Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Regent candidates make their cases at faculty forum

Five of the 10 candidates running for the Board of Regents in the Nov. 2 election appeared before the faculty Senate Assembly on Monday to discuss their campaign platforms and answer questions.


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For additional coverage of this year's Board of Regents candidates, click here or pick up a copy of this week's University Record.

Participating in the forum at Palmer Commons Forum Hall were Republican incumbents Andrew Richner and Andrea Fischer Newman, Democrats Paul Brown and Greg Stephens, and Libertarian Leslie Lazzerin. Fischer Newman participated via telephone.

Not participating were James Lewis Hudler of the Libertarian Party, Diana Demers and Libby Hunter of the Green Party, and Joe Sanger and Linda Schrock of the U.S. Taxpayers Party.

The candidates made introductory and summary statements and answered questions posed by the Senate Assembly and audience members. Topics included challenges facing the university, their vision for how the regents and faculty governance play a role in addressing those challenges, maintaining excellence in the face of declining state funding, faculty and staff recreation facilities, the university’s trespass policy, and promoting racial diversity.

Richner, an attorney and incumbent regent elected in 2002, said U-M’s leadership has accomplished much during his time on the board, completing major construction projects, retaining and expanding faculty, and drawing record levels of student applicants. “I think by any objective measure the University of Michigan is doing exceedingly well, and they are accomplishing all of this in spite of substantial decline in state support,” he said.

Lazzerin, who had a career as a public assistance manager, has been active as a volunteer with U-M alumni programs and as a mentor to students. She said she hopes to take her service to another level by serving on the board. “I’m running to focus attention on student needs, academic development and the retention in Michigan of our able and skilled graduates,” she said.

Newman, a senior vice president with Delta Airlines and two-term regent, said new revenue sources must be found to offset lost state aid, but that tuition increases should be a last resort. “The most pressing problem today is rising costs and affordability of quality higher education. We can certainly do more to control costs while maintaining academic excellence and freedom,” she said.

Brown, vice president of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said U-M is a world-class institution, but it must play even more of a leadership role in economic development and accessible higher education. “We need to reach out and embrace and truly lead not just Michigan but the country in solving these problems and creating an economic and educational environment that is sustainable in the 21st century,” he said.

Stephens, business manager and financial secretary of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 252 in Ann Arbor, said he wants a U-M education to be accessible and affordable to all. “I’m running because I firmly believe the Board of Regents deserves a perspective on the board that is sadly missing. I would be representing working-class men and women and students of those families,” he said.