Everything you need to know about the candidates for the Board of Regents

Thursday, November 3, 2016 - 9:51pm

As the Nov. 8 elections approach, The Michigan Daily has created a voter guide with information on Michigan Board of Regents candidates. 

Regent Laurence Deitch (incumbent)

Regent Laurence Deitch speaks at a University of Michigan Regents meeting at the Michigan Union on April 21, 2016.

Regent Laurence Deitch speaks at a University of Michigan Regents meeting at the Michigan Union on April 21, 2016. Buy this photo
Marina Ross/Daily

Party: Democrat

Hometown: Bloomfield Hills

Professional experience: Deitch is a partner at Bodman PLC, a law firm with offices in Detroit, Ann Arbor Troy and Cheboygan. Deitch has served as the treasurer of the Michigan Democratic Party, the president of Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills and the vice chair of the state of Michigan’s Civil Service Commission.

Connection to the University: Deitch is finishing his third consecutive term as a member on the Board of Regents, hoping to recapture a seat he’s held since 1992. In his more than 20 years as a regent, Deitch has been involved in the selection of three University presidents, as well as growth in the budget and quality of facilities. He also emphasizes the University’s ascent in national rankings of colleges and universities over the last two decades as evidence of the board’s positive investment in the University's academic excellence. Additionally, Deitch received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University.   

Campaign platform: In an interview, Deitch emphasized diversity as his campaign’s main focus. He also touts “Michigan exceptionalism” and says he endeavors to boost the University’s academic excellence while maintaining equal access. In a University press release, Deitch said he “will work hard to accomplish more of the same.”

Political stances:

College affordability: In interviews, Deitch has defended the pattern of rising tuition rates, pointing to an increase in other student resources such as financial aid and pipeline programs, including HAIL Scholars and Wolverine Pathways. He has also said he’ll push for more “productivity improvements,” such as Friday classes and spring and summer term enrollment, to cut costs for students. In a board meeting last July, Deitch said senior leadership needed to search for alternative funding sources.

Diversity: Deitch has been a public proponent of University President Mark Schlissel’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion plan, and says he will use his re-election to connect marginalized groups on campus. He also continues to note his role in a 1993 effort to include “sexual orientation” on the University’s non-discrimination statement, calling it the “most important thing he’ll ever do.”

Student Representation: Deitch does not explicitly endorse placing a student representative on the board, but expressed commitment to listening to student voices. In a Senate Assembly meeting on Oct. 24, Deitch said the current system of student input functions well and he “wouldn't change it,” according to a University press release.

Carl Meyers

Party: Republican

Hometown: Dearborn

Professional experience: Meyers is currently the senior vice president of investments for the financial services firm Raymond James & Associates. He held a managing partner position at Detroit investment firm Roney & Company before joining Raymond James. Meyers is also an active member of the Dearborn community, serving as the chairman of Dearborn’s Police and Fire and General Employee’s pension boards. Additionally, he leads Megan’s Dreams, a nonprofit dedicated to providing veterinary scholarships to students at Michigan State University.

Connection to the University: A UM-Dearborn alum, Meyers has launched two earlier unsuccessful bids for a seat on the board — one in 2004 as a Republican Party candidate and one in 2014, when he didn’t secure his party’s nomination.

Campaign platform: Meyers’ platform, according to interviews with the Daily and his Facebook page, highlights fiscal discipline in constraining the budget, socioeconomic diversity through freezing tuition for in-state students and transparency of the board.

Political stances:

College affordability: Meyers has promised to freeze tuition rates for in-state students to boost in-state enrollment if elected, arguing higher out-of-state attendance comes at the expense of Michigan residents. He has also said he would put the University’s entire budget online to improve transparency, though the Office of Budget and Planning already publishes annual budgets for all University departments at each campuses.. During his campaign, he has emphasized his background in finance, saying it will aid the board both in making higher education more affordable and accessible and slow executive pay raises, citing the 3 percent increase in Schlissel’s salary earlier this year.  

Diversity: Meyers has criticized the DEI plan for what he calls a focus on racial and ethnic disparities in enrollment over economic diversity, though the plan does include measures to aid low-income families applying to the University. In his platform, he emphasizes the importance of financial accessibility. In an interview, he said “focus on Black, white and brown statistics does not do justice to the challenge here.”

Student representation: Meyers supports more student input on the Board of Regents, as stated during an appearance at a Senate Assembly forum with other candidates on Oct. 24, but would not approve of an permanent student ex officio position—much like what Central Student Government candidates proposed last winter— on the board. He has also promised to host office hours and create a student advisory board to guide him on voting matters.

Regent Denise Ilitch (incumbent)

University Provost Martha Pollack speaks with Regent Denise Ilitch after a Regents Meeting in the Michigan Union on February 18, 2016.

University Provost Martha Pollack speaks with Regent Denise Ilitch after a Regents Meeting in the Michigan Union on February 18, 2016. Buy this photo
Mazie Hyams/Daily

 

Party: Democrat

Hometown: Bingham Farms

Professional experience: Ilitch began her three decades in the services sector as an employee in her family’s business, Ilitch Holdings Inc., and worked her way to the position of president. She currently serves as the president of Ilitch Enterprises LLC, and co-owns 220 Restaurant Hospitality, an Italian-American food restaurant in Birmingham. Ilitch also serves on the state ACLU advisory committee and previously sat on the Board of Directors of the Detroit Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Connection to the University: A University alum, Ilitch is finishing her first term on the board.

Campaign platform: Ilitch mainly emphasizes her voting record on tuition — she has voted against increases in tuition six times in the past eight years — and dedication to lowering student debt. She also highlights the need for the recruitment of a diverse student body and maintaining the University’s academic excellence.

Political stances:

College affordability: In addition to voting against raising tuition, Ilitch has advocated for support for students struggling with debt. She calls for the founding of a task force on alternative funding sources on her campaign website, and endorses the New College Compact — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s plan to refinance student loans and boost state funding for higher education.

Diversity: Ilitch argues higher costs are a detriment to student body diversity, and supports measures in the DEI plan to boost enrollment of marginalized groups. She has also noted that top-down efforts led by Schlissel and other administrators require active student involvement.

Student representation: Ilitch does not outline specific structures or mechanisms for student input to the board on her campaign website. At a Senate Assembly forum on Oct. 24, she encouraged stronger relationships between regents and the student body, and said she might even welcome an ex officio student representative on the board, according to a press release.

Ron Weiser

Party: Republican

Hometown: Ann Arbor

Professional experience: Weiser is the founder of commercial real estate firm McKinley Associates Inc. and served as the firm’s CEO until 2001. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Weiser as ambassador to Slovakia, a position he held until 2005. A major Republican Party donor, Weiser also chaired the Michigan Republican Party from 2009 to 2011. Currently, he has a role in Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign as a finance vice chair for the Trump Victory Committee.

Connection to the University: Weiser has previously run two campaigns for regent, losing by a margin of only 4,835 votes in 2014 and cutting a 2012 bid short to focus on fundraising for the national Republican Party. He is a significant donor to the University — as of February, Weiser’s contributions have totaled $95.9 million. His donations have helped a number of campus programs and buildings: The Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies and the Ronald and Eileen Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia are named after Weiser, and the former Dennison Building is now named after him following a $50 million donation toward building renovations in December 2014.

Campaign platform: Weiser prioritizes constraining tuition costs and the University budget. Highlighting his background in both business and bureaucracy, Weiser wants to improve both socioeconomic and regional diversity at all three campuses in Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn through research and investment.

Political stances:

College affordability: Weiser, much like Meyers, has proposed a freeze on every in-state students’ freshman tuition rate as long as the student remains in school through graduation. Weiser is a staunch opponent of tuition increases, vowing instead on his campaign website to cut “bureaucratic excess” to trim costs. To alleviate student debt, Weiser has promised to disclose the true cost of a degree to all students before entering the University.

Diversity: Weiser acknowledges the DEI strategic plan as a positive initiative, but largely focuses on increasing economic diversity, noting the need for greater parity between the University’s main and satellite campuses. To that effect, Weiser calls for specific measures such as having faculty travel between the locations and printing degrees to read simply “the University of Michigan.”

Student representation: At a Senate Assembly forum, Weiser supported an ex-officio role for faculty and student representatives.

John Jascob

Party: Libertarian

Hometown: Temperance

Professional experience: After a number of years in financial service, Jascob works as securities law editor at Wolters Kluwer Legal and Regulatory U.S., an information services company.

Connection to the University: Jascob received his bachelor’s degree from the University in 1987.  

Campaign platform: Jascob’s platform stresses freedom of expression and maintenance of free speech codes in all spaces on campus. Other areas of focus include transparency in governance, increasing student and faculty participation and divesting University resources from pro-Israel companies.

Political stances

College affordability: Jascob argued at an Oct. 24 SACUA forum that technology learning can help reduce costs to students.

Student Representation: Jascob, like Ilitch and Meyers, would support an ex-officio role for faculty or students on the Board of Regents.

Diversity: Jascob has not publicly spoken on issues of diversity, but responded to an online voting guide he believes in University’s duty to protect free speech rights and “unpopular” opinions. e

Bridgette Abraham-Guzman

Party: Natural Law

Hometown: Brighton

Professional experience: Guzman was the 2014 Natural Law candidate for Michigan State University trustee.

Connection to the University: not available

Campaign platform and political stances: Guzman has not published any campaign material, but the Natural Law Party website largely advocates for an alternative choice for state voters to the two-party system.

Audra Driscoll

Party: U.S. Taxpayers

Hometown: Ann Arbor

Professional experience: not available

Connection to University: not available

Campaign platform and political stances: Driscoll’s Facebook page emphasizes student affordability and persuading legislators to provide businesses with “tax incentives to donate generously to the University in forms of grants and scholarships.”

Richard Hewer

Party: U.S. Taxpayers

Hometown: Big Rapids

Professional experience: Hewer is a computer science professor at Ferris State University.

Connection to the University: According to a University press release, Hewer is a UM-Dearborn alum and has children and grandchildren attending the satellite campus.

Campaign platform and political stances: Hewer’s priorities include improving parity between the three satellite campuses, obtaining more state funding for the University and expanding online education resources.

James Lewis Hudler

Party: Libertarian

Hometown: Chelsea

Connection to the University: Hudler previously ran as the Libertarian candidate for the board in 2014.

No other information available

Latham Redding

Party: Green

Hometown: Detroit

Campaign platform: The Michigan Green Party, according to the party’s website, is committed to environmentally conscious policies and social justice.

No other information available