The University of Colorado Boulder’s faculty assembly is considering censuring university President Mark Kennedy for what the body characterizes as failed leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion.
The faculty governance group introduced the motion to censure Kennedy at a virtual meeting Thursday.
It cites incidents such as Kennedy using the phrase “Trail of Tears” as an idiom, Kennedy’s response to the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol and a policy that would vet campus statements related to race, immigration, LGBTQ issues and climate change through the president’s office.
Kennedy’s ongoing conduct “undermines the institution’s commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion,” the motion states, and “damages the national and international reputation of the University of Colorado as a leader in addressing the humanitarian, social and technological challenges of the 21st century.”
The Boulder Faculty Assembly will vote on the motion at an April 29 meeting.
The motion was based on a letter penned by Boulder faculty members and sent to assembly Chair Robert Ferry.
The motion made headlines even before it was introduced, with the editorial board of the Colorado Springs Gazette publishing an editorial about it Wednesday. The editorial opined that the faculty targeting Kennedy “seem more interested in political self-aggrandizement than diversity” and would do and say anything to get “that white Republican man off their groupthink campus.”
The CU system’s Faculty Council Executive Committee condemned and reprimanded Kennedy for failed leadership related to shared governance on Thursday and called on him “to swiftly and publicly refute recent unwarranted and misinformed attacks on CU faculty.”
“Faculty Council asserts the right of the Boulder Faculty Assembly to consider any motion, including the motion to censure President Kennedy, in accordance with their bylaws,” the motion states.
The system faculty council and its executive committee consist of faculty representatives from all four CU campuses.
CU system spokesperson Ken McConnellogue said other than receiving the resolution, there has been no dialogue and none asked for by the Boulder Faculty Assembly with Kennedy.
“I don’t think this resolution considers what I see to be some good progress that’s been made in the (diversity, equity and inclusion) realm,” McConnellogue said. “The resolution doesn’t consider that at all.”
McConnellogue provided a list of Kennedy’s accomplishments, including diverse hires, investing in diversity initiatives and work on individual campuses.
Kennedy was not available to be interviewed Thursday, but said in a statement that he is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion work and believes CU has made significant progress.
“Yet there is much more to do, and I look forward to the opportunity to engage the Boulder Faculty Assembly to discuss ways we can collectively advance DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion),” the statement said.
During the assembly meeting, Professor Alastair Norcross said the motion was very serious and needed a full discussion among the faculty. Norcross also emphasized that the motion does not call for Kennedy to be fired.
“We want to make sure that people understand exactly what we are putting forward here,” he said.
Boulder Faculty Assembly representatives will take the motion back to their departments for discussion in the coming weeks.
“The president knowing that a campus is talking about his performance is valuable in and of itself, maybe more valuable than the vote,” Ferry said during the meeting.
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