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Michigan State University Board of Trustees {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Choose two candidates to serve eight-year terms on the Michigan State University Board of Trustees. Board members are not compensated but expenses associated a trustee's role on the board is paid for by the university.

Click a candidate icon to find more information about the candidate. To compare two candidates, click the "compare" button. To start over, click a candidate icon.

  • Justin Burns
    (L)

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    Dianne Byrum
    (Dem)

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    William Deary
    (Rep)

  • Angela Grandy
    (UST)

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    Dan Kelly
    (Rep)

  • Gregory Scott Stempfle
    (LIB)

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    Will Tyler White
    (Grn)

  • Diann Woodard
    (Dem)

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Biographical Information

Why do you want to be a member of the university board to which you are seeking election? What current or former board members or trustee(s), if any, do you consider a role model for the job? Please explain.

What do you consider the three most critical duties of a university regent/governor/trustee?

How hands-on do you intend to be with various university departments? How involved should a board member be with the athletic department, for example?

From your perspective, is the university whose board you are running for doing enough to be transparent? Is there more that needs to be done to ensure that debate is taking place publicly? If yes, what are transparency changes you would advocate?

Where do you stand on the lawsuit seeking to require open meetings among university boards in Michigan? Explain.

What is the university’s role in addressing the need for jobs and economic diversity in Michigan?

What is the right way for universities to deal with incidents of sexual assaults on its campus? In whose jurisdiction should investigation, prosecution and punishment fall? What is a university’s role in this process?

What must the university do to eradicate sexual assaults on campus?

What should the university do to control the cost of tuition?

Are you satisfied with the diversity of the university’s student body? If not, what should be done to improve diversity at the university?

What should the university do to improve the drop-out rates of young freshman? What can be done to ensure students having trouble don't fall out of the college system completely?

What role does a university play in helping a state keep college graduates in Michigan? In what ways would you encourage that as a member of the board?

To what extent should the university participate in efforts to make its best teaching available on free or inexpensive digital platforms?

Do you support and will you appear at campaign events with your party’s presidential nominee?

Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? If so, explain.

Have you ever filed for personal bankruptcy? If so, explain.

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City of residence Onondaga Township
Age 62
Family Jim Byrum, husband and children Barb Byrum and Jim Byrum
Education B.S., Michigan State University, College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Associates Degree, Lansing Community College
Vehicles owned Ford MKC
Professional Experience I am a small business owner, having owned and operated Byrum Ace Hardware for 30 years. I am a founding partner with Byrum & Fisk Communications.
Political Experience I am a current MSU Trustee and former state Representative and state Senator.
Race/ethnicity Caucasian
Incumbent? True
I have always lived by the adage: “You have a personal responsibility to give back to society for what you have been privileged to receive.” This core belief has been at the center of my public service career, including my service on the Board of Trustees.

I have a passion for education and I believe that a degree from Michigan State University should always represent a high value for the student and for the state of Michigan
1. Set the budget and tuition levels 2. Establish broad policies for the university 3. Review the performance of the president and (when applicable) hire a new president
A trustee should provide broad policy direction and oversight, and it is the president’s job to manage the day-to-day operations of the university. As a board member, it’s important to meet regularly with the president to monitor academic progress, review internal audit reports, and conduct an annual performance review of the president.

For athletics, a trustee should hire the athletic director, review all audit reports, monitor NCAA and Title IX compliance reports and ensure the athletic director and president report annually to the board. I believe a trustee has the responsibility to ensure MSU’s student-athletes graduate with a quality education.
I believe the university strives to be transparent in its decision making – and there is always room for improvement. I have suggested utilizing more campus-wide forums for discussion, a strategy that has led to a “win-win” for everyone during milestone decisions, such as the debate over how to utilize MSU’s public broadcast station. We should maintain the “shared governance” model that gathers input from students, staff, faculty, administration and the community on big decisions.
I strongly believe that transparency should guide our work on the Board. There is pending legal action on this subject and all universities will have to comply with the decision.
MSU is one of three research institutions in our state and has a tremendous role in the State of Michigan’s economy. For FY 2014, MSU’s statewide economic impact was more than $5.3 billion. MSU attracted more than $528 million in external funding for research, and of our 2014 graduates, 63 percent were employed in Michigan and another 15 percent in the Midwest. MSU partners with private sector businesses to educate their future workforce. The research and development conducted at MSU significantly contributes to the economic diversity of the state.
Sexual assault on campuses across the nation is abhorrent, and combating sexual assault requires a firm commitment from every college and university, including MSU. As a Trustee, I have advocated for stronger, proactive measures to prevent on-campus sexual assault. In the past year, MSU has strengthened its sexual assault policies, increased funding to support the Office of Institutional Equity, added investigators, sexual assault counselors and health professionals, created a 24-hour crisis hotline with counseling, and taken many other measures. MSU should always be asking how we can do more.
The university must continue its education efforts for awareness, create a culture of respect across campus, ensure victims are heard and their voices are respected and make sure there is swift and just enforcement of all sexual assault and relationship violence policies.
My top priority as a MSU Trustee is to make sure students from all walks of life have access to an affordable, valuable college education.

Strategies to control the cost include: 1. Tuition constraint 2. Making sure undergraduate students complete their degree within four years 3. Supporting programs that reduce drop-out rates 4. Increasing university supported scholarships (MSU has increased university supported scholarships 210% in the last ten years) 5. Providing on campus employment opportunities for students

Fewer MSU students graduate with debt compared to state and national averages, and students who do have debt, have levels lower than state and national averages.
Diversity at MSU is a continuing process. Our 2015 entering class included 24.5 percent domestic students of color and 22.4 percent Pell Grant recipients. I support college readiness programs and on-site enrollment efforts in schools that lack guidance counselors or may have other barriers for students.
As a first-generation college graduate, I understand the unique pressure facing many incoming freshmen – especially those who are the first in their family to attend college. MSU has been making steady progress in reducing the dropout rate among freshman students. The percentage of students returning to MSU for their first fall semester after their original enrollment (persistence rate) is increasing (90.7% in 2009 to 92.1% in 2014). Investments in creating a “neighborhood” around the residence halls with onsite health clinics, counseling, tutoring and study groups and early intervention programs for students at the greatest risk are all important tools.
The university can play a role in helping keep college graduates in Michigan by inviting employers to participate in recruiting activities, provide internship opportunities, and network with alumni groups to keep graduates connected to the state and encourage graduates to utilize the MSU placement office for job openings. As an employer and a trustee, I regularly have paid internship opportunities in my business and recently hired a former MSU intern as a full-time employee.
MSU participates in making teaching and education available through its public broadcasting programs, the digital "Media Sandbox" in the College of Communication Arts, community education programming and Extension Educators across the state. I am encouraged by these efforts and I believe they are part of MSU's commitment as a Land Grant institution.
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City of residence Jackson
Age 60
Family Wife- Cheri Lyn Daughter- Kylyn (Deary) Mead
Education B.A., Education, Mathematics and Science- Michigan State University M.A., Educational Psychology, Psychometrics- Michigan State University
Vehicles owned I drive a Ford F-350 to work daily
Professional Experience 40 years of business management experience, including the past 22 at Great Lakes Caring Home Health and Hospice in Jackson, which I co-founded and own with my wife Cheri Lyn.
Political Experience This is my first run for political office
Race/ethnicity Caucasian
Campaign Website http://deary4msu.com
Incumbent? False
I'm running for the MSU Board of Trustees because I care deeply for the University, having received both my B.A. and M.A. from MSU and I am concerned MSU is becoming unavailable and unaffordable to middle class Michigan families. MSU is a $1.3B business and the Board of Trustees is the University's board of directors. For the past 40 years, including the past 22 at Great Lakes Caring Home Health and Hospice, which I co-founded in 1994 with my wife Cheri Lyn, I’ve managed businesses. Over that time I've built and refined those skills, qualities and principles necessary to operate a successful business. These are the same qualities that are needed to manage and solve the challenges facing MSU.
1) Financial stewardship- Attending MSU represents a large investment for students and families. Additionally, MSU receives substantial support from Michigan taxpayers. Trustees provide oversight to ensure dollars are spent responsibly. 2) Maintain quality- It's important to ensure an MSU education equips students to be successful upon graduation. Trustees oversee accountability of the administration so parents and students can be certain they're receiving value for the tuition they pay. 3) Ensure safety- A priority of the Board is to support policies that create a safe campus environment. MSU must continue to be a world-class institution of higher education in all facets of its mission.
As a board member I would exercise my oversight responsibilities to ensure the mission of the University was achieved. I would utilize my existing relationships and develop new ones within the various departments and student government organizations to ensure I’m up-to-speed on what’s occurring on campus and can develop solutions to the problems our students, faculty, staff and guests are facing. Proper CORPORATE GOVERNANCE requires that a Trustee follow a prudent and constructive process. Hands-on is very important in the context of appropriate oversight.
The current administration embraces policies that result in good transparency; however the changes I believe to be important will drive transparency from good to great to World Class. Improvement is needed with regard to informing students in many critical areas. At the top of this list is showing students and parents the 1 to 5 year employment data after graduation, including work in the degree area and salary earned. This will allow students to set realistic career and future earnings expectations and make informed decisions with regard to their education.
I think it is important for the Board to operate in a transparent manner, but as the board of a large business there needs to be a balance regarding deliberations that could negatively impact the University if done so publicly. I value transparency very much and would need to study this further.
The University must prepare students to immediately participate in the workforce and to address the needs of the ever-changing economy. It must partner with private and public entities so that students have access to internships and other opportunities that provide hands on, real world experience. As we partner with a diverse set of employers their input will serve to steer and mold the programs offered by the university as it looks to keep pace with the needs of employers.
I would use, as a foundation, the work of First Lady Sue Snyder. This must be a top of mind focus for every university. MSU must invest in policy, procedure and practice to protect every student from all forms of assault, most especially sexual assault. I believe jurisdiction should be delegated to local authorities independent from the university.
The university must maintain an environment where violence isn’t tolerated and where respect for others is encouraged. It should look to expand efforts that offer students a safe ride or walk home, increase access to counselors who can identify and address the needs of sexual assault victims and work to ensure law enforcement is involved. With increased prosecution those likely to become repeat sexual offenders will not be afforded another opportunity to victimize someone.
As a member of the MSU Board of Trustees I will lead the effort to freeze in-state tuition. Freezing tuition will be a major step forward in terms of making the University affordable; giving students relief from the significant annual tuition increases they’ve faced over the last decade. We cannot forget that MSU is a state university supported by Michigan taxpayers. In-state tuition rates must reflect the commitment and investment residents have made in the University and not price them, their children or grandchildren out of obtaining an MSU education.
According to MSU, students at the University come from every county in MI, all 50 states and 138 countries. The student population is nearly 52% female and 18% of color, which reflects the overall diversity within the state of Michigan. What I think is more important is that for applicants, where all measures and qualifications for acceptance are equal, Michigan students are given preference over non-Michigan students.
Students who enter college behind academically are more prone to struggle and dropout. The University must ensure freshman are prepared to learn at the university level on day one or, when this isn’t possible, that they have access to the necessary remedial coursework to bring them up where they need to be academically. MSU should continue to promote the formation of campus groups to ensure students enjoy their experience and feel compatible with what MSU is about and offers. MSU must also stay affordable so students don’t feel overwhelmed by the costs of obtaining a degree. MSU accepts only 66% of applicants, a selective admission process is the first step to decreasing the drop out rate.
Our college graduates packing up and leaving the state is a significant problem and the university can certainly play a role in helping to minimize the brain drain we experience. Using relationships I’ve developed with other business leaders, along with community and political leaders in Michigan, I will work to create partnerships with private industry and public entities that result in opportunities for MSU graduates.
The university is charged with a significant Mission to provide a World-Class educational experience, to be a leader in research and to contribute to the future success of its students, faculty and community. I do not support free digital platforms. Businesses do not give away their products. I do support providing scholarships and work study programs to assist students who are qualified and motivated to EARN a college degree.
Yes, I support the Republican Party’s nominee for President and I plan to attend Republican events as my schedule allows.
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City of residence Clarkston
Age 55
Family wife of 28 years, Kathleen Kelly. 4 Children: Caitlin Kelly (24), Meaghan (22), Caroline (20) and Brendan (17).
Education JD - Law Degree from U of D 1987
Vehicles owned Ford Lincoln and Taurus
Professional Experience 28 years of representing primarily School Districts and Municipalities. 28 years with the 65 attorney law firm of Giarmarco, Mullins & Horton, where I am an equity partner and sit on the firm's Board of Directors.
Political Experience Elected to Independence Township Board of Trustees two times (8 years) as the top vote getter. Elected to county wide seat on Oakland Community College Board of Trustees where I was also elect its Chair.
Race/ethnicity White
Campaign Website http://ElectDanKelly.com
Incumbent? false
With my background in higher education, I believe I am qualified to sit on MSU’s Board of Trustees and am doing so to continue my commitment to public service. I have been an elected official for almost 14 years, but never as a full-time occupation and always for community service. My professional experience of having advised Boards of Education and having sat on a higher education Board of Trustees (Oakland Community College) has prepared me for the challenges of the MSU Board.
(1) Approve the annual budget. (2) Hire and oversee the University President and through the President the University’s administration. (3) Set forth, update and enforce the goals and policies of the University.
I do not believe that Board Members should be involved in the day-to-day operations of a University. Rather, the Board of Trustees should set the policies, future goals and expectations of the University. The Administration and, specifically, the University President is responsible and accountable for the day-to-day operations. Similarly, the Board of Trustees should not be directly involved in the athletic department’s day-to-day operations, which should be left to the assigned directors, managers and coaches.
I believe MSU is following the law. However, having been an attorney representing municipalities and school boards for over 25 years, there are transparency issues which could be improved on. For example, accessibility to Board meetings could be improved; including, the consideration of video broadcasting. I am extremely concerned that labor union agreements do not appear to be discussed or approved by the Board of Trustees, which I believe they should be. Based on the meetings and the minutes, there appears to be a substantial amount of work done by subcommittees, where the rationale and discussion of topics such as the budget and tuition increases, are not being fully disclosed.
I am in full support of open meetings for University Boards in Michigan. As an attorney representing municipalities and school districts, I have a long history and extensive experience in dealing with the Open Meetings Act. While there are certain exceptions which are legitimate and must be enforced, I believe that not only should the decisions be in public, but it is equally important that the deliberations be in public. Too often Boards, whether intentionally or unintentionally believe that the only relevant public disclosure is the vote. To the contrary, the Open Meetings Act requires not only the vote be public, but the deliberations as well.
I believe there must be a strong relationship between the University and job providers and creators within the State. A vibrant University that has a focus on Michigan residents, can create jobs by attracting existing companies and encouraging the ideas that lead to new companies. A great University recognizes this role and encourages cooperation with all businesses to assist in their development, growth and productivity. Not only do Universities provide the students who are trained and able to assist business and industry, but also through its research and testing of theories and ideas a University can help local business with new opportunities, growth and the creation of jobs.
Sexual assaults on campus are a criminal action and must be investigated, prosecuted and punished within the criminal justice system. To the extent the University is involved in investigations, the Board of Trustees must require the same level of professionalism we would otherwise require from surrounding policing agencies. Additionally the Board must be diligent, in following the Clery Act, all Universities have reporting requirements which must also be followed and are beneficial to monitoring and investigating crimes.
First and foremost, sexual assaults on campus must be treated as a crime. As a University Board, we should have policies which educate and enforce the institution’s position that a sexual assault will be treated as a serious crime and subject to the same penalties as in the general society. This begins with accurate accounting and monitoring of our campus, which includes more than the minimum requirements of the Clery Act. Excuses, such as “youthful indiscretion” or even “intoxication”, are not acceptable. Students must be educated that it is not acceptable and campus wide policies to assist students in reporting sexual assault must be developed and enforced.
Tuition is not the problem, it is the chosen solution. The problem is the increasing budget expenditures. As its sole discretionary income, tuition increases are the chosen solution to pay for the increased expenditures. To control tuition, we must control the increasing budget. Given that 70 to 75 percent of all University expenditures are labor costs (wages and benefits), ultimately the control of the increasing budget expenditures starts with controlling labor costs. This is not to say that University employees are overpaid or, rather, not entitled to a fair wage, we must assure that the college administration maintains its management rights and bargaining in good faith.
My concern is that the University maintains an open and fair admissions system. When done right, the college will achieve an acceptable diversity amongst its student body. Currently, the University has a good program for financial assistance for the economically challenged students. Having said this, my focus is on Michigan residents of all ethnicity, race and financial status. I am concerned that under the guise of “diversity”, there has been a significant increase in out of State and International students. In reality, this increase is driven more by economics (out of State and International students pay three times the tuition rate.)
There are many factors that affect the dropout rates of Freshmen. Some are individual and some are institutional. Introduction and support programs should be part of any University’s policies, particularly for those students who may feel isolated or lack a support group. It is no surprise that high schools that have high college admittance rates, also have high college completion rates. The most likely reason is that the students with fellow high school classmates attending the college have a good support group. The college can encourage these support groups, both academically and socially.
MSU is a Michigan University and, therefore, must play a role in keeping its graduates in Michigan. In reality, the most effective way to keep college graduates in Michigan is to admit Michigan residents. Putting an emphasis on admitting Michigan residents has a number of benefits, not the least of which is the likelihood that more of these students will stay in the State and help build and add to its economy. Other than the University’s admission policy, the University should have an aggressive program to promote student internships and jobs following graduation. At the end of the day, as a land grant University, MSU’s job is to teach a “practical education”.
Offering free or inexpensive digital platforms, involves the issue of textbooks. There is no question that the increase in the cost of textbooks has had a negative effect on the expense of higher education and the availability of education. I have attended many forums on digital textbooks and Open Educational Resources (free or inexpensive on-line textbooks). Much like Wikipedia or other similar initiatives, open educational resources is the future and we should look to encourage its development and progress. The key is to maintain the standards and reliability of textbooks. To do so, the University should be focused on analyzing, critiquing and peer reviewing the available resources.
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City of residence Bath
Age 66
Family Presently single. Extended family living throughout the country.
Education Certified Economic Developer from the International Economic Development Council. Continuing education student at MSU in political science and urban planning.
Vehicles owned 1998 Buick, 1975 Fiat X1/9 (for restoration)
Professional Experience Principal of Fifth Element Consulting, founded or helped create a dozen businesses and nonprofits. Forty years experience in retail, property management and economic development.
Political Experience Member of Green, Democrat, Republican, and Libertarian parties. Served on Downtown Development Authorities for ten years, Economic Development Corporation eight years.
Race/ethnicity Human race.
Incumbent? false
As a student at MSU I learned firsthand how Teaching Assistants with poor English skills made it difficult to understand complex subjects like statistical analysis. I also learned that TA's had little or no job security and were underpaid for the amount of work they did compared to that of professors.

The other important lesson I learned is that some degrees are more valuable than others, but little information is available to quantify that and guide the selection of which major to pursue.

As an entrepreneur for forty years, my real world business experience is an asset many academics lack. Current Trustee Brian Breslin shares that type of background and is a role model in that regard.
The financial integrity of the University is paramount. Approving balanced budgets and monitoring implementation for lower tuition rates is a priority.

Maintaining and improving infrastructure and staff in a manner conducive to providing the opportunity for each student to realize their highest potential. That includes ensuring maximum value is obtained for funds expended.

Providing an equal educational opportunity to all qualified students to exercise the rights of academic freedom, especially tolerance for freedom of expression and full deliberation of issues, in an intellectual climate that challenges and encourages the vigorous development and expression of the human mind and spirit.
As one of the top revenue generators for MSU, the athletic department deserves more scrutiny than other departments, which are well supervised by the provost and president. Unlike most of the university staff, hiring athletic coaches and maintaining sports infrastructure are not academic responsibilities and require a different perspective.

Academic departments are well served by the provost, president and their colleagues. Their recommendations should generally be respected, but well vetted and verified. Board members do have the responsibility to maintain an inclusive and diverse staff, and need to be well informed regarding the performance and costs/benefits of each department.
In general, yes. Board meetings are well posted and easily attended by the public. However, financial supporters like alumni who live out of state would be better served if board meetings were televised and recorded, which should not be difficult given the excellence of the College of Communication Arts & Sciences. WKAR could easily accommodate broadcasting the small number of meetings per year.

Another issue that should be addressed is the limitation that "no more than five speakers may address the Board on any single topic that is germane to an action item on the Board agenda". While this may be appropriate for most issues, it limits debate on more controversial subjects that may arise.
I believe the lawsuit to which this refers was brought against the U of M Board of Regents, which often meets out of state and has little public participation. It has also been criticized for lack of transparency due to limited access to the decision making process. Many U of M meetings are short, with so little discussion that it appears decisions were agreed upon before the meeting took place. This does not meet the standards or intent of the Open Meetings Act.

Fortunately, at MSU the process is more accessible and public. There does seem to be a lack of substantial debate at some MSU board meetings though, implying behind-the-scenes negotiating, which could be better disclosed.
As an agricultural college, the role of MSU's Extension Service is an important part of addressing economic prosperity and diversity. Value-added products from Michigan's bountiful agricultural industries continue to expand, creating more jobs and economic production in the state. That should be a continued focus of the university. Veterinary services are also in demand since homes with pets now outnumber homes with children

A greater emphasis on training students for jobs that will be available and needed is a challenge that also needs to be addressed. The STEM subjects; science, technology, engineering and math are basic to rapidly growing needs for health care and computer science.
MSU's Policy on Relationship Violence & Sexual Misconduct has recently been updated and presents a clear course of action for students to report allegations of sexual assault. Students are provided with information on resources and support services available on campus. The Sexual Assault Program has a comprehensive set of counseling and victim advocacy services for survivors of sexual assault, dating violence or domestic violence.

Investigation by MSU's Office for Institutional Equity is usually the first step. Prosecution and punishment should be the responsibility of the municipality in which the university is located, in this case, East Lansing.
It is implausible to think that sexual assaults could ever be eradicated from any college campus. The instinctive nature of sexual relationships will always be a source of conflict. As an educational institution however, it is important to continue to promote sexual assault awareness and the responsibility of students and staff to know how to avoid risky situations. It should always be made clear that behavior which violates MSU policy and legal parameters should be reported to the proper authorities.

Encouraging activities that promote safety and awareness, such as Take Back the Night, should continue and expand.
Tuition rates are directly related to the profit and loss of each department. Privatization of some services, such as building maintenance and janitorial services should be considered.

Cutting costs is important. The ratio of administrators to students increased steadily for decades and should be analyzed. Some administrative positions could be combined or eliminated. The number of classes taught by highly paid professors and the number of sabbaticals allowed should be reviewed. In addition, expansion and upgrading of university infrastructure could be curtailed or amortized longer to lower costs.

Expanding the work-study program can help too, especially if higher wages are implemented.
Yes. Michigan State University has done an exemplary job at providing opportunities for students of all nationalities and circumstances.
A better job screening applicants for their learning abilities and aptitude toward earning a degree would help reduce the drop-out rate. In some cases, students may be better off beginning their higher education efforts at Community Colleges or trade schools.

Students having trouble need better counseling services and free tutoring when necessary. They should also be given more opportunities to drop courses which are beyond their capabilities without penalty. Credit for dropped classes could be applied to other courses to help eliminate the financial burden that also affects their ability to continue.
Better job placement efforts can help graduates stay in Michigan. More comprehensive connections with the business community to anticipate their needs would help tremendously. Surveys and statistical analysis can help direct students toward careers that will be in demand. For example, the aging population will need more health care workers in the near future. Students should be apprised of employment probability in whatever field they choose.

As a board member, I would reach out to major employers and growing industries to more accurately assess their future needs. I would also urge the creation of an ad campaign directed at students to promote the benefits of working in Michigan.
Digital platforms are becoming more prevalent throughout the world and they are a very cost-effective means to make higher education available to students inexpensively. MSU should encourage the further development of courses available on line.

Fair means testing to determine eligibility of students for reduced or free instruction can be implemented to extend the availability of higher education to those who cannot afford it.
Yes, I support the candidacy of Jill Stein. Whether I will appear at her campaign events is problematic and not predictable at this time.
No, I have never been convicted of a felony. Any misdemeanor for which I was convicted was more than thirty years ago and not relevant to the ability to be an effective member of the Board of Trustees.
Yes. Due to the financial collapse of 2008, the commercial real estate I owned for more than two decades lost half of its value and was sold at a loss to the banking institution that held the mortgages, as they would not renegotiate their terms.

The filing of personal bankruptcy because of market conditions and the collapse of the economy should not affect in any way the ability to be a productive and effective member of the Board of Trustees.
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