Stacy Jo

Allaying officials’ anxieties, more than five dozen applications for the open Board of Regents positions came flooding into the Regents Candidate Advisory Council office early this week in a last-minute rush before the Tuesday deadline.
As of Wednesday, the selection committee had received 60 applications for the four available positions. Humphrey Doermann, chairman of the advisory council, said he expects the numbers to reach 70 by the time all late applications are turned in.
However, despite the influx, the number of applicants is noticeably reduced from the last time positions opened two years ago.
With 92 applications completed during the last regent selection cycle, current numbers show a reduction in applicants of almost one-third. But officials were not altogether surprised by the decline in applications, as the number of applicants has fallen every year since the selection process began in 1988.
The regents are responsible for making major decisions on University policies and budgetary issues, such as Legislative budget requests and the proposed soccer stadium in St. Paul. The advisory council chooses a small number of applicants for each board seat; those recommendations then go to the state Legislature for final selection.
The positions held by regents Julie Bleyhl, William Hogan II, Tom Reagan and William Peterson are open for election; those seats represent the second, third and eighth congressional districts and one at-large seat, respectively. All but Reagan are reapplying for the positions.
This factor might play a large part in the low number of applicants, said Greg Brown, acting executive director and corporate secretary for the regents.
“People don’t tend to run against incumbents, especially if the perception is that the group is functioning well,” Brown said.
The notion that the current composition of University leadership is already successful might discourage outsiders from trying to alter the balance, Brown said.
The second, third and eighth districts represent the southwest corner of the state, the western portion of the Twin Cities metro area, and Duluth, respectively. Six candidates applied from the 2nd district, 18 from the 3rd district, 12 from the 8th district and 24 for the at-large position.
The variation in the number of applicants in each district is normal, Doermann said.
“It’s a pretty good quality of applicants and it’s spread so that there are good candidates for all of the open seats,” Doermann said.
Peterson, who just reapplied for his position, said some potential applicants he spoke with showed an interest in the job until they found out the position was purely volunteer. “They found that hard to believe,” he said.
While officials continue to discuss revising the selection process, Peterson said he does not possess an advantage over newcomers because of his status as a regent.