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University of Colorado’s Board of Regents voted to hire a new internal auditor during a brief special meeting Wednesday, the last action of the Republican-controlled board before three newly-elected regents are sworn in Thursday afternoon and the board flips to Democratic control for the first time in more than 40 years.

The board voted 7-2 to hire Agnessa Vartanova as associate vice president of internal audit.

Agnessa Vartanova

Vartanova was previously the director of enterprise risk services at DaVita and has also worked at Ball Corp., TTEC and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Outgoing Regents Irene Griego and Linda Shoemaker voted against the hiring, stating that they were concerned that Vratanova did not have previous experience in higher education.

“I’m mostly concerned about the fact that she’s a sole finalist who is well-qualified for a corporate job but has no past experience with higher education based on her resume,” Shoemaker said.

While bringing in “new blood” is good, Shoemaker said, every one of the four employees who report to the Board of Regents is relatively new. President Mark Kennedy, hired in 2019, has been on the job the longest.

Regent Sue Sharkey said she would vote in favor while also citing concern about Vartanova’s lack of experience in higher education.

“I am concerned about the lack of experience she has; however, I will vote in favor of her and it’s my hope and expectation that she’s going to be surrounded by a team that will be able to bring her up to speed on where she needs to be and the complexities of the University of Colorado,” Sharkey said. “I hope I’m not going to regret the vote that I’m going to give her.”

Regent Jack Kroll spoke in support of Vartanova, stating that there was a good search process to hire her.

In a statement, Vartanova said it is her honor and privilege to join the internal audit team.

“I look forward to serving this distinguished institution and supporting the Board of Regents and system administration in the achievement of their strategic goals and mission.”

Vartanova will replace Kevin Sisemore, who retired from the system, and will earn a salary of $240,000.

Spokesman Ken McConnellogue wrote that the meeting agenda was posted online Tuesday, but did not specify at what time. It was not online 24 hours in advance of the meeting, as required by Colorado’s open meetings law.

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