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Regent Linda Cohen takes the oath of office from Minnesota Supreme Court justice Lorie Gildea in front of large Regents Seal.

New regent Linda Cohen, left, took the oath of office administered by Minnesota Supreme Court justice Lorie Gildea in the regents boardroom May 10, 2007.

Meet the new regents

Four members of the board sworn in for six-year terms

By Gayla Marty

Brief, May 16, 2007

Four new regents took the oath of office in Minneapolis May 10, 2007, at the onset of the board's monthly meetings. Maureen Cisneros of West St. Paul, Linda Cohen of Minnetonka, Venora Hung of Golden Valley, and Dean Johnson of Willmar were sworn in by Minnesota Supreme Court justice Lorie Gildea, UMM, '83, in a brief ceremony before an audience of about 70 people, including many family members and friends, in the boardroom on the sixth floor of the McNamara Alumni Center.

The ceremony followed a festive breakfast reception outside the boardroom. The new regents introduced family members to campus acquaintances including former deans and professors.

Taking the at-large student regent seat, Cisneros would graduate the same evening from the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) program at the U of M-Duluth. A graduate of Marquette University who went on to graduate work at the U of Wisconsin-Madison, she has worked on the Twin Cities campus as an admissions counselor and an advisor in the TRiO Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. Her committee work has included Growth and Justice's Rethinking Higher Education Steering Committee, the Citizens League's Immigration and Higher Education Study Committee, the U Senate Committee on Educational Policy, and the Access to Higher Education Coalition of Minnesota.

An overview of the reception for four new regents in the area outside the boardroom, McNamara Alumni Center, with dozens of people in conversation around a breakfast buffet.
Regents, faculty, staff, family, and friends celebrated at a breakfast reception before the ceremony at the McNamara Alumnni Center. New regent Venora Hung is in the foreground on the left, and Maureen Cisneros is on the far left (wearing black).

On Thursday, she was greeted by UMD leaders as well as Twin Cities colleagues. Cisneros said a highlight of the day was sharing it with her family members and former coworkers, including Patricia Jones Whyte, now in the Graduate School's diversity office.

"She is the person who gave me my first job at the University, in the Office of Admissions," said Cisneros. "I'm very proud that she was able to share the experience with me."

Two more of the four at-large seats on the board were taken by Cohen and Johnson. Cohen is a licensed psychologist and therapist, in private practice since 1988, specializing in individual and family therapy and organization consultation. She has previously worked as a consultant for TCF Bank directing a business-education partnership with Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis and in leadership roles at Blake Middle School. She has served on the Wayzata school district's board of education, the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs advisory council, the Minneapolis Urban League board, and in Minnesota Women Psychologists. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley College and earned a master's in the history of science from Harvard and master's and doctoral degrees in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota.


I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Minnesota and will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of Regent of the University of Minnesota to the best of my judgment and ability, so help me, God.

Johnson's was a familiar face to many, having served as a member of the Minnesota State Legislature from 1978 to 2006. He's also been a parish pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Willmar for 35 years. Johnson grew up on a farm near Lanesboro, received a bachelor's degree in business administration from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and a master of divinity degree from Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul. A brigadier general in the U.S. Army National Guard, Johnson has received the Legion of Merit and many other awards and commendations. He also earned a master's degree in strategic studies from the United States Army War College in 2002.

Hung, who will represent Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District on the board, was also familiar to many in the room because she served as a student representative to the Board of Regents from 2000 to 2002 as an undergraduate in the Carlson School of Management. Since earning her bachelor of science in finance, management information systems, and insurance and risk management, she has worked in finance roles for Cargill, both in Minnesota and in the United Kingdom. She is now a second-year student in the Law School and a member of the Golden Valley Building Board of Review.

Her father, whom she described as risking his life escaping from China so that one day his children could have access to higher education, attended the reception and ceremony and proudly looked on as she was sworn in.

"I truly care about higher education," said Hung afterward. "I am so honored and excited to be serving the University in this capacity."

The new members, elected by the state legislature March 8 for terms that expire in 2013, join Regents Allen (Moorhead), Baraga (Side Lake), Bohnsack (New Prague), Frobenius (St. Cloud), Hunter (St. Paul, at-large seat), Larson (Wayzata), Metzen (Sunfish Lake), and Simmons (Rochester).

"I was struck by the good will among all the board members, the comradery, and the way people were able to work together and include the new regents," said Cohen at the conclusion of the May 10-11, 2007, meetings.

Long-shot of the new Board of Regents seated at the semicircular boardroom table.
New members sat with the full board for the first time May 10, 2007. Johnson is seated to the right, next to Hung, then Cisneros; Cohen is seated on the left.

Johnson concurred. "One thing so far that has been a delight is how smart and strategic people are at the U of M," he said Tuesday. "And I was really impressed with the emphasis on students--they were in meetings, they ate with us, they made presentations."

On Monday, Johnson participated in his first commencement as a regent, for the Carlson School of Management. "I didn't know how heavy those regents robes were!" he laughed.

The legislature elects one regent from each of Minnesota's eight congressional districts and four from the state at large. One of the four at-large regents must be a University student at the time of election. Regents serve without pay for six-year terms. The president of the University is ex officio president of the board. The board meets monthly, except for January and August, on the second Friday and the preceding Thursday.

Complete bios and photos will be available soon on the Board of Regents Web site.