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Updated 10:00 AM October 16, 2006




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Regent candidates will appear at Oct. 30 forum

The nine candidates vying for the two open eight-year terms on the Board of Regents in the November election have been invited to participate in a public forum at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 30 in the Rackham Amphitheatre.

The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA), Senate Assembly and the Michigan Student Assembly will sponsor the event. The Senate Assembly will meet prior to the forum at 3:15 p.m.

The candidates will give an overview of their platforms and answer three questions from SACUA: 1) Do you support proposition 2? If it passes, how should the University respond? 2) Accepting the premise that the University has grown to be an internationally visible institution, what do you see as the most important challenges to the University over the coming years? and, 3) What is your view of the role of the Board of Regents at the University, including regent involvement in everyday matters, such as receiving input from faculty on governance matters?

They also will field questions from the audience.

The candidates are: incumbents David Brandon, R-Ann Arbor, and Katherine White, D-Ann Arbor; Karen Adams, U.S. Taxpayers Party-Lake Odessa; Susan Brown, R-Kalamazoo; Julia Donovan Darlow, D-Ann Arbor; Valerie Hilden, Natural Law Party-Holly; James Hudler, Libertarian-Chelsea; Eric Larson, Libertarian-Grand Rapids; and Edward Morin, Green Party-Ann Arbor.

The Record contacted the candidates, requesting biographical information, a photo and a platform statement. Six responded; their information follows.

David Brandon

In March 1999, Brandon became chairman and chief executive officer of Domino's Pizza, where he has improved turnover and substantially increased sales and profits.
Brandon (Photo courtesy Domino's Pizza)

Before that he served as chairman, president and CEO of Valassis, an international marketing services and sales promotion company. Brandon was recruited out of U-M to work at the Procter & Gamble Co.

A native of South Lyon, Brandon was recruited by former Head Football Coach Bo Schembechler and won a full football scholarship to the University. He currently resides in Ann Arbor with his wife, Jan. Together they have four children.

Brandon is a member of the board of directors of several national companies and serves on a number of southeast Michigan-based civic and charitable boards, and at least one outstate.

He was elected to the Board of Regents in 1998 and is seeking a second term.

"Eight years ago I believed I could make a difference at the university that provided me an outstanding education," Brandon says of his reason for running. "While these eight years have passed quickly, we have accomplished a great deal and made a difference in the lives of thousands of young people.

"Yet, there is still so much to do and so many projects I want to see through to the end." These include the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Ross Business School building projects and The Michigan Difference campaign.

Noting that the state's economic condition has created significant financial challenges in higher education, Brandon cites his skills in cost-management and revenue-enhancing—two areas he believes are critical to U-M's future—as well as his service as chair of the Finance, Audit and Investment Committee, and believes his business experience is helping U-M during difficult times.

"I can make a difference and I want to continue to serve and make it happen!" he says.

The most important issue facing the University, Brandon says, is how it effectively can invest in the quality of the educational experience while dealing with significant budget pressures impacting higher education.

Resourcefulness in successfully completing capital campaigns, securing funding through research and grant proposals and prudently managing operating expenses while continuing to fulfill the institution's educational mission without diminishing quality will be critical to U-M's future, he says.

"We need to do a better job of convincing state legislators of the important role the university plays in our state," Brandon says, "and the significant, quantifiable return the state receives for every dollar it invests in higher education."

Katherine White

White holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University, a law degree from the University of Washington, and a master of laws degree in intellectual property law from the George Washington University Law School.
White (Photo courtesy Katherine White)

From 1995-96, she was a judicial law clerk to Judge Randall R. Rader, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. She currently is a law professor at the Wayne State University Law School in Detroit.

White served as intellectual property counsel for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers while on active duty as a captain in the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG Corps). Currently, she is a major in the U.S. Army Reserve in the JAG Corps. In 2006 she became vice president of the Fulbright Association Board.

White believes the state of Michigan is transforming from a traditional manufacturing economy to a knowledge-based economy, and that higher education is critical to that transformation.

"The level of knowledge and skill required to compete globally is increasing, she says. "Thus, the paradigm for how we educate people in this state as well as around the country must shift.

"As our economy adapts to the changing needs of the global economy, so too must our higher education system. It needs to be more flexible to address the changing demands of the global economy.

"We must take it upon ourselves to ensure that we invest in what is necessary to succeed in the 21st century as a nation and as a state," White says. "Quality education is central to the ability of this country to remain competitive in the global marketplace. The University must be a leader in engaging in public/private partnerships to further our goals."

She advocates continuing to build bridges between education, science, industry and government to sustain and improve the quality of higher education in the state. She believes U-M is well positioned to translate knowledge to solve problems of general public interest to meet many societal needs.

"In these times of limited state funding, it is also paramount that the quality of education at U-M is not jeopardized, but energized and enhanced."

Citing vast experience in different areas, including as a law professor, patent attorney, electrical engineer, Fulbright Senior Scholar, White House Fellow and her Reserve service, White says, "My background gives me a solid foundation to lead the University through these changing times."

Susan Brown

Brown believes she is uniquely qualified as a multigenerational graduate who has spent years serving the University in many different roles, including every fund-raising drive for the past 25 years, serving on the President's Advisory Board and her current service on the boards of both the U-M Museum of Art and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
Brown (Photo by Unique Images)

"I am not a politician and am running for no other reason than to do whatever I can that is in the best interests of the University," she says. "I am the only alumna of U-M on the ballot and the only regent running from outside of the greater Detroit area. I have no private agenda.

"I know the University and am a passionate advocate. I have served as a trustee on the Board of Kalamazoo College for 2 1/2 terms and understand the challenges of higher education, as well as the critical role U-M plays in the state's economic revival."

Brown says taxpayers around the state that she has spoken with all decry the University's high tuition.

"This is my first priority, but is only apart of my ultimate goal," she says. "That is to leave the University, after eight years of serving as a regent, a better place than when I began.

"I will challenge the board on the velocity of tuition and the barrier that it creates to fair admissions. The state cannot keep slashing the University's funding if it is sincere about the priority of education."

She also believes it's very important to improve what she calls "sadly lacking" cooperation and communication between the University, the governor and the Legislature and to put pressure on the state for better funding.

"Why do we pay more money to house prisoners than to educate our kids?" she asks.

Brown also plans to continue to help with minority recruitment.

"It is discouraging that minority applications have not shown a significant increase in spite of the President's outreach program," she says. "I think as a state as well as a university we need to be more welcoming and also recruit from all over the country."

Julia Donovan Darlow

As a lawyer and a committed community leader, Darlow says she has been actively involved in many of Michigan's major social, economic and educational issues for 35 years.
Darlow (Photo courtesy Julia Darlow)

As a member of Dickinson Wright PLLC based in Detroit, she developed a substantial transactional law practice serving international clients and was elected to her firm's governing board. She has served on many profit and nonprofit governing boards, on the founding boards of institutions serving women and girls, on the Michigan Bilateral Trade Team for Germany, on the State Officers' Compensation Commission and on the International Women's Forum Global Affairs Committee.

Last year she joined Varnum Riddering Schmidt & Howlett LLP and today focuses her law practice on nonprofit organizations.

She was the first woman who has been president of the State Bar of Michigan and has held many other professional leadership positions.

In those capacities, she says, "I have worked hard to improve access to and ensure equal treatment within the justice system for all people, including minorities, women, older adults and persons with disabilities. I am committed to excellence in nonprofit governance and have in-depth experience in the governance of health care organizations and educational institutions."

If elected, she says, "I will have as an overarching goal that the University maintain its excellence in the education of students and in the advancement of research and learning. I believe that such excellence requires a richly diverse community of students, faculty, administrators and staff in order to prepare students to succeed in a complex global society and to foster a dynamic academic environment.

"I will have as an immediate goal improving accessibility to the University for qualified students, regardless of economic status or background. This goal includes halting tuition escalation and supporting affirmative action initiatives to achieve equal opportunity.

Another immediate goal is expanding the University's participation in Michigan's economy through technology transfer, private-public partnerships, conversations with business and community leaders, and research in areas of potential economic development.

"Such participation has the potential to contribute greatly to Michigan's economic recovery and to the University's financial stability. In some areas, such as the life sciences, including embryonic stem cell research, the potential contribution is limitless."

Eric Larson

Larson, from Grand Rapids, is a graduate of U-M who earned a bachelor of science in nuclear engineering in 1996. He then attended the University of Iowa, where he earned his medical degree. After completing an anesthesiology residency in Iowa City, he returned to Michigan in 2004 and is in private practice in Grand Rapids.
Larson (Photo by Dr. Marcy Larson)

In addition to his practice, Larson serves as chair of the Libertarian Party of West Michigan. His wife is a pediatrician and they have three children.

"As a regent, I will focus my energies on the issue most important to students and taxpayers: tuition. The costs of running the University are out of control, and we need to find practical solutions like privatization of noneducational services. It is time to get serious about controlling the price of running the University.

"Also, we need to end discriminatory admissions programs and stop judging students by such superficial qualities as their gender, ethnicity or national origin. Diversity is important, so we should continue to seek out students with different talents such as in the arts, music, academics and athletics.

"Finally, the speech code needs to be eliminated to promote a liberal discourse on campus. Tolerating unpopular and challenging speech is critical to developing students in a democratic society."

Edward Morin

Morin, from Ann Arbor, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Maryknoll College in 1956, a Master of Arts in English from the University of Chicago in 1958, and a doctoral degree in English from Loyola University (Chicago) in 1967.
Morin (Photo by Carlos Osorio)

He taught English in three colleges and five universities, including Wayne State University and U-M, and was a professional writer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, General Motors, and Unisys. He is a Boy Scout leader and sings with local choral groups.

Morin says: "U.S. support for Israel's expansion and its avoidance of a land settlement with Palestinians has fueled Mideast hostilities. An alliance of Washington neocons, Christian Zionists and some Jewish supporters of Israel are driving a clash of cultures which the Bush Administration has characterized as a Third World War. How much does the University contribute to present and future carnage?

"The University should review and reconsider its support, through investments and research, of advanced weaponry and surveillance technology. Last March, faculty offered a petition asking regents to form a committee to consider divesting its stock in companies that support Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands.

"I want regents to answer the petition and help lift barriers which make public discussion of these issues on campus difficult."

Morin also wants increased participation of all faculty in University governance. He adds: "Let's enroll more students of moderate means by ending early notification procedures, which favor applicants from affluent families and prestigious prep schools. I have specific ideas for making campus culture more hospitable to students from middle-income families."

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