New U of M regent chosen; newest regent not recommended for selection by joint committee

The House and Senate voted this week to elect Randy Simonson of Worthington to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents in a joint convention that took only one ballot. Simonson won on a vote of 103-86-1. Simonson was not recommended by the joint House-Senate Higher Education committees that met on May 7, 2018.

First Congressional District Regent Patricia Simmons resigned in April of this year. That same month, Senate and House Higher Education Committee Chairs Sen. Michelle Fischbach and Rep. Bud Nornes issued a press release seeking applications for the open position with the Joint Legislative Committee meeting to interview and screen applicants. Applications closed in mid April. The Regent Candidate Advisory Council (RCAC) was not involved in the vetting process which is the usual procedure during a regular regent selection cycle.

Five candidates applied for the open position: Mary Davenport, Mankato; Dr. Brooks Edwards, Rochester; Wendy Shannon, Winona; Jeanne Hankerson, Owatonna; Randy Simonson, Worthington. Applicants were required to be residents of the First Congressional District and will fill out the remaining three years of the term until 2021.

The members of the House and Senate Higher Education committees heard opening statements from the candidates and posed questions, ultimately recommending Mary Davenport and Brooks Edwards for consideration by the full House and Senate. Davenport has extensive experience as an educator and higher education administrator. Dr. Edwards is a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic.

Simonson was nominated from the floor, which is allowed by selection rules. This was Simonson’s third run as a regent candidate. He graduated from the U of M veterinary school and has been involved in various business ventures in the Worthington area.