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Mark Kennedy confirmed as CU President

Vote reflects political divisions

Mark Kennedy addresses students at CU Denver.
Photo: Genessa Gutzait · The Sentry

The CU Regents voted to confirm nominee Mark Kennedy for CU President, despite the controversy surrounding his nomination.

Days earlier, the University of Colorado Faculty Council, an elected body comprised of faculty members from all four campuses, released a report on CU presidential nominee Mark Kennedy’s ethical conduct, which accused Kennedy of misrepresenting himself on his resume and in recent public statements.

The report particularly focused on Kennedy’s relations with the LGBTQ+ community. Kennedy, who voted for a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage as a Member of Congress, claims that in recent years he’s made efforts to reach out to the LGBTQ+ community, including the advocacy organization One Colorado.

However, Daniel Ramos, the organization’s Executive Director, claims that, contrary to Kennedy’s assertion that he proactively contacted the group, One Colorado actually reached out to him. Kennedy clarified this interaction in an open letter responding to the report, stating, “While One Colorado, through Regent Kroll, asked to arrange a meeting with me, during the meeting I asked One Colorado’s leaders to join a group to ‘counsel and advise me’ on an ongoing basis regarding LGBTQ+ matters.”

Jacob McWilliams, Director of the Women & Gender Center at CU Denver, said that while the center hadn’t released a statement on Kennedy’s nomination, “We share the concerns raised by community members regarding Kennedy’s track record on diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

“In the Denver forum last week, I asked Kennedy about his struggle to say the term ‘LGBTQ’ without stumbling, which I interpreted as either unease, discomfort, or unfamiliarity with the term,” McWilliams added. “Since then, I’ve received lots of emails and talked with a lot of others who noticed Kennedy’s difficulty with saying ‘LGBTQ’ and who are worried about what that suggests about how frequently he’s talked about LGBTQ issues in his professional career.”

The CU Faculty Council report also claims Kennedy failed to disclose that UND is currently being sued for Title IX violations. According to the report, Kennedy was asked at a recent forum at CU Boulder, “Can you tell us which proposed revisions [to Title IX] you support and which you oppose?” and declined to answer. McWilliams also expressed concern regarding Kennedy’s “failure to clearly articulate his stance on enforcing Title IX protections for women and for transgender students.”

The report mentioned party politics, taking issue with Kennedy’s claim that his voting record in Congress did not reflect his career in academia. Kennedy served as treasurer for republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, who was known for “anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion and anti-stem cell research views,” while working at Johns Hopkins University in 2011.

Kennedy countered this assertion by stating, “Mr. Pawlenty dropped out of the Presidential Race in August of 2011, a little less than a year before Barack Obama first publicly changed his stance on same gender marriage in May of 2012.”

Republican CU Regent Chance Hill, in a lengthy post on Facebook, expressed frustration with Kennedy’s detractors.

“Mr. Kennedy has endured a terrible gauntlet of unreasonable attacks, inaccurate news headlines, and slanderous smears…And why? Because he is a Republican…Don’t let the radical Leftists pretend otherwise,” Hill wrote.

Kennedy was later confirmed by the CU Regents in a 5-4 vote, which divided regents among party lines.

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