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CU Presidential Finalist: 'I Am Committed To Inclusiveness And Diversity'

Mark Kennedy
Stephanie Daniel
CU presidential finalist Mark Kennedy at a public forum moderated by Board of Regents Chair Sue Sharkey.

At his first open forum, University of Colorado presidential finalist Mark Kennedy said he won't impose his values on anyone else.

Kennedy is touring the college's four campuses this week amid an outpouring of criticism over his selection and the process that made him the sole finalist.

Opponents point to Kennedy's conservative voting record in Congress and budget cuts made as president of the University of North Dakota.

"I have always checked my politics at the door," said Kennedy.

When asked why he wants the CU system president job, Kennedy said, "I am driven by impact. Working in higher ed is more satisfying that being in Congress … The scale that I can do it in Colorado is bigger than the scale where I am now."

"I'm here with an open mind," said Chris Bentley, who attended Kennedy's forum Monday in Denver, "but (have) read and seen enough stuff about him that he just seems like an all-around terrible choice."

The University of Colorado Boulder Faculty Assembly called an emergency meeting of the faculty senate last week to discuss Kennedy's nomination. The group unanimously passed a resolution that "expresses its grave concern about the quality and the qualifications of the finalist for the position of President."

Kennedy served as a Republican Minnesota congressman from 2001 to 2007. During that time, he voted for legislation banning same-sex marriage and increasing restrictions on abortion, and voted against funding grants for black and Hispanic colleges.

The CU Board of Regents said his experience in business, politics and higher education make him a good choice.

The Board of Regents chair and vice chair released a statement defending their process for selecting Kennedy.

"Our staff then spoke with and received strong references from the chair of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education, the chancellor of the University of North Dakota system, and the immediate past chair of the University of North Dakota Faculty Senate, among others — all before we met and unanimously voted to name Mark Kennedy finalist. The process of formal and informal reference checks continues, as it was always intended to continue while we prepare for our upcoming votes."

CU Schedule of Events For Mark Kennedy

  • Monday, April 22 - CU System Administration/CU Foundation Warwick Hotel, Capitol Ballrom (3:15 - 4:15 p.m.)
  • Tuesday, April 23 - CU Colorado Springs University Hall, Room 180 (1:30 - 2:30 p.m.)
  • Wednesday, April 24 - CU Anschutz Medical Campus, Education 2 North, Room 1102 (3:30 - 4:30 p.m.)
  • Thursday, April 25 - CU Denver, Student Commons, Room 2600 (3:00 - 4:00 p.m.)
  • Friday, April 26 - CU Boulder, Macky Auditorium (10:15 - 11:15 a.m.)

Stories written by KUNC newsroom staff.
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