Two candidates for a University of Minnesota Board of Regents vacancy were recommended by a legislative panel Monday after its members failed to settle on one applicant to forward to lawmakers.
Dr. Brooks Edwards, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, and Mary Davenport, the interim president of Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC), got the backing of the committee after members interviewed five applicants to fill the First Congressional District seat. Retired Rochester physician Patricia Simmons, the U's longest-serving regent, announced her resignation from the seat in March.
The committee, made up of House and Senate higher education committee members, usually strives to recommend one candidate for each vacancy on the U's governing board to a joint convention of the Legislature, which makes the final decision.
But Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, the head of House Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance Committee, said, "In this case, we were deadlocked with those two, and we had limited time to continue to vote."
Other would-be regents could also be nominated at the time the full Legislature votes on filling the vacancy. The replacement for Simmons, who has said she stepped down to spend more time with family, will serve in the unpaid position through 2021. Simmons was one of three women on the 12-member board.
Edwards, the son of a U graduate and a longtime U medical school faculty member, has degrees from Macalester College and Mayo Clinic Medical School. Calling the U "the crown jewel of the state," he raised the issues of campus safety, sexual misconduct and student debt in a biography he compiled as part of his candidacy.
With degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Colorado State University, Davenport has worked in higher education for roughly 30 years, most of them as a leader in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. She is slated to retire from her RCTC post in June.
The other applicants were: Jeanne Hankerson, a retired insurance executive in Owatonna; Wendy Shannon, the Rochester Education Department chairwoman and director of the graduate induction program at Winona State University; and Randy Simonson, a Worthington executive at an animal vaccine company.
Lawmakers will meet to vote on the committee's recommendations later this spring.