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Lawmakers elect four new U of M regents during joint House, Senate session

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

The House and Senate met in a joint convention Monday to elect four new members to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

The four were winnowed down from a slate of eight candidates recommended by the joint House and Senate higher education committees in February, as well as an additional candidate who was nominated from the House Floor.

To be elected, candidates needed a majority vote of the 201-member Legislature. The four new board members are:

  • From the 1st Congressional District: Ruth Johnson from Rochester;
  • From the 4th Congressional District: James Farnsworth from St. Paul;
  • From the 6th Congressional District: Kodi Verhalen from Elk River; and
  • From the 7th Congressional District: Doug Huebsch from Perham.

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.

Farnsworth was nominated by Rep. Marion O'Neill (R-Maple Lake) prior to the 4th Congressional District vote. He was among the original 12 selected for further consideration by the Regent Candidate Advisory Council but was eliminated when lawmakers met in late February to debate the candidates. 

He has spent the past four years pursuing a degree in human resource development at the Twin Cities campus. During the vetting process, Farnsworth explained that he is positioned to be a regent, given his diverse personal background, extensive service within the university’s governance and in external governance roles, and his keen understanding of what it means to be a student during these ever-changing times.

“As a regent you can count on me to always be accessible, transparent and available for engagement,” he said. “Additionally, due to my background knowledge of, and experience within, university operations I will be a persistent voice at the table for accountability and outcomes. As a fiduciary of the university on behalf of the people of Minnesota, I will take my role as a regent incredibly seriously.” 


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