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Recommended to be regents

Published (2/18/2011)
By Mike Cook
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A quartet is one vote away from serving on the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents.

Steve Sviggum, David Larson, David McMillan and Laura Brod were recommended for approval at a Feb. 16 joint meeting of the House and Senate higher education committees. The House and Senate are scheduled to meet jointly Monday for the final vote.

The university’s governing body is the only governmental body in the state whose members are elected by the Legislature. It is comprised of 12 members who serve staggered six-year terms without pay. By law, one regent is selected from each of the state’s eight congressional districts and four serve at-large.

Sviggum, House speaker when the Republicans were last in the majority, is from the state’s second congressional district; Larson, a current regent, represents the third congressional district; and McMillan is from the eighth congressional district. Brod defeated current regent Steven Hunter for the at-large recommendation.

Brod, who did not seek re-election to the House after serving the previous eight years, was one of three people recommended for the second congressional district slot. However, rules state that any person “recommended by the Regent Candidate Advisory Council is eligible to be interviewed by the joint committee and considered nominated for any position for which they are eligible.”

The choice left Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia) saying the vote was about politics. He said a DFL-controlled Legislature elected two “known Republicans” to the Board of Regents two years ago.

“I told you two years ago what would happen if we were ever in the minority, and it did; so bipartisanship at the Board of Regents has ended,” he said.

Although their reasons for seeking a seat differ, all candidates spoke to the joint committee about the importance of advocacy and their passion for the university.

“This gem we have can always be polished and always be improved,” Sviggum said.

Forty-six people applied for the four positions. The advisory council interviewed 16 applicants and forwarded 12 names.

“We are confident the university will be well served by whomever the Legislature selects from the list of well qualified candidates,” said Council Chairwoman Jane Belau.

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