The Minnesota Legislature elected two former Republican lawmakers and two businessmen to the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents on Monday.
Former Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum and former Rep. Laura Brod will join the 12-member board along with retired Cargill Executive David Larson and Minnesota Power executive David McMillan.
Sviggum said he see his role now to work on behalf of the University of Minnesota. He said state funding could mean budget cuts for the U of M and he'll push to have the U of M gauged on whether the school is graduating students in four years, whether low-income students are graduating and whether a certain number of degrees are granted.
"If you can meet certain measures, certain performance measures which can be measured, then we could honestly go back to the citizens of the state and the civic trusts and say 'we met your measures, we need more funding because your measures are met,'" Sviggum said.
Republicans say the newly-election regents are well qualified to guide the University of Minnesota but Democrats say the election process was political. Several members complained that Republicans gave an at-large post to Brod instead of current regent Steve Hunter. DFL Rep. Joe Atkins said Republicans politicized the selection process to get their preferred candidates on the board.
"It became the most overt display of partisan politics that has ever invaded the regent selection process in the 150 years of the University of Minnesota," Atkins said.
Former state Rep. Laura Brod, who retired from the Legislature last year, said she doesn't expect any of the regents to be partisan.
"Life is full of politics, but the question is more a matter of partisanship and I don't think you'll see that on the board," Brod said. "I think we're all there for the same reason and that is to make the university a jewel, as it should be."
The new Regents will serve six year terms and are not paid.