Retired Mayo Dr. Patricia Simmons was more than 1,600 miles away from the Minnesota Capitol tonight when Minnesota lawmakers elected her to serve a third term on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.
She had promised long before to give a lecture to 400 physicians in Phoenix, Ariz. and couldn't catch a flight home in time for the big vote. Despite that, it didn't take long for Simmons to find out she had won. Within seconds of the vote being announced on the House floor, she started receiving a flood of congratulatory text message and emails. Simmons said she is deeply honored to have been given the chance to serve on board for another six years.
"I am so deeply honored to serve our community and all of Minnesota in this way. I'm genuinely touched right now," Simmons said during a telephone interview.
Simmons was elected to the First District Congressional seat — one of five open regent seats filled by the Minnesota Legislature. She was one of two candidates recommended for consideration for the spot by a joint-legislative committee. The other was Grazix Animal Health CEO Randy Simonson of Worthington. The 12-member Board of Regents is the governing body of the University of Minnesota and its five campuses, including the University of Minnesota Rochester.
With her victory, Simmons becomes the first regent in four decades to win election to a third, six-year term.
Members of Rochester's legislative delegation actively lobbied and supported Simmons nomination. Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, said she is delighted that Simmons has been re-elected. She said Simmons' experience will be particularly valuable on the board.
"I'm absolutely thrilled that Patty Simmons has been re-elected as a regent. Our state will be well served," Nelson said.
Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, said she was pleased by the amount of support Simmons received.
"It was gratifying to see that Dr. Simmons had support from both parties and all regions of the state. She has worked hard and will continue to represent us well on the Board of Regents," Liebling said.