Stories from around the U of M
Changing of the Guard
The U of M’s Minnesota Landscape Arboretum welcomed new executive director Andrew Gapinski in early May. Gapinski succeeds Peter Moe, who retired after serving in a variety of Arboretum roles for 50 years, most recently as the organization’s director since 2016.
Established in 1958 and now part of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) at the University, the 1,200-acre Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a signature public garden destination for more than 500,000 visitors annually, with more than 30,000 member households.
Gapinski comes to the Arboretum from the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in Boston.
New Regents Named
On May 1, the Minnesota Legislature selected three new U of M regents, Robyn Gulley, Penny Wheeler, and Mary Turner, and reappointed Regent Tadd Johnson to a full term. The new regents replace Darrin Rosha, Steve Swiggum, and Ken Powell, whose terms are expiring.
Penny Wheeler, M.D.
Penny Wheeler (B.A. ’80, M.D. ’84) is a physician and recent Allina Health CEO with extensive governing expertise. In her career as a health care leader, she worked to advance equity and improve care for those often left behind—people with mental health/addiction issues, those with disabilities, and those facing disparities due to race, ethnicity, language barriers, poverty, sexual orientation, and gender.
Wheeler worked with other health care leaders through community-wide challenges, including providing the best care possible for Minnesotans during the Covid pandemic. She has served on 12 governing boards, including the University of Minnesota Foundation Board for the past six years and the University of St. Thomas Board for the past seven years.
Third Congressional District
President of the Minnesota Nurses Association, Turner worked with nurses, healthcare workers, union workers, patients, and people of underrepresented communities.
As a frontline Covid ICU nurse, Turner advocated for nurses across the state and nation to be protected in the face of the pandemic. Her advocacy drew a national audience with then President-Elect Joe Biden, which led to her appointment as the only frontline worker representative for Biden’s Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force.
To ensure Minnesota frontline workers were compensated for the risk and the courage they demonstrated during the peacetime emergency of the pandemic, Turner and a coalition of frontline workers helped pass the Frontline Worker Pay bill.
Second Congressional District
West St. Paul, MN
Gulley (M.P.P. ’08) is a graduate of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She has worn many hats at the University, including as a student, graduate assistant, Human Rights Fellow, researcher, adjunct professor, and member of the faculty Union Organizing Committee.
Gully has organized for LGBTQIA+ rights, laying groundwork for the successful marriage equality campaign; built support for the Minnesota health care expansion, and organized homecare workers who wanted to unionize.
In 2018, Gulley founded New Brookwood Labor College, which uses education to address racial, economic, and social imbalances of power.
In addition to being an educator, Gulley is working to drive equity and inclusion through local policy, serving on the West St. Paul City Council and as cochair of Local Progress Minnesota.
Eighth Congressional District
Professor Emeritus Tadd Johnson (J.D. ’85) recently retired as the U of M’s first senior director of American Indian Tribal Nations Relations, where he served as the liaison between the University and regional Tribal Nations. Johnson joined the UMD American Indian Studies Department in fall 2010 and served as a full professor, department head, director of Graduate Studies, and director of the Tribal Sovereignty Institute.
An enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Johnson has been a tribal attorney for more than 35 years, and has also served as a tribal court judge, a tribal administrator, and is a frequent lecturer on American Indian history and Federal Indian Law. He spent five years working in the U.S. House of Representatives, ultimately becoming staff director and counsel to the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs. In 1997, President Clinton appointed Johnson to chair the National Indian Gaming Commission.
Johnson earned his B.A. from the University of St. Thomas and his law degree from the U of M.