Second student added to UW Board of Regents

In a move that highlighted the increasing voice of "nontraditional" students in the University of Wisconsin System, Gov. Jim Doyle signed a bill earlier this month that creates a spot for such a student on the system's Board of Regents.

Senate Bill 121 calls for a student who is "at least 24 years old and represents the views of nontraditional students, such as those who are employed or who are parents."

"This is legislation that has been supported and really pushed by students in the UW System," said Doug Bradley, director of communications for the organization.

A prospective board member meeting the SB 121 criteria must nominate him or herself with Doyle's appointment secretary by March 1, Bradley said. Doyle's administration will review nominees and appoint the student by May 1. He or she will serve a two-year term; non-student board members serve seven-year terms. The student terms are shorter because of scholastic commitments, Bradley said.

The system's Board of Regents is a 17-member organization drawn from an "eclectic mix" of private citizens, businesspeople and nonprofit representatives. It typically meets monthly, usually in Madison, for a day and a half, Bradley said.

"These people are the stewards of the universities," Bradley said. "Everything we send out from diplomas to Web pages pertains to the Board of Regents. They really have oversight of our operations."

Board members address a broad range of duties, including setting tuition and fees, helping fashion campus- and system-wide policies, working out tuition reciprocity agreements with other states and managing enrollment, according to Bradley. The nontraditional student member is expected to bring new viewpoints to the board, he said.

"They may have a job; they may be a little more stressed about financial aid," Bradley said. "They will also have a fresher opinion on how education fits into a modern career arc. Some of them may have dropped out previously (and re-enrolled) or enrolled late because they realized the importance of a college education."

"They are going to bring up issues that people like me wouldn't even think about," Bradley said.

The Board of Regents already has a "traditional" student as a member. Christopher M. Semenas , a senior English and history major at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, will serve on the board until May 1, 2007, when his two-year term expires.

Marquette lacks student members, not student voice

Marquette's board of trustees, the university's version of the UW System's Board of Regents, has 36 members. None of them are students.

Although there are no student members on the board of trustees, Marquette Student Government does keep in contact with the board and provides it with student feedback, according to MUSG communications vice president and College of Communication senior Laura Herzing.

"Once a year we do a lunch with them, which we did the first week of December last year," Herzing said. "The Executive Board has lunch with the board of trustees, and (MUSG President) Alex (Hermanny) and (Executive Vice President) Beth (Feste)present them with issues that we feel are important to students."

Herzing said she feels the contact, though infrequent, is meaningful.

"I do think they take us seriously and look into what they say, but I wish we had more chances to talk to them. Once a year isn't very much," she said.

Herzing could not recall any formal move to create more contact with the board of trustees.

Likewise, University spokeswoman Brigid O'Brien Miller said the board does take input from students seriously.

"Student input is greatly valued, and the most important way for students to make their views heard on key issues is to communicate with the president, provost and senior vice president," she said. "This happens regularly through student forums, lunches, and other meetings and events, as well as through letters, e-mails and conversations on campus. Senior administration takes student concerns very seriously."