Regents answer questions on CU presidential search at campus forum

Abby Aldinger 

aaldinge@uccs.edu 

     The CU Candidate Open Forum gave students, staff and faculty the opportunity to ask questions and express concerns with the ongoing search for a CU president in Berger Hall on Nov. 8. 

     The forum was moderated by Chris Valentine, assistant vice chancellor of marketing and communications, and included two members of the UCCS Board of Regents — Ilana Spiegel and Lesley Smith. 

     Smith, the chair of the presidential search committee, began the forum with an update on where the committee is in the process of finding a new president.  

     “We collected 110 names [that were] either nominated or submitted for the search committee, and the board will be spending two nights this week talking about how to get that pared down,” she said. 

     “We will be voting for the [search committee members] on Nov. 18,” she continued. “We expect to have our first committee meeting [in] mid-December.” 

     According to the Board of Regents, the search committee will consist of four CU faculty members, four community members, two staff members, two students, two alumni, one dean and one additional member of the CU Foundation. 

     Smith said, “Come January, the search committee will begin recruiting and collecting people that are applying to be president, and we expect to vote on the president at our March meeting.” 

     Valentine then opened the floor to questions from the audience. The first question was raised by Eric Olson of the UCCS College of Business, who was concerned over whether the next CU president would take into consideration the decreasing rate of men on CU campuses. 

     “Men typically aren’t thought of as underrepresented populations, but the Wall Street Journal last month reported that across the country, less than 40 percent of [university] enrollments are men,” he said. 

     In response, Smith acknowledged this decrease in men on campus, saying, “Yes, the next president and the regents need to be aware of that, and try to do something about [it].” 

     Spiegel shared that the search committee will include an appointed equity advocate to get a “really highly qualified, diverse pool of applicants” who will take these types of issues into consideration. 

     The next question came from Dean of the College of LAS Lynn Vidler, who was curious about whether or not the search committee would be briefed on the issues with tenure policies in other states. 

     “Tenure has been challenged in a couple of states … and I’m curious to know if the committee will be discussing the new presidential candidates’ views on tenure with respect to the policies that we already have in place at CU,” they said. 

     Smith acknowledged the importance of tenure in higher education, and said she and the rest of the committee will keep this in mind when speaking to prospective candidates. 

     Some questions were submitted online and addressed during the forum, including questions about equity and opportunity within the CU school system. 

     Melinda Hagemann from University Advancement raised questions around the political nature of the presidential search brought on by the community. “There’s concern that has been shared with me from many diverse individuals around what is best for Colorado,” she said. 

     Smith said, citing her experience as a scientist on the Boulder campus for over 30 years, “Education is not about politics.” 

     “I am interested in getting the best person at the University of Colorado that’s going to bring [us] to a higher level nationally and even internationally,” she said. “Of course, we’re a board of nine, and I don’t control everyone at all, but that will certainly be my commitment.” 

     Another question was brought up by Jen Furda, also from University Advancement, who asked if people will still have the opportunity to “work with the committee and the regents as questions come up.” 

     “We’re always open to questions and more ideas,” Smith said. The contact information of all nine Board members can be found here

     For students interested in learning more about the topics covered in the CU Candidate Open Forum, a recording of the event can be accessed on YouTube