Outgoing CU President Mark Kennedy will have served for just under two years. Courtesy photo/Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado

It was announced on May 10 that University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy has told the CU Board of Regents that he will be resigning from his position.

When Mark Kennedy was chosen to be president of the University of Colorado on May 2, 2019, it was on a party line vote of 5-4, with Republicans in control of the Board of Regents. There were numerous and strenuous objections to his selection from many in CU’s academic community.

After the November 2, 2020 election, the CU Board of Regents became Democrat-controlled by the same majority, 5-4. Many believed that the handwriting was on the wall.

On April 29, Kennedy was censured by the Boulder Faculty Assembly, where 53 of 60 faculty members from various departments voted for a formal motion to do so, citing Kennedy’s “failure of leadership with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion.” The motion listed ten separate reasons for the vote that included 276 words describing Kennedy’s actions that gave rise to the censure, including, “Whereas, President Kennedy responded to the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol with a partisan message that referenced “identity politics” and “fake news” and ultimately pivoted to promoting his online education initiative, minimizing the gravity of the events and their impacts;” and, “Whereas, President Kennedy’s ongoing conduct damages the national and international reputation of the University of Colorado as a leader in addressing the humanitarian, social, and technological challenges of the twenty-first century.”

CU Board of Regents listening to testimony from students and faculty on May 2, 2019 objecting to Mark Kennedy before they chose to appoint him as president of CU by a 5-4 party-line vote. Photo by Freda Miklin

That followed a report in the Boulder Daily Camera that the Student Government Legislative Council on April 16 had voted unanimously to “censure Kennedy at a virtual meeting, citing ‘racist or problematic’ remarks, insensitivity and disrespect to the indigenous community, not demonstrating solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community on campus and lack of action on issues facing international students and students of color.”

In his letter of resignation, Kennedy cited the new Democratic majority on the Board of Regents. Democrats have not controlled that board since 1980. 

Kennedy was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota from 2001 to 2007 and president of the University of North Dakota from 2016 to 2019.  The Board of Regents has not announced a timetable for replacing Kennedy. It plans to conduct a nationwide search for CU’s next president.

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