Regent candidates to appear at forum

The nine candidates vying for two open eight-year terms on the Board of Regents in the Nov. 4 election have been invited to participate in a public forum at 5 p.m. today (Oct. 27) in Forum Hall on the fourth floor of Palmer Commons.

The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA), the Committee for a Multicultural University and the U-M chapter of the American Association of University Professors will sponsor the event. Prior to the forum at 3:15 p.m., President Mary Sue Coleman will delivery her annual address to the Senate Assembly. After her remarks, Coleman will take questions from the audience.

The Candidates' Forum will provide members of the University community the opportunity to pose questions on important issues that affect U-M as well as to provide the candidates an opportunity to articulate their positions on those issues, says SACUA Chair David Potter. Candidates also will field questions from the audience.

The candidates are: incumbent Laurence Deitch, D-Bingham Farms; Ellis Boal, Green-Charlevoix; Susan Brown, R-Kalamazoo; Denise Ilitch, D-Bingham Farms; John LaFond, R-Plymouth; Dr. Eric Larson, Libertarian-Grand Rapids; Kerry Morgan, Libertarian-Wyandotte; Dr. Richard Ryskamp, U.S. Taxpayers-Caledonia; and Joe Sanger, U.S. Taxpayers-Lansing.

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

Ellis Boal
Party affiliation: Green
Web site:

Susan Brown
Party affiliation: Republican
Web site:

Brown is a fourth-generation U-M graduate and has served the University in many different roles since the mid-1980s, including on the president's advisory board and various fundraising campaigns. In 1998 she was awarded the Presidential Societies Service Citation for her contributions as a co-chairperson of the National Michigan Annual Fund. She currently is on the board of the U-M Museum of Art and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. She also owns and operates an interior design company.

She is a former trustee for Kalamazoo College, and says he hopes to bring an out-state point-of-view to the Board of Regents. Calling high tuition "the biggest barrier to diversity," Brown aims to make tuition affordable and accessible to qualified students. She also questions if the regents needs term limits and says if elected she plans to only serve the eight-year term.

"I have a different perspective to add to the board," Brown says. "I have run and operated my own successful business for 35 years; I know the challenges of competition and keeping up the quality. And as a fourth-generation U-M graduate I know the importance of preserving the academic standards, traditions and prestigious status."

Brown and her husband, a former captain of the U-M football team Robert M. Brown (1962), live in Kalamazoo. They have four children (two of whom graduated from the University) and six grandchildren.

Laurence Deitch (Incumbent)
Party affiliation: Democrat
Web site:

Deitch has practiced law in the Detroit area for more than 30 years. A partner in Bodman, LLP, in Detroit, he has been recognized by "Chambers, USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business, 2007," and by "The Best Lawyers in America, 2008."

Born and raised in Detroit, he attended Detroit Public Schools. Deitch then went to U-M, where in 1969 he earned a Bachelor of Arts in history followed in 1972 by a Juris Doctorate from the Law School. He is married with three children and two grandchildren.

Deitch, who has served on the Board of Regents since 1992, also was treasurer of the Michigan Democratic Party, director of National Conference for Community and Justice (Michigan Roundtable for Community and Justice), and served on both the Michigan Civil Service Commission and the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Welfare Reform.

"As it has been for the last 16 years, my goal will be to keep the University of Michigan both very great, and open, accessible and egalitarian," Deitch says. "In order to accomplish that goal, we will have to do many things, including keeping our world-class faculty here and happy; defending academic freedom from political interference; growing our research enterprise; developing a strategy for leveraging the University's strengths to meet the demand for higher education in the emerging nations of the world; maintaining our fundraising and investment success; and continuing our commitment to a diverse community."

Denise Ilitch
Party affiliation: Democrat
Web site:

Denise Ilitch has been a part of Detroit's business and philanthropic communities for 30 years as a business leader, community servant, supporter of charitable causes and an advocate for women and children.

Ilitch is "Of Counsel" at Clark Hill PLC, where she advises clients in business practice, corporate law and government policy. Prior to that she was the president of Ilitch Holdings Inc., a privately held business that manages such entities as Little Caesar Enterprises, the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers and Olympia Entertainment.

Ilitch earned her law degree from the University Of Detroit School Of Law. As an alumna of U-M and mother of a 2007 University graduate, Ilitch says she wants to ensure that all Michigan students have access to a quality and affordable education.

"I am running for the University of Michigan Board of Regents to be a strong voice for affordable, accessible, quality education. I am a proud graduate of U-M and was the first in my family to graduate from college," Ilitch says. "I know what the chance to learn more and earn more means. I will keep a lid on rising tuition costs, promote opening the doors of education to more of Michigan's students through fair admission and recruitment policies, advance innovative partnerships that will build U-M's prestige, and work to create more job opportunities to keep our graduates in Michigan."

John LaFond
Party affiliation: Republican
Web site:

LaFond is retired as director of the Ford/U-M Program Development Office, which he says provided him extensive knowledge of academic and business operations by working in close cooperation with several department deans, professors and students at the University.

He also led Ford Motor Co.'s product development related to College of Engineering (CoE) recruitment for 10 years. Other student engineering and business programs he worked with include the Solar Car, Formula SAE and Capstone Design. In 2006 he received the U-M Distinguished Aerospace Engineering Alumni Award and currently serves as the chairman of the U-M Aerospace Engineering Industry Advisory Committee.

In 1968 LaFond earned a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from CoE and in 1982 earned a Master of Business Administration from the Ross School. His wife and two sons also have degrees from U-M.

"The most important issue is to raise the level of bold and decisive leadership among the regents," La Ford says. "They must institute improvements that will create a quality education at an affordable cost. Using extensive business experience, I will represent the present and future students of the University by cutting wasteful spending, prioritizing overall expenditures and improving revenue sources.

"I will tackle two other crucial challenges: helping create new business enterprises arising through the deployment of intellectual capital from a multitude of University resources and developing a state infrastructure that will keep the best and brightest graduates in Michigan as entrepreneurs."

Dr. Eric Larson
Party affiliation:
Web site:

Larson graduated in 1992 from Okemos High School then attended U-M, where in 1996 he earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in nuclear engineering. He then went to the University of Iowa College of Medicine, where in 2000 he earned his medical degree.

In 2004 he completed his medical residency in anesthesiology at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He currently is employed as a staff anesthesiologist with Anesthesia Medical Consultants in Grand Rapids.

Larson and his wife, a pediatrician, live in Grand Rapids with their three children.

"I am running for the U-M Board of Regents in order to promote more fiscal responsibility and work to reduce tuition through public-private partnerships," Larson says. "Many colleges have had a lot of success by outsourcing non-educational services to the private sector. This can include janitorial, secretarial, even the construction and running of new buildings. I also want to help free student speech by addressing the Student Code because an open discussion and exchange of ideas, even when it is heated, is best done in college where students have resources to refute bad ideas."

Kerry Morgan
Party affiliation:
Web site:

Morgan is a lawyer with Pentiuk, Couvreur & Kobiljak, P.C., in Wyandotte. His chief areas of practice involve municipal law, employment discrimination, tax law of exempt organizations, environmental law and educational policy. Prior to his current legal affiliation, he served as an attorney-advisor with the United States Commission on Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.

He received his bachelor's degree in criminal justice and political science from Michigan State University; a Master of Arts (magna cum laude) in public policy from Regent University; and a Juris Doctorate from Detroit College of Law. He also has written a number of articles in the areas of natural law and unalienable rights. He recently completed a legal review of religious liberty principles and Supreme Court cases titled, "Unalienable Rights, Equality and The Free Exercise of Religion."

In 2002 Morgan founded the Consumer Law Group, P.C., which attracts clients who seek to reacquire their individual natural rights and historic liberties, he says.

"While state legislative control is not today a significant threat to intellectual and academic freedom, the current Board of Regents and leadership of the University of Michigan have successfully institutionalized new threats to those freedoms," Morgan says. "Those threats are reflected in its rabid implementation of racial profiling in college admissions and belligerent enforcement of its student 'speech code.' New leadership can eliminate these threats, but only if you vote for a candidate that understands the times and knows what must be done."

Dr. Richard Ryskamp
Party affiliation: U.S. Taxpayers
Web site:

Ryskamp, 52, is a physician in practice in Grand Rapids. He graduated from Lehigh University with a Bachelor of Science in engineering, then earned his medical degree from University of Rochester.

After completing an internal medicine residency in Michigan, he served four years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps at Landstuhl, Germany. He received an honorable discharge with the rank of major and subsequently returned to Michigan in 1997. He has served on numerous hospital committees and as director of his hospital's intensive care unit. He and his wife have two sons.

"According to our state constitution, our state educational institutions exist because 'religion, morality and knowledge' are 'necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind.' But these institutions, especially U-M, have been hijacked; they are being used as a tool for assaulting the religion and morality of which the constitution speaks," Ryskamp says of his reason for running. "No wonder we see less and less good government and human happiness! U-M needs to leave the reckless social activism to private individuals and institutions. Being subsidized by all taxpayers, it needs to concentrate on disseminating objective knowledge rather than partisan indoctrination."

Joe Sanger
Party affiliation: U.S. Taxpayers
Web site:

Sanger of Lansing has worked as a self-employed certified public accountant for the past 38 years. In 1958 Sanger earned a Bachelor of Arts then in 1966 earned a Master of Business Administration (with highest distinction), both from U-M. He is married with one daughter and three grandchildren.

He also has served as treasurer for the following organizations: U.S. Taxpayers Party of Michigan, 1982 to present; the Constitution Party National Committee, 1992-96, 1999 to present; Save Our Homes & Jobs Tisch for Michigan Committee, 1982; TABOR 94, The Taxpayers Bill of Rights Committee, 1994; Michigan Citizens for Life, 2006; and Baldwin, 2008.

"Over the past 53 years, tuition has increased at between four and six times the increase in the cost of living — an unconscionable price increase. Tuition fee increases must be reduced to a level consistent with the increase in the cost of living," Sanger says of his reason for running. "For details and my proposals see my Web site and my article 'Higher Education in America.'"

Another issue Sanger would like to see the Board of Regents address is, "the abuse of power by faculty and administrators in substituting ideological advocacy for education. The University needs to comply with Article III of the Northwest Ordinance and Article VIII of the Michigan Constitution."