Three regents have said how they intend to vote on Thursday, when the University of Colorado system Board of Regents is expected to vote on naming the next president of the system.
University of North Dakota President Mark Kennedy is the sole finalist in the presidential search, which has drawn criticism for its lack of transparency. Students, faculty and alumni have also criticized Kennedy, saying he doesn’t represent the CU community.
The regents are expected to vote Thursday on his nomination, although the time and location of the special meeting is yet to be announced.
Regents Linda Shoemaker, D-Boulder, and Irene Griego, D-Lakewood, have both said they will vote no on Thursday. Regent Chance Hill, R-Colorado Springs, announced on Facebook that he will vote yes.
On Monday, Hill posted a long message to his constituents on Facebook, calling those voicing opposition to Kennedy’s nomination a “small, well-orchestrated Far Leftist mob.”
“In fact, this entire episode proves that we need more like him in higher education and highlights the realities I described throughout my campaign: Far Leftists are incredibly intolerant and hypocritical; they defame those who disagree with them; and they resort to intimidation against anyone who does not conform,” Hill wrote. “And they will stop at nothing to destroy those who push back against extreme political correctness, which stifles free speech and diversity of thought on campus. (I’m referring to Far Leftists… not all Democrats.)”
On April 10, the board voted unanimously to name Kennedy the sole finalist in the search. While some regents, like Hill, have hailed the vote as a show of bipartisan support for Kennedy, Shoemaker has told the Daily Camera that it was simply a vote to move Kennedy forward.
In an emailed statement, Shoemaker said she will vote against Kennedy “due to ethical misconduct detailed in the new Faculty Council report.
“Even before that, however, I had become increasingly concerned about Mr. Kennedy’s ability to be an effective leader. I attended most of the Open Forums last week and listened to the anguished voices raised against him,” she said. “In addition, I have also heard from thousands of stakeholders urging a no vote.”
Hill alleges that Democratic regents are “frantically looking for any possible way to backpedal at the first sign of opposition from their liberal base, finding ways to seek cover so that they can justify changing their initial Yes votes to No votes.”
He also said they lied to the press when saying that Kennedy’s conservative voting record took them by surprise.
In response to his comments, Shoemaker said: “I affirm my prior press statements and proudly stand with my constituents on the Boulder campus. I reject the ‘radical leftist’ label that some have tried to impose on me and others who oppose Mark Kennedy.”
Regent Lesley Smith, D-at large, said she has no comment until her vote. The two other Democratic regents did not respond to a request for comment.
Hill also said in his post that those opposed to Kennedy feel that way because he is a Republican.
“Of course, if the Regents had appointed Obama as the CU presidential finalist, the very same detractors—mostly liberals from Boulder and Denver—would be doing cartwheels. But because Mr. Kennedy has an ‘R’ after his name, the Far Leftists cannot handle it,” he said. “With all of their purported progressive enlightenment and so-called open-mindedness, they cannot tolerate the notion of a Republican occasionally challenging their liberal college fiefdoms where people suffer real negative consequences if they dare challenge the Leftist orthodoxy that dominates campus culture.”