1. Tell us something about yourself and your background.

    Ellis Boal won high honors in math at Bowdoin College in Brunswick Maine in 1966. After a short stint on an NSF fellowship in the math department at the University of Chicago, and other adventures, he matriculated at Michigan law School in 1969.

    Spurred by participation with SDS in the successful 1970 Black Action Movement (BAM) strike for affirmative action, and soured by the Kent State shootings two months later, he left U-M for Detroit and involvement in working class movements for social change.

    Finishing school there, he had a solo law practice for 25 years, representing unions and dissidents, mainly in the Teamsters and UAW. Two decisions he obtained are widely cited in law school casebooks.

    He relocated to Charlevoix in 2000 to be near family, and continues his practice part-time in labor law, and more recently in Indian law.

    He joined the Green Party, and ran for county offices in 2004 and 2006, getting 18% and 6% of the votes respectively.

    He has played leading roles in local anti-war demonstrations, a successful campaign to keep Wal-Mart out of Charlevoix, a successful campaign to keep the Coast Guard from setting up live fire ranges for target practice shooting toxic lead into the Great Lakes, an unsuccessful Teamster nurses' strike, and an ongoing community effort to keep out a company whose business is to rescue the wealthy in terrorist attacks.

    He has travelled to the West Bank twice with pro-Palestinian delegations. Detailed career.

  2. Why do you want to be a U-M regent?

    The 1970 BAM strike was a teaching moment for me, impressing an activist's mindset on political work for decades to come. BAM aimed to assist minority students and increase minority acceptance at the university. When the regents wouldn't pledge to meet its goals, BAM called for campus-wide action. It was one of the most successful in campus history. Over three hundred professors and teaching assistants cancelled classes. Many departments were shut down. After eight days, the university approved the essential demands of increased minority aid, services, and staff, and agreed to work toward a goal of 10% African-American enrollment by 1973.

    I left right after, and have had no contact with the university since. But at a Michigan Green Party meeting this summer, nominations were called for state offices. I decided this was the time.

  3. What do you see as major issues and/or challenges facing our University and how do you envision the Board of Regents dealing with them?

    In 2004 the Michigan Daily asked Ralph Nader how the university could get revenue while keeping tuition low. His answer is my answer:

    I think that requires, first of all, a reordering of the federal budget priorities. When you have half of the total federal budget operating expenditures going to the military ... you're going to be starving the education sector. So you've got to develop an intermodal argument; you've got to say less military, more education.

    And in Michigan, for example, you have to do the same, because they're giving a lot of tax escapes. Look at the GM plant in Detroit -- a big tax subsidy from the state ... You total all that up, you've got a lot of tax escapes that are not paying their fair share of revenue. That's the second.

    And the third is -- this is very subtle, and someday maybe The Michigan Daily will look into this ... When you have large research universities, like the University of Michigan, they start competing for corporate contracts, and they start more laboratories and so on. And there is some indication that there's a cross-subsidization, that tuition is beginning to pay for these kinds of corporate, joint corporate-university interplay. To find that out, we have to go into the most complex, arcane and secretive budget, which is the university budget. They give you summaries and so on, but they're very very secretive. I don't know if you've ever tried to get a look at it.

    Finally, a word on football, mine not Nader's. In my stay at Chicago in 1966-67 I came to appreciate the value of a university without it. Early in the 20th century its teams were among the best in the country, winning seven Big Ten titles from 1899 to 1924. In 1905 Chicago ended Michigan's 5-year undefeated string. But in 1939 the school dropped football. In 1946 it withdrew from the Big Ten. Yet it remains a terrific school with plenty of revenue. Students focus on the task at hand, without the distraction of luxury boxes. Michigan should follow that example.