Facebook Twitter



Gov. Mike Leavitt reappointed five lame-duck regents and a new student regent Tuesday, signaling his confidence in a board that will guide Utah's nine colleges and universities through the crucial years ahead.

"It signals my satisfaction that they will pursue a course that will ultimately resolve our challenges, namely maintaining quality while accommodating enormous growth," Leavitt said.A former regent himself, Leavitt said the escalating cost of providing a higher education as well as paying for one requires regents who are dedicated to efficiency and innovation, including more reliance on technology and less reliance on bricks and mortar.

"I'm not sure the direction of the past will take us where we need to go," Leavitt said. "We can't just build our way out of the problems facing higher education."

Leavitt said the state has poured a record amount of "new money" into the system. Being able to allocate more is becoming more difficult because of the pressure from competing critical state needs, he said.

Among those reappointed was the current chairman, Kenneth G. Anderton, who says the state system of higher education is at a crossroads of growing enrollment and dwindling resources.

"We're talking about access and quality," Anderton said. "Obviously, if we continue to have a great number of students enter the system, we have to worry about the quality of the education they are receiving."

Also reappointed was Hans Q. Chamberlain, a Cedar City attorney whom Leavitt had earlier appointed to the 5th Circuit juvenile court bench. Coming on the heels of Leavitt's appointment of regent Kay L. McIff to the 6th District court bench, the decision opens up a constitutional can of worms over separation of powers and potential conflicts of interest.

An ethics committee of the Utah Judicial Council began deliberations this week on the question of whether judges may serve both the judicial and executive branches of government. If the answer is no, Chamberlain and McIff will be forced to resign as regents or, less likely, their judgeships.

Leavitt said any questions about the double duty were raised by the judiciary, not him. "Personally, I do not see a constitutional dilemma here," the governor said. "I've discussed it with (Chamberlain and McIff) and concluded it's basically something they have to work through with the Judicial Council."

Anderton, a Vernal attorney, was appointed to a vacancy on the board in 1991. He has served on the Utah State University Board of Trustees and the Uintah Board of Education.

Chamberlain served as a Southern Utah University trustee and as president and commissioner of the Utah State Bar prior to his appointment to the Board of Regents in 1994. Before becoming a judge, he was a senior member of the Chamberlain and Higbee law firm in Cedar City.

Also reappointed to six-year terms were:

- Aileen H. Clyde, Springville, second counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. First appointed to the board in 1989, she previously served as a Utah Valley Community College trustee.

- Karen H. Huntsman, Salt Lake City, vice president of Huntsman Chemical Corp., who was appointed in 1989. She is co-chairperson - along with husband Jon Huntsman - of the Primary Children's Medical Center Endowment and serves on the boards of directors at Intermountain Health Care and Utah Special Olympics.

- Paul S. Rogers, Orem, a lobbyist and consultant. A former Republican legislator, he was appointed in 1989.

The governor appointed Staceecq Yardley, a student at Southern Utah University, to replace student regent Andrea Opfar.

The Board of Regents is the state's most powerful and prestigious appointed body, possessing "final authority" over the policies, procedures and budgeting of the system of higher education. The $1.4 billion system serves about 110,000 students at two universities and seven colleges and employs more than 15,000 faculty and staff.

Considered "plums," the 15 chairs at the regents' table are divided by political party and occupied by some of the richest and most influential people in the state. One additional seat goes to the student regent, who serves only one year.

Although the terms of the six regents expired June 30, Leavitt left their status up in the air until Tuesday, the deadline for submitting notice to the Utah Senate. The legislators will be asked to confirm the appointments when they convene for interim meetings in two weeks.

Anderton said working more closely with the Legislature will be one of the regents' priorities in the tough times ahead. Among other things, regents and lawmakers need to look at the rising cost of a college education, Anderton said.

With $7.1 million in tuition hikes going into effect next month, the state may have already "gone beyond the point of the students' fair share of the costs," Anderton said.

At the same time, Congress is considering action that could substantially increase the cost of a student loan. Also, growing enrollment threatens to shut some students out of the prized university setting or put technological distances between them and their professors.

"In my opinion, we're in a period of transition and evolution that puts more emphasis on technology," Anderton said. But as the role of technology expands, Anderton hopes it never replaces the human element. "There is no substitute for the experience of a professor dealing directly with the student."