Rebecca McGowan (D-Ann Arbor), who has held a post on the University Board of Regents for 16 years, will not run for reelection when her term expires in December.
McGowan, who chairs the board’s finance, audit and investment committee, wrote a letter last week informing Mark Brewer, the chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, of her decision.
When asked why she planned to step aside, McGowan responded, “16 years, that’s why!” The 59-year-old said her time as a University Regent has been “perfect in every way, but it’s important to know when to make a change.”
McGowan said she decided after her first reelection in 2000 not to seek a third term, adding that she’s never wavered since making that choice.
University Regent Olivia Maynard (D-Goodrich), who has served on the Board with McGowan since 1996, said McGowan has served the University well during her 16 years in the position.
“I will remember her as not only a colleague, but a friend,” Maynard said. “I will miss her greatly.”
Asked what she was most proud of during her time as a University Regent, McGowan recalled the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in favor of the University’s admissions policies – one that allowed the school to continue using affirmative action as long as it wasn’t based on a point system.
She also hailed the Board’s decision to add the phrase “gender identity and expression” to the non-discrimination clause of the University’s bylaws last year.
McGowan also praised the building projects regents have approved in recent years, citing the development of the School of Public Policy, North Quad and the planned $102-million additions to Law School.
McGowan’s decision to step aside surprised fellow University Regent Julia Darlow (D-Ann Arbor).
“Rebecca is someone who is devoted to the University and gives her all to the job, making it easier for everyone,” Darlow said.
University Regent Larry Deitch (D-Bingham Farms), who was elected to the board at the same time as McGowan, said the two had teamed up on many projects, including co-sponsoring the “gender identity and expression” amendment and advocating for the expansion of domestic partner benefits at the University.
Deitch, the only other member of the board who is also up for re-election in December, declined to say whether he would seek a third term.
McGowan, who lives less than a mile from campus, said she looks forward to serving the rest of her term and will continue to help the University in some capacity after December.
“It’s a fabulous responsibility and I’ve loved every minute,” she said.
– Daily News Editor Kelly Fraser contributed to this report.