Former state Rep. Laura Brod, a Republican, began her interview with a bold statement: The University of Minnesota's goal to be one of the top three public research universities in the country is "absolutely fantastic and attainable."

Council member Paul Thatcher responded: "Your enthusiasm is not only commendable, it’s infectious." Most people believe that's a good goal, he said. But achievable? He laughed. "I’ve never met anyone else besides you that says it’s attainable."

Brod spoke to the importance of international students, diversity and strong fiscal management.

She also defended the idea of having former legislators on the U board: "In challenging budget times, having people who have been involved in the legislative process would be an advantage, not a disadvantage."

Later, she defined herself as not only a former legislator, but a small business-owner, a stay-at-home mom and "an academic at heart." Although she's not a farmer, she grew up on a farm, she pointed out. Because of that, she said, she's like many of the families in the Second Congressional District.