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ISSUE 119 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/24/2006

Regents communicate

By Daniel Grossman
Contributing Writer

Friday, February 24, 2006

In the Dec. 2, 2005 issue of the Manitou Messenger, sophomore Joel Bergeland suggested that the Board of regents is physically and conceptually separated from the students and that feelings of mistrust toward the Board have set in among students on the Hill. He wrote, “Students must come to understand the Board, its ideas and its decision-making processes.” I am responding on behalf of the Board of Regents, but from a perspective with which you may more closely relate.

Let me first tell you about myself; I am a 2003 graduate and am currently in graduate school at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. My position on the board is a two-year appointment as the “recent graduate regent.” My role as recent graduate’s role on the board is twofold: I am part of the decision-making process, and I help ensure that fellow board members are able to relate to today’s St. Olaf campus.

The recent graduate regent takes on this role both as an Ole who recently left campus and as someone who has had a few years off the Hill, either at another institution or in the workplace. Thus, we have experiences with which to compare our undergraduate years and we are more removed from some of the emotion attached to making decisions which affect our beloved college.

The recent graduate regent, along with the Board of Regents Student Committee (BORSC), offers that “unique voice” that Bergeland described as a valuable tool to bridge the Board and students. The recent graduate regent certainly cannot represent each recent grad or current student: Regents hear myriad voices and try our best to bring these forward, balancing them with reality, current student needs, and what is in the best long-term interest of the College.

Now, let me tell you briefly about my fellow regents so that you may better understand why they return to their spouses, children’s soccer games and businesses after meeting at St. Olaf. They are selflessly volunteering their time for you, the students, and they are grateful when students introduce themselves at on-campus meetings. They embody the “servant-leadership” ideal that is often discussed at St. Olaf.

Your regents are St. Olaf alums, past and current parents and friends of the college. They are teachers, current and retired pastors, ELCA bishops, renowned theologians, physicians, small businesses owners, entrepreneurs, current and retired business executives and corporate attorneys.

Each brings a different set of strengths, a different thought process, a different faith background, and a different set of experiences with which they relate to the College they serve. To be sure, every voice is different, but they are as passionate about the College as you and I.

The Board of Regents is not so much conceptually separated from the student body, but rather has a diverse set of experiences with which to serve the College. This becomes more a case of maturity and experience making decisions, and less a case of the oft-used mantra that the Board of Regents is those “old people who keep St. Olaf a dry campus.”

We attempt to balance a need for confidentiality with a desire to keep constituents informed, and we are supported by an incredible group of college administrators, faculty, staff and an alumni and student observer. They help us make tough, yet informed and well thought-out decisions.

It is time to trust that the process, system and motives are pure and genuine and that we never make decisions without considering and balancing at least three things: reality, current student needs and what is in the best long-term interest of the College.

The College is greater than any one individual – greater than each student, alum, staff member, faculty member, administrator, or regent. Our goals are united: to maintain the traditions and values of the college in today’s changing world, to increase the value of the St. Olaf degree, and to ensure that our children’s children have a college on a hill to call home. Rest assured that the Board of Regents has no greater goal than to ensure that our voice may always have a hilltop from which to ring.

Daniel B. Grossman ‘03 is the recent graduate Regent.

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