On the campaign trail, I'm hearing that people are concerned about these issues. As I learn of more issues, I will continue to update this page.
The cost of education at CU, even for in-state students, is very high and has continued to rise. How would you address this concern?
My goal is to ensure that every Colorado person who wants to attend the university will not be faced with costs that make higher education unattainable. Our state benefits when our young people attend college and graduate, fully prepared to contribute to our society and to find success in their field. My successful experience as a person who has written many grant proposals has taught me that CU staff and graduate students can successfully raise funds from outside foundations and sources for their innovative research. In addition I will support all efforts to overturn the portion of “The Taxpayer Bill of Rights”, or TABOR, that consistently prevents the Legislature from adequately funding higher education. Finally, I will carefully examine the annual budget to ensure that fund allocations are focused on academic excellence and on student success.
How will you attract and retain the best faculty and staff?
I will take three important steps to attract and retain excellent University officials. It is important to remember that the Board of Regents has only one direct hire - the CU President. My first step would be to set a clear tone and expectations with policy decisions that guide the CU President in hiring decisions. Although it may be challenging in a partisan environment with a Republican majority, I would work with my Regent colleagues to show a unified front that is supportive of faculty, staff and administrators with the focus that the number one priority is academic excellence.
Second, I would work to ensure CU is a top choice for the best people in higher education.
Unfortunately, CU is woefully underfunded by the state with the Boulder campus receiving only 5% of its budget through the Legislature. Consequently, salaries, across the board, are not competitive compared to many other universities. Add to this the prohibitive cost of housing along the Front Range, and the high cost of childcare for young families, and we will see CU struggle to attract and retain the very best people. As I did when I was on the school board, I would work with our Legislators to increase the level of financial support for CU. Twenty years ago, the state covered two-thirds of the cost of tuition, and that has flipped. We need to change this ratio in order to ensure that CU remains the strong flagship system and economic driver of our state.
Step three is to critically evaluate the current President’s work. I would advocate for a transparent review and an inclusive search process with community engagement should the President or the Board initiate a transition to new leadership. Fortunately, I have the experience of hiring two school district superintendents. It’s a time consuming and expensive process, but a critical one. As somebody with this experience, I believe I can help guide the board in hiring an innovative, forward thinking President.
What important steps will you take to improve gender equality and safety at the University?
Gender equality and safety are a critical part of my goal to provide accessible pathways to success for all students. No one can rise to their full potential when they feel unsafe or when their gender or gender identity creates obstacles to their success. Under my board’s leadership, the Boulder Valley School District added LGBQT students and staff to our non-discrimination policy and hired a Superintendent who made the national news by championing LGBQT rights for school locker rooms and bathrooms. CU has begun to take similar steps to protect these students, and I will continue to be an advocate. CU also has included training/discussion on what NO means for all incoming freshman during orientation week. CU must continue to take proactive steps toward changing the culture toward gender and sexuality at every opportunity available.
I’ve been a trailblazer in diversifying the STEM fields, as the first woman aquanaut to live and work in Aquarius, an underwater research lab, and one of the few women at my marine lab at the University of Maryland. I’ve served as a role model and mentor to young girls, undergrads and grad students. This is an issue near and dear to my heart, and I will push the CU President to make this a priority. I’m very excited about the new Dean of the CU Engineering School who has made it a goal to have gender parity in Engineering, a major that has had abysmal success in attracting women. I love seeing the bus billboards with young women, many of them women of color, stating they’re the new face of engineers.
What important steps will you take to improve the equality and safety of immigrants, people of color, and other vulnerable groups at the University?
The question of equality and safety for immigrants, people of color and other vulnerable groups at the University intersects strongly with the question of gender equality and safety and many of the same steps apply. I would promote a culture of non-discrimination with policies to protect the civil rights of every student, specific goals for inclusive recruitment, and academic, emotional and mentoring support to increase retention and graduation rates. I would also ensure that the university uses every available tool to assist students whose immigration status makes them uniquely vulnerable.
I work at CIRES, the largest institute on the Boulder campus with about 850 employees. Our Education & Outreach group has pushed the Director to take an inward look at the lack of diversity within the institute, and just recently a Diversity Director has been hired to help attract more diverse graduate students and faculty. This week we will have the first-ever active bystander training that will help our employees understand harassment and develop strategies to provide support to people that they see as needing help or an ally to step in and protect them from harassment. I think more training, such as this, across all departments and campuses can help improve the safety of all people, especially immigrant, people of color and LGBQT, who are often the targets of harassment.
My first civic leadership role, in fact, was on the BVSD destratification committee to help close the wide achievement gap in my home school district. BVSD has a relatively small percentage (about 20%) of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch (FRL) compared to many other districts, and most are Latino. However, in early 2000, these students were disproportionately concentrated in a few schools, which struggled to meet the additional challenges these students faced. Poverty, language barriers, and lack of school readiness and parent involvement all contributed as factors for many families, and the concentration of these families in a few schools became a form of de facto segregation. We delved into the causes of this stratification and developed 10 strategies to overcome it. The district adopted several of the strategies and has made significant progress toward resolving this issue. I am proud to have been a part of this work. It propelled me toward serving on the BVSD school board, where I signed onto the resolution supporting the ASSET Act and remained a strong advocate for all students, but especially those who must overcome additional obstacles. As Regent, I will continue to advocate for their success.
How will you be an effective CU Regent At-Large?
Having served on the BVSD school board, I’ve learned first-hand what it takes to be effective on an elected governance board for a public education institution; collaboration, stakeholder engagement, and a focus on impactful priorities. For a progressive Democrat like myself, collaboration can be challenging in a partisan environment with a Republican majority, but it is the key to effective leadership. I would proactively develop relationships with all my Regent colleagues to soften partisan divisions and find common ground, while holding the line on my progressive values.
I would attend the townhalls of local elected officials across Colorado to engage community stakeholders statewide, as well as participate in the outreach events held around the state by the CU Advocates Program. Hearing residents’ concerns and input would inform me, and my colleagues, about what our collaborative priorities should be. I would share with them that all Coloradans, even those living beyond the Front Range, have a stake in CU as a major driver and innovator in our state’s economy and encourage them to hold their elected Regents accountable.
Using my progressive values, collaboration and community input from across the state as a guide, I would work with my Regent colleagues to define measurable and achievable goals. I would then encourage my colleagues to work as a team toward our goals, remaining focused on impactful priorities and resisting any urge to micromanage or engage in other distractions. If this sounds like a lot of work, it will be! That is why I am set to retire from CU in April and plan to devote my full-time attention to campaigning for and, if elected, serving as an exemplary Regent for our great flagship university system.