Correction: This article originally incorrectly stated that Regent Andrea Fischer Newman has only voted against a tuition increase once in her time as regent. She has voted against an increase three times in the last eight years.

Every two years, Michigan residents have the opportunity to elect two members to the University’s governing body. The University Board of Regents, the members of which serve eight-year terms, is charged with managing the University’s budget and hiring members of its administration. This year, the board’s only two Republican members are up for re-election — and they face strong Democratic challengers.

Andrea Fischer Newman (R–Ann Arbor) has served on the University Board of Regents since 1994. She has also served on Oakland University’s Board of Regents. As a University graduate with a long record of public service and an impressive career in the private sector, Newman understands how to manage the large amounts of money that the University deals with each year.

But Newman’s view on tuition increases doesn’t prioritize students’ needs. In the last eight years, Newman has only voted against a tuition increase three times,. The last time she opposed the increase, her vote was based on the belief that a one-percent increase was too small to be warranted. This sort of disregard shows that Newman doesn’t truly understand the needs of students.

Incumbent Andrew Richner (R–Grosse Pointe Park) holds BBA and JD degrees from the University. Richner has a lot of experience with how state funding works — prior to his service as a regent, Richner served three terms in the state House of Representatives. Currently, Richner is the only member of the Board of Regents with a child enrolled at the University.

Richner plans to focus on implementing multi-year budgeting and has worked to expand the University’s share of government research money through efforts like the University Research Corridor. Research is incredibly important, but the primary focus of the University must be education — and Richner hasn’t come up with any creative measures to keep costs for students under control.

It seems that Richner is just as disconnected from the student body as the rest of the board. He has voiced opposition to adding a non-voting student representative to the Board of Regents. Additionally, since his election in 2002, Richner has voted to raise tuition every year. After so many increases, more and more students are being priced out of an education. Though Richner has a child at the University, he seems to lack an understanding of the hardships many families face in paying for their child’s education.

Paul Brown (D–Ann Arbor) is the vice president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporations Capital Markets Group. In 2009, Brown and his team created the Michigan Supplier Diversification Fund and its proposed federal counterpart, the State Small Business Credit Initiative, to facilitate business lending.

The Democratic challenger would like to make University tuition more affordable and increase the accessibility of a University education for all students. He plans to design a budget that will bring down tuition costs and reduce the burden of loans for students. He also wouldn’t be opposed to lobbying Lansing to ensure that the legislature understands the University’s financial needs and the importance of affordable education.

Brown also stresses the University’s role in creating jobs in the state. Brown would like to increase focus on technology transfer out of the University and for the University to be a core economic engine for the state. He believes commercializing University research and helping small businesses will create well paying jobs in Ann Arbor.

Brown has said that he’d like to make the Board of Regents a more visible entity. He’s interested in pushing more against the regents’ typical acceptance of the administration’s decisions and would like to challenge them to make decisions more transparent for the public. To increase student involvement, he would also favor having a non-voting student representative on the Board of Regents.

Challenger Greg Stephens (D–Saline) is the business manager and financial secretary of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Secretary-Treasurer of the Washtenaw County Skilled Building Trades Council.

As a member of the University Board of Regents, Stephens would like to represent middle class working families and make tuition affordable for as many people as possible. He has promised to never vote for a tuition increase larger than the increase in the cost of living and would like to tap into the University’s endowment to control tuition and increase financial aid for students. He has also said that he will not seek re-election after one term.

Stephens has been active in building and construction at the University for 16 years and thus has a good working relationship with the Ann Arbor City Council. He would like to use his knowledge of construction to push for more environmentally-friendly building options, like encouraging University buildings to have LEED certification, which would also prove fiscally beneficial. Stephens would also like to utilize empty University facilities during the summer for more professional training, which would aid Michigan businesses and bring in money to the University.

Because of their strong commitment to prevent tuition increases and desire to advance University projects, the Daily endorses PAUL BROWN and GREG STEPHENS for the University Board of Regents.

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