Regents explore possibility of paying future board members

Stipends could offset time, financial commitments of serving

The CU Board of Regents asked for further examination of the possibility of paying board members stipends, which would help offset the costs and time commitment of serving.

Regent policy currently states that no member of the Board of Regents shall receive any monetary payment from the university, other than reimbursement of reasonable expenses, consistent with university reimbursement policies, without prior approval of the board.

However, Regents Stephen Ludwig, D-Denver, and Linda Shoemaker, D-Boulder, asked the board to examine the idea because of concerns that time and monetary issues might discourage qualified candidates to run for office. As proposed, the stipends would go into effect after six years; elected board members serve six-year terms.

“I thought it was worth exploring," Ludwig said. “Not to make this a career but to make it less of a hit."

Patrick O’Rourke, vice president, University Counsel and secretary of the Board of Regents, led the discussion.

“The board has never approved any type of compensation for board members for their service as regent,” said O’Rourke, adding that while there is no other board among peer institutions that provides such compensation, Colorado law doesn’t prohibit it.

“But there are certain statutes in state law in Colorado that apply to public officers, meaning employees of the state … and those laws currently don’t apply to the Board of Regents and the regents themselves,” O’Rourke said. That could change if board members were provided stipends.

Board compensation could make regents accountable to the university’s general statutory and ethics standards, which are not unlike the policies already imposed on the board, O’Rourke said. However, any violation of those ethics by the board could jeopardize the university’s tax-exempt status.

Regents Sue Sharkey, chair, R-Castle Rock, and Jack Kroll, vice chair, D-Denver, were opposed to further exploring the stipends.

“I recognize the cost involved in our service, not only in our time but in financial commitments to serve on this board,” Sharkey said. “I’m a bit torn. In saying that I don’t believe we should move forward with this, I don’t believe CU should set that precedent.”

Regents Kyle Hybl, R-Colorado Springs, Irene Griego, D-Lakewood, and John Carson, R-Highlands Ranch, said they thought the current system was sufficient, but saw no harm exploring stipends.

“I would have to be convinced. It seems to me the system we have in place has been working pretty well,” Carson said.

Regents Heidi Ganahl, R-Superior, and Glen Gallegos, R-Grand Junction, were in favor of further examination.

The board asked O’Rourke to examine the state and universities laws and policies and consult specialized tax lawyers and report back at the next meeting of the regents’ governance committee.

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