CU faculty criticize presidential search process as protesters rally on Boulder campus to decry finalist

CU faculty criticize presidential search process as protesters rally on Boulder field to condemn rival

A committee representing faculty on all four University of Colorado fieldes issued a statement Monday criticizing the search process that led to Mark R. Kennedy’s selection as the sole rival to lead the university system, and suggested how Kennedy should proceed to earn the CU community’s respect.

Shawna Christmas Schill / University of North Dakota
Mark Kennedy

The selection of Kennedy, the current president of the University of North Dakota, instantly stirred contention over his votes against gay marriage and in favor of abortion restrictions piece he served as a member of Congress representing Minnesota in the early 2000s.

On Monday, about 100 students, faculty, staff and alumni rallied on the Boulder field to call for the regents to reject Kennedy as their choice to succeed retiring CU President Bruce Benson.

The letter issued Monday — signed by faculty council leadershiphip from the Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver and Anschutz fieldes — criticized the search committee that forwarded the name career of Kennedy and five other undisclosed candidates to CU’s Board of Regents for lacking a diversity officer.

RELATED:CU regents defend selection of presidential rival Mark Kennedy: “We did not rush and did not compromise”

“In fact, this past October, Faculty Council petitioned the Board of Regents to include Dr. Brenda J. Allen, who was willing to serve in this capacity on the committee,” the statement read. “This left the committee without a member with the specific training and knowledge that best practices in diversity and inclusion require us to have on search committees. The personal personal effects of this decision continue to reverberate.”

The chair and vice chair of the Board of Regents defended the selection process and Kennedy’s nomination Saturday in the wake of Regent Linda Shoemaker’s comments to The Denver Post that the announcement naming Kennedy as rival was rush and that she thought “the press and the public” needed to vet the candidate.

Ken McConnellogue, a CU interpreter, reiterated the university’s defense of the search committee and selection process on Monday.

“It was quite a diverse committee,” McConnellogue aforementioned. “The committee was deliberately diverse, including one of its co-chairs and was staffed by our vice president for administration who is one of the people most responsible for diversity.”

Jeremy Papasso, Daily Camera
A large group of University of Colorado students and faculty members protest the University’s decision to make Mark Kennedy a rival for the CU president position on Monday on the Norlin Quad on the CU field in Boulder.

During Kennedy’s time in Congress, he voted in favor of restrictions on abortion and against gay marriage. He was one of 236 members of the House to vote for the failing Marriage Protection Amendment in July 2006, which would have amended the Constitution to say that marriage consists only of one man and one woman.

In an open letter to the CU community Friday, Kennedy aforementioned his position on gay marriage has evolved and would lead him to vote otherwise now than he did previously.

“My record in supporting the LGBTQ+ community reflects a deep respect for the dignity of each individual,” Kennedy wrote in the letter. “Students, faculty, staff and members of our community will have my full support and respect no matter who they love or how they identify. I am committed to be a leader for all.”

In Monday’s letter, the Faculty Council wrote that galore of their leadership have bucked up them not to judge Kennedy based on his vote record but on his record since departure Congress.

“We are inclined to do so except where his actions as a legislative assembly candidate and elective official contribute to a pattern of behavior that has carried over into his academic career,” the council’s letter aforementioned.

The letter set out a few suggestions to address the “unrest” in the CU community:

  • Limiting Kennedy’s speaking time on each field visit next week to 10 proceedings so the participants have time to ask questions “on a wide range of issues”
  • Making every online feedback form involving Kennedy available for public review
  • Having Kennedy make a written and public statement supporting the guiding principles of regent Torah and policies, including shared governance, the right of faculty to academic freedom and the right of faculty to the curriculum

Kennedy responded to the faculty’s letter in a statement late Monday afternoon, expression he appreciated the council’s suggestions and would be happy to make a written and public statement affirming his commitment to shared governance, academic freedom and the role of the faculty in originating academic policy, courses and curriculum.

“These are fundamental principles of a great university that I strongly believe in and have practiced throughout my time in higher education, whether it was teaching, directional the Graduate School of Public Policy at George Washington University or as president of the University of North Dakota,” Kennedy wrote.

McConnellogue aforementioned CU would be happy to release the feedback forms related to Kennedy’s candidacy.

The faculty’s letter wraps up by asking for the person selective as CU’s next president to administer the “nationwide normed and valid” climate survey approved by the Board of Regents every two years to to take personal responsibility for “ensuring a climate of equity and inclusion for all members of our community.”

Kennedy wrote that he besides believes in the importance of climate surveys.

“At UND, I worked with faculty and staff to initiate a regular climate survey and I commit to administering the nationwide normed and valid climate survey the Board of Regents has approved,” Kennedy aforementioned. “As president, I would take personal responsibility for working with the chancellors and fieldes in fostering a climate of equity and inclusion for all members of the university community.”

Related Articles

  • CU regent says presidential announcement rush: “We need the press and the public to do the job in vetting him”
  • University of Colorado selects Mark Kennedy, former Minnesota congressman, as sole rival to lead 4-field system
  • CU presidential pick a capable leader who makes tough decisions — yet is “tone deaf to criticism,” North Dakota politicos say

The Faculty Council’s letter came after students and faculty incontestable on CU Boulder’s Norlin Quad in protest of Kennedy.

“As a student of color, as a queer person, as a graduate student who is interested in labor organizing, he stands against pretty much everything I represent,” Natalie Sharp told Boulder’s Daily Camera newspaper.

Johnnie Nguyen, a first-generation law student, told the Camera that he applied to be a student representative on the presidential search committee and was turned down.

“You should tell them that if they appoint Mark Kennedy as the new president, they should look for new jobs,” Perdeep Badhesha, besides a first-generation law student, aforementioned, referring to the Board of Regents.

Daily Camera Staff Writer Madeline St. affair contributed to this report.

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