UMN Regent James Farnsworth announces vice chair candidacy

Farnsworth cited the need for more diverse representation in leadership as his main goal and reason for why he is running.

The+Board+of+Regents+convene+for+their+September+meeting+at+the+McNamara+Alumni+Center+on+Thursday%2C+Sept.+9.

Liam Armstrong

The Board of Regents convene for their September meeting at the McNamara Alumni Center on Thursday, Sept. 9.

by Maya Marchel Hoff

University of Minnesota Regent James Farnsworth announced that he is running for the vice chair position on the Board of Regents on Monday evening.

Farnsworth’s bid for candidacy comes about a month after Regent Steve Sviggum resigned from the position following comments he made at an October board meeting questioning whether the diversity of the University of Minnesota-Morris student body correlated to lower enrollment numbers. The comment sparked outrage among the University community.

“The diversity of an institution like the University of Minnesota should never be seen as a liability,” Farnswoth stated in his announcement letter. “Representation matters and diverse representation should absolutely be reflected within the leadership of the highest level of the University.”

Following Sviggum’s resignation, many people called on the board to elect a regent of color to the vice chair position. There are currently four regents of color – Farnsworth, Tadd Johnson, Mike Kenyanya and Bo Thao-Urabe – on the 12-member board.

Farnsworth started his term on the board in 2021 and represents Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District. As a student, he was a member of the Minnesota Student Association and on University Senate committees.

“I’m putting my name forward to serve in transitional leadership because I’m uniquely positioned to address relationship rebuilding and to reflect a commitment to diversity at all levels of the University,” Farnsworth said in the letter.

The board will elect the new vice chair at their meeting on Dec. 16.