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Education

"He Will Not Be A Political President Of The University Of Colorado"

Mark Kennedy
Amanda Andrews
/
KUNC
CU presidential finalist Mark Kennedy at a public forum at CU Boulder.

The University of Colorado Board of Regents voted to make Mark Kennedy the system’s president.

Kennedy was approved Thursday in a 5 to 4 vote.

After the vote, a member of the audience yelled out, “You should be ashamed.”

Board member Glen Gallegos noted that leadership on CU campuses will guide the university more than any one person.

“It takes students, it takes professors, it takes everyone to make a difference,” he said before voting in support of Kennedy.

“I believe that CU deserves better,” said Regent Linda Shoemaker, who voted against Kennedy’s appointment. “I think the people who vote for this today will own it for better or worse. I hope I regret (my ‘no’ vote) in the future.”

Kennedy tells KUNC that he's already reached out to regents who voted against him to engage with them about their concerns.

Backlash against Kennedy’s selection spilled over into the process, with the Denver Post reporting that former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall called on CU to restart the search. The board’s chair and co-chair released a joint statement last month outlining the search process and Kennedy’s selection.

“We all thought Mark was the best pick. Reports that the nine-month search process was rushed are inaccurate. …The Board of Regents had the information it needed to name Mark Kennedy finalist. We believe now what we did then – his skills and experience in business, government and higher education would make him a great president of the University of Colorado.”

Regent Heidi Ganahl addressed concerns about the search. She said she was proud of the process: “We knew about his votes, we knew about his history.”

Kennedy’s selection faced opposition from students, faculty and alumni who pointed to his voting record as a Minnesota congressman, and budget cuts made during his time as president of the University of North Dakota.

CU law student Perdeep “Deep” Badhesha says he is featured on brochures and videos for the law school thanking donors. He says he’s going to ask the dean to remove his image until Kennedy is no longer president. He says he doesn’t want to sabotage Kennedy’s presidency, but he doesn’t want to support it either.

Badhesha says he thinks Kennedy will have a tough time fundraising during his first year. But Kennedy says he's been assured by regents that major donors gave him positive feedback.

Kennedy was consistently asked about diversity and inclusion on a speaking tour of the university’s campuses. During a rowdy stop at CU Boulder, he assured the audience that he would focus on diversity across the board.

Kennedy replaces outgoing president Bruce Benson and starts his new job in July.

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