

Kristin Gustafson

The laws that created the University’s Board of Regents may be as old as Minnesota’s territorial Legislature, but now regents meet monthly to steer the school through decisions inconceivable to that early Legislature in 1851.
Addressing issues from Y2K preparedness to intellectual property to renovation of historic University buildings, the regents are responsible for approving all major finance and policy decisions at the school.
The top three issues facing the University’s 12-member governing body this year include strengthening the Academic Health Center, delegating duties to the board and University President Mark Yudof, and addressing the “total quality experience for student, staff and faculty,” said Andrea Turner, board corporate secretary.
Seven students serve as board representatives in an advisory-only capacity. They represent the student voice, but do not vote as regents. The student representatives review all board issues as a group and attend committee and board meetings.
A representative is selected from each of the Morris, Duluth, Crookston and St. Paul campuses; one representative from the graduate school; and two representatives from the Minneapolis campus. Heidi Frederickson, a sophomore from the Morris campus, was selected as the chairwoman of the student representatives.
Yudof and his administration are responsible for creating University policy for the Board of Regents to review. Upon board approval, the administration implements those policies throughout the University.
Yudof first came to the University July 1, 1997, from the University of Texas at Austin. His first moves included reducing the bureaucracy of the University administration, adding small seminars for freshmen who are often lost in the bustle of a big college and proposing hiring 100 new professors.
Yudof’s four-year capital plan for the University — called the Capital Plan for the Support of Academic Programs in the 21st Century — invests nearly $760 million in bonds to preserve historic areas of the campuses and to modernize classroom and lab spaces.
The University’s president and board work closely to implement the direction the school takes.
The board is comprised of 12 state Legislature-elected members — one from each of Minnesota’s eight congressional districts and four from the state at large. Regents serve without pay for six-year terms. One of the at-large regents must be a University student at the time of election.
Patricia B. Spence and Maureen Reed serve as the board’s chairwoman and vice-chairwoman. Andrea Turner is secretary and Georgina Stephens serves as treasurer.
Board of Regents standing committees include: educational planning and policy; faculty, staff and student affairs; facilities; audit; and finance and operations.
The board meets monthly (except for January and August) on the second Friday and the preceding Thursday.
Their next monthly meeting will be held Sept. 9 and 10. Meetings are open to the public.
The board’s office is in 220 Morrill Hall on the East Bank’s Northrop Mall.
For meeting agendas or other information, visit the regents’ Web site at www.umn.edu/regents/ or call (612) 625-6300.