Gov. O'Malley Nominates BSU Student as USM Regent
By Bekah Oester
"Bowie State has had a good year," says junior sociology major Leslie Hall, 20. And he should know. As the end of the 2009-2010 school year is coming into view, Hall is focusing on the events to happen after that: a senate confirmation hearing and a swearing in as Student Regent for the University System of Maryland's Board of Regents for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year.
If this doesn't sound like a big deal, think again. Only one student is selected for this position from all of the 13 USM schools each year, and according to Hall, a student hasn't been selected from BSU since the 1980's or 1990's. The year-long role of student regent involves a long selection process which includes an application for appointment, appointment by the student's institution, and a series of interviews that could possibly lead to elimination with the USM, the state Chancellor, and Maryland's governor, Martin O'Malley.
"The interview definitely was intimidating," Hall recalls, especially when in the final round, he was the only African-American candidate as well as the only undergraduate candidate. However, he adds, "once I made it to the Chancellor, I felt confident in my abilities." In his case, confidence paid off as O'Malley ultimately selected Hall to represent the USM as student regent beginning July 1. Don't expect it to get to his head, however: "I am humbled that the Governor would select me," he says, also mentioning that he is excited to "represent Bowie State at this level," and adding thanks to BSU President Dr. Mickey L. Burnim and Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Artie Travis for their continued support since the process began in December.
Hall has had plenty of experience serving students: he currently serves as president of College Democrats, and as Chief of Staff for BSU's Student Government Association . After graduation, he desires to attend law school so he can eventually work on reforming the juvenile justice system, and perhaps run for office in his later future.
Current Student Regent, senior Sarah Elfreth from Towson University , sent an e-mail out recently announcing Hall's appointment and her congratulations. She told The Spectrum that his actions since appointment are an indicator that he will be an excellent Student Regent.
According to the USM website, the Board of Regents is a 17-member board, including one student, that "governs the University System of Maryland. Appointed by the governor, the regents oversee the system's academic, administrative, and financial operations; formulate policy; and appoint the USM chancellor and the presidents of the system's 13 institutions." Or, as Hall puts it, "the buck stops there."
As Student Regent, Hall is responsible for providing the viewpoint of all USM students to the board by visiting all of the USM campuses to learn about any existing issues, and to communicate vital BOR decisions to the students. Hall would also be involved in an important upcoming decision: selecting the next president for University of Maryland at College Park.
In addition to this, Hall has a "multi-dimensional" platform in place for the year which includes a "campaign for participation in the next state election" as well as an overall strengthening of the system's professional schools, and strengthening of academic standards in the USM's three historically black institutions (BSU, Coppin State, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore), because, as he puts it, "it is so easy to get into these schools." While he still desires for the schools to be accessible to students, he hopes to raise their expectations.
Hall also hopes to run a speaking tour at all of the USM campuses to educate students about the BOR and the role they play as members. In terms of BSU, he says "I really just want them to get involved...they think their voices aren't heard or don't count, but they do...don't get discouraged." Hopefully Hall's appointment will be the first of many indicators of this truth.