I must take exception to Lori Sturdevant’s May 20 column (“Regent pick was distorted by partisanship”). Randy Simonson has the experience, education, business experience and — most important — life experience to help lead the University of Minnesota from the regent’s chair to which he has been elected. The tone of the column is rude and demeaning to Simonson and the legislators of our great state.

Sturdevant is correct that the university is a land grant institution and that it should represent all of Minnesota, which includes agriculture and the related biosciences. The U medical school is equally important. The regent position in the First Congressional District has been held by Rochester and the Mayo Clinic for a very long time (some have told me the Rochester/Mayo community even thinks it owns this seat).

St. Paul DFL Sen. Richard Cohen’s comment — “A significant part of the University of Minnesota has been the medical school, and that’s also a place where there have been real problems over a number of years” — doesn’t make sense.

With representation on the Board of Regents for many years from Rochester/Mayo, why hasn’t progress been made? Maybe Rochester/Mayo needs to up the ante and contribute more resources to the U, not just comments from the regent seat.

At the candidate forum, I visited with Dr. Brooks Edwards of Mayo, who would probably also make an excellent choice. I told Edwards about my own experience with cardiology at Mayo. I only hope that after responding to this opinion piece, I do not have to go back early for my annual heart checkup.

That said, the Mayo system is very important to our state both economically and in terms of quality of life.

Higher-education executive Mary Davenport no doubt also has the credentials to be on the regents board with her years of experience in the Minnesota State system. I enjoyed visiting with her also at the candidate forum, when she admired our own Minnesota West two-year college in Worthington for its housing innovation.

And, by the way, I thank Simonson for having the courage to express his opinion on abortion and the use of fetal tissue in a public university. As divisive an issue as abortion is in our country, we ought not use public funds for this. We are only fueling the fire of this debate.

Simonson has the credentials and experience in education and private industry to help guide our university in the future. Here in Worthington and southwestern Minnesota, he has been a leader in animal vaccine research, which has been a huge benefit to not just our region but nationally and globally as well. His work in developing vaccines and guidance with Prairie Holdings Group; Merial, a global animal health company; Merck, and now Grazix has far-reaching benefits in helping the ag sector manage investments. He has worked globally with universities to foster collaboration with American medicine- and vaccine-based industries, all of which has been associated with veterinary medicine. This further supports his very strong commitment to agriculture, animal welfare, food safety and rural Minnesota.

In addition to his success as an educator and a business leader, Simonson brings an unmatched passion for education and business development. He cares and knows how to bring about business and community growth opportunities to Greater Minnesota through education, knowledge and entrepreneurship.

Simonson has been committed to animal welfare, science and animal agriculture throughout his career. After successfully starting several businesses, he is an excellent choice for furthering technology to business transfer, an important strategy for the University of Minnesota.


Mike Kuhle is mayor of Worthington, Minn.