, ,

UW System Board Of Regents Elects First Native American President

Eau Claire Attorney Ed Manydeeds To Take Office As Students Return, Board President Search Resumes

Golden light shines on Van Hise Hall
Van Hise Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus Friday, April 2, 2021, in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Edmund Manydeeds will serve as president of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents for the 2021-2022 school year.

Manydeeds, an attorney in Eau Claire, was the first Native American member of the Board of Regents when he was appointed to his first term in 2010. He is an enrolled member of South Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux tribe. He received his bachelor’s degree from UW-Superior and his law degree from UW-Madison.

“I think that I’m ready and prepared to deal with diversity of thought regarding political issues, regarding life issues, regarding issues that this board may face,” he said Friday. “I’m ready to listen, I’m ready to learn, I’m ready to understand, and I will do my best to do that.”

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The 18-member Board of Regents sets policy and regulations for the UW System’s 13 universities and 26 campuses, and elects its presidents for a single-year term beginning immediately after the annual June meeting. Manydeeds was elected, 10-8, over fellow Regent Michael Grebe, the outgoing board vice president. It was the first contested board presidential election in nearly a decade.

Manydeeds will oversee the search for a new UW System president, a role currently held by interim president and former Gov. Tommy Thompson, as well as a cautious return to more fully in-person education and campus life at the system’s 13 universities.

“The search for the next president of the system has to be inclusive,” he said. “It has to include members of not only the regents, but the chancellors, the faculty, the staff, the students, all our shareholders, people that are involved in the system and are partners with us, at some level of the search.”

Manydeeds’ service on the board has spanned three governors, from his initial appointment by Gov. Jim Doyle through the election of Gov. Scott Walker, and then his reappointment in 2019 by Gov. Tony Evers. Evers has named nine regents to the board, with the remaining seven appointees made under Walker. Two regent spots are not appointed, but instead go to the superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction and the head of Wisconsin’s technical colleges.

“He’s a champion of what this system stands for, the value of public higher education in this state and the ability to transform lives,” said fellow Regent Karen Walsh, who nominated Manydeeds.

Walsh, director of the human and animal health and welfare-focused Berbeewalsh Foundation, was elected board vice president, running uncontested. Walsh is a former employee of Wisconsin Public Radio.

Regent Hector Colon, who seconded Manydeeds’ nomination, highlighted Manydeeds’ record of working well with others in shifting political environments.

“He wants to listen, collaborate, and co-create the future with his colleagues on the board, the president, the faculty, the provosts, the chancellors,” said Colon. “I think this is a great recipe for success, where we can get buy-in, elicit creative ideas, and ultimately execution of moving this system forward.”