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Who are the CU Regents and what do they do?

The CU Regents are in charge of appropriating funds across its three campuses.
Photo courtesy of University of Colorado

Regents hold coin purse for CU campuses

The CU Regents are responsible for the general supervision and management of appropriations and funds for all CU campuses, which include over 60,000 students. The Board of Regents is currently responsible for a $4.5 billion budget.

“We’re like a Board of Directors. I think that’s the easiest way to think of it,” Linda Shoemaker, Regent for Colorado’s 2nd District, said.

There are nine CU Regents, including seven representing each Colorado congressional district: Jack Kroll, Linda Shoemaker, Glen Gallegos, Sue Sharkey, Kyle Hybl, John Carson, and Irene Griego. There are also two at-large regents, Heidi Ganahl and Stephen Ludwig, who represent the entire state. 

Unlike the Board of Regents for most public school systems, such as California where regents are appointed by the governor, the CU Regents are all elected by Colorado voters. “This makes us unique by giving the people a greater voice in the operation of their state university,” Regent John Carson said.

Shoemaker believes there are certain challenges working on a politically elected board of officials. “We need to bring people on every two years and work together cohesively… We need to trust each other,” Shoemaker said. 

Currently, there is an open at-large regent seat for the 2018 election with four candidates running, including Democrat Leslie Smith, Republican Ken Montera, Libertarian James Treibert, and Christopher Otwell of the Unity Party. There are also regent elections in District 3, where Republican Gallegos is up for reelection against Democrat Alvin Rivera, and an open seat in District 5 with Democrat Tony Wulusky against Republican Chance Hill.

The CU Regents recently opened a search committee to find a new CU President, which is co-chaired by Regents Heidi Ganahl and Irene Griego. 

Ganahl said the regents have also “collaborated to update parental leave policies to support families employed by CU, championed for improved data on job placement and alumni contentment with their degree following graduation and evaluated campus sexual assault prevention programs.”

Ganahl said her priorities as CU Regent include “lowering the cost of a CU degree, protecting free speech and intellectual diversity, more access for rural Colorado students, and making sure our degrees tie to workforce needs of the future.” 

The regents notably amended the CU free speech policy in September 2018 to allow students and faculty to debate respectfully inside the classroom, allow faculty to express themselves outside the classroom, and allow student groups to invite any outside speaker to a campus event so long as there are no security issues.

Ganahl added that, as a CU graduate, she wanted to “give back to CU in the best way I knew how, leading it into the future.”

Shoemaker expressed a similar sentiment, stating, “I’m a CU graduate. I’ve always been very involved in the university.”

Shoemaker added that the current divisive political climate has been on her mind as a CU Regent. “The polarization definitely affects us… we try to make decisions based on what’s best for the university,” she said. Shoemaker added that the regents “make an effort to get out and hear students as much as we can.”

Ganahl also expressed a desire to keep the focus on the students. “I ran for CU Regent because I believe education is key to keeping the American dream alive.” 

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