This is a sad and stupid week in Colorado, where higher education and diversity took a blow on Monday from the leftist "woke" mob. It is a great day for a fortunate university somewhere else that needs a good leader.
Hardline Democrats took control of the University of Colorado Board of Regents last November. On Monday, they pressured CU President Mark Kennedy to resign. The two sides will announce Kennedy's final day after they resolve a contract that runs through June of 2022. Kennedy, as always, took the high road. He should take every dollar possible in the contract settlement.
“CU is one of the country’s great public universities and I have every confidence it will continue to build on its strong reputation and upward trajectory," Kennedy wrote.
We should hope for such progress while keeping confidence in check. The prospects for success seem slim under the petty, amateurish governance provided by the majority on the Board of Regents.
More on the decision by CU President Mark Kennedy
CU faculty assembly censures university president
Visiting professor John Eastman seeks to sue CU
Kennedy's ouster will perpetuate CU's nagging and shameful lack of diversity. At the flagship in Boulder — from which the Kennedy coups permeates — the faculty, administration, and student body have long been remarkably white. CU-Boulder ranks among the whitest universities in the world. Year after year, faculty and administrators talk a blue streak about wanting more diversity and tolerance. As it turns out, privileged white people in the ivory tower — people who cling to a naive obsession with minorities whom they know little about — do not achieve diversity with fashionably woke and self-aggrandizing talk.
Unlike the regents and faculty attacking him, Kennedy took action to advance diversity. That is apparently a "no-no" among white Boulder faculty. They seemingly object to Kennedy promoting 14 women and five ethnic minorities to advise him. Don't empower minorities; just use them and talk about their plight. By turning away Kennedy, they seem to oppose his hiring of CU's first chief diversity officer. Maybe they don't like the fact Kennedy allocated $5 million for CU's Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics program.
Kennedy advocates in-state tuition for out-of-state Native Americans. He oversaw the replacement of the "Fighting Sioux" mascot at the University of North Dakota because it appropriated Native American culture. An exhaustive list of Kennedy's pro-diversity actions, particularly at the non-diverse Boulder campus, would consume more space than we have.
Kennedy's devotion to diversity should earn him a commendation from the wannabe-woke faculty. Instead, the Boulder Faculty Assembly censured him with a complaint that led to Monday's firing. To mislead the public — to falsely convey they care about diversity — the Boulder faculty admonished Kennedy for “failure of leadership with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion." The basis for their claim: Kennedy said CU would see a "trail of tears" exodus of students if the university mismanaged its COVID response. "Trail of tears" refers to the mandated exodus of American Indians from their lands in the 1800s. Though he said nothing disparaging, Kennedy wholeheartedly apologized for the crude analogy.
Kennedy's leadership at CU has been extraordinary. He has advanced the institution's relationship with aerospace, high-tech, and other economic sectors that fund CU and hire graduates. Last year, during his first full year on the job, he led the second-most successful fundraising campaign in CU's history. Those dollars helped him direct millions into minority scholarships and various multicultural efforts.
Kennedy improved retention among all students and mostly minorities and individuals from low-income households. Under his leadership, CU's enrollment numbers outperformed those of its peers. Kennedy set the gold standard for pandemic management, improving techniques of remote instruction, opening classrooms in the fall of 2020, advocating vaccines for the university, and more.
If the Boulder faculty and the majority of regents truly cared about diversity, they would give Kennedy a raise. They don't care about diversity. They care about appearing "woke," a term used to make anti-American, socialist activism appear fashionable. Woke activists tell us "Black Lives Matter" as they terrorize Black neighborhoods and Black-owned businesses. The lesson in Kennedy's firing: Talk woke or the mob will destroy you even if your actions improve diversity and help the people who need it most. It is not about outcomes, it is about compliance with the left. Kennedy, an early casualty of the left-wing revolution's enforcement, is merely a sign of things to come for those who don't obey the woke mob's rules.
Kennedy emerged in 2019 as the top finalist on merit alone. A bipartisan committee conducted a national search for someone who could build CU's reputation, raise capital, and make the campus more welcoming and attractive to students of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Kennedy proved himself the clear choice in a field that included applicants well known to Colorado's establishment Democrats and Republicans. At the time, CU mattered more than politics and a possible in-state sinecure.
For that reason, the Board of Regents voted unanimously in favor of the Kennedy nomination. Democratic regents subsequently caved, before Kennedy's final confirmation, under pressure from their party's increasingly radicalized base. The angry woke mob could not stomach a white, Midwestern, Republican man leading the university. With a one-vote majority at the time, Republican regents confirmed Kennedy's appointment on a party-line vote. Good performance, they believed, would overcome political concerns (i.e. Kennedy's opposition to late-term abortion) irrelevant to running a university.
They were wrong. On the day they won control of the Board of Regents, Democratics put a target on Kennedy. White racists among the Boulder faculty — the people who advocate the racist "critical race theory" — gave regents their marching orders.
Colorado leftists want a left-wing leader who will take CU back in time. When they get their way, expect the return of routine booze riots on University Hill, hate crimes, date rapes at athletic recruitment parties, a professor who advocates terrorism and calls Sept. 11 victims Nazis, faculty drug orgies, fraternity alcohol poisonings, sluggish fundraising, and more.
Coloradans should shake their heads in dismay. By firing Kennedy, the regents have rejected diversity and above-average competence in leadership. Colorado's loss will be another state's gain. At least, thank God, we've proven ourselves woke.