Commentary: U of M needs regents of great accomplishment and high integrity

January 9, 2023

Dear Senators and Representatives of the State of Minnesota:

Congratulations on your recent election. As the 2023 legislative session begins, you will soon face one of your most significant responsibilities: selecting members of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

You’ll have four positions to fill. We urge you to select regents of great accomplishment and high integrity who can help move the institution forward while carefully stewarding the taxpayers’ investment in it. The four new regents will join eight current regents to ensure the University educates our youth and adults, performs cutting-edge research to improve lives in our state and nation, and boosts the state’s economy.

Minnesota and the country may be divided along partisan lines. But that division should not be imported into our flagship University.

As faculty and staff retirees, we intimately know the University and its five campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester, and the Twin Cities. We care deeply about the long-term future of the entire University system. And we put our money where our mouths and hearts are—we contributed more than $34 million to the University's most recent fundraising campaign.

The University is an educational powerhouse, the state's chief hub of innovation, and a vital workforce creator. Established by the Legislature in 1853, the University today:  

  • Educates more than 68,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Graduates about 16,000 every year, including professional and graduate students. Nearly two-thirds of them remain in Minnesota and work here.
  • Trains 70 percent of Minnesota's health professionals.
  • Consistently ranks as one of the world’s best public research universities. It conducts more than $1 billion yearly in research and has launched more than 200 startup companies.
  • Supports 77,000 jobs in the state and generates more than $8 billion annually in statewide economic impact.
  • Is present in about 35 locations throughout the state providing services and solutions that advance the state’s competitiveness and quality of life.

We know the regent selection process is arcane and circuitous. But please don’t lose sight of our goal: to elect experienced, problem-solving leaders who reflect the diversity of our state, embrace the remarkable value of the University, and leave their politics and single-issue agendas outside the gates of our campuses. We need leaders who are guardians and stewards, not micromanagers and ideologues.

The Board of Regents is not a political prize or enclave. The selection criteria, by statute, are focused on choosing people of integrity and accomplishment who can and will work successfully in advancing the teaching, research, and service mission of the University. We look forward to seeing you do just that.

Submitted [by email to members of the Minnesota Legislature] on behalf of the University of Minnesota Retirees Association by

John Bantle, professor of medicine emeritus
Robert Bruininks, professor and president emeritus
Frank Cerra, Medical School dean and senior vice president for health sciences (retired)
Brad Clary, clinical professor of law emeritus
Will Craig, associate director emeritus, Center for Urban & Regional Affairs
William Donohue, general counsel (retired)
Kristy Frost-Griep, CPA and finance director (retired)
Cherie Hamilton, UMRA Board member
Eric Hockert, Office for Technology Commercialization (retired) and UMRA president-elect
Cathy Lee Gierke, Carlson School Business Career Center (retired)
Russell V. Luepker, Mayo professor emeritus, School of Public Health
Laura Koch, associate professor emerita, College of Education and Human Development (CEHD)
Kate Maple, College of Design (retired)
Ronald Matross, senior analyst (retired) and UMRA president
Kristine Mortensen, University of Minnesota Foundation (retired)
Jan Morlock, director of community relations (retired) 
Kathleen O'Brien, vice president for University Services (retired)
Donna Peterson, associate vice president for government and community relations (retired)
Gerald Rinehart, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students (retired)
Barbara Shiels, senior associate general counsel (retired) 
Julie Sweitzer, College Readiness Consortium executive director (retired)
KaiMay Terry, UMRA Board member
Cathrine Wambach, associate professor emerita, CEHD
Jay Weiner, speech writer, Office of the President, 2011–18 (retired)
Diane Young, GPS Alliance development director (retired)



The election of UMRA officers and new board members for 2024–25 will be conducted via an online poll from May 13 to 19, with the results to be announced at our annual meeting on May 21. Look for the ballot in your email inbox on May 13. Diane Young has been nominated to be president-elect.