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Lawmakers pick four U of M regents

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Janie Mayerson, left, Mike Kenyanya, Kao Ly Her and Mary Davenport are the latest members of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

The Minnesota House and Senate met in a joint convention Thursday to elect four members to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

Lawmakers selected Janie Mayeron of Minneapolis for a seat representing the 5

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Congressional District. Mike Kenyanya of Duluth was selected for a student at-large seat. Mary Davenport of Mankato and Kao Ly Her of Maplewood were selected for two at-large seats.

All four were among the names the Regent Candidate Advisory Council (RCAC) forwarded earlier this year.

Her won her seat in a close vote. The small business owner said she’s ready to fight hard for students and families.

“The No. 1 issue for them is getting quality education at an affordable rate,” Her said.

The board of regents is the governing body for the university. There are 12 members who serve staggered six-year terms.

Davenport, a former interim president at Rochester Community and Technical College, said her focus will be attracting great students to the university and making sure they finish their education.

“I’m always focused on student success,” Davenport said.

The RCAC recommended 16 candidates back in January. Lawmakers then whittled down the list, but House and Senate leaders waited until this week to schedule the joint convention. Had they not acted, the decision on regents would have fallen to the governor.

Despite the twists and turns, Mayeron, a former federal judge, said she is a big believer in the process.

“I’m sure the governor would have done a fine job, as well, but I think this process is one that should be kept and enhanced,” Mayeron said.

Kenyanya said he too was satisfied by the selection process. He is the student body president at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and was unchallenged in the final vote for the student at-large seat. He said the process was tough and it should be.

“The University of Minnesota is important, and you should have to put in the work,” Kenyanya said.