Univ. of Minnesota Regent Sviggum, criticized for remark on campus diversity, resigns as vice chair

(ABC 6 News) –  The vice chairman of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents who questioned whether declining enrollment at the U of M Morris campus is due to its diversity, announced his resignation from the board, but will finish his term.

Tuesday, Steve Sviggum, sent a letter to University of Minnesota Board of Regents Chairman Ken Powell announcing his decision.

Sviggum’s letter said “after our meeting on Saturday morning, I have come to the realization that I should resign from the Vice Chairmanship effective immediately. I owe that position to my colleagues who have shown disapproval in my actions.”

Earlier this month at a public meeting of the board that oversees the university system, Sviggum asked acting U of M Morris Chancellor Janet Schrunk Ericksen whether it was “possible at all from a marketing standpoint” that the campus had become “too diverse.”

RELATED: MN regent criticized for asking if campus is ‘too diverse’

Sviggum noted that enrollment at Morris had declined by more than 40% “over the past decade” and that was why he asked the question.

Sviggum would later apologize saying his intention “was to foster discussion around the consistently declining enrollment at Morris” but adding that “my intent does not matter.” Sviggum said he was “truly sorry” to those he offended. He added that his question was meant to encourage discussion about the enrollment.

RELATED: Minnesota regent apologizes for remark on campus diversity

While Sviggum won’t be vice chair of the board any more, he noted in his letter to Powell that he intends to serve on the board until his term is finished next year.

Sviggum was elected to the board in 2011 and 2017. Previously, he’s also served in the Minnesota House of Representatives, as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, the commissioner of the Department of Management and Budget and as an adjunct professor and legislative fellow at the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.