“Who really runs Michigan universities?”

A loyal EMUTalk.org reader sent me a link to this Michigan Public Radio commentary by Jack Lessenberry, “Who really runs Michigan universities?” and it seemed like a good idea to share it here.  Lessenberry is concentrating on Michigan’s “big” universities– UM, MSU, Wayne–  and how the boards work and run things.  Here’s a quote:

University boards set tuition rates, approve or reject budgets, and generally wield a lot of power. But who selects them?  You may not realize it, but when it comes to Michigan’s three major universities, you do. Or, at least, can.

Michigan, unlike most states, has two different kinds of public universities. Most of our 15 state schools have their boards appointed by the governor. But the U of M, Michigan State and Wayne State have theirs chosen by a statewide vote of the people, just like the governor himself. And the candidates for these boards are nominated by our major political parties and placed on the ballot.

He goes on to point out that more people ought to pay more attention than they typically do about who is getting elected to these boards, though Lessenberry generally thinks these elections “work” and board members do a good job.

Of course, what I really would have liked to have seen Lessenberry talk about is how the other 12 public universities in Michigan– including EMU, of course– have boards where members are not elected but rather appointed by the governor.  How well does Lessenberry think these boards “work?”


8 thoughts on ““Who really runs Michigan universities?”

  1. I’m not convinced an elected Board of Regents would be any better. If we elected the boards for all 15 universities, we’d have a pretty long ballot. As it is right now, we don’t elect a state treasurer or a comptroller. I don’t even know why we elect an Attorney General since constitutionally, the Governor is their client and often times in our state’s history, the Governor and AG have been from different parties.

    I’m not saying it would be the worst thing to elect our Board of Regents, but would voters who have had nothing to do with institutions like EMU, CMU, Wayne State, and the like really be that motivated to study up on the candidates and their platforms?


  2. The constitution of the state of Michigan, written about 50 years ago, stipulates that MSM, WSU and UofM have elected regents, and that the other 12 public universities have theirs appointed by the governor.


    • If I remember correctly prior to the last Constitutional Convention that resulted in our current Constitutional the other 12 schools were under the authority of the State Board of Education.


  3. I don’t know if the average Michigan voter would care about EMU regents, but then again, as a resident of Ypsi and EMU faculty, I really don’t know much about the regents or platforms at MSM.

    I would like our regents to actually be involved at EMU and present at some of the events. Hell, I would love them to take a tour of the facilities.

    I would love the opportunity to vote on the EMU regents. I’m sure those at state appreciate voting on their regents.


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