CU President Mark Kennedy announces plans to step down

By: - May 10, 2021 11:14 am

University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy takes part with Gov. Jared Polis in a news briefing about Colorado’s response to COVID-19 on Sept. 3 2020. (Governor Jared Polis Facebook)

University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy will step down from his post in the “near future,” he announced Monday.

“The Board of Regents and I have entered into discussions about an orderly transition of the presidency of the university in the near future,” Kennedy said in a statement. “The board has a new makeup this year, which has led to changes in its focus and philosophy.”

Kennedy, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota who previously served as president of the University of North Dakota, was appointed to his position at CU in 2019 by the state’s nine-member Board of Regents, which was then under GOP control. His selection became the target of campus protests, with critics assailing his past opposition to marriage equality, affirmative action, abortion rights and other stances.

The controversy surrounding Kennedy’s appointment has persisted throughout his tenure. He was criticized following a July 2020 memo, obtained by the Denver Post, in which university administrators were directed to submit any public communications dealing with “sensitive” topics — ranging from COVID-19 and climate change to issues of race and free speech — to the president’s office for approval. Last month, CU Boulder faculty voted to censure Kennedy over comments and actions relating to diversity efforts on campus.

Democrats now hold a 5-4 majority on the Board of Regents, following a victory in the regent’s race in the 6th Congressional District in November 2020.

“We have made great progress in each of the major areas we identified when I was honored to become president, including strategic planning; diversity, equity and inclusion; online education; and technology transformation,” Kennedy’s statement continued. “I appreciate the many smart and dedicated people who work hard every day to help the university meet its mission to serve its students and the state. CU is on a positive trajectory.”

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Chase Woodruff
Chase Woodruff

Reporter Chase Woodruff covers the environment, the economy and other stories for Colorado Newsline.