Regent candidates discuss tuition, health care
issues at forum
Nine of 10 candidates vying for two open seats on the Board of
Regents in the Nov. 5 election participated in the forum sponsored
by the Senate Assembly and the Senate Advisory Committee on University
Affairs (SACUA). The candidates answered two questions from the
Senate: What is your vision for the future of the University? and,
If the University loses the affirmative action cases at the U.S.
Supreme Court level, what do you think should happen next and why?
They also fielded questions from the audience at Hale Auditorium,
ranging from the role of the regents to family issues, such as health
care and childcare.
The candidates present at the forum were: incumbent Andrea
Fischer Newman, R-Ann Arbor; Ismael Ahmed, D-Dearborn; Davis Arndt,
Natural Law Party-Ann Arbor; Susan Fawcett, Green Party-Petoskey;
Rick Gualdoni, U.S. Taxpayers Party-Flint; Matt Petering, Green
Party-Ann Arbor; Andrew C. Richner, R-Grosse Pointe Park; Greg Stephens,
D-Saline; and Nick Waun, Reform Party-Lapeer. Candidate William
Hall, R-Lapeer, was unable to attend the forum.
The forum will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Oct. 23 on UMTV, Channel
22. In addition, the forum is available as a Webstream archive on
the Internet at http://umtv-live.rs.itd.umich.edu/sacua/forum101402.ram.
Executive director of the Arab Community Center for Economic and
Social Services (ACCESS) in Dearborn, Ahmed, a Democrat, is a 1975
U-M graduate with a bachelor of arts in secondary education. He
co-founded ACCESS 30 years ago with the vision of providing services
to new immigrants. Ahmed, of Dearborn, serves on the U-M-Dearborn
Advisory Committee and counts among his appointments the Board of
Trustees for the Henry Ford Health System.
"My reasons for running for regent include my interest in
ensuring diversity on campus and finding ways to increase diversity.
We need to try to make going to school more affordable and assure
the people who work everyday at U-M get a fair shake.
"The University should be an inclusive place where we can
nurture free thought. This can be done by supporting students, faculty
and staff and the diversity of their needs. The University should
not only be a beacon of learning, it should also build models and
partnerships that can confront a community's problems, whether they
be here in Michigan or across the world. We must do this in a way
that preserves and builds on the reputation that this University
and its faculty have already earned.
"The University is generally on the right course, and while
there needs to be some changes, especially in the area of rising
tuition and other costs, the course is generally correct. I would
work to get the University more engaged in communities, because
the result of that is tremendous. It shares knowledge, benefits
communities and the University, and makes our knowledge more practical.
Together, they can do something special.
"Generally speaking, I support efforts to improve the lot
of working people, and that includes people wo work here on campus.
The right to have day care, tuition reimbursement and prescription
drugs are important rights I support. I also support the right of
people to organize to ensure they achieve these things."
Arndt, a member of the Natural Law Party from Ann Arbor, is a plant
engineer at the University. He did not respond to a request for
biographical information, a photo and a platform statement.
"It is a pleasure and honor to work here, and I have never
been surrounded by so many intelligent people. I would like to be
able to use my experience working in the construction industry to
bring common sense to the future of new buildings and the operation
of buildings in the University.
"I support the $10 an hour minimum wage on campus. It would
be an excellent idea. Education is key, but are we really preparing
students how to live a life effectively, happily and productively?
Or, are we just giving them a degree that says University of Michigan
on it and sending them on their way?
"Hopefully in 50 years there will not be a need for affirmative
action, but today we do need it. I invite the University and partners
in the Big Ten to focus on how they can eliminate affirmative action.
If we can build nuclear bombs, we can figure out how to educate
all of our children in our country and the rest of the world so
they can all go to U-M and afford it.
"I don't think we are here to represent just the people who
elect us, but also the silent majority of the people that just do
not vote or speak. There needs to be an environment that promotes
open communication with people.
"U-M has already taken the role of environmental stewardship
seriously, and I think is the forerunner in the Big Ten. I would
like to increase the awareness of faculty and staff and students
to their own computer use, water use and electrical use throughout
the University. It could be reduced greatly."
Fawcett, a Green Party candidate, is a student of figurative sculpture
and political science at U-M. Active with the University chapter
of Campus Greens, she currently serves as a state organizer for
the environmental group. A native of Petoskey, Fawcett graduated
from the Interlochen Arts Academy with honors. She has served three
years as a volunteer, coordinator and staff member of the Blissfest
Music Organization, a nonprofit group devoted to education and the
preservation and advancement of traditional music and folk arts.
“I believe the University exists for the benefit of the public
and should reflect this in all of its policies. That includes its
investment policies. Everything should be geared toward the benefit
of society and run by the ideas of the people of Michigan and the
University faculty and staff. I would make a special effort to try
and include everyone.
“Everyone says they want tuition to come down. Cutting down
on costs is the most obvious answer, but the University may need
to hold off on new construction until it can prioritize making tuition
more affordable for Michigan.
“It is extremely important we continue to make minority students
already on campus feel comfortable and welcome. That includes recruitment
of minority students and faculty, and getting financial aid to them.
I support a University-based mentorship program where students can
go to low-income schools and work with students there to pay off
loans or tuition.
“I would really like to see an investment policy that only
invests in organizations with no human rights or labor violations.
I believe the University should provide childcare and should go
out of its way to make sure all of its employees are given good
healthcare benefits. I think the board does need student representation.”
A member of the U.S Taxpayers Party, which is affiliated with the
Constitution Party, Gualdoni graduated from U-M in 1984 with a bachelor
of science degree in computer science. Currently owner and manager
of Colorall Technologies of Mid-Michigan, Gualdoni, of Flint, also
has worked for 17 years as a computer consultant to automotive,
health care and retail businesses in Michigan.
“My vision is for educating our youth and making them better
prepared for the business and working world. The primary purpose
of any University is to educate. Research and development is an
integral part of that, but we should focus on education and eliminate
courses that are not necessary to promote a life most Americans
"(The regents) do represent the people
of Michigan, so we must make sure the University does not go off and
do its own thing. It is a supporting role, as well,
but we shouldn't forget we are elected members of the people who vote.
"The 13th amendment of the Constitution
does guarantee diversity and members of my party believe in the Constitution.
I will bring those philosophies to the board. We
are running for office to represent people, so we want
to reach out to them. One thing about being
elected board members is we are elected outside of the
University. I won't just take the spoon-fed agenda
from the administration. I will bring my own ideas
and be accessible to the people however we can
"I would think that the affirmative action issue could be addressed.
The Constitution already grants equal protection under the law.
So I think we should just get back to what has worked in the past.
I would work to make sure Michigan employees have a great
health care plan."
William W. Hall
Hall, a member of the Libertarian Party, is a partner
in the Grand Rapids office of one of Michigan's largest law firms,
Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, where he manages its Real Estate
Services Group. Hall, from Rockford, serves as a member of the Board
of Directors of the Michigan Legal Foundation and as general counsel
of the Libertarian National Committee. He earned an A.B. from Wabash
College in 1978 and a J.D. from the Northwestern University School
of Law in 1981.
"Over the past several years, spending at the University has
spiraled out of control," Hall said in his platform statement.
"The board is responsible and must act decisively to eliminate
waste, downsize or cancel programs that are not meeting their goals,
and refocus resources on those educational programs which do, or
can, provide the most benefit. Soaking students, parents and taxpayers
for more funds year after year hurts the people U-M was created
to serve. The era of free and easy funding from the state has ended
with the downturn of the economy, and U-M must act responsibly without
yet another bailout.
"U-M's heavy reliance on state tax dollars
has hurt its independence and handicapped its ability
to pursue its educational mission. The Board of
Regents must act to decrease reliance on tax dollars
by focusing on increasing U-M's private endowment and other non-tuition sources of revenue.
"Most of the finest educational institutions in
the United States are private because only private
institutions have the discipline and experience
derived from operating in the market without state
assistance given regardless of whether the institution
provides the educational services people want.
"The role of the Board of Regents is to set policy for U-M,
hire excellent administrators to implement it and get out of the
way so they can do their job. Unfortunately, the board has a history
of expending its efforts, and U-M funds, fighting lawsuits and public
relations battles it cannot win and that do little to advance the
educational mission of the University."
Andrea Fischer Newman
A Republican incumbent from Ann Arbor, Newman is seeking a second
term as a regent. A 1979 U-M graduate and alumna of the George Washington
University National Law Center, Newman currently serves as senior
vice president-government affairs for Northwest Airlines. A
legal specialist in government contracts, she is a member of the
Federal Service Impasses Panel, to which she was appointed in February
by President George W. Bush. The panel resolves labor disputes between
the federal government and its unions.
"I believe the University is an invaluable institution of
higher learning and a jewel in the state. I will continue to use
my experience from eight years as a regent to make sure a U-M education
is both affordable and superior.
"My priorities include making sure that the
Life Sciences Initiative (LSI) achieves its objectives
and attracts the best and brightest here to work on
the frontier of society. Affordability remains important.
I was the only regent to vote against the 7.9
percent increase in in-state tuition. I recognize that costs
go up, but we can do more to keep costs in check. I
believe tuition increases should be a last resort, and
if unavoidable, the rate of increase should be
"My first priority to this institution is
continuing academic excellence, maintaining U-M as a
world-class institution. We need to focus on growing
and improving the departments we have, while
adding the programs that make sense. The LSI is a
tremendous opportunity for all of us. And I see
other projects like that in the future.
"The challenge to the University will continue
to be creating a student body that reflects the
community it serves while maintaining academic standards.
I believe the University needs to maintain
flexibility in admissions in order to have a student body that
is representative of the entire community it serves.
"Family issues lend themselves to quality of life and the ability
to recruit and maintain the best and brightest faculty, staff and
administrators that we have here. Unfortunately, all of them cost
money and that has to be factored into the overall budget. We have
to look at these things on a case-by-case basis and make determinations
where we can afford them and how we can best utilize benefits for
our faculty, staff and administrators."
Petering, a Green Party candidate from Ann Arbor,
is a second-year Ph.D. student in industrial and operations engineering
at U-M. A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Petering
has served as a cryptologic mathematician at the National Security
Agency and is working to become a professor of operations research.
"I will always keep the fundamental meaning and purpose of
the University in mind. I love the University of Michigan and want
it to be the best it can be. I am very concerned that the University
is losing sight of its mission to provide low-cost education for
the residents of Michigan. Michigan residents are no longer getting
their money's worth from the University. We need someone on the
board that recognizes this situation is intolerable. I want the
University to be a place that provides high-quality, low-cost education
to the residents of Michigan.
"If we lose the (affirmative action) lawsuits, I think we
should change the policies. I do not support the current undergraduate
admissions policy, because it unfairly gives students from certain
groups a greater opportunity to earn admission points than students
who are not from these groups. I believe applicants should be judged
by the content of their character and their excellence as individuals,
not by their membership status in certain groups.
"The Board has basically endorsed everything
the administration has wanted, including the recent
7.9 percent tuition increase. This situation is not
good for the University. Tuition increases and
wasteful spending will continue unless we separate
the University's legislative branch, the Board of
Regents, from its executive branch, the University
administration. We need checks and balances on power at the University.
"It is extremely important that we maintain adequate health
care for employees of the University. This situation is getting
out of hand with health care costs. If costs continue to rise, I
feel it is the regents' job to go outside the University and lobby
for national health insurance. It is a crisis situation, and that
is causing tuition at the University to also be a crisis."
A Republican serving his third term and final term as a member of
the Michigan House of Representatives for Detroit, the Grosse Pointes
and Harper Woods, Richner is chair of the Insurance and Financial
Services Committee and an attorney with membership in the bars of
Michigan, New York and the District of Columbia. Previously elected
to two terms on the Wayne County Board of Commissioners and one
term on the Grosse Pointe Park City Council, Richner, of Grosse
Pointe Park, holds bachelor of business administration and J.D.
degrees from the University, which he received in 1982 and 1986,
"I have always felt a special responsibility and obligation
to do what I could to support the University. I believe I have something
to offer the University in return for what has been given to me.
"I have fought for higher education and am
proud of the fact that since I have been in the
Legislature, we have increased funding every year for our
colleges and universities in the state. Times are
going to be a little tough and revenues are declining at
the state level, but I think I am the best advocate for
the University when it comes to state appropriations.
I understand the process and have the
relationships necessary to represent the University and the
interests of higher education.
"I am very sensitive to the fact that tuition
rates continue to increase. The No. 1 priority is to
keep tuition rates down and to do what we can to bring
in more state appropriations to make sure future
generations have the same opportunities that I have
had to attend this great institution. The
University could implement various strategies to control
costs and administrative overhead, and improve
operational efficiencies to keep tuition affordable.
"The University is an institution that needs
to change with the times. The great thing about
the University is there are so many opportunities
for students to explore what they want to explore.
The policymakers should make sure that they are responsive to the needs and interests of the
students here. I would like the Board of Regents to do what
it can to rein in tuition increases. At some point, it
becomes unaffordable to working families. There
has to be more focus paid to tuition increases."
Stephens, a Democrat from Saline, is the business manager/financial
secretary for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
(IBEW) Local 252. Stephens also serves as secretary treasurer of
the Washtenaw County Skilled Building Trades Council and on the
Board of Directors of the Construction Unity Board, the country's
longest continuously running labor-management organization. As business
manager of the IBEW Local 252, he is
in charge of community involvement for the chapter.
"I believe the working families of Michigan need a stronger
representation on the board. I can bring a unique insight to the
board that is lacking. Traditionally, the board has been comprised
of attorneys and CEOs, and therefore, the working-class perspective
may sometimes be overlooked. I am a working-class person and have
represented working-class families my entire career. I want to make
sure our state's most prestigious university remains accessible
to working families.
"The vision I have for the University is of continued greatness. The
LSI has to be brought forward, and the regents must keep the Life
Sciences Corridor between our universities open to collaboration
so that precious funds will not be wasted on duplicate issues. This
initiative means too much to the University community and the state
of Michigan to be guided by petty jealousies between the universities.
A senior in anthropology/classics at U-M-Flint, Waun
is running for regent as a member of the Reform Party. Founder and
general partner of Waun Investment Partnership Ltd., the Lapeer
native has served as a student government representative and, in
1998, as a student member of the U-M-Flint Curriculum Committee.
Waun also has been a People to People Student Ambassador to China,
Ireland and the United Kingdom.
"If I could write up an application for this University, there
is only one question I would want to know from the students who
wanted to come here: Do you want to learn? I don't care what color
or race you are, and I don't care where you are or what you have
done. The only way to do that is to get rid of selective admissions.
That is one of the reasons I support online classes. Another priority
of mine is to build U-M charter schools.
"The University needs to find constitutional
ways to promote charter schools and develop
minority areas. We can encourage minority interest in
the University, and by increasing enrollment, it will
facilitate more minority students.
"I believe in the tradition of avoiding
microman- aging the University. None of the regents have
a first-hand perspective of how the policies they
make affect the University community. If I am
elected, every issue, from parking to housing, will have
informed input. I am a strong believer in an open-door policy.
"If I could change one thing, I
would change funding for under-funded programs that
deserve more funding. I do support low-cost childcare
and tuition reimbursement. I come from a family with
a very strong labor background. The only things I oppose are administrative perks, things
like $400,000 salaries and presidential gift clauses.
"It is time for the University to catch up with all other
major universities and have students on the governing board."