Kennedy was censured on April 29 by the Boulder faculty assembly for a “failure of leadership with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion.” Kennedy and his supporters argued that he had made strides on improving diversity among the university’s leadership and was committed to continuing that process.
No timetable was immediately announced for Kennedy’s departure and Board of Regents Chair Glen Gallegos said in a press release that no interim president has been selected. The university will conduct a nationwide search for Kennedy’s replacement.
“The Board of Regents will move quickly to determine our next steps and will work closely with President Kennedy in the coming months to ensure an orderly transition of the presidency. He has led CU though the pandemic and has been making progress on key initiatives we agreed to, so the university is in good position,” said a statement released by the university and attributed to Gallegos and Vice Chair Lesley Smith. ““We appreciate President Kennedy’s contributions and dedication.”
Big news this morning from the state’s flagship university, as embattled University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy, controversially selected by the formerly Republican-controlled CU Board of Regents in 2019, announces he will resign after Democrats retook the Board of Regents for the first time in 40 years last November:
The Board of Regents and I have entered into discussions about an orderly transition of the presidency of the university in the near future. The board has a new makeup this year, which has led to changes in its focus and philosophy. We have made great progress in each of the major areas we identified when I was honored to become president, including strategic planning; diversity, equity and inclusion; online education; and technology transformation. Much of that progress came in the face of the pandemic. I appreciate the many smart and dedicated people who work hard every day to help the university meet its mission to serve its students and the state. CU is on a positive trajectory.
Kennedy was installed by the then-GOP majority on the Board of Regents in 2019 over fierce protests to succeed former CU President and Colorado Republican political kingpin Bruce Benson. Kennedy’s mission was to continue the school’s controversial mission under Benson of imposing “ideological diversity” on higher education–which in practice became a self-funded arm of the university devoted to “conservative affirmative action.” The Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization in its ten years of existence appointed a series of increasingly embarrassing “Visiting Professors of Conservative Thought” that culminated with John Eastman, who helped incite the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.
Politically this is a bigger deal than meets the eye, signaling the end of one of the only remaining bastions of Republican power left in the state. But the reality is that CU’s political track under Benson and then Kennedy has been grossly out of step with Colorado’s broader maturation as a Democratic stronghold. For Republicans like Regent Heidi Ganahl who are thinking about higher office, whatever legacy they hoped to capitalize on from the GOP’s longstanding control of CU just evaporated.
We’ll update with more coverage shortly, stay tuned.