Gov. Snyder Appoints New Board of Regent Members


By Malaya Elgarico and Arica Frisbey

In a move that precedes his leaving of office at the of the year, Gov. Rick Synder has appointed his close adviser, Richard Baird, to Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents. Baird will be replacing Regent Michael Morris on the board, with fellow regent, Michael Hawks, being reappointed to the board.

The eight-member board is the governing body of Eastern Michigan University. They are appointed by the governor for eight-year unpaid terms. Eastern’s format for the board was ratified in Michigan’s constitution of 1963. The appointments are subject to the state Senate’s advice and consent.

According to The Detroit News, Synder appointed six current and former senior state officials to boards at Michigan’s five universities. These appointees are responsible for approving university budget and tuition rates, as well as appointing university presidents.

Hawks started his position on EMU’s Board of Regents in 2011, replacing Phil Incarnati, whose term expired. He currently serves as chair of the Athletic Affairs committee and a member of the Joint Oversight committee, and chairmen of the Eagle Administrative Services Board.

Richard Baird has served as a close adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder. He currently serves as transformation manager to the governor,is the treasurer for the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation and serves on the board for the American Center of Mobility. In addition to the bachelor’s degree in history, religion and economics from Albion College, Baird has honorary doctorates from Eastern Michigan University and Albion.

As adviser to Gov. Snyder, Baird courted controversy in recent years as the governor’s point man for the recovery effort in Flint. On March 28, 2018, The Detroit News reported that the adviser  had told a Flint activist to “just crawl back into whatever hole of illusion you reside in and hope that lazy reporters will occasionally forget that you ceased to be relevant long ago” during a text message exchange.

The activist, former Flint mayoral candidate Arthur Woodson, had criticized the governor’s handling of the water crisis in comments made to The Detroit News in another related article from February. This, along with other controversies noted in the March article, has made Baird’s journey beside Gov. Snyder one to watch.

Hawks and Baird’s terms will expire on Dec. 31, 2026. For more information on the Board of Regents, please refer to their website and EMU Today’s news release.

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