In 5-4 vote, CU Board of Regents selects Mark Kennedy as next president

BOULDER, Colo. — Mark Kennedy will be the next president of the University of Colorado. On Thursday, the CU Board of Regents selected Kennedy in a 5-4 vote.

Kennedy, a Minnesota native and former congressman, has been president of the University of North Dakota since July 2016. The CU president is retiring after 11 years.

The vote was along party lines. Republicans Sue Sharkey, John Carson, Glen Gallegos, Heidi Ganahl and Chance Hill voted in favor. Democrats Jack Kroll, Irene Griego, Linda Shoemaker and Lesley Smith voted against the confirmation.

Many viewed Kennedy as a controversial candidate. He has been criticized for his conservative voting record and history of jumping from job to job.

In 2006, while serving as a U.S. Congressman, Kennedy voted in favor of the Marriage Protection Amendment, which would have banned gay marriage at the federal level.

However, at a recent event in Denver, he expressed a more open mindset toward LGBT individuals.

“No matter who you love, or how you identify, you will have my full respect for your dignity, and my full support, whether you’re staff, faculty, or student,” he told the crowd.

LGBT advocacy group One Colorado said it had a meeting with Kennedy before the regents’ selection. The organization’s executive director, Daniel Ramos, sent the following statement, in part, to FOX31 and Channel 2 following the vote:

As a proud alum of both the Denver and Boulder campuses and a former Tri-Executive, I care deeply about the future of the University of Colorado system. And as the Executive Director of One Colorado, the state’s largest advocacy organization for LGBTQ Coloradans, we heard from LGBTQ students, staff, faculty, and community members about their concerns with the candidacy of Mark Kennedy as the next President of the University of Colorado. Thank you to all of those who reached out to us.  

After reaching out to CU Regent Vice Chair Jack Kroll to set up One Colorado’s meeting with Mark Kennedy, we had a productive conversation about some key issues, including transgender and women’s healthcare, Title IX, and the push for federal nondiscrimination protections. Since Kennedy would be coming from a state with no protections for LGBTQ people to a state with some of the best protections for LGBTQ people, we emphasized the importance of his voice as a conservative in the discussion in support of LGBTQ issues.

While One Colorado did not endorse a candidate for the President, we will continue to partner with the University of Colorado on their efforts to champion inclusivity for all. And, after Mark Kennedy’s confirmation, One Colorado will be here to hold Mark Kennedy accountable for his commitment to not take the University backwards.”

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