Lawmakers elect 5 members to U of M governing board

Lawmakers have avoided sending a high number of newcomers to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

When the interview process began in January, the 11-member board was facing five openings — what regent Dean Johnson called an "extraordinary" number for a single year — with only one incumbent in the running.

But after a couple of late candidate entries, the Legislature returned two incumbents to the board Wednesday, and appointed a former U of M student regent.

Board Chairman Richard Beeson says having experienced members come back to serve will make it easier to get to work quickly.

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"Having folks return always takes away that element of surprise," he said.

Beeson, of St. Paul, was re-appointed with no rival, having secured the nomination earlier this year.

Fellow incumbent Patricia Simmons of Rochester, who received her nomination in February, defeated rival Randy Simonson of Worthington.

The third appointee with experience is 46-year-old attorney Darrin Rosha of Independence, who served six years as a U of M student regent in the 1990s.

Rosha was not on the original slate of vetted candidates. He was nominated from the floor, and defeated three rivals after several rounds of voting.

After his appointment, Rosha said the legislature needs to take a "hard look" at how it selects regents. He says despite his previous experience on the board, he never got an interview during this year's vetting process.

"That was unfair to the vast majority of Minnesotans who work hard and are competent, but wouldn't necessarily meet a certain litmus test," he said.

Rosha will serve out the remaining two years of a term held by David Larson, who died in October.

Rosha called Larson a "mentor," and said the two had discussed the idea of Rosha returning to the board some day after gaining "life experience."

The other appointees will serve the normal six-year term.

Also named to the board were entrepreneur Michael Hsu of Blaine and funeral home owner Tom Anderson of Alexandria.