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As vote looms, three Colorado regents reveal votes on Kennedy’s pending presidency

Mark Kennedy, the sole finalist for president of the University of Colorado, gets a chilly reception at the University of Colorado in Boulder on April 26. RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post

Three of nine members of the University of Colorado Board of Regents have publicly stated how they will vote Thursday on the nomination of Mark Kennedy as the next potential president of the CU system.

As of Tuesday afternoon, April 30, one regent had declared he is certain he will vote to approve Kennedy, while two others said they plan to vote against him.

The board is one of only a handful of boards in the country that elects its representatives. The board is split 5-4 in favor of Republicans. Kennedy is a Republican former member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Kennedy, who has been the president of the University of North Dakota since 2016, is the lone finalist for the CU president’s position, which oversees a four-campus system, including campuses in Aurora, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Denver. His nomination has been debated heavily in Colorado. Last week, Kennedy visited each of the system campuses and met with system and foundation officials. During nearly all of the visits, students and faculty protested against Kennedy and the regents’ decision to reveal a sole finalist.

Chance Hill, a Republican board member, came out in staunch support for Kennedy Monday in a lengthy Facebook post.

In the post, Hill breaks down Kennedy’s work experience and his time in higher education. He said Kennedy is a “remarkable trifecta of academic, political and business credentials that translate into a variety of skills important for fulfilling the CU presidential role.” He also notes that the board last month voted unanimously, 9-0, to make Kennedy the regents’ sole finalist.

Hill’s post continues, noting several times that Kennedy has his full support and accusing those he calls “leftists” of being intolerant of people with different views. He claims Kennedy has been treated differently by some members of the public because he’s a Republican.

“Come hell or high water, I will proudly and unapologetically vote ‘yes’ this Thursday to appoint Mark Kennedy as our next CU President,” Hill wrote. “Whether he is confirmed or not remains to be seen. But I will not reward a small, well-orchestrated far-leftist mob — who in my opinion represents a mentality as dangerous to this nation’s future as any foreign threat we face.”

Two Democratic regents, Irene Griego and Linda Shoemaker, have publicly announced they will vote against Kennedy, the Denver Post reported.

According to the Post, Shoemaker said she won’t vote for Kennedy because of opposition in her district and because of a faculty report released Sunday alleging Kennedy misrepresented accomplishments on his resume.

The faculty report alleges Kennedy misrepresented admission programs for Native Americans in North Dakota and also misrepresented graduation rates at UND. Additionally, the Faculty Council claims Kennedy was not entirely honest regarding his political activities while in academia and did not disclose a pending lawsuit related to alleged Title IX violations.

Kenendy later issued a response to the report.

“With all due respect to them, the letter identifies no ‘ethical misconduct’ but instead misconstrues my record and responses to questions from last week’s open forums,” Kennedy wrote. “I would suggest that anyone wanting to verify what my (resume says) can review the actual language.”

A former CU Board of Regents chair has also weighed in on the discussion.

Steve Bosley, a Republican who served on the board for 12 years, said he is upset and perplexed by the “hostility, the rudeness and the lack of civility in the discussions” surrounding Kennedy.

Bosley also expressed concerns that the CU Faculty Council was “campaigning” against Kennedy.

Bosley was on the board for the last two presidential searches in Colorado. Outgoing President Bruce Benson and former President Hank Brown were Republicans as well, but Bosley said they did not receive the same treatment Kennedy has received thus far.

“It’s different than before,” Bosley said. “The University of Colorado has worked, for the whole 12 years I was on the board and since then, on making sure people felt welcomed here.”

Bosley said Benson, who was the former head of the Republican Party in Colorado, was hired on a party-line vote in 2008 and also received pushback from students and faculty, but not at the same level as Kennedy. He added Benson was able to speak to legislators on both sides of the aisle and was good at fundraising, despite his political affiliation.

Bosley declined to comment whether he thinks Kennedy will get the job. However, he said he believes Kennedy is the right person for the position.

“I believe that the majority of people that aren’t just out on the bandwagon see that,” he said. “I know donors by the hundreds at CU that are friends who have contacted me and they’ve said ‘I really like this guy. I support him.’ I hope that logic will finally prevail with a majority of the board.”