An open letter issued Monday from Faculty Council leadership received a response from Mark R. Kennedy, finalist for president of the University of Colorado.
The letter criticizes some aspects of the presidential search process and calls for Kennedy to commit to upholding specifics of shared governance, academic freedom and faculty’s role in originating academic policy, courses and curriculum as articulated in the revised Article 5 of Regent Laws and Policies. Kennedy has agreed to the council’s recommendations, which also include a call to administer the Board of Regents’ nationally normed and validated climate survey.
The letter and Kennedy’s statement in response are below:
Open letter from Faculty Council
Dear members of the CU Community,
As we prepare for Mark Kennedy’s campus visits, many questions and concerns have been raised about the search process. Faculty Council remains truly disappointed that our search committee did not include one of our Chief Diversity Officers (CDO). In fact, this past October, Faculty Council petitioned the Board of Regents to include Dr. Brenda J. Allen, who was willing to serve in this capacity on the committee. While the Board added additional members to the committee, it did not add a CDO. This left the committee without a member with the specific training and knowledge that best practices in Diversity and Inclusion require us to have on search committees. The effects of this decision continue to reverberate.
Regardless, Mark Kennedy has been chosen by the Board as our finalist and will be given multiple opportunities to be heard.
Many of our leaders are encouraging us not to judge Kennedy on his past voting record but rather to judge him on his record since leaving Congress. We are inclined to do so except where his actions as a congressional candidate and elected official contribute to a pattern of behavior that has carried over into his academic career.
Much of the unrest the CU Community is currently experiencing can be addressed in two ways. First, make the rest of the search process as transparent as possible. In order to do so, we call on our leaders to limit Kennedy’s formal presentation at our forums to 10 minutes so that we have ample time to ask questions on a wide range of issues. We also call on our leaders to make every single feedback form involving Mr. Kennedy available for public review.
Second, any person seeking to be the next president of CU should be willing to make a written and public statement supporting three defining principles laid out in the revised Article 5 of Regent Laws and Policies. The first concerns shared governance: “It is a guiding principle of the shared governance recognized by the Board of Regents that the faculty and the administration shall collaborate in major decisions affecting the academic welfare of the university.” The second is the right of faculty to academic freedom: “Academic freedom is the freedom to inquire, discover, access, publish, disseminate, and teach truth as the individual understands it, subject to no control or authority save the control and authority of the rational methods by which knowledge is established in the field.” The third is the right of faculty to the curriculum: “The faculty shall have the principal role in originating academic policy and standards related to: the initiation and direction of all courses, curricula, and degree offerings.”
Finally, we call on the person selected as our new president to administer the nationally normed and validated climate survey already approved by our Board every two years and to take personal responsibility for ensuring a climate of equity and inclusion for all members of our community.
The Executive Committee of Faculty Council, 2018-2019
Joanne Addison, Chair, Faculty Council
Maja Krakowiak, Vice Chair, Faculty Council
Tamara Terzian, Secretary, Faculty Council
Jacqueline Jones, Chair, Anschutz Faculty Assembly
Robert Ferry, Boulder Faculty Assembly
Melissa Benton, President, UCCS Faculty Assembly
Peter Anthamatten, Chair, Denver Faculty Assembly
Statement from Mark R. Kennedy, finalist for CU president:
I appreciate the Faculty Council’s suggestion and I am happy to make a written and public statement affirming my commitment to each of the principles contained in Article 5 of the Laws of Regents, including the shared governance process, academic freedom, and the role of the faculty in originating academic policy, courses and curriculum. These are fundamental principles of a great university that I strongly believe in and have practiced throughout my time in higher education, whether it was teaching, directing the Graduate School of Public Policy at George Washington University or as president of the University of North Dakota.
I also believe in the importance of regular climate surveys. At UND, I worked with faculty and staff to initiate a regular climate survey and I commit to administering the nationally normed and validated climate survey the Board of Regents has approved. As president, I would take personal responsibility for working with the chancellors and campuses in fostering a climate of equity and inclusion for all members of the university community.