Benson-Kennedy presidential transition continues apace

Outgoing president: ‘We need to maintain our momentum’
By Staff

The transition of CU’s presidency is proceeding apace, with outgoing President Bruce D. Benson completing events and projects as he winds down 11 years at the helm, and incoming President Mark Kennedy visiting campuses and meeting people inside and outside the university. Kennedy officially becomes president July 1.

Benson’s final duty as president will be a speech to the Heritage Society, a group of donors who have CU in their estate plans. His service to CU was recognized recently at separate events hosted by the CU Foundation Board and business and community leaders. Also this week, Benson and others from CU attended the funeral in Grand Junction of CU Regent Emeritus Tillie Bishop, who passed away June 16.

Benson urged the CU community to support Mark Kennedy through the transition and beyond.

“He’s had a great set of experiences to prepare him for this job and his background is similar to mine, with work in business, politics and higher education,” Benson said. “It’s important that the CU community comes together to support Mark and work together going forward. We’ve made a lot of progress in recent years and we need to maintain our momentum.”

Kennedy arrived in Colorado in mid-June and has been meeting with a variety of people inside and outside the university. He has visited most of the campuses, meeting with chancellors’ leadership teams and governance leaders. He also attended the Capitol Conference in Washington, D.C. (which CU co-hosts) and met with most every member of Colorado’s congressional delegation.

“I am doing a lot of listening and learning and will continue to as I transition in,” Kennedy said. “The more I have learned about the university since the selection process – its history, people and activities – the more impressed I am with CU and the more excited I am about what’s ahead.”

One of Kennedy’s early focuses will be to begin building the framework for a system-wide strategic plan, which the CU Board of Regents determined to be a priority. Kennedy led the successful development of a strategic plan at the University of North Dakota, where he served as president before being selected for the CU job.

The strategic planning process will get into full swing in September, when the formal process begins. Until then, Kennedy said he wants to engage with internal and external groups to get perspective on how CU can best serve the state, and the role each campus plays in that effort.

The strategic planning process aims to develop a plan that will work as seamlessly as possible with campus strategic plans. To facilitate the process, Angelique Foster, Kennedy’s former chief of staff at North Dakota, will join CU and serve as assistant vice president for strategic initiatives. One of her primary responsibilities is to serve as project manager for the strategic planning process. She starts July 1 and will report to Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff Leonard Dinegar.

“Angelique has a demonstrated track record of facilitating successful strategic planning processes, from development to follow-through, which will be an advantage to CU as we embark on our effort,” Dinegar said. “She also has worked closely with President Kennedy at UND and George Washington University, which will give her a head start on what promises to be a wide-ranging planning effort.”

Foster said she is excited about joining the CU team.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to join such a dynamic university and to work with a variety of people and groups to develop a sound strategic plan that will help CU effectively meet the needs of the state and beyond, as well as guide the university’s efforts,” Foster said.

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