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DJ Leary's Comments About Regent Beating

DJ Leary is one of those people who ha(s/d) a great job, writing and commenting on politics in Minnesota. This schizo state is never short of great political gossip.

DJ has emerged from his hibernation long enough to post on the Star-Tribune's YourVoices site, described by the Strib as:

Your Voices features unique perspectives from members of your community. Here you’ll find commentary on current events, public issues and day-to-day life in Minnesota. This is a home for lively conversations and respectful debates.

[Let's hope that both this site and the Strib survive imminent bankruptcy.]

From DJ's post:

I am always amazed when I see people of intellectual substance, with a life resume of unquestioned accomplishment, step forward to volunteer for a public position knowing with a certainty that they are going to take a beating--mostly undeserved--from the taxpayers for accepting a public position of great importance.

Obviously, DJ, they don't do this with a beating in mind. Some do it because it is a public service. Some may have other motives including: prestige, contacts, and the ability to make money in other venues.

While there are those that insist that politics does not enter into the selection process, I will assure you that the public believes that there are few things that take place under the dome with the golden horses that aren’t touched in some way by politics.

Politics enter into the Board of selection process? DJ, I am shocked, shocked, that you would say such a thing. Please see the post: The BigU Regents Selection Process is Partisan Mr. Bonzo is Shocked, Shocked...

Running the University of Minnesota is a big deal; it’s not just deciding whether to sell beer at sporting events or whether to pay million-dollar salaries to football coaches who can’t win bowl games. It is hard work and an enormous responsibility to meet the educational needs of an entire state of people trying to better themselves or their children in a crushing economic downturn.

But DJ, this isn't exactly what the Board of Regents does. They personally don't "meet the educational needs of an entire state..." They listen to what the administration of the University of Minnesota tells them and, for the most part, go along with it.

I don’t know all of those, whose names have been put forward, but I know the public work of at least three and I would guess that they are a Democrat, a Republican, and an Independent. Their individual backgrounds seem to make my point: Why would one of these people who have achieved such heights of accomplishment in their lives want to tarnish the memory of their enormous personal contributions by undertaking a position with a virtual guarantee of harsh public criticism.

Tarnish the memory? Other than David Metzen, name one regent who sat on the board ten years ago? The average citizen is much more likely to remember the name of our university presidents and their accomplishments or lack thereof.

Consider the three people on this list of recommendations whose work I know personally: Clyde Allen, Jr., Kathryn Roberts, and Anita Pampusch. Allen is currently vice chair of the Board of Regents, a former Commissioner of Revenue and once was the director of research for the Minnesota Taxpayers Association, a group I am never going to agree with. Kathryn Roberts, ran the Minnesota Zoo for ten years moving it from the brink of disaster to a position of international renown before she became the CEO of Ecumen and dedicated her skills to making life better for Minnesota’s senior citizens, of which I am one. Anita Pampusch has the most direct skills for helping to guide an institution of higher education into an unknown future because she has done it before. As the former president of the College of St. Catherine, her vision helped maintain and grow one of the few private women’s colleges in this country. She recently retired as the head of the Busch Foundation, Minnesota’ second largest foundation.

You are absolutely right that Ms. Pampusch is one of the most qualified persons yet to stand for the Board of Regents. But you have to understand that the Board of Regents is not the same as the Board of Directors of a company, nor should they be.

I know of nothing to make me believe that the others recommended by the Regent Candidate Advisory Council are not of similar background and noteworthy public service accomplishments. And, while I am enormously grateful that people of such prodigious achievement are willing to give of themselves to be of counsel to my University, it still makes me marvel, and I applaud their enthusiasm to continue to serve us, their neighbors tirelessly.

I don't know Kjell Bergh from Adam, but I wonder if someone in the same line of work, Denny Hecker, would be regarded as qualified?

By the way: Being a member of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents does not pay anything but it does consume the time of about two fulltime positions in the executive job market.

But there are of course some interesting bennies. Trips to China, trips to bowl games... And whether state funds from the University are being used or money raised through the University oif Minnesota Alumni Association is irrelevant.


Thank you for the time you took to read and respond to my first blog. I, too, hope the newspaper isn't forced into bankruptcy but it doesn't look for a lot of my long time friends who have been at the paper for a lot of years and still have kids to put through college. Re the Regents of ten years ago besides David, there would be Maureen, Julie--1999 was the period between terms for Jean Keffler. The late Tommy Reagan left the Board in 1999 and the late Bill Peterson left in 2000. Michael O'Keefe was on the Board ten years ago while he was still in state government as a commissioner. The people on the Board I used to follow closely were on long ago: Gerry Heaney, Irv Goldfine, Otto Silha, Elmer, Dave Roe, Les Malkerson, Chuck McGuiggan, Lloyd Peterson, Wenda Moore, Dave Lebedoff, Fred Hughes, Doc Grahek, Stan Sahlstrom, Neil Sherburne and, of course, Justice Alan Page. I only know these names because I have cared deeply about my University since the first day I set foot on that campus in 1954. My wife retired from the University about 12 years ago, so I continue to do anything I can to help them through what are clearly going to be difficult years ahead. It is also equally clear to me that you share a deep concern for the Univeristy or you wouldn't have taken the time to read and analyze my post. Sincerely, thank you again, William.

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