PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem continues her push for changes at South Dakota’s public universities.

On May 5, she announced the appointments of James Lochner of Dakota Dunes and Doug Morrison of Sioux Falls to the state Board of Regents that governs the eight campuses.

Then on May 25, she issued a letter outlining her expectations for improvements throughout the system.

On Tuesday, she named two more new members, Randy Frederick of Hayti, a Republican, and Randy Rasmussen of Vermillion, a Democrat.

And the Republican governor still has at least one more vacancy as she reshapes the nine-seat board.

Joan Wink of Howes, a Democrat, retired this spring. Then-Governor Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, had appointed her in 2017. The board honored Wink, 79, with a special resolution in March. She is married to state Senator Dean Wink, a Republican.

State law says not more than six regents can be from the same political party. They can serve up to two six-year terms in a row.

Frederick, a farmer whose experience includes 12 years as a state legislator and four years as chair of the South Dakota Republican Party, replaces businessman Jim Thares of Aberdeen, who was appointed in 2017 by then-Governor Daugaard. Thares was re-elected as the board’s vice president in March.

Rasmussen, a payroll agent for HoChunk Inc., replaces John Bastian of Belle Fourche, a retired judge and a past president of the board.

Bastian’s second term expired in March 2022. He continued to serve while the governor’s office sought his replacement. Then-Governor Daugaard had appointed Bastian, an independent, in 2014 to initially serve the remainder of the unexpired term of the late Randy Morris.

Earlier this year, Brian Maher announced he was stepping down as regents’ executive director. He later accepted a job as Nebraska’s commissioner of education. The regents promoted their legal counsel and chief of staff, Nathan Lukkes, to succeed Maher.

The path Noem is taking with the regents is similar to her tactics regarding the South Dakota Board of Education Standards that oversees the direction for K-12 schools.

There, she replaced several members during the past two years, as the board considered standards for social studies that were openly opposed by South Dakota’s organizations representing school boards, administrators and classroom personnel. The reconfigured board then adopted the standards.

Frederick and Noem are both from Hamlin County. They talked before she announced his appointment to the regents.

“She has a passion about higher ed, and that was very clear,” he told KELOLAND News on Wednesday.

Frederick, who has an associate degree in agriculture from South Dakota State University, said he doesn’t bring a pre-ordained agenda, aside from putting students first.

One of the freedoms he wants to protect on campus is speech. He said there should be “a whole melding” of voices and perspectives. He pointed to the example of a federal judge being shouted down at Stanford University.

“I’m not saying that’s happening in South Dakota. I’ve seen it at other universities,” he said. “We don’t want a repeat of that in South Dakota.”

Frederick, whose legislative service included six years as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee that oversees budgets of state government, including universities, said the campuses have varying costs of delivery for similar subjects. That interests him, he said.

Two other current regents, president Tim Rave of Baltic and Jeff Partridge of Rapid City, are also former legislators. Noem appointed both.

Frederick acknowledged he faces a learning curve — “Absolutely,” he said — but also has his experience as an appropriator.

“It’s not about me,” he said, “it’s about the kids.”