The race to become a member of the University Board of Regents
may be as divided as the presidential race. With two incumbent
Democrats and two new GOP candidates, both sides are critical of
the others’ stance on admissions policies and tuition —
the two topics that dominate this election.

Last year, the regents, who are akin to a board of directors for
the University, were criticized by various student groups and
faculty members for their admissions and labor policies, as well
budget allocations. They also faced state cutbacks to higher
education funding.

With the plethora of problems the University has had, the two
Democrat incumbents Olivia Maynard (D-Flint) and Martin Taylor
(D-Grosse Pointe Farms) argue that their experience in such hard
times makes them the superior candidates. But the Republican
newcomers, Carl Meyers (R-Dearborn) and Pat Anderson (R-Bath
Township) feel change is needed and that new members on the board
can help the University take a new direction.

“You can’t do the same things over and over again
with the same board members and expect a different result,”
Meyers said. A graduate of the University’s Dearborn campus,
Meyers points to the fact that he has been a financial advisor
since the 1980’s — an asset that he says qualifies him
for the job.

“Unless it’s a continuous culture of doing the most
with the least and being very vigilant about managing the monies
and the general fund, you become a little complacent. My Democratic
opponents got a little complacent,” Meyers said, adding that
innovative ways to save money as well as more private donations are
needed.

Meyers also criticized the regennts’ handling of
University admissions.

“The admissions policy has been a debacle,” Meyers
said. “Fewer minorities are even applying to the University.
A policy that was drawn to get more people in would say ‘Hey
c’mon apply. We want you here.’ The end result is that
they’re not.”

In light of the Supreme Court decision striking down the
race-conscious LSA point system, LSA changed its application to
include more essay questions with a greater emphasis on diversity.
This year minority applicants were down 21 percent.

This is a factor that Anderson, the other GOP candidate, said
was a direct result of the new application.

Anderson said if elected, he would push to create a new
admissions policy based on public debate and input from students
and faculty.

He also hopes to accomplish another goal if elected: change the
core curriculum. He pointed to a recent “D” grade the
American Council Trustees and Alumni gave the University’s
curriculum, and said a new committee to evaluate the curriculum was
needed. He added that, as a regent, he would push for such a
committee as well as other measures to make the regents overall
more accountable to students and the citizens of Michigan.

Anderson, a University alum, is currently vice chair of the
Anderson Economic Group, and pointed out that he, as well as
Meyers, have a strong financial background that would enable them
to work on a budget that has been squeezed by the state.

Anderson said when regents are “threatened, they have to
go public and take on political leaders, even if they are of their
party.”

After numerous funding cuts in the past few years, this year the
state worked out a deal with the Univeristy to give back about $20
million in exchange for the tuition rate being held at the
estimated inflation rate of 2.8 percent.

Although running for the Democrats, incumbent Taylor said he
agrees somewhat with this notion but placed the blame for tuition
increases on the state government.

“We need to change the dialogue in the state,”
Taylor said. “It almost now seems as though in Lansing,
higher education is sort of the bad guy, it’s a place where
money is wasted, and where there’s more than ample room to
make substantial cuts.”

He added that the University would not be able to handle another
setback from the state in terms of funding without having to make
cuts to quality of education.

Taylor, the only non-alum in the bunch, is currently executive
vice president of DTE Energy and graduated with a law degree from
the Detroit College of Law. He said his experience makes him a good
candidate for re-election and that he, as well as the other
regents, had done “a good job in a bad situation” in
dealing with the budget cuts.

Both Taylor and Maynard said in a new term they would support
the building of a new residence hall to accommodate a growing
student population.

They also said the hiring of University President Mary Sue
Coleman as the first female president and the Supreme Court
decision upholding the Law School’s race-conscious admissions
policy stood out in their mind as the highlights during their
terms.

Maynard acknowledged that the new LSA application is a work in
progress, and she said that although the number of minority
applicants had decreased this year, she said there wasn’t
necessarily a link between the application and decreased minority
enrollment.

“I don’t think we know the real reason (for the
decrease), and part of it was that there were downturns at other
universities, too, that were not involved in affirmative
action,” she said. At Ohio State University, for example,
applications went down 15 percent, while applications from black
students were down by 28 percent this year.

Maynard is a University alum who completed a master’s
degree from the School of Social Work. She is currently president
of Michigan Prospect, a think tank that looks at state public
policy issues. She added that her experience qualified her for
another term on the Board of Regents.

“I’ve had the eight years of experience and truly
understand the $2.5 billion operation that is the University of
Michigan. I also think that I am compatible with the values and
visions of the University and that includes a diverse student
body,” Maynard said.

The ballot for this year’s regents also lists a number of
independents, including an LSA senior, Nat Damren, who said he is
running under the Green Party to bring student representation to
the board.

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