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2013-02-08

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February 9, 2013 - 2:27am

Regent guest teaches an English 125 class

BY JEN CALFAS

It’s not every day that a University regent guest teaches an English class.

Newly-elected Regent Mark Bernstein (D-Ann Arbor) sat in front of a English 125 class of nearly 20 LSA freshmen Friday to discuss the importance of writing and gave them some insight on the role of the University’s Board of Regents.

Bernstein, who holds a bachelor’s degree, law degree and MBA from the University, has worked in the Clinton administration and served on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. He is currently a practicing attorney in his family’s law firm.

In his 38th day as regent, Bernstein told the class he wants to be approachable for students.

“I really want to be accessible and available to all the different stakeholders at the University — students, faculty, staff, tax-payers of Michigan,” Bernstein said. “I’ve been able to see this place from all sorts of different angles, and where I’m sitting now it’s shocking to see the effect this University has.”

Bernstein told the class that persuasive, quality writing will help students in whatever career they pursue.

“What you write to your friends, to yourself, to your family will be the only lasting expression of your identity past your children,” Bernstein said. “Be good at that. Live a life that’s consequential enough that someone will want to read something that you wrote.”

He invited students to call, e-mail or Facebook message him.

After the class, Rackham student Gail Gibson, the graduate student instructor for the course, said she was impressed with Bernstein’s willingness to speak after she invited him when they met at a dinner party two weeks ago.

“I invited him not really thinking that a regent would come to my class, but he took me up on it right away,” Gibson said. “For the students, it was a unique opportunity to see in your first year to see someone that is so involved with the school.”

LSA freshman G.S. Suri, one of the students in the class, said he admired Bernstein’s effort to reach out to students.

“It’s a good change of pace,” Suri said. “When you think about the Regents they’re sort of this separated entity that you look up to and see this hierarchy of power. I think this is very rare from higher administrative powers. We don’t see them make that effort, and he’s conscientiously doing it.”