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U of M needs regents of great accomplishment and high integrity

We urge the members of the Legislature to elect experienced, problem-solving leaders who reflect the diversity of our state, embrace the remarkable value of the university, and leave their politics and single-issue agendas outside the gates of our campuses.

An image from the December 16, 2022, meeting of the Regents of the University of Minnesota.
An image from the December 16, 2022, meeting of the Regents of the University of Minnesota.
MinnPost photo by Peyton Sitz

As the 2023 legislative session begins, the recently elected senators and representatives in the Minnesota Legislature will soon face one of their most significant responsibilities: selecting members of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

They will have four positions to fill. We urge them to select regents of great accomplishment and high integrity who can help move the institution forward while carefully stewarding the taxpayers’ investment in it. The four new regents will join eight current regents to ensure the University educates our youth and adults, performs cutting-edge research to improve lives in our state and nation, and boosts the state’s economy.

Minnesota and the country may be divided along partisan lines. But that division should not be imported into our flagship University.

Members of the University of Minnesota Retirees Association (UMRA), an organization of nearly 800 retired faculty and staff, intimately know the University and its five campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester, and the Twin Cities. We care deeply about the long-term future of the entire University system. And we put our money where our mouths and hearts are – we contributed more than $34 million to the University’s most recent fundraising campaign.

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The University is an educational powerhouse, the state’s chief hub of innovation, and a vital workforce creator. Established by the Legislature in 1853, the University today:

  • Educates more than 68,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Graduates about 16,000 every year, including professional and graduate students. Nearly two-thirds of them remain in Minnesota and work here.
  • Trains 70% of Minnesota’s health professionals.
  • Consistently ranks as one of the world’s best public research universities. It conducts more than $1 billion yearly in research and has launched more than 200 startup companies.
  • Supports 77,000 jobs in the state and generates more than $8 billion annually in statewide economic impact.
  • Is present in about 35 locations throughout the state providing services and solutions that advance the state’s competitiveness and quality of life.

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We know the regent selection process is arcane and circuitous. But we urge the members of the Legislature not to lose sight of our goal: to elect experienced, problem-solving leaders who reflect the diversity of our state, embrace the remarkable value of the university, and leave their politics and single-issue agendas outside the gates of our campuses. We need leaders who are guardians and stewards, not micromanagers and ideologues.

The Board of Regents is not a political prize or enclave. The selection criteria, by statute, are focused on choosing people of integrity and accomplishment who can and will work successfully in advancing the teaching, research, and service mission of the university.

Ronald Matross, William Donohue and Kathleen O'Brien
Ronald Matross, William Donohue and Kathleen O'Brien
Submitted on behalf of the University of Minnesota Retirees Association (UMRA) by Ronald Matross, senior analyst (retired) and UMRA president, William Donohue, general counsel (retired) and UMRA past president and Kathleen O’Brien, vice president for University Services (retired)