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Lawmakers recommend eight for U of M Board of Regents seats

A view of the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus. House Photography file photo

Eight people vying for a seat on University of Minnesota’s governing body are a step closer to securing a spot on the board.

A joint committee, comprised of members of the House and Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy committees, met Tuesday to recommend finalists for the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

The board is the only governmental body in the state whose members are elected by the Legislature. It’s comprised of 12 members: one from each of the state’s eight congressional districts and four at-large seats. Members serve staggered six-year terms without pay. In odd-numbered years, one-third of the board is up for election.

The next step is a Joint Convention of the Legislature at a yet-to-be-determined date. A candidate needs a majority vote of the 201-member House and Senate to be elected to a seat. Lawmakers are not bound to vote for only the finalists presented.

One person will be chosen to fill each of the open seats, representing Minnesota’s 1st, 4th, 6th and 7th Congressional Districts. The recommended candidates are:

  • From the 1st Congressional District: Val Aarsvold from Altura and Ruth Johnson from Rochester;
  • From the 4th Congressional District: Daryl Alkire and Karen Schanfield, both from St. Paul;
  • From the 6th Congressional District: current regent Michael Hsu from Blaine and Kodi Verhalen from Elk River; and
  • From the 7th Congressional District: Doug Huebsch from Perham and Michael Yost from Murdock.

The traditional route to becoming a regent is to apply through the Regent Candidate Advisory Council, a 24-member organization created by the Legislature. The council then provides its recommendations to a joint legislative committee, who, in turn recommend candidates to the full Legislature.

The advisory council received 19 applications and recommended three individuals for each of the open congressional seats. One of the recommended candidates removed himself from the running prior to the hearing.

“This is one of the most diverse slates of candidates in RCAC history, with two thirds of the recommended candidates being women or persons of color. We are confident that each of these candidates has the background and ability to ably serve if elected by the Legislature,” according to the council’s recommendation report.

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