Most students on campus probably recognize – or at least know of – University President Mary Sue Coleman.

Emily Mayer
Regent Julia Darlow (D-Ann Arbor) listens to public comments during the Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2006. Darlow was elected to the board in November 2006.

But far fewer students understand who made the decision to hire her when she came to the University back in 2002. That task belonged to the University’s Board of Regents.

Though the board wields great power, most people likely don’t know who the regents are or what they do.

The primary responsibility of the board is to ensure that the University runs in a fiscally responsible manner. The regents must approve the University’s annual budget and determine yearly tuition rates.

Regents are also charged with approving construction projects valued at more than $1 million. The board’s recent approvals include funding for a $102 million project for the Law Quad and the $226 million Michigan Stadium renovation.

The Board of Regents, the University’s governing body, was originally known as the Board of Trustees. Though the board was created in 1817 and has undergone changes in name and size since then, the purpose of the group has stayed the same.

Today’s board is comprised of eight individuals who manage the general affairs of the University and maintain control of all University funding.

Two regent positions become available every two years. The regents, who are not subject to term limits, are nominated at state party conventions and elected to eight-year terms in statewide elections. The current board includes six Democrats and two Republicans.

In addition to budgetary responsibilities, the board also has control over the hiring and promotion of University faculty, including President Coleman. Last year, the board approved giving President Coleman a 3 percent raise for her work in her first five-year term. Regents, however, are unpaid for their work with the University.

The board meets once a month to discuss University business. Coleman works closely with the regents and attends all meetings. As an unofficial member of the board, Coleman is prohibited from voting in any of the regents’ decisions.

The public meetings are held once a month on Thursday afternoons in the Fleming Administration Building. The Michigan Student Assembly is given time during each of these meetings to ensure that the views of students are represented. Others individuals who wish to address the Board are required to complete a sign-up form that allows them to speak for up to five minutes during the meeting.

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