Former Michigan GOP treasurer hopes to bring experience in finance to Board of Regents

Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 7:11pm

This article is part of a Michigan Daily series profiling the four candidates seeking a seat on the Board of Regents at the University of Michigan this November.

Carl Meyers, former Michigan Republican Party treasurer, is hoping to become the third Republican regent on the left-leaning University Board of Regents this November.

Meyers, a UM-Dearborn alum, is also the senior vice president of investments for the financial services firm Raymond and James and the chairman of Dearborn’s Police and Fire and General Employee’s pension boards. He said he hopes to use his financial expertise to prevent further tuition increases at the University and increase efficiency of the University’s budget.

“I will propose a freeze in tuition, starting with Michigan-resident students,” Meyers said. “It can be done rather easily and would have minimal impact on the budget.”

Prior to joining Raymond and James, Meyers was a managing partner at Detroit investment firm Roney and Company. He also serves on the board of Megan’s Dreams, a Michigan-based nonprofit focused on providing scholarships to veterinary students at Michigan State University. Meyers said he believes this diversity in experience will aid him when working with the board.

“I have experience with board governance, executive pay and large institutional asset management,” he said. “I understand how corporate and board governance operate.”

Meyers previously ran unsuccessfully for the board in 2004 and also made a bid for candidacy in 2014, but did not get enough votes at the Republican State Convention.

However, he said he thinks now more than ever his understanding of the financial burdens of being a University student can help bridge the communication gap between the board and students at the University. The board recently voted 5-3 to increase tuition by 3.9 percent for in-state students and 4.4 percent for out-of-state students. Both Republicans on the board, Regents Andrea Fischer Newman and Andrew Richner, voted no, joined by Regent Denise Illitch.

He noted that his deep-rooted Michigan ties can be seen in his commitment to increasing in-state enrollment, saying the rising international student presence on campus is coming at the expense of in-state students. In the fall of 2015, the Office of the Registrar reported among the freshman population 3,472 in-state students versus 2,599 out of state.

“The Board of Regents have admitted far too many international students compared to in-state students,” Meyers said. “It’s wrong. This is still a public university.”

If elected, Meyers also plans to try to increase in-state enrollment at the Flint and Dearborn campuses.

Meyers said the recent increase of University President Mark Schlissel’s salary by 3 percent and addition of an annual payment of $100,000 to his retirement fund at a time of increasing tuition and student debt showed insensitivity to the students.

“To have a guy making nearly $800,000, when most students who attend this University need financial aid, when tuition is one of the highest in the country for public universities, is really insensitive,” Meyers said. “It shows a disconnect between the regents and the students at U of M.”

His commitment to freezing tuition he noted, is personal, as his daughter Julie is a student at the Dearborn campus. Meyers believes out of all the candidates running, he has a better understanding of the challenges of being a student at the University.

“A lot of Julie’s friends got accepted here, but they ended up going to Central, Western or Grand Valley because they offered them money,” Meyers said. “That’s significant.”

Another key aspect of his campaign platform is increased transparency between the board and its shareholders. Meyers said he strongly supported the recent reinstatement of bylaw 7.1, which CSG requested to increase the dialogue between the regents and the student body. If elected, Meyers said he will have both a student communication committee and office hours.

“I am going to have a student advisory board advising me on challenges and issues facing the University from the student perspective,” Meyers said. “I will hold office hours once a month in the student Union where students can come and talk.”

Additionally, Meyers said he wants the campus-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan to include a proposal on increasing enrollment of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds rather than just focusing on the needs of students of color. The DEI plan currently includes several programs that aid low-SES in-state perspective students in applying to the University, such as Wolverine Pathways and the High Achieving Involved Leadership scholars program.

“I think the conversation needs to be bigger than just the number of underrepresented minorities who go here,” Meyers said. “Focus on Black, white and brown statistics does not do justice to the challenge here.”

Though his bid to run in 2014 was unsuccessful, Meyers said he was motivated to run again because he believes he can help during a time of increasing costs and inflation.

“I ran in 2004 on many of the same issues, and it’s only been exasperated (since) then,” he said. “My background is finance and since the 1980s I have been helping families finance higher education. That is really what drove me to do this."