Williams

Williams' rejection as regent pleases some, rankles others

2013-04-05T17:00:00Z 2013-04-30T18:50:54Z Williams' rejection as regent pleases some, rankles others missoulian.com

The removal of Pat Williams from the Montana Board of Regents on Thursday fired up bloggers, leaving some to celebrate the vote and others saying it stank of partisan politics.

On a 26-23 vote, the Montana Senate elected to remove Williams from the board, with all 26 votes coming from Republicans. The move pleased the followers of egriz.com, a social media forum dedicated to University of Montana athletics.

Brint Wahlberg, a Missoula real estate agent, launched a petition through egriz asking the Senate to block Williams’ confirmation to the board.

Wahlberg spent weeks gathering signatures and lobbying legislators, and he testified against Williams’ confirmation before the Senate Education Committee two weeks ago.

“We’re encouraged to see our concerns – Williams being a regent – echoed with the senators we talked with,” Wahlberg said. “We took issue with his comments, the timing and the follow-up. We feel the Senate made the right decision.”

In a New York Times story printed just before UM quarterback Jordan Johnson went on trial for rape (he was acquitted), Williams used the word “thugs” to describe certain members of the University of Montana football team. Williams said he was referring to only a half-dozen student-athletes charged with assault, burglary, rape and other crimes.

***

Members of the Associated Students of the University of Montana weren’t as pleased as Wahlberg, saying Williams’ experience had made him the right appointment for the post.

Student leaders said Williams had received strong support from UM students, who had launched their own petition seeking his appointment. They said partisan politics blocked his confirmation.

“It’s really disappointing that our representatives chose partisan politics over advocating and standing up for students,” said Topher Williams, a former ASUM senate member and current UM student.

“I felt this was the one thing the Senate could agree on and do well for Montana’s students,” he added. “It was disheartening the Senate couldn’t pull it together and do what was right for students.”

Aylinn Inmon, a UM student who launched a petition to see Williams confirmed to the board, said Williams stood up for women and a stronger education system.

“It’s a sad day for Montana students when politicians prevent our fiercest advocate and the most qualified candidate from representing us on the board of regents – only for political reasons. Pat stood up for women, student safety and better education. We’re all proud of that.”

***

Regents are appointed by the governor to serve on the board. Williams had been appointed last year by former Gov. Brian Schweitzer. Gov. Steve Bullock’s office on Friday didn’t offer a time frame on when it planned to appoint a replacement.

The Board of Regents and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education had little to say after the Senate’s vote, nor did they comment on Bullock’s next move, or how he’d replace the ousted regent.

Williams’ profile had already been removed Friday morning from the Montana University System’s website noting Board of Regents members.

“We respect and work within the process whereby the governor and the Senate determine the composition of the Board (of Regents),” said Kevin McRae, communications director for the Montana University System. “We work with and respect whatever prerogatives the governor and the Senate exercise.”

Missoula, home to the University of Montana – the state’s largest university – currently has no representation on the Board of Regents. Now down to six members, the board includes two regents from Billings, two from Bozeman and one each from Anaconda and Havre.

McRae said regents don’t represent certain schools or districts, but rather, they serve the state at large. In contrast, McRae noted, members of the Legislature represent constituents in their home districts.

“Each regent is a regent over every institution in the system,” McRae said. “Traditionally, governors and the Legislature have considered geographic balance, but there is no institutional designation to regent stewardship.”

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at martin.kidston@missoulian.com.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(28) Comments

  1. Western Wisdom
    Report Abuse
    Western Wisdom - April 08, 2013 5:45 pm
    Wiliams wasn't rejected becuase he used the term 'thugs'. He was rejected becuase he did not, as an educated man and an experience politician, failed to specifically identify a select few rather than a mass group, which simply wasn't true. He was rejected becusae he ego, based on his feels of invincibility, was that he was above the need to apologize for a blatant mistake. Had he spoke to a Montana paper rather than the NY Times, he may have survived. His failing far outweighed his benefits, as the package of commitment, education, experience and judgeent just didn't meet up to billing. No, the State is much better off to grow new leaders rather than continue to hang the moon on someone whose autumn harvest was many years ago. This matter is closed. Next.
  2. Dubs
    Report Abuse
    Dubs - April 08, 2013 10:40 am
    Pat reminds me of Joe Biden--stupid comments at inappropriate times. He should not have been affirmed as he is to extreme to make rational decisions and would bring liberal politics into every discussion.
  3. Cato
    Report Abuse
    Cato - April 07, 2013 11:54 am
    I suppose it's ironic that the only "thug" with regard to rape allegations over the past five years at UM involving an athlete was "recruited" from .... Frenchtown.

    Or did Williams really mean, "thugs" from, uh, somewhere else ...
  4. BR
    Report Abuse
    BR - April 06, 2013 8:56 pm
    No, academia does not have to accept thugs or boosters primed to "detonate."
  5. ouch
    Report Abuse
    ouch - April 06, 2013 5:01 pm
    I never voted for Pat during his political career, but I certainly support his comments, and am sorry to see him lose his Board of Regents seat. He had the guts to call a spade a spade in this time of political correctness. Certainly MSU, too, has their share of undesireables, as nicely pointed out in Chuck Feney's poem. Some great Montana kids from Butte, Havre, Frenchtown, and other towns have done well for both schools in academics as well as athletics, and are a credit to the programs at both universities. Better screening of recruits for the athletic programs in our state is a top priority.
  6. raptor53
    Report Abuse
    raptor53 - April 06, 2013 10:36 am
    Pat Williams was simply held accountable for his statement. His "global statement" about U of M football players is no different than saying blacks or Mexicans are all criminals. It was an ignorant, prejudicial statement. Paint it with partisan politics if you must. His last minute apology also demonstrates his arrogaance. A man of his supposed character should have done that right away. Lets also not forget that one of the thugs was found innocent in a court of law. Do statements such as William's help ensure a person gets a fair trial or defeat that possibility?
  7. MT Educator
    Report Abuse
    MT Educator - April 06, 2013 9:51 am
    As a long-time MT educator and UM alumni I am deeply saddened by partisan politics in the MT State Senate to prevent an honest, hardworking, smart educator from serving on the Board of Regents. Isn't the MT university system set up to provide education to students? Why should their education be compromised to promote the overindulgence of a football program? It appears that having a winning football team is essential to keep their cult-like griz fans happy. Shouldn't a professor be paid more than the football coach? I appreciate all the good work that Pat Williams has done for Montana over the years and am confident that he will continue to make meaningful contributions to help Montana move back to the center, away from the far right.
  8. Nick D
    Report Abuse
    Nick D - April 06, 2013 9:38 am
    Wahlberg's cheap marketing stunt was shameless. I'll be staying away from the family's real estate business.
  9. Msla Native
    Report Abuse
    Msla Native - April 06, 2013 8:16 am
    Where is the headline "Former Congressman?" Missoulian seems to like labeling all former athletes from UM "Former Griz" in the headlines. Why is this different???? Hmmmmm
  10. detonate
    Report Abuse
    detonate - April 06, 2013 7:12 am
    You like pat williams are polarizing and divisive...bye...bye. :-0
  11. detonate
    Report Abuse
    detonate - April 06, 2013 7:12 am
    +1...hcamper with common sense, a words that are difficult to find today.
  12. detonate
    Report Abuse
    detonate - April 06, 2013 7:09 am
    Why yes..I'll be referring business to Mr. Wahlberg also.
  13. Cato
    Report Abuse
    Cato - April 06, 2013 4:37 am
    Where will we put the congressmen?
  14. mike1
    Report Abuse
    mike1 - April 06, 2013 2:39 am
    I think Pat Williams would have made a needed wise voice on the Board, with his successful political career and knowledge/experience/desire about post-secondary education. To "throw him under the bus" for his stark statement of fact is unfortunate--we U of M family will suffer for our misplaced "outrage" and subsequent punishment of him.
  15. Banner Thomas
    Report Abuse
    Banner Thomas - April 05, 2013 10:15 pm
    Or send him extra business and refer anyone I know to him! That's what I plan on doing.
  16. BR
    Report Abuse
    BR - April 05, 2013 8:48 pm
    The time has come to remove Griz sports from any association with the University of Montana and turn the stadium into a minimum security prison for ex-athletes.
  17. tfs1150
    Report Abuse
    tfs1150 - April 05, 2013 6:55 pm
    Well that`s easy sportscaster! All but 2 republican agreed to take Mr. Williams comments out of context. They felt (as you obvoiusly do) that his comments were not politically correct enough, imagine that sportscaster, republicans demanding a politically correct response to the 6 athletes who were accused of violent crimes in Missoula! I suppose none of you will ever bemoan requests for a well measured and considerate debate ever again! Or use a colorful adjective to describe another person ever again! Or call attention to the fact that the entire state was on trial in the court of public opinion regarding grizzly athletics. No Sireee sportscaster, from here on out everyone will be required to say "No Comment"!
    Pat Williams is a straight talker, and was a very good Regent, he will be hard to replace, and Governor Bullock certainly will not be able to pick from any of the republicans who voted against Mr. Williams yesterday, or any of those who testified against his re-appointment, because there is no honor amongst any of the lot.
  18. PK67
    Report Abuse
    PK67 - April 05, 2013 6:50 pm
    He's not a mealy mouthed politician. He was probably pro gay marriage way before it became popular. Pat Williams is a principled gentleman.
  19. PK67
    Report Abuse
    PK67 - April 05, 2013 6:48 pm
    Absolutely
  20. Cameo01
    Report Abuse
    Cameo01 - April 05, 2013 4:11 pm
    The individual that wrote the article published in the New York Times was not a NYT reporter, he is a freelance journalist that lives in Helena and sells stories to the NYT. There must be a connection between this individual and Williams, otherwise, why would he contact Williams (if that is the way this happened) and not another regent? What is even more bothersome is the speculation that Williams may have influenced Engstrom to terminate the contracts of the head coach and AD. If this happened that would be way beyond any individual regent's duties or responsibilities. Whatever positive things that Williams may have done in his career, these actions more than justify the rejection of the confirmation.
  21. sportscaster
    Report Abuse
    sportscaster - April 05, 2013 2:57 pm
    This comment is so rife with misstatements of fact that it barely warrants a response except to say that before you speak - much like Mr. Williams - you should have your facts straight before you spout opinions.
  22. sportscaster
    Report Abuse
    sportscaster - April 05, 2013 2:56 pm
    Let me see: two Republicans voted with the Democrats to confirm Pat Willliams, while no Democrats crossed over to vote against his confirmation. So what about this is disgusting on the part of Republicans.
  23. Chuck Feney
    Report Abuse
    Chuck Feney - April 05, 2013 2:43 pm
    "Ore clauso sine pedibus colligit!"
    A closed mouth gathers no feet!

    Obviously, there is no fool like an old fool. Time to send Pat to the dog track..
    ______________________________
    Cat/Griz Thugs

    In Missoula, they want badly to win
    So tough thugs is what they bring in.
    Pat Williams called them out
    And now they all pout...
    Bobcats agree, much to their chagrin!

    For in Missoula, when Grizzlies attack,
    The store workers get a bat whack,
    But Bobcat drug dealers
    Put bullets in squealers...
    Looks like both pot and kettle are black.
    _____
    C.U.F.
  24. frenchy
    Report Abuse
    frenchy - April 05, 2013 2:37 pm
    Well I hate to agree with a Democrat, but I agree with his assessment of the thugs playing football. The colleges are supposed to be a place where a kid can go to get an education. Instead, most of the money is spent on ballgames. The colleges recruit the biggest street thugs they can find and in the process the poor thugs do not even get an education. If they do it is the sorriest education one can get because they cannot even speak english when they get out of school.
  25. dsrobins
    Report Abuse
    dsrobins - April 05, 2013 2:35 pm
    More disgusting behavior from Republicans in the state senate. They have no shame.
  26. hcamper
    Report Abuse
    hcamper - April 05, 2013 2:03 pm
    Isn't the term partisan politics redundant? All politics are partisan. When one side loses, they cry partisan politics. I am a UM grad and am glad Mr. Williams is no longer a regent. While he has a lifetime of public service to the great state of Montana, he true colors were revealed by him. A regent must represent the University System with honor, integrity, unbiased thoughts and actions. Mr. Williams comments clearly indicate a bias toward a UM activity - football. This really is not much different than Judge Cebull being forced out by also revealing his true colors. The knife cuts both way folks.
  27. mdstevens
    Report Abuse
    mdstevens - April 05, 2013 1:55 pm
    Well, we'll just have to boycott Brint Wahiberg's real estate business.
  28. Roger
    Report Abuse
    Roger - April 05, 2013 1:43 pm
    Too bad Williams ran to the far-left NY Times and put his mouth in gear before his brain was engaged.
Missoulian Civil Dialogue Policy

Civil Dialogue Policy for Commenting on Missoulian.com

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Comments can only be submitted by registered users. By posting comments on our site, you are agreeing to the following terms:

Commentary and photos submitted to the Missoulian (Missoulian.com) may be published or distributed in print, electronically or other forms. Opinions expressed in Missoulian.com's comments reflect the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinions of the Missoulian or its parent company. See the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Our guidelines prohibit the solicitation of products or services, the impersonation of another site user, threatening or harassing postings and the use of vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language, defamatory or illegal material. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other classification. It's fine to criticize ideas, but ad hominem attacks on other site users are prohibited. Users who violate those standards may lose their privileges on missoulian.com.

You may not post copyrighted material from another publication. (Link to it instead, using a headline or very brief excerpt.)

No short policy such as this can spell out all possible instances of material or behavior that we might deem to be a violation of our publishing standards, and we reserve the right to remove any material posted to the site.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Jenna Cederberg presents the latest news you need to know about today's headlines in ab…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Kate Haake presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Kate Haake presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Kate Haake presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Jenna Cederberg presents the latest news you need to know about today's …

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Jenna Cederberg presents the latest news you need to know about today's …

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter David Erickson presents the latest news you need to know about today's h…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Kate Haake presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Kate Haake presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Kate Haake presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

Deals & Offers

loading...

Search our events calendar