A UC Berkeley undergraduate from Woodland Hills has been nominated for a one-year term as the student representative on the University of California Board of Regents, officials announced Monday.
Michelle Pannor, a mass communications and conservation double major with a 3.7 grade-point average, was chosen last week by a regents selection committee and will, pending confirmation next month, begin her term this summer.
Student regents have full voting privileges, though other board members in recent years have questioned the legitimacy of the student regent position and it has come under formal review.
Pannor said that maintaining student access to an increasingly crowded UC system, lower student fees and encouraging ethnic diversity in the post-affirmative action era are her main concerns.
“I have a vested interest in ensuring that decisions made by the Board of Regents benefit the students and people of California,” she said.
Friends and co-workers described Pannor, a graduate of Calabasas High School, as a quiet, hard-working woman who advocates for students in a disarming and tenacious manner.
“She’s a quick study,” said Berkeley Assistant Chancellor John Cummins. “She’s very good analytically. She can put things together quickly and understands the issues the Board of Regents is dealing with.”
Some said, however, that Pannor will have difficulty gaining the respect of the other 25 members of the board.
“There is some reticence on the part of the old guard members of the board who say: ‘Why the hell do we need these damn kids around?’ ” said William Bagley, a regent since 1989 and a former assemblyman. “Having said that, [the student regency] is a most difficult position for a relatively young person because, besides the regent for the alumni, they are the only regent with a constituency.”
Pannor, who expects to graduate in 2000, will represent 169,445 students from nine campuses. The position provides no salary, but she will receive a student-fee waiver of about $2,800, plus expenses.
Another challenge for Pannor will be the memories of some older regents whose experiences with former student regents were less than pleasant.
Ed Gomez, a student regent from UC Riverside, served from 1995 to 1996. His sometimes fierce clashes with board members during the debate over affirmative action led some members to question the legitimacy of the student regent position and moved the board to form a subcommittee to review the institution.
Gomez could not be reached for comment Monday.
The current student regent, however, Max R. Espinoza of UCLA, has received high marks from other regents and has done much to restore the position’s credibility, said Ward Connerly, a UC regent and the force behind Proposition 209, which abolished affirmative action on state campuses.