Handshakes and smiles greeted new members of the Board of Regents on Thursday as the members began their first day of duty on the University’s 12-member governing body.
Bob Bergland, David Metzen and Maureen Reed were sworn into office to six-year terms by Minnesota Speaker of the House Phil Carruthers. Current Regents H. Bryan Neel and Michael O’Keefe, who were re-elected last month, also took the oath.
Neel welcomed the new members during the Educational Policy and Planning Committee meeting.
“Let’s try to smile once and a while, and try to enjoy this because it really is fun,” he said.
The new regents sat through meetings mainly absorbing information and getting acquainted with their fellow board members.
“It’s a bit intimidating to have these very heavy and important, weighty matters brought to us with which we have no previous experience,” Bergland, a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, said.
But, he added, “I’ve spent the better part of my life preparing for this job. I don’t know the details of the administration and the University, but I clearly understand my role — so I’m ready.”
Reed, a physician and medical director at HealthPartners, said she got up early to prepare herself for the long day.
“As I was thinking about prepping, I thought ‘this is the way I feel before taking a test,'” Reed said.
Reed said her role as regent is to look into the future and try to assure that action taken today will well serve the University 15 years from now.
Metzen, the South St. Paul superintendent of schools, said he was impressed with the professionalism of the board members and their comprehensive knowledge of the issues.
“My first challenge is to understand the issues and the culture (of the University),” he said.
Bergland, as a former cabinet member in the Carter administration, and a former congressman, brings strong governmental experience to the board.
“My strength is that I have 30 years of political experience in public affairs and know how to make the system work.”
The new regents replace Hyon Kim, Wendell Anderson and Stanley Sahlstrom.
In other events:
ù The board reviewed a quarterly grade point average report for fall of 1997. The University-wide GPA was 3.02 (2.94 for men, 3.11 for women).
ù The regents also approved a new program at the Duluth campus in educational computing and technology and heard a report on intellectual property. The report outlined revenue generated by University royalties on patented materials such as software and plants.
In 1995, the University received nearly $2 million in such royalties. Administrators, though, say the school can do much better.
“Our intellectual property is probably our greatest asset,” Neel said.
ù Admissions Director Wayne Sigler announced that freshman applications increased 5 percent since last year at this time. In addition, applications from students of color also increased about 8.5 percent since last year. The fall target for incoming freshmen is 4,200.