The following article summarizes the original event which is listed below the summary.

Getting to know the U of M regents and what they do

October 4, 2023, at 10am

U of M Regents Mary Turner and Penny Wheeler provided an engaging and personal exchange about their roles as new members of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents during UMRA’s special forum on October 4. Both have been visiting the five U of M system campuses and spending many hours learning about all of the University’s functions. 

Regent Turner said she is learning about higher education, but she knows politics and that the University has to do a better job communicating its value to legislators. She believes Minnesota is a leader in health care and the University needs to work in partnership with Minnesota providers. 

Regent Wheeler emphasized knowing who we serve, supporting faculty and staff, communicating the U’s value, and being strategic. She will provide a strategic perspective as a member of the Governor's Task Force on Academic Health at the University of Minnesota, appointed by Governor Walz.

Both Regents were optimistic about undergraduate enrollment but acknowledged current challenges. They said the presidential search is an immediate priority, and they emphasized the importance of the advisory process shaping the search. 

Do you want to help guide the search for a new University president? The Regents office has invited UMRA members to an in-person session at 9 a.m. on Friday, October 20, with Regent Mary Davenport, who chairs the search advisory committee, and Regent Chair Janie Mayeron. It will be held in Room 180 at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis. You will be able to share your thoughts on what makes a great U of M president, and show them that UMRA members have valuable insights to offer. Email Julie Sweitzer if you would like to attend this special, in-person meeting with Regents Davenport and Mayeron on October 20.

One UMRA member told me after our session with Regents Turner and Wheeler that, previously, the Board of Regents was an amorphous body to him, but now he felt like he knew two regents and something about what the regents do. Mission accomplished.

—Julie Sweitzer, UMRA president-elect and Program Committee chair

Event recording
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Meet the newest U of M regents

Wed, Oct 4 2023, 10am

Via Zoom.

We have a special opportunity to engage with the four newest members of the U of M Board of Regents at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, October 4, via Zoom. Our informal, hour-long conversation will start with the regents introducing themselves and will include ample opportunity for UMRA members to ask questions. 

Please register now for this Zoom webinar and save the date.

The purpose of our connecting with the new regents is to share our perspectives as former University employees. One of our earlier meetings was with Regents Mary Davenport and Jane Mayeron


Regent Robyn Gulley

Regent Robyn Gulley (representing Congressional District 2) is a labor educator and founded New Brookwood Labor College to address racial, economic, and social imbalances of power. Her connections with the University include a master’s of public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She serves on the West St. Paul City Council.



Regent Tadd Johnson

Regent Tadd Johnson (District 8) actually started as a regent in 2022, appointed by the governor to fill a vacancy, and was reelected in 2023. He is professor emeritus of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and was the first senior director of American Indian Tribal Nations Relations for the U of M System. He is currently senior advisor for government affairs for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Johnson met with us, also via Zoom, for an UMRA forum in September 2021.


Regent Mary Davenport

Regent Mary Turner (District 3) is a critical care registered nurse at North Memorial Medical Center and president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. She served as the only frontline healthcare worker on the national COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. She is also on the board of Isuroon, which advocates for Somali women.



Regent Penny Wheeler

Regent Penny Wheeler (At-large) retired as the chief executive officer of Allina Health and practiced medicine as a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist. She is recognized nationally as a leader in health care, and is a proud “triple Gopher.” She completed her undergraduate and medical degrees and her medical residency at the U of M.


Feel free to email questions in advance to Julie Sweitzer. You can submit questions during the Zoom webinar as well. 

—Julie Sweitzer, UMRA Program Committee chair

Upcoming Events

Event Date: December 4, 2023, at 9:30am

Please join us for an invigorating hike from The Monument located at the intersection of Mississippi RIver Blvd and Summit Avenue in St. Paul to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis and back.  This hike is on paved trails, approximately 5.5 miles in length, and will be at a pace suitable to the weather.

Event Date: December 6, 2023, at 10am

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Event Date: December 12, 2023, at 11:50am

Andy Whitman's Employee Benefits class will be holding an Oxford style debate on four different topics. During the debate a Board of Distinguished Professionals questions each Team, and finally comments on Team performance after the end of the debates.

Event Date: December 13, 2023, at 11:30am

Topics include tax changes; tax reducing moves required now and tax management in 2024.

Event Date: January 16, 2024, at 11am

It may seem like science fiction, but University of Minnesota researchers are exploring therapeutic interventions to treat aging and prevent age-related diseases. Laura Niedernhofer, MD, PhD, leads the Medical School’s Institute on the Biology of Aging and Metabolism, and will share her work on aging—and how to slow it down—for UMRA’s Living Well Workshop on Tuesday, January 16, via Zoom. 

Event Date: January 23, 2024, at 11am

Pat Miles, former TV news anchor and journalist, lost her husband suddenly and found the financial and legal challenges to be overwhelming during her time of grief. She wrote a book about her experience, Before All Is Said and Done, incorporating wisdom from other unexpected widows, and will share her learnings for the first UMRA Forum of the New Year.

Event Date: January 24, 2024, at 10am

UMRA’s first Armchair Traveler program of 2024 will take us on travels close to home and to the edges of the earth with two fabulous presenters, Carol Urness and Kate Maple.

Event Date: January 31, 2024, at 1pm

Join UMRA members at Midland Hills Country Club in Roseville for an afternoon of comradery, food, and entertainment. After an hour of mingling and nosh, the highlight of this mid-winter event will be an hour of song and music by Twin Cities musicians Dane Stauffer and Dan Chouinard.

Prepayment of $35 per person; or $38 after Jan 5

Event Date: February 7, 2024, at 1pm

If you are curious about insects in their astonishing variety, plan to join the UMRA Cabinets of Curiosity to tour the Insect Collection and Natural History Library in Hodson Hall.