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What is a Regent?

and why should I care?

The Board of Regents comprises nine elected members who govern the University of Colorado system, including all four campuses: Aurora, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Denver. The Regents meet monthly at various locations to make decisions affecting the entire gamut of university operations.

The Regents...

  • Control and direct the system's $3.5 billion budget
  • Determine the amount of tuition and fees
  • Appoint the University of Colorado President
  • Give final approval to faculty tenure and faculty salaries
  • Can remove any officer connected with the university
  • Otherwise control any business decision university-wide

The Regents set tuition

The Regents are influential in state-level decisions to allocate funding to higher education. Republicans have held a majority in the Board of Regents since 1979, and they have often aligned themselves against monetary state investment in higher education. Colorado’s colleges and universities have been severely defunded during recent decades. Colorado's per capita investment in higher education funding is ranked 48th among the 50 United States, which means students foot the majority of the bill.

The Regents influence graduate worker compensation

Each of the four CU campus's operations are directed by a Chancellor who is appointed by the CU President. Each Chancellor hires a Provost who, as the supervisor of all Deans at a campus, is responsible for all academic employees. Graduate workers fall into the category of academic employees the Provost oversees. Although the Provost is deeply influential in stipends and other matters affecting graduate workers, the stipend budget is subject to allocation by the Chancellor and CFO for final budget approval by the Regents.

The Regents influence the University's policies affecting climate change, academic freedom, money, and leadership

The University of Colorado's endowment vests tens of millions of dollars in fossil fuels. Apart from the economic hazard to the University of investing in the buggy-whip of energy sources, and the environmental hazard to the planet, the University's investment in fossil fuels sullies the public image our university deserves as an eminent leader in climate change research.

In 2015, CU's Regents voted 7-2 against divestment from fossil fuels, with the two dissenting votes cast by Democrats. Current at-large Democratic Regent, Stephen Ludwig, voted with the Republicans1.

…“We have a lot of scientists doing important climate research … that may not feel as free to do their work under a Republican administration than a Democratic one,” [Regent Shoemaker] says. “We do definitely have Republicans [on the board] who do not believe that people are impacting the climate.“

…Less than six percent of CU’s budget is funded by the state. There are no state statutes or constitutional requirements that mandate Colorado spend a certain amount of state funds per student. According to the Fiscal Institute, a Denver-based economic think tank, Colorado ranks 48th in the nation for state funds per full-time student. Only New Hampshire and Vermont spend less.

…In 2008 … the board chose current president Bruce Benson, an oil man who was once chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and the GOP nominee for governor in 1994, on a 6-3 party-line vote.

Footnotes

1 C. Hutchins, C. (2016 July 29). How an obscure statewide race could change the way Colorado’s top university system does business. Colorado Independent. See also Seltzer, R. (2016 September 27). A Regents Race That Matters. Inside Higher Ed.
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