For Regent Maureen Reed, mediocrity is not an option.
While this statement defines the newly elected board chairwoman’s view on the University’s future, it applies to other aspects of her life as well.
Reed has never been what one might call an “average girl.”
Growing up in Redwood Falls, Minn., Reed came from a family that emphasized throughout her childhood the importance of higher education.
“There was never a question of whether or not I would go to college,” Reed said. “It was just a matter of choosing where I would go.”
She didn’t choose the University at first. Reed studied Plains Indian anthropology for a year at the University of Nebraska and Creighton University before the University’s medical programs drew her here.
“I think you have to look for what you want,” Reed said. “When I arrived at the University, I remember feeling like this was where I belonged.”
Attending medical school during the mid-1970s, Reed experienced the University during a time when Vietnam War protests were commonplace on Northrop Mall.
“There was a certain tension, and the campus was edgy,” she said.
Reed added that the University has made significant improvements since the days when she attended school.
“It was very different than what it is now. The campus was not attractive. It was fairly impersonal; you had to be your own advocate and look out for your own affairs,” she said.
Reed credits University President Mark Yudof’s initiatives to improve the institution for some of the changes on campus, including better undergraduate advising.
“President Yudof has a clear vision for the University and high standards. It’s very rewarding to be on a board with him and other individuals,” Reed said.
Regents find working with Reed rewarding as well, if the unanimous decision to make her board chairwoman at last month’s meeting is any indication of their respect level.
The Legislature elected Reed a regent in 1997, and according to the board’s executive office, she is the third woman since 1950 to serve as chairperson.
“The board chose her because of her qualifications. I believe she’ll be a good leader of the board,” said former board Chairwoman Patricia Spence.
Added Venora Hung, the student representative to the board, “Regent Reed always asks insightful, detailed questions. She always advocates for the student voice regarding University related policies.”
Hung said she is happy about the board’s new leader.
Whether it’s meeting with student representatives or chatting with students in the University Recreation Center where she swims laps regularly, Reed tries to gain the student perspective on things.
“It’s so much fun to find out what kids like and don’t like about the ‘U,'” Reed said. ” I get to meet people that I’d otherwise never meet.”
She and other board members will likely face some tough issues in upcoming months.
With budget talks still up in the air, regents are left guessing how much money the Legislature will allot the University.
A meeting to approve the University’s 2001-02 operating budget is scheduled for June 26, a time when regents will have to make difficult decisions about the institution’s future.
“The budget challenges will cause the University to become something different in the future than it has been in the past,” Reed said. “I’m concerned that we get it right.”
While volunteering to govern the University is a big job, Reed is also Health Partners’ medical director and a practicing internist at Freemont Community Clinic in Minneapolis.
She manages to squeeze in some free time with her husband, Jim Hart, and enjoys cross-country skiing, bird watching and golfing.
“It’s a challenge to keep all the balls in the air and have a life too, but it’s fun,” Reed said. “I couldn’t do it if I didn’t love it.”
Melinda Rogers covers the Board of Regents and welcomes comments at [email protected]