You may have heard that Governor Brewer has nominated me to a Position on the Board of Regents. The Regents position is one of the most coveted in state government and I want to thank Governor Brewer and her staff for this honor. Some folks have asked questions about my nomination and I would like to address a few of them.
Is Patterson really qualified to be on the Board of Regents?
That’s a good question. And I think the answer is clearly yes.
I’m an attorney and a CPA, so I have a solid background in legal and budgetary issues. I served four years in the Arizona House of Representatives—All four years on the Appropriations Committee as well as serving as Chairman of the Banking and Insurance Committee plus the Government Operations Committee. So I understand the legislative process—especially the budget process. (Since I was Chief of staff of the Senate for about a year, I’ve also seen the legislative process from the staff side—which pays better, but isn’t nearly as fun.)
Additionally, I ran the Residential Utility Consumer Office for over four years. RUCO is a small agency, but it deals with complex issues and it’s charged with representing the interests of residential consumers—which I think is great training for sitting on the Board of Regents. After all, the university system is also a complex system with a broad set of stakeholders—some of which don’t have the time, training or ability to be at the table.
While I believe my legal experience, accounting training, legislative service and consumer advocate work alone have provided me with enough experience to serve as a Regent, the position that has provided the most training is my current position as a member of the Maricopa Integrated Health System Board. MIHS is a $600 million integrated health system that includes the County Hospital, 11 clinics and the Burn Center. The system is governed by a five member Board that is elected to four year terms. I was elected in 2008 and serve District 2 which is co-terminus with the County Supervisor district that Don Stapley currently holds.
The hospital faces many of the same problems that the Universities face—shrinking state and federal funding, increasing economic and social pressures and a need to continually refine and re-evaluate its role in the community. My four years on this Board have helped me to work in a Governing Board environment in order to work with a diverse group to handle complex issues. (It's also given me a chance to work with Betsey Bayless who does a great job and has become a really good friend.)
I also have a lot of non-academic qualifications. My undergraduate degree is from UA. My graduate degree is from ASU—and they are 23 years apart--so I have a student’s perspective on both schools. I also have a parent’s perspective. My son is a freshman at the Barrett Honors College. I know how hard the application process is, how frustrating the website can be and how expensive college is. I also think I have good understanding of the employees’ perspective. My mother was hired as a secretary (her word) at UA in 1981 and retired as a Senior Program Coordinator in 2002.
I think that I am clearly qualified.
Here's another concern that I've heard: Patterson has been critical of the Regents and the Presidents.
That's true. Here’s a great example. It’s a post I wrote in 2007 in which I argued tuition had increased so much that kids couldn’t afford college and that many degrees had lost their economic value, so students were opting not to attend—or finish—college. Guess what? My criticisms have become the accepted wisdom. Tuition is too high, many degrees are not economic, students are making rational decisions to forgo college.
The Regents figured out this answer as well and shifted course—and when they did, I praised them for their leadership. Here’s an excerpt from a “Best Of” post that I wrote in January of this year.
Best Organizational Leadership: Fred Duval's Chairmanship of the Board of Regents.
I've certainly been critical of the Board of Regents in the past, but I have to say that I think the Board is moving in the right direction and much of that has been attributable to Fred Duval's work as Chairman.
While the Regents and University Presidents are making great strides in the right direction, I still have concerns. I expressed them here.
Patterson has been unfair to Michael Crow.
I've thought long and hard about this one; I've talked to Dr. Crow and reviewed old posts. I've concluded that I was indeed unfair to Dr. Crow in this post. The post is about Robert Shelton's comments about the Legislature. I also referred to a decision that Dr. Crow had made and lumped them together as examples of "disdain" for the Legislature. That was unfair. Shelton's sins shouldn't fall on Crow. I've since talked to Dr. Crow and I believe that he has a great deal of respect for the Legislature. If confirmed, I look forward to the opportunity to work with him.
Patterson is a lobbyist.
Actually, the way the disclosure rules work, everyone is a lobbyist. Most of my "day job" is legal work in front of the Corporation Commission, but I am indeed a registered lobbyist. Most of my actual lobbying is on behalf of the Foundation for Blind Children. Naturally, I would recuse myself from any Regent votes that affected my clients (although I can't envision any possible overlap.)
Patterson will blog about the Regents.
Actually, I have a strict "no blogging about clients" policy. That's why you don't read about the Hospital or the Corporation Commission in Espresso Pundit. If confirmed, I won't be blogging about the Regent.
So there you have it. I hope that I have addressed any questions that have been raised about my nomination. I look forward to having a frank discussion with the committee members and I hope that they will vote to confirm me.
It has indeed been an honor to be nominated.