Land-grant institution must have labor representation on Board of Regents


For the first time since 1934 it appears there will be no representative of organized labor on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

Ironic, since the University of Minnesota, as a land-grant institution, was established to educate the working class.

Indeed, the purpose of the land-grant colleges was to teach agriculture and mechanical arts, in addition to the traditional classical studies, so that working people could obtain a “liberal and practical” education. This was viewed as a necessary response to the changes in society brought about by the industrial revolution. The publically-funded colleges made higher education accessible to working class families.

In recent years, the spiraling cost of tuition has caused concern that the University is no longer fulfilling its mission as a land-grant institution to make higher education available to all residents. Working people need an advocate on the Board of Regents now more than ever. More importantly, they’re entitled to one.

Candidates for the Board of Regents are recommended to the legislature by a joint meeting of the House and Senate higher education committees. The selection of the Board of Regents has been largely bipartisan….until this year.

In an unexpected move, former GOP legislator Laura Brod snatched the recommendation for the at-large seat from current at-large regent Steven Hunter, Secretary-Treasurer of the Minnesota AFL-CIO. Even more surprising is that Brod was running for the 2nd congressional district seat against former GOP Speaker Steve Sviggum. When Sviggum won, the joint committee recommended Brod for Hunter’s spot.

Bold as brass, as the nuns used to say.

The result is that the working class, the very group for whom this land-grant institution was intended, will no longer have a voice in the governance of the University of Minnesota.

Shameful, truly shameful.