In the Nov. 6 election, voters across the state will choose three members of the University of Colorado Board of Regents.
One of those races features an incumbent, Regent Glen Gallegos, R-Grand Junction, in the 3rd Congressional District. In two other contests, the winners will take over for two regents who are term limited and will depart the board after 12 years: Regent Kyle Hybl, R-Colorado Springs, in the 5th Congressional District; and Regent Stephen Ludwig, D-Denver, whose at-large seat is elected by voters statewide.
Those who win election to the nine-member board will begin serving their six-year terms in January.
CU Connections invited each candidate to respond to this request:
Please tell the faculty and staff of the University of Colorado system why you wish to serve on the Board of Regents.
(The question to Gallegos, an incumbent, is, “Why do you wish to continue serving?”)
We asked that they limit their written responses to roughly 250 words.
All six major-party candidates who are registered with the state responded to our request; three other candidates did not. Here are the answers we received:
Lesley Smith, D-Boulder - https://www.lesleyforcu.org/
I came to CU Boulder in 1989 on a Visiting Scientist Fellowship with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Studies (CIRES) and cherished my 29 years as an educator and research scientist. I love CU, and I have a passion for education.
As a longtime faculty member and a recent CU mom, I’ve not only witnessed CU’s problems firsthand, but I have the experience to tackle them. CU is strong in many respects but it faces big challenges: Public funding has been cut dramatically while tuitions are through the roof; Coloradans living outside the Front Range feel excluded from CU; and there are persistent gaps in enrollment and graduation rates for black and Latinx students. Decreasing state funding for the university has also meant lower wages and benefits for faculty and graduate students, making it difficult to compete with our peer institutions for top-tier teaching and research talent.
Managing an underfunded university system as large and complex as CU will be challenging, but I held a similar position to regent as a Boulder Valley School Board member for eight years, overseeing a $400 million budget, managing the superintendent with 3,500 employees, and serving 30,000 students, all during the 2008 recession when schools faced devastating funding cuts.
Finally, the nine-member Board of Regents is lacking in one critical aspect: None of the current members have faculty experience. If elected, I will be a voice for faculty as we choose our new president and bring CU into the next decade.
Please feel free to contact me with your questions and concerns, up through and after Election Day, at Info@LesleyforCU.org.
Ken Montera, R-Colorado Springs - http://monteraforcuregent.com
I am running for CU regent at large because the University of Colorado changed my life. It not only built the foundation for my career but the framework for how I’ve lived my life, and now I want to give back to my alma mater and the state I love!
I am a third-generation Coloradan whose grandparents immigrated to Pueblo in the early 1900s. I come from two generations of steelworkers and farmers, a blue-collar family with a working mother where I learned independence and self-reliance at a very early age. I was the first in my family to go to a university thanks to the Presidents Leadership Scholarship offered by CU in conjunction with state civic and business leaders.
I graduated from the Leeds School of Business, studying marketing and international finance. My time at CU, my scholarship mentors and my time in Boulder significantly expanded my vision well-beyond my degree, exploding the possibilities that existed.
That vision launched a 33-year-career where I worked in increasing levels of responsibility for four Fortune 200 companies including Johnson & Johnson, Baxter Healthcare, PepsiCo and LBrands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, where I was EVP of retail operations, having responsibility for roughly 40,000 associates and a multi-billion-dollar operating budget. For over 20 years, I have successfully set strategy, established and managed large budgets, selected and developed senior executives and created and fostered highly diverse and collaborative cultures.
I want a future where all Colorado students have the same opportunities I had. I believe every child has the right to fulfill their dreams regardless of where they started in life. Having lived that dream, I now want to help lead those dreams.
Alvin Rivera, D-Pueblo - http://alvinforcu.com
As a third-generation Coloradan, I understand the critical role that CU plays in our state. As the first in my family to earn a college degree, I am a proud alumnus of four Colorado colleges, including Trinidad State, CSU Fort Collins, the University of Denver, and CU Boulder, where I received a Ph.D. in higher education administration. I worked in Washington, D.C., for 23 years before returning to Colorado, serving in two presidential administrations and the National Academy of Sciences.
I was selected the first CU Advocate of Year (2013) from among 2,300 advocates. I will continue this advocacy as regent, bringing my knowledge of CU’s strengths, resources and challenges to ensure that CU remains a state and national leader in higher education.
My top priorities will include (1) stabilizing/lowering student cost of attendance by collaborating with the universities to ensure that every CU student can graduate with manageable debt; (2) improving outreach to recruit students from rural communities to increase CU’s impact throughout the state; and (3) encouraging CU’s leadership through its research mission and ongoing collaboration with other Colorado colleges and businesses.
I have come to understand the challenges facing university systems. As one of only 50 Hispanic students among 14,000 students enrolled at CSU Fort Collins in 1966, I understood some of the issues in ensuring that campus environments are welcoming to all students and faculty. As a regent, I will expect accountability on each of the campuses in terms of recruitment, retention and openness/fairness to diverse ideas and opinions.
Glen Gallegos, R-Grand Junction - http://glengallegosforcuregent.com
During the last six years, I have been part of a great team that has included regents, administration, faculty, staff and students. The result of collaborating and working together has been great success for students, staff and the state of Colorado.
Never has the CU brand been more recognized.
With my unique skill set of education and business experience, representing rural Colorado and the minority communities, I will continue to provide continuity and leadership as we work together to meet the challenges of serving our students and the state.
I am looking forward to a second term and toward building “A University for the Future.”
Tony Wolusky, D-Colorado Springs - http://www.drwoluskyforcuregent.com
I am a high school, community college and university faculty member with 28 years’ experience in the classroom. I hold a Ph.D. (education), an M.Ed. (counseling), J.D., and both an M.A. and B.S. in International Affairs. As you can tell, I love education and teaching means a great deal to me.
Over the years, I have experienced many challenges and successes with my students, as well as interacted with remarkable administrators and staff who are just as committed to my students. I want to bring this experience to the Board of Regents, so their management of a $4 billion budget, 66,000 students and over 30,000 faculty and staff is grounded in real-world academia.
Regents need to match the significant responsibility and trust earned by the remarkable CU personnel every day with appropriate salaries and benefits. The relentlessly escalating tuition and fees endured by our students is also making CU only available to the wealthy and those students willing to take on crushing debt. As a working-class veteran and teacher, I know that I can reorient the focus of the Board of Regents to improve these and many areas where we are falling short under the current regents and CU president.
Chance Hill, R-Colorado Springs - http://www.chanceforcuregent.com
I am running for CU Regent for a few reasons:
First, I believe that universities should promote intellectual diversity and free speech to prepare graduates for the real world. The CU system should continue to improve in this respect. Regents can maintain this trajectory by appointing administrative leaders who emphasize all forms of diversity. Regents also should set policy that enhances academic freedom and encourages a learning environment that exposes students to a broad array of perspectives.
Second, I think it is imperative that we evaluate bureaucracy across the CU system to help reduce costs that contribute to higher tuition and enormous student debt upon graduation. Rising costs and the prospect of such debt result in some students failing to complete their degrees. The Board of Regents must appoint senior administrators who recognize the importance of this issue and must foster public-private partnerships to reduce costs as much as possible. As a CU regent, I believe that I will have a moral and fiduciary obligation to ensure the CU system’s fiscal health and viability, and I will bring that mentality into the boardroom.
Third, I recognize how important the CU system is to the long-term vitality of our state’s economy and future workforce. The regents oversee the third-largest employer in the state with an annual $12 billion impact on our state’s economy. Those who care about Colorado must care about the continued success of the CU system, and I hope to serve that cause.