CU Regent Kyle Hybl has “wholeheartedly” endorsed Colorado Springs Republican Chance Hill for next year’s election for the 5th Congressional District regent’s seat the term-limited Hybl holds, Hill’s campaign announced this week.

Hill, an attorney and former CIA officer and Navy veteran, is the only declared candidate for the seat, one of three regents’ seats that will be up in 2018. He’s running on a platform of promoting intellectual diversity and free speech on CU’s campuses. He also wants to reduce the burden of student debt by cutting costs and cultivating public-private partnerships with the university.

Hybl, a Republican, says the CU system has seen strong growth during economically challenging times during the decade he’s served as a regent. “We have worked and made progress on intellectual diversity, education costs, funding, and academic rigor among other issues,” he said in a statement.

“With 63,000 students, 32,000 employees and a $3.8 billion budget, CU is Colorado’s largest institution of higher education and the state’s third largest employer. A complex enterprise such as CU requires sound leadership as it moves into the future,” Hybl declared. “Fortunately for CU and Colorado, Chance Hill has decided to run for regent. I believe Chance will be an exceptional and principled regent.”

Regents oversee the CU system’s budget and make key hiring and policy decisions for the university’s four campuses — CU Boulder, CU Colorado Springs, CU Denver, and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

Voters elect two at-large regents and one from each of the state’s seven congressional districts to staggered, six-year terms. Republicans currently hold a one-seat majority on the board. The at-large seat represented by Democrat Stephen Ludwig, the 3rd District seat represented by Republican Glenn Gallegos, and the 5th District seat represented by Hybl are up for election next year.

“Extreme political correctness stifles open debate and has a chilling effect on honest discussions,” Hill said in a statement. “Institutions of higher learning should promote free thought rather than indoctrinate students into subscribing to any particular worldview.”

He said he intends to hire administrators who agree with that perspective, including a successor to CU President Bruce Benson, who has presided over the university since 2008.

“I also will further develop initiatives — such as the Conservative Thought and Policy Program and the Center for Western Civilization at CU Boulder — to push back against groupthink mentality,” Hill said. “Our universities should be bastions of free expression rather than echo chambers.”

Hill has practiced employment and labor law at Sherman & Howard in Colorado Springs since moving to Colorado about a year ago. Before that, he served six years as a Naval intelligence officer, including a year-long deployment in Iraq, and served three years as an agent and analyst with the CIA, including undercover work in the Middle East. Hill was elected student body vice president at Dartmouth College, where he got an undergraduate degree, and received graduate degrees from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and the University of Michigan Law School. He’s a member of the current class of the Leadership Program of the Rockies

— ernest@coloradostatesman.com

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