Bills would change U of M Regent selection process

Bills discussed in the Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee this week would change the way the University Board of Regents are chosen. Critics of the current process say it is too political and candidates who haven’t been properly vetted are chosen by legislators. Last session candidates were eventually appointed who had not been initially interviewed by the Regent Candidate Advisory Council.

The Board of Regents has 12 members. Eight must reside in Minnesota’s congressional districts – one from each district – and four members hold at-large positions.

The bills discussed would allow the Regent Candidate Advisory Council to recruit, interview, and recommend to the legislature only the at large candidates up for election or re-election. Currently the RCAC has this duty for all candidates. The RCAC has 24 members representing the public at large.

The eight congressional seats would be recommended by legislative delegations. Final votes on all recommended candidates would be taken during a joint convention of the House and Senate.

One bill would repeal the RCAC completely, with Regents chosen by the joint convention.

A change in the selection process could affect an upcoming vacancy on the Board of Regents with the announced resignation of Patricia Simmons from Rochester. Regent Simmons said she will step down this spring, once a replacement is found. (SF2611, SF1347, SF2142)