CU Closes Comment Period on Presidential Finalist

Tuesday is the last day for those who want to comment about the selection of finalist Mark Kennedy to become the next President of the University of Colorado. Kennedy held a final public forum on the Boulder campus last Friday and as KGNU’s Roz Brown reports, it was the most contentious of the series.


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    CU Closes Comment Period on Presidential Finalist KGNU News


CU’s Macky Auditorium was surrounded by students last Friday handing out flyers that said, “All Four Campuses United Against Kennedy.” The welcome inside the auditorium wasn’t any friendlier, with Kennedy booed by those in attendance after being introduced by Regent Sue Sharkey.

Mark Kennedy ­is the sole candidate for the job to replace outgoing president Bruce Benson, who has led the four-campus system for more than 10 years. Kennedy is currently president of the University of North Dakota, but it’s his record as a member of the U.S. Congress representing Minnesota that has created the most controversy. He voted for restrictions on abortion, in favor of a wall along the Mexican border and against same-sex marriage. That has caused many students, faculty and Boulder residents to say he’s the wrong choice for Colorado.

Stephen Mojzsis, a CU geology professor for 19 years and chair of the Arts and Sciences council said he was concerned about the reported undercurrent that Kennedy viewed it as unfair for people to question his congressional record.

“The votes you cast were not youthful indiscretion,” said Mojzsis. “You were a full-grown man who was elected to lead the nation based on his values. Now even if you have changed your mind, what does it say that you had views that are abhorrent to many of us and you exercised them in the halls of power?”

Kennedy replied, “If you don’t look exclusively at my track record in Congress, but also my nine years in academia, we implemented a policy for protections against discrimination for sexual orientation at North Dakota that is as strong or stronger than the one in Colorado. My transformation has been a journey, and since then my friends have shown me that same-gender relationships are as strong as those of a traditional marriage.”

A CU student further pressed Kennedy on LGBQT issues, asking if he would apologize for having campaigned, spoken and voted to shame and diminish the dignity of his fellow humans and commit to working in favor of full equality and inclusion:

“I am pained that my actions caused others pain,” said Kennedy. “I apologize that my actions caused the pain that you have described.”

Following the forum, CU Professor and historian Elizabeth Fenn told KGNU she was not satisfied with Kennedy’s presentation.

“I was struck that he was incredibly vague and never offered specific answers to specific questions,” said Fenn. “It seems to be all about political expediency – it may be that his anti-LGBTQ votes were also political expediency, but political expediency seems to define the man.”

Thousands of signatures have been submitted opposing Kennedy. The Board of Regents is accepting comments through an online electronic survey through the end of today at The Regents, made up of five Republicans and four Democrats is scheduled to vote on whether to appoint Kennedy as the next CU president on May 2.

On Monday, Colorado Senator Mark Udall called on CU to restart the presidential search. That followed an announcement over the weekend from CU Regent Irene Griego, a Democrat, who she would not vote for Kennedy to lead the university.

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    CU Closes Comment Period on Presidential Finalist KGNU News




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