Why UMN regents haven't addressed many Capitol hearings

Yesterday on the House floor, House higher-education committee Chairman Gene Pelowski (DFL-Winona) repeated an item of irritation for him: that University of Minnesota regents rarely if ever appeared before his committee in past years to protest budget cuts.

In a recent discussion, I asked regent and former board chairman Clyde Allen what he thought of Pelowski's comments.

He told me:

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"I think we have a very good staff that tends to our legislative affairs. They have used us where they thought we could do the most good. Many of us have been in to visit a number of times with our own legislators -- and other legislators we knew from other parts of the state. So I think, with all due respect, the representative doesn't have the entire picture of to what extent we might have been involved. We have not been involved particularly in committee hearings themselves. But we have visited with legislators extensively."

I asked him whether he thought that in light of Pelowski's criticism, regents might want to start attending hearings and speaking up more. Or does Allen think that's not the regents' job?

He replied:

"I think it would depend, really, on the legislative staff -- our legislative staff -- to let us know when that's the appropriate way to go. I think any of us would be willing to do that if the folks who work at it daily thought that was the thing to do."