In a race that took until Wednesday morning to call, Democratic challengers Jordan Acker and Paul Brown have unseated Republican incumbents Andrea Fischer Newman and Andrew Richner on the University of Michigan Board of Regents.
Acker’s main focus is on the affordability of attending the University, emphasizing the cost is not reflected accurately by tuition alone but also housing and other expenses. Specifically, Acker said he wants students to graduate debt-free. He also said he believes in making the board more transparent in their actions and more accessible to members of the University community. During the campaign, Acker added his perspective as a younger person would greatly benefit the current viewpoints of the board. Acker is an alum of the University and resides in Oakland County with his wife and two daughters where he works as a lawyer.
“I am honored and humbled to be the first Regent to have graduated in the 21st century,” Acker said. “We have a lot of work to do to make the University affordable and accessible so students don’t have to go deep into debt. Finally, I wanted to say congrats to Paul on his victory and a thank you to Regents Newman and Richner for their years of service to the University that we all love.”
Brown’s priorities include setting new standards for ethics and transparency in the board, creating a plan to rebate surplus tuition money to students and significantly expanding the University’s affordability initiatives. Brown’s campaign has emphasized his experience as a union member and a board member of the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation, as he is the only candidate with experience as a union member. This is his second campaign for a spot on the board — he ran in 2010 and came in third in the statewide election. Brown holds an undergraduate degree and an M.B.A. from the University as well as a law degree from Wayne State University. He lives in Ann Arbor with his wife and two children.
“The most important thing I want to express is that Andrea Fischer Newman and Andrew Richner have been incredible public servants for the University, totally dedicated to the University and its students and its success and Andrea deserves to be on the Mount Rushmore of U of M Regents history,” Brown said. “I am excited to join the Board and continue the great legacy. The University of Michigan is the best research university in the world but I want to bring it back to being the leader and best and that’s particular in cost of both education and health care as well as diversity.”
In a press release sent out Tuesday morning, Newman conceded the election and said she has high hopes for the new Board.
“I am eternally grateful to the people of this great state for granting me the honor of serving on the University of Michigan Board of Regents for 24 years,” Newman wrote. “Together we fought to keep tuition low and standards high. We grew the endowment. We grew the campus. We grew aspirations and opportunities for both students and faculty. I leave the University of Michigan knowing it will continue to prosper under the Board of Regents and will forever be the nation’s premier state university. My heart will always be in Ann Arbor. Go Blue!”