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Posted on Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

Election 2012: Will new Democratic regents challenge tuition increases at University of Michigan?

By Kellie Woodhouse


University of Michigan students wait in the Michigan League to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.

Daniel Brenner I

Two Democrats appear to have won eight-year terms on the University of Michigan Board of Regents.

KWS Mark Bernstein 3.JPG

Mark Bernstein

MLive photo

In a race that was too close to call until Wayne and Genesee counties reported their results Wednesday morning, the Democrats — one a lawyer and the other a doctor — defeated GOP contenders, according to an analysis of preliminary results.

Mark Bernstein, of Ann Arbor, and Shauna Ryder Diggs, of Detroit, will begin their terms in January. They replace outgoing Democrats Olivia Maynard and S. Martin Taylor.

Bernstein led one of the most proactive regent campaigns in recent history, with regular office hours, position papers on his website and advertising on billboards and a campaign bus. He's a graduate of the U-M Law School.

His election could mark an ideological shift on the eight-member board during a time when national concern over rising tuition and student debt is peaking.

Diggs, meanwhile, is a practicing dermatologist and U-M medical school graduate. She will be the only licensed doctor on the board. The outgoing Taylor is her father-in-law.


Shauna Ryder Diggs

From Facebook

Bernstein has said he would have voted against the 2.8 percent tuition increase passed in a 5-3 vote by the board of regents last June. He told he would possibly vote against future increases. Diggs, in an October interview, did not say whether she would have voted against the June increase.

The three regents that voted against the tuition increase —Denise Ilitch (D-Bingham Farms), Laurence Dietch (D-Bingham Farms) and Andrea Fischer Newman (R-Ann Arbor)— will remain on the board in June, when the 2013-14 academic year tuition is set, and two of the five regents who voted for tuition increases will be out. With Bernstein on the board, future tuition increases at the university will likely face pushback.

"This is a great victory, a decisive victory really, for a campaign that had ideas about how to make college affordable and address the skyrocketing student debt crisis," Bernstein said Wednesday.

"It's irrefutable that increases in tuition, or the cost of college, is unsustainable and unacceptable. I certainly heard that on the campaign trail over the last year and a half."

Bernstein and Diggs also are elected to a board that will likely chose the replacement for current U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, whose current contract expires in 2014.

Diggs could not be reached for comment.

Bernstein and Diggs defeated Republicans Rob Steele, a Ypsilanti doctor and former Congressional candidate, and Dan Horning, a former U-M regent.

Bernstein came to the race with several ideas, including university-issued financial aid bonds, a pledge not to increase net tuition and applying an access allocation to the university's endowment.

"I am not going to walk in and throw these ideas on the table and ask everybody to vote for them, that's not how I operate," he said. "My intention is to start a conversation about how to address these issues."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Christine Moellering

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

Hopefully this set of regents will also consider the UM Staff who do not have a union are repeatedly left at the bottom of the pile.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:25 a.m.

Congrats to the new Regents and to Democrats for protecting these extremely important two 8 year terms !!


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 11:40 p.m.

A2 comments Well played sir yet it still serves to illustrate the excess litigation in the country today. Extrapolate that to the entire university that is under the operating budget and my point is made

Stuart Brown

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 3:52 a.m.

Bernstein has some interesting ideas; hope he finds some success at holding tuition down. I still want to know why the University spent so much money rehabbing the dorms; the prices paid looked liked the U got really gouged.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 3:17 a.m.

Actually if any of you folks (besides Mark) read their positions, Bernstein and the Republicans actually had similar viewpoints. Diggs, IIRC, didn't give much info so I'm not sure why anybody voted for her.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 2:49 a.m.

Amazing how you can get people to vote against their own interests. Bernstein's plan is to sell bonds against the UM endowment and use the proceeds to lower tuition. Somebody has to pay the bonds back. Just kicking the can down the road. It sounds too obvious but I will state it,if the U could stop spending money on all the regulations and compliance issues that lawyers create there would be a significant savings . The athletic department has nine lawyers just to insure compliance with all the rules on athletics. Perhaps Mr. Bernstein could work on that.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 11:20 a.m.

Athletic Department budget is not part of the University budget, makes a profit, and has no impact on tuition...

Jeffersonian Liberal

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 12:19 a.m.

Congratulations, you just elected two more economically ignorant progressives. Yes, I know that's an oxymoron. Good Luck with that.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

Someone doesn't know the definition of "oxymoron"


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 12:08 a.m.

Shauna is honest, hardworking and fair. I believe she will be a real asset towards U of M as a Regent. Go Blue!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 10:49 p.m.

It's easy to provide an affordable education. Just cut the tuition to $50 a credit hour.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

Isnt it funny how the stock market tanked 300 pts on the news of Obama's re-election. All the businessess hyped up about Romney coming in creating an atmospere for business to hire people. Most democrats could care less about the stock market. Most are poor or young or union memebers. They have no thought of "how am I going to retire". They just hope there social security is there when they are 70 so they can eat and have heat.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

Sorry Harry....Romney lost


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 12:06 a.m.

Isn't it funny how some people don't know much about what drives the stock market. Today's numbers are the result of Europe and also the fear that intransigence of the House ruling party will prevent a deal on the "fiscal cliff". When Obama was elected the first time, the DJIA was around 9000 and was tanking. Now, it's at 13000 (that's almost a 45% increase) and you're complaining about a one day drop? Talk about being a sore loser...


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

The people voted for the Bernstein "advantage" for UM. Congrats to him. His main focus should be on helping us beat Ohio State every year in football and Big Ten championships. With that all else should fall into place. A student who pays over $20,000 a year to go to school to get a liberal arts degree and not have to be called a Wal-Mart Wolverine deserves a winning football team and bragging rights over Michigan State people who themselves paid over $80,000 for an education in the social sciences and therefore the right to be called a "real" fan as well. GO BLUE!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

@Top Cat. Well said...

Top Cat

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

This is hilarious. How much does the U of M spend annually defending itself from litigation and on legal settlements? And here is Michigan's most famous ambulance chaser talking about reducing tuition.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

What experience do a doctor and a lawyer have with containing cost?


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

Please show me a democrat that is willing to contain costs. Maybe Jerry Brown, Current President, how about Mary Sue Coleman? All turn to taxpayers to give more and more and more.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

What is there about a doctor and a lawyer that you think prohibits their ability to contain costs? Do they need to be MBAs or something? Oops! Those guys can't do it. So who do you prefer?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8:07 p.m.

>> Will new Democratic regents challenge tuition increases at University of Michigan? Bernstein's advertising certainly made one think he plans to do so.

Evan Smith

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 2:22 a.m.

I don't believe Bernstein is against tuition increases. From his statement on his website, he is just opposed to increases of net cost to low or middle income families. So he very well might vote to raise tuition but offset it by investing in need based financial aid.