Regents fail to choose new chair

Rare stalemate keeps Carrigan in role until majority can decide

In a deadlock unlike any in recent memory, the University of Colorado Board of Regents failed to elect a chair for the upcoming year, casting 14 rounds of ballots over 90 minutes at its Friday meeting at the University Memorial Center on the CU-Boulder campus.

The stalemate means current Chair Michael Carrigan, D-Denver, retains his leadership role at least until a majority of the nine-member board can elect a leader.

Republicans hold a one-seat edge on the board; in the secret balloting, Carrigan consistently earned four votes, equaling the number of regents who are Democrats. He was nominated by Regent Stephen Ludwig, D-Denver, who said Carrigan improved meetings this past year and communicated well with board members. “I think Mike’s been very even-handed and has not shown favoritism to one party or another,” said Ludwig, who also noted the board’s tradition of re-electing chairs for a second year.

But the Republicans nominated a total of three candidates.

To begin the voting, Regent Kyle Hybl, R-Colorado Springs, nominated Regent Steve Bosley, R-Longmont. Hybl and Bosley both are past board chairs.

Regent Sue Sharkey, R-Windsor, then nominated Regent James Geddes, R-Sedalia, who she said “has demonstrated bold leadership.”

In the first and second round, Bosley received three votes; Geddes, two. Geddes then withdrew his name from consideration and nominated Sharkey for chair. After earning two votes in the third balloting, she, too, withdrew her name.

In rounds four through 12, the vote was four for Bosley, four for Carrigan and one abstention.

Sharkey left the meeting after the 12th vote; in the 13th and 14th votes, Bosley and Carrigan remained in a four-four tie.

The board now could either wait to vote again until its next scheduled meeting – a July retreat at CU President Bruce D. Benson’s ranch in Silverthorne – or call for a special meeting before then. In the meantime, procedural rules state that the current chair, Carrigan, remains at the helm.

The board also will elect a vice chair after a chair has been chosen. Sharkey currently holds the post.

Other news from last week’s Board of Regents meeting, which took place June 20 and 21 at CU-Boulder:

Regents discuss scholars proposal: The Board of Regents discussed a proposal brought forth by Regent James Geddes that would establish Regent Scholars, an award to honor outstanding students and motivate undergraduate students who officially represent the university. As stated, the proposal would be piloted with student athletes, then be opened up to other student representatives, such as students in music, theater and others.

Regents Stephen Ludwig and Joe Neguse said they were concerned about redundancy and asked that an assessment of the total staff time and costs of the award be brought to the board at its September meeting.

Although CU chancellors Phil DiStefano, CU-Boulder; Pam Shockley-Zalabak, UCCS; and Don Elliman, CU-Denver, said they supported honoring outstanding students, they questioned the need for establishing another award.  “We have a number of programs throughout the system that recognize outstanding students,” DiStefano said. “It may be helpful to take a look at how it would be implemented across the board and how to prevent overlapping.” – Cathy Beuten

State forecast more hopeful than anticipated: As the Board of Regents considered the fiscal year 2013-14 budget, Todd Saliman, vice president for budget and finance and chief financial officer, and Tanya Kelly Bowry, vice president for government relations, offered a glimmer of light in challenging budgetary times.

The state’s revenue forecast released June 20 increased significantly again and is expected to continue improving in the short-term, Saliman reported. In the current fiscal year, the governor’s forecast increased by $308 million and in the next fiscal year the forecast went up $214 million, he said. “This revenue is significantly above and beyond what was included in the Long Bill and means that the state will have much more flexibility in FY 2013-14 and 14-15.”

These increases are a result of moderate economic growth and increases in capital gains, he said. State law requires that the additional funds in the current fiscal year (2012-13) be transferred into the State Education Fund (SEF). The higher balance in the SEF will be taken into FY 2013-14 and 2014-15 and could be used to pay for the required K-12 increase in FY 2014-15, taking pressure off the General Fund, which can be used to fund higher education in Colorado.

Still, he cautioned that in the CU 10-year forecasting project, the state budget continues to be at significant risk in the long term.  – Cathy Beuten

MAVEN on target for fall launch: Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator on the CU-Boulder-based MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission), updated the board on what represents the largest research contract in CU-Boulder history: $670 million.

Jakosky said MAVEN is on budget and on schedule for a launch from Cape Canaveral sometime between mid-November and early December. The spacecraft then will take about nine months to reach Mars and begin orbit.

President pursuing polling: During his report to the board, CU President Bruce D. Benson restated his concern about the defunding of higher education in Colorado, and plans for exploring the possibility of asking voters to support a new revenue stream. “We are in the process of looking at various entities to help us with polling,” Benson said. “There’s nothing for sure we want to do yet, but we’ll work it through” to determine what might have the best chance of passing.

In other action at last week’s meeting, the board:

  • Approved a new bachelor of science degree at CU-Boulder, General Engineering Plus.
  • Approved a planned renovation of the Glenn Miller Ballroom in the UMC at CU-Boulder.
  • Heard presentations on two new degree proposals: bachelor of arts in neuroscience at CU-Boulder and bachelor of innovation in inclusive early childhood education at UCCS.

Neguse announces bid for secretary of state: Regent Joe Neguse, D-Broomfield, on Tuesday announced his candidacy for Colorado secretary of state. If nominated by Democrats, he would take on Scott Gessler, the Republican incumbent, in the November 2014 election. Neguse is not required to give up his seat on the regents while running. Elected to the board in 2008, his current term ends in January 2015.

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