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

Proudly advocating for his alma mater

Tue, October 12 2021, 9am

At our October UMRA A.M. event, Regent Emeritus Richard Beeson presented his reflections on his 12 years on the Board of Regents and his two years as chair. In a remarkably thoughtful and candid talk, he told us about his most important initiatives during his period on the board, and his concerns for the future of the University. He emphasized how his time at the University as an undergraduate influenced his development and career, ultimately leading him to become one of the leading advocates for his alma mater.

A banker for most of his professional life (currently with Sunrise Banks in St. Paul), Beeson said he concentrated on the business side of the University, hoping to use his experience and skills as a small businessperson to enhance the University’s finances and organizational acumen.

He said he appreciated the University as an academic institution and its governance structure, which heavily involved the faculty. His goals were to enhance access to the University for high school students from all over the state, and to foster the faculty and staff who provided such excellent teaching. He was in favor of enhanced pay for all University employees.

A way to talk about—and measure—progress

Beeson was most proud of his efforts to establish metrics for the University. The University of Minnesota Progress Card first approved by the Board of Regents in 2015, is a comprehensive set of measures and goals such as graduation rates, institutional aid to students, research and development, and employee engagement to guide the development of programs and administration at the University. These measures, geared toward change over a five-year period, are still in use and provide a way to talk practically about progress.  

Second, he took some credit for driving the discussion about administrative cost savings while, at the same time, insisting on operational excellence. During this time, the U committed to a goal of saving $90 million in administrative costs. The goal was achieved during the Kaler administration and provided funding for academic programming.

Third, he energized a new emphasis on the Medical School and research funding. Beeson noted that the Medical School accounted for 40 percent of the University budget but received around 5 percent of the board’s time. He brought to the board more oversight of these functions, delving closely into the relationship with Fairview to assure that it provided additional funding for the Medical School.

Among his aspirations for higher education in Minnesota, he suggested a governor’s commission to study and align mission, capacity, and demand at higher education institutions throughout the state. He also suggested more focus on “forever issues” at the University, including access and excellence, administrative costs, constitutional autonomy, and a few others. He is a supporter of intercollegiate athletics, but firmly believes that it must operate on a balanced budget and not draw resources from the rest of the University.

His talk was followed by a question and answer session moderated by UMRA member Karen Schanfield. It was a lively session that included discussion of how regents are selected. Beeson noted that all systems for choosing regents have flaws but said ours has produced reasonable results. He encouraged our members to consider applying for membership on the Regent Candidate Advisory Council.

—Bill Donohue, UMRA past president 2019–20

Event recording
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Regent Emeritus Rick Beeson to speak on the state of the University and the Board of Regents

Tue, October 12 2021, 9am
Rick Beeson
Regent Emeritus
University of Minnesota

Event to be held via Zoom.

UMRA is pleased to welcome Regent Emeritus Rick Beeson as our guest speaker for UMRA A.M. on Tuesday, October 12. He will speak to us on the current state of the University, share his reflections on his time as a member and chair of the Board of Regents, and discuss future challenges for the University and the Board.

We expect he will also speak about the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and comment on the selection process for new regents. He will take your questions about the University, and, I expect, say a few things about intercollegiate athletics, too. 

Please register to attend this Zoom webinar on October 12.

Regent Emeritus Beeson served on the Board from 2009 to 2021. He was chair of the Board from July 2013 to June 2015, and chaired every major committee of the Board, most recently the Litigation Review Committee from 2019 to 2021. It is fair to say that he was a major force in all important decisions during his time on the Board. He is trusted and respected by all.

An extraordinary resource
Beeson was for 20 years the president and chief executive officer of Park Midway Bank in St. Paul, and currently serves as executive vice president for corporate development and government relations at Sunrise Banks. Prior to his work at Sunrise Banks, he was employed with the City of St. Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development.   

He has been involved in numerous civic organizations, including serving as the chair of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Partnership. He holds a BA in political science from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. 

Regent Emeritus Beeson is an extraordinary resource on virtually all things related to the running and administration of the University. Please register for this Zoom webinar and join us at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, October 12, to hear from this incredible public servant.

—Bill Donohue, UMRA past president 2019–20

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