There has been a quiet controversy roiling the CU Board of Regents, with a Democrat now twice elected the board’s Chair, despite being a majority-Republican body.
Republican Regents Sue Sharkey and Jim Geddes both abstained from the Chair vote, effectively handing the board to Democrat Chairman Michael Carrigan.
We covered the vote the first time Carrigan ascended to Chair in 2012, saying at the time:
On the big issues of the day, Michael Carrigan is no friend of conservatives. Why did the conservative majority on the CU Board of Regents pick him to lead?
When Carrigan was re-elected to Chair this summer, we reached out to the Republican Regents asking them to explain just what in the Sam Hill was going on.
Regents Sue Sharkey and Jim Geddes provided a written response to us, while Regents Steve Bosley, Glen Gallegos and Kyle Hybl declined to weigh in at this time. We would be glad to print their position if they choose to respond at a later date.
Regent Sharkey and Geddes’ response, in full and unedited, is after the jump. Emphasis is theirs.
Regent Jim Geddes
Regent Sue Sharkey
It has come to our attention that a number of our fellow Republicans have asked why we abstained during the final stage of the recent vote for Chair of the Board of Regents. This was a difficult decision, but was motivated by our desire to move the conservative agenda forward at the University of Colorado. A number of important initiatives are at stake. Several are as follows:
1. We presented two Resolutions at the June Board of Regents meeting in Boulder. One was to raise the level of concern and potential disciplinary action for discrimination against students or faculty because of their political or philosophical views, to the same level the Board of Regents prohibits discrimination against individuals because of their religious preference, race, or gender identity. An additional Resolution, which was passed unanimously, is to obtain an independent, objective “campus survey” by an outside organization, in order to measure the degree of intellectual diversity among our faculty within the law school, the humanities and social sciences, and related disciplines. The “anti-discrimination” resolution was “tabled” until a public meeting this Fall in order for it to go through the Laws and Policies committee. It’s our hope and expectation that the resolution will pass when we bring it back for a vote. It is important that we have a Chairperson in place willing to ensure the Resolution is on the agenda once again in September.
2. During the anti-gun debate occurring in the state legislature last February, we (Regents Geddes and Sharkey) brought forward a Resolution that stated support of concealed carry on campus, with the expectation the Resolution would pass because of the Republican majority on the Board. Our intent was to send a message to the legislature that the leadership of the University supported concealed carry on campus. However, this vote was not to take place, as a motion was brought forward to “table” the Resolution indefinitely.
Consequently, such a Resolution cannot be brought back to the Board of Regents for a vote. Their motion to “table” was passed by the Board Democrats in conjunction with Republican Regents Hybl, Bosley, and Gallegos.
3. We (Regents Geddes and Sharkey) believe the ever-increasing cost of tuition has resulted in an upsurge in student loan debt — causing mounting financial stress on families and students. This has put some students in a position to make the difficult decision to not pursue a college education at CU. Our concern with the cost of tuition has prompted us to repeatedly vote against high tuition increases that have been adopted by the Board of Regents. Our actions have been in opposition to our fellow Republican Regents Bosley, Hybl, and Gallegos, who have supported each tuition increase during their tenure as Regents. We understand and believe that maintaining a high quality flagship university is important, but we don’t agree that such massive tuition increases are necessary in the pursuit of a high quality university.
4. We both testified to the state legislature in 2012 in support of HB 1252, calling for on-line transparency in higher education — and followed up with a Resolution to the Board of Regents stating such support for transparency. Again, our action was not supported by our Republican colleagues, or the University President. Unfortunately, this Bill ultimately failed. We believe had the Regents made a declaration of support, this legislation may have passed by gaining greater consideration within the legislature.
In our opinion, Regents Bosley and Hybl support University President Benson and his administration with little challenge — and have been feeble in their support of the conservative initiatives brought forward by Sharkey and Geddes.
Our Resolutions promoting intellectual diversity, if supported and fully implemented, will substantially improve the quality of education by immersing our students into a rich soup of debate and query. In addition, such activity will encourage responsible intellectual and philosophical restraint that is provided only by an adequate mix of professors who are proponents of the major philosophical and political divisions of our society — particularly “conservatism” vs. “liberalism”.
Based on our prior observations of an anemic support for our initiatives, we do not have faith or confidence in a Chairperson who is overly influenced and constrained by the President.
This concern ultimately dictated the election of Democrat Carrigan for a second term, providing us the confidence our conservative based resolutions will be placed on meeting agendas and heard in public session. Chair Carrigan has ensured us, and previously demonstrated that our initiatives will not be obstructed by the Chair’s prerogative, but will be transparently discussed and debated before the public.
Incidentally, it should be noted that both Regents Sharkey and Geddes were nominated to serve as Chair of the Board this election. Geddes announced his intention to run for Chair prior to Regent Bosley’s announcement of his intention to run for a second term. Neither Regent Bosley nor Regent Hybl were willing to support either Geddes or Sharkey for Chair. Furthermore, it became apparent to us that President Benson was against Geddes or Sharkey for Chair. As we understand, President Benson desires the Chair be reliable in supporting the President’s own agendas, without challenge.
It’s our position that the Regents serve as their first priority the citizens of Colorado.
Please understand that both Geddes and Sharkey have and will continue to fight for Republican principles and values — to include advancing the critically important issue of improving the quality of education by promoting intellectual diversity among the faculty, as well as supporting our Second Amendment rights , and seeking responsible fiscal behavior at our fine flagship university.
Most importantly, it is our responsibility as Republicans to ensure that all conservatives, whether they are faculty or students, feel they have a place and a voice at The University of Colorado.
Regents Jim Geddes and Sue Sharkey
PS Listed below are links to articles referencing the points made in this letter.