What does it mean for Minnesota to be competitive in a rapidly changing, global economy?

You’ll get a lot of different answers to that question, depending on whom you ask. The owner of a small manufacturing business may say taxes and regulation. A college student would likely mention tuition and job opportunities. A Fortune 500 CEO often focuses on workforce development and the availability of science and technology professionals. The average Minnesota worker probably says health care costs and quality schools for their children. Diverse populations and communities of color often mention respect for diversity, fairness in policing and ensuring equal opportunity.

All of those perspectives are valid and important. And all of them underscore how important it is for Minnesota to have a thriving and robust public research and land grant university.

The University of Minnesota is one of our state’s greatest assets, built over a century and a half, with the investment, support, passion and commitment of generations of Minnesotans. It’s not just our obligation to protect, preserve and enhance it; it’s our biggest opportunity for remaining competitive in today’s and tomorrow’s world.

As the Legislature convenes in January, one of its most important responsibilities, yet one of the least heralded, is electing four members to the 12-member Board of Regents that governs the U.

Minnesota is unique in the priority that it places on our flagship land grant university. There is only one time when the Legislature is constitutionally required to convene in joint convention of the House and Senate: to elect members of the Board of Regents, the U’s governing board. The Board of Regents provides counsel, oversight and vital decisionmaking for the university, including setting the annual budget and tuition.

From ensuring Minnesotans access to a high-quality, affordable college education to the kind of research enterprise that discovers medical device advancements, new apples and revolutionary new approaches to education, the University of Minnesota is at a critical time. With a new president on the horizon, a strong and supportive governing Board of Regents will be especially important for the entire state.

The Regent Candidate Advisory Council (RCAC), on which I serve, is charged by the Legislature with making recommendations of two to four candidates for all open seats. In 2019, that includes two statewide at-large seats, one Fifth Congressional District seat, and one at-large statewide student seat. Our goal is to recruit and recommend a diverse group of candidates who will add experience and perspective to the Board of Regents.

Applications will be accepted by RCAC until Nov. 30. Our recommendations need to be made to the Legislature by Jan. 15, 2019.

There is no better way to serve the state of Minnesota than by serving on the U Board of Regents. More information on the application process can be found at www.rcac.leg.mn.

Daniel Wolter, of Burnsville, is chair of the Regent Candidate Advisory Council, the 24-member group appointed by the Minnesota House and Senate to make recommendations for open seats on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.