Reflections of a former U of M regent

By Rick Beeson

Serving as a regent of the University of Minnesota since 2009 has been a life experience and a great honor for which I am deeply indebted.

In serving the state’s only land grant and flagship research university, I found the responsibility was humbling and frankly one which I had to grow into despite a history of volunteerism.

Regents’ work often carries an institutional feel. Policies, plans, budgets and analyses are the regular duties of governance. In fact, my two priorities of setting systemwide “Maroon and Gold” performance and measures, and working with the medical school in securing resources to restore its national ranking, fall into those categories. At one level, it’s a very big and sophisticated business.

However, at the end of the day, I will most remember the people and the relationships. From day one, there were the retired and active university faculty of our University-rich neighborhood stopping into my office on a Saturday morning with advice and counsel. The capable administrators who shoulder the work are lifelong friends; I had the privilege of overseeing three presidents during my watch and working closely with these exceptional leaders.

There are the donors who give so generously and whose remarkable stories of success they always attribute to their formative years at and devotion to the University. Local elected state officials, including Rep. Alice Hausman, Sen. John Marty, Sen. Erin Murphy and Rep. Kaohly Vang Her, all provided me an outlet back to the Legislature and for their input and direct feedback. The Board of Regents Office, including St. Anthony Park’s own Jason Langworthy, a board associate, were invaluable in helping manage our time and staying focused.

Whatever my personal impact, I can say confidently that the University is more transparent, efficient, stronger and prepared. While financial and affordability issues loom always, I expect the near future will be dominated by the great social issues of the day from which the University is not exempt.

In fact, more is and should be expected of us in our public handling of them and in devising systemic solutions for the people of the state of Minnesota. I expect the four new regents elected in March will bring fresh perspectives and energy. Thank you for entrusting me with your University of Minnesota! 

Rick Beeson is executive vice president for corporate development at Sunrise Banks and this spring concluded his term on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

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