ENDORSEMENT: Smith would bring unique experience and drive to reduce CU tuition to board of regents

October 26, 2018

Both candidates for the at-large seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents understand that unaffordable tuition to this important state school system is a serious problem.

But only one candidate has stepped forward to make clear the cost of CU tuition is approaching a crisis, and that she would be an advocate for pushing it back — not just slowing the endless hikes.

That’s former prof, Democrat Lesley Smith, who’s the best choice for the CU regent’s job.

Smith is running against Republican Ken Montera, a Colorado businessman who knows first-hand how a degree from a good school can open many doors. A CU alum hailing from Pueblo, he’s vocal about how the school helped create a life for him unlike that of his family.

He makes clear, too, that the school must check the endlessly rising cost of tuition.

But Smith takes that mission further, and she has a world of experience inside and out of the university that would be golden to help guide the board, especially as it seeks a replacement for soon-to-retire CU President Bruce Benson.

Smith is a 30-year-veteran of teaching at CU. A scientist and instructor, she conducted field research in a NOAA underwater research lab and came to Boulder in 1989 as a research fellow. Recently, she worked to secure grants from the National Science Foundation for research institutions at CU, according to a Sentinel story.

She not only has a great deal of expertise from the inside and out about how the university should set priorities and save money to lower tuition costs, she’s unique in understanding issues at public schools in getting students ready and able to succeed at CU. Smith has previously served on the Boulder Valley School District school board, giving her another keen insight on the public education system.

But most importantly, she’s a proponent of reversing the seemingly unstoppable trend of rocketing tuition costs.

Officials now estimate the cost of a year of undergrad school at CU at about $28,000 for state residents. It means that those looking for jobs paying what teachers and similar professions make can no longer justify the university’s extraordinary costs. That’s a tragedy that could significantly alter the schools’ mission and appeal.

“In my view, the next Board should have two priorities: hiring a top-notch president to lead the university into the next decade, and bringing down tuition to make CU affordable,” Smith told the Sentinel. “Partisan bickering won’t help us achieve either.”

She’s right. And she’s right in pushing the university to get the Colorado Legislature to return university funding to at least pre-recession levels, as well as force the university to find ways to reduce costs, and ultimately, tuition.

Smith’s unique background and passion for a university that’s open to all Colorado students makes her the best choice to send to the CU Board of Regents for six years.