September 07, 2013 6:00 am   •  by Martin Kidston – The Missoulian

Gov. Steve Bullock appointed a Missoula nonprofit leader and University of Montana adjunct professor to the Board of Regents on Friday, filling a position vacated this spring by Pat Williams.

Fran Maronick Albrecht, executive director of the Watson Children’s Shelter, met with the governor last week before accepting the position.

She’ll attend her first regents meeting this month in Butte.

“I’m delighted and honored by the appointment,” Albrecht said Friday. “It’s something that aligns with my own philosophy and belief in serving others, and my belief in higher education.”

Albrecht, 43, is joining the board as the Legislature looks to fund schools within the Montana University System based on performance. Cost and access to higher education remain leading topics, as does workforce development.

Albrecht said she’ll bring her skills as a nonprofit and community leader to represent the interest of students across the issues.

“I’m excited to work in a collaborative manner to further the goals that will help us make Montana’s higher education system very effective, and to meet the goals of students, particularly with regard to affordability and access, and meeting the economic development needs of Montana,” she said.

Albrecht said she’d withhold her opinions on the placement of Missoula College until she fully understood the needs of students and the community at large.

The university is looking to build Missoula College on the South Campus – a plan that already has been approved by regents and the Montana University System.

However, UM also is considering an alternative site on East Broadway, and school officials are expected to hold public forums soon on that possibility.

“I’m open to exploring whatever options are reasonable, as long as it meets the needs of students and meets the long-range plans that support a greater vision,” she said.

Albrecht has worked at Watson Children’s Shelter for 16 years and currently serves as an adjunct professor at UM, teaching nonprofit administration.

A Great Falls native, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Gonzaga University and her master’s from Montana State University-Billings.

“Education, particularly access to higher education, is an opportunity for any student, any young person, to leverage their economic capital and quality of life,” she said.

“When I consider all the opportunities within our state and the needs surrounding economic and workforce development, it’s a critical time for us to look at the role of higher education.”

The Legislature in April declined to confirm Williams’ appointment to the Board of Regents over comments he made regarding University of Montana football players.

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