University boards: Dems, GOP split seats at MSU, UM, WSU

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Democrats and Republicans split the races for seats on the governing boards for Michigan's biggest three universities, according to final election results Thursday.

The biggest upset occurred at Michigan State University, where incumbent trustee Brian Mosallam came in third. Mosallam, a Democrat, was endorsed by many survivors of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal and their parents.

He declined to comment Thursday.

Pat O'Keefe

Two newcomers, Republican Pat O'Keefe and Democrat Rema Vassar, finished first and second, respectively, in the MSU board race and will join the Board of Trustees. Incumbent Democrat Joel Ferguson, a longtime trustee, did not run for reelection.

O'Keefe, founder & CEO of O'Keefe & Associates Consulting, had 24.2% of the vote and Vassar, an Eastern Michigan University assistant professor, had 24%. Trailing were Mosallam,with 23.7% and Republican newcomer Tonya Schuitmaker, an attorney and former state lawmaker from Lawton in southwest Michigan,with 23.5%.

Terri Lynn Land

In other races, Democratic incumbent Mark Bernstein won to serve another term on the University of Michigan Board of Regents, along with Republican Sarah Hubbard, while incumbent Democrat Shirley Stancato and Republican Terri Lynn Land, a former secretary of state, won seats on the Wayne State University Board of Governors.

The winners of the races for seats on the governing boards of Michigan's three largest universities will serve for eight years as higher education grapples with COVID-19, sexual misconduct scandals, college affordability and other issues.

In the UM board race, Bernstein had 24.7% of the vote, followed by Hubbard, an Okemos-based consultant, with 24%. 

Trailing were Democratic incumbent Shauna Ryder Diggs, with 23.9%of the vote, and Carl Meyers, a Dearborn resident who is senior vice president of investments at Raymond James Financial, with 22.9%

For the Wayne State Board of Governors, statewide returns showed Land with24.5% of the vote,and Democratic incumbent Shirley Stancato with 24.2%.

Trailing were Eva Garza Dewaelsche,a Democrat who runs a nonprofit workforce development agency, SER Metro-Detroit, Jobs for Progress Inc., with24.1% of the vote along with Republican newcomer Don Gates, an operational architect and retired Army Reserve colonel, with 23.7%. The Democratic Party did not endorse incumbent Sandra Hughes O'Brien, the first Latinx elected to the WSU board.

Mark Bernstein