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UWRF non-traditional student appointed to UW-System Board of Regents

March 2, 2016

A UW-River Falls student was selected to serve on the Wisconsin Board of Regents, Gov. Scott Walker announced Feb. 12.

Lisa Erickson, 47, is a junior and non-traditional student at UWRF pursuing a degree in journalism and minoring in food sciences. The Board of Regents consists of 18 members, 16 of which are appointed by the governor. Of those 16, two are students, one traditional and one non-traditional. “It’s open to any non-traditional student over the age of 24,” Erickson said. “Anybody could have applied for it.”

With a representative on campus, students at UWRF will have a way to more directly access the Board of Regents. This is important because the Board, as the UW-System website explains, wields a considerable amount of influence over how campuses within the System function: “The Board is responsible for establishing policies and rules for governing the System, planning to meet future state needs for collegiate education, setting admission standards and policies, reviewing and approving university budgets, and establishing the regulatory framework within which the individual units are allowed to operate.”

It is an extensive list and, until now, UWRF has never had a student representative on the Board of Regents. Tricia Davis, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said that, “A lot of people talk about how we’re part of the UW-System, but we’re at UWRF, which is four to five hours away from the hub of Madison. Sometimes we feel that we are not heard.”

UWRF does have some representation: the Provost and Chancellor regularly sit in on Board meetings and have the chance to speak periodically. In addition, a pair of assigned regents visit campus each semester to meet with students.

Erickson’s position, which she will hold for a two-year term, will add another layer of representation for UWRF. As a Board member she has a vote, and will be attending the eight regular meetings each year as well as a number of subcommittee meetings, where members do research and put together arguments to be presented before the rest of the Board. It’s a lot of responsibility, she said. “We’re making decisions for thousands of people, now and to come. It’s kind of a humbling thought.”

Students will be able to approach Erickson with ideas and propositions regarding issues at UWRF and she can then bring those ideas before the Board for consideration and voting. Through her, she said, students have access to the people with the ability to make changes, and she wants to get the message out that UWRF now has this voice.

“Even though Madison is on the other side of the state,” she said. “It doesn’t mean we can’t achieve something crazy.”