Profiles of four Board of Regents candidates

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Four candidates running for two seats on the University of Michigan Board of Regents in the Nov. 8 general election provided The University Record with short profiles describing their background and platform.

Other candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot, but who did not submit information for this compilation, are Republican Lena Epstein, Libertarian Eric Larson, Kathleen Oakford of the Natural Law Party, and Joe Sanger of the U.S. Taxpayers Party.

Mike Behm

Democrat | mgobehm.com

Mike Behm
Mike Behm

Background:

Behm graduated from U-M in 1989 with a B.A. in English, and from Wayne State Law School in 1992. Over the last 30 years, he has practiced law in the state of Michigan, representing individuals who have been seriously injured and has received many accolades during his legal career. Behm has sat on boards of directors of charitable and community organizations and was an officer in the Michigan Association for Justice for four years before becoming president in 2011-12. Behm was first elected to the Board of Regents in 2014 and is running for re-election. He and his wife, Kay, a judge, are the proud parents of three Wolverines.

Platform statement:

Best value in U.S.: Behm plans on continuing to work to keep U-M ranked as the best college value in the U.S. by following up on innovative ideas such as the Go Blue Guarantee. 

Building trust: After holding wrongdoers accountable, and strengthening U-M bylaws and Standard Practice Guide policies addressing sexual and gender-based misconduct, Behm believes it is now very important to rebuild an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, free of retaliation.

Michigan’s future: Behm is excited to work on carbon neutrality, increase U-M’s research and development in order to provide excellent opportunities to faculty, staff and students. He will also work on increasing investment in the Flint and Dearborn campuses, in addition to the Detroit Center for Innovation.

Women’s healthcare: Behm will work to ensure U-M will continue to provide a full spectrum of women’s health care, through its award-winning medical school and health system.

Sevag Vartanian

Republican | VoteVartanian.orgFacebook.com/VoteVartanian

Sevag Vartanian
Sevag Vartanian

Background

U-M Class of ’91 B.S. actuarial mathematics; University of Chicago 2000, M.B.A. finance/statistics. Vartanian has worked in the financial markets for the past 30 years focused on the credit markets and asset management. He and his wife of 26 years have three sons and live in Novi, Michigan.  

Platform statement:

Vartanian is an advocate for Michigan families and fiscal responsibility with regard to admissions and tuition. He stands for free speech and academic freedom on campus and is an opponent of the cancel culture. Vartanian believes that the regents’ fiduciary obligation to the endowment fund requires it to be managed to maximize portfolio returns and not push any political agendas. While the election of the regents is done on a partisan basis, Vartanian feels that the university as a whole should remain apolitical. He believes that the college campus is the ideal setting for meaningful and respectful debate and that the university has an obligation to provide student groups forums in which they can be heard.

Sherry A. Wells

Green Party | facebook.com/groups/1183728172176662

Sherry A. Wells
Sherry A. Wells

Background:

Wells is a lifelong Michigander. She was the first in her family to attend college and was a single parent for her last four years of university. She earned her B.A. in education at Michigan State University and her law degree from Wayne State University. She worked for Macomb Legal Aid before opening a private practice. Wells wrote and published five editions of “Michigan Law for Everyone.” A local business owner in Ferndale introduced Wells to his wife as a community activist, which she proudly put on a name tag. When she ran for the State Board of Education for the Green Party from 2014-18, she “did her homework.” By running for our U-M Board of Regents, she states she is rounding out her university education. She asserts that listening is important for public servants and that she looks forward to what she can learn from the faculty, students, staff and administrators.

Platform statement:

In line with Green Party values: Environment — I want more research and education about climate change, which is a health issue as well. President Ono’s background coincides well with this. Social Justice — working with the State Board of Education to bring college readiness up from 30%-40%; promote access to community colleges; provide education to those in the many Michigan prisons, which is proven to reduce recidivism. Grassroots Democracy — continue to work with the Student Voter Project. Nonviolence — insist on the income for Defense Department projects be aimed for preventing war and for aiding peoples in other countries with the expertise of various U-M divisions.

Katherine White

Democrat | friendsofkathywhite.com

Katherine White
Katherine White

Background:

White is a tenured professor of law at Wayne State University teaching courses in contracts, patent law, patent enforcement, and government organization and regulation. She received a B.S.E. degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University, a J.D. degree from the University of Washington, an L.L.M. degree in patent and intellectual property law from the George Washington University Law School, and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College. From 1995-96, she was a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Randall R. Rader, Circuit Judge (ret.), U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. She is a brigadier general in the Army National Guard serving as the deputy commanding general of the 46 Military Police Command in Lansing. She is a registered patent attorney, electrical engineer, Fulbright Senior Scholar, and a White House Fellow. She was inducted into the Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor in November 2019.

Platform statement:

Quality education is central to America’s ability to remain globally competitive. U-M must engage in public/private partnerships to continue building bridges between education, science, industry and government to create synergies to improve the quality of higher education. U-M is well-positioned to continue to translate knowledge to solve problems of general public interest to meet societal needs. Additionally, keeping U-M affordable enables students from all backgrounds, with different perspectives, to enrich the academic environment and develop empathy, which often instills the courage to stand up and do the right thing. During my tenure on the Board of Regents, U-M instituted the Go Blue Guarantee, which provides “free tuition for up to four years for high-achieving, in-state, full-time undergraduates with family incomes less than $65,000 and assets below $50,000.” This program is now available across all three campuses: Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn.

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