Ventura fills 5 U regent posts

Shira Kantor

Gov. Jesse Ventura appointed five members to the University’s Board of Regents on Tuesday, months after the deadline passed for the Legislature to fill the positions.

In addition to Michael O’Keefe’s reappointment, Ventura selected Frank Berman, Jean Keffeler, Richard “Pinky” McNamara and graduate student Lakeesha Ransom to round out the 12-member board. O’Keefe is also Ventura’s commissioner of human services.

Ventura spokesman John Wodele said Ventura expects the Legislature to approve the appointments, though approval is not necessary. He said if they did not, it “would create a political quagmire.”

“The process has already been wound up in political posturing and immobility,” he said. “That’s how the governor got the right to choose the regents – the Legislature failed to act.”

Wodele said Ventura interviewed candidates the regent selection committee recommended, choosing four of the five appointees from that list.

Keffeler, who served as a University regent in the late ’80s and early ’90s, was the only regent Ventura selected without prodding from the committee, Wodele said.

“In a time when the University is having to look at their core mission and at a time when the people are asking the ‘U’ to be accountable for the tax dollars that they get, the governor felt that Jean was very well suited to the task,” Wodele said.

Ransom, a human resources development graduate student, was a student representative to the board for two years and said she was sure the regents would make the transition easy for her. She said she would focus on financial issues.

“In light of the recent approved budget, I would pay particular attention to funding issues,” she said.

The full board will attend a retreat on Aug. 9 and 10 in place of its regular meeting at the Gateway Alumni Center to get acquainted and assign committees for the year.