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University of Colorado president Mark Kennedy says he will step down

University of Colorado Boulder faculty and students voted to censure Kennedy two weeks ago for his actions and comments surrounding diversity.

Mark Kennedy speaks to reporters at a news conference on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy announced Monday he would be stepping down from his job just two years after he was named to the position.

“The Board of Regents and I have entered into discussions about an orderly transition of the presidency of the university in the near future,” Kennedy said in a written statement. “The Board of Regents has a new makeup this year, which has led to changes in its focus and philosophy.”

The announcement comes nearly two weeks after University of Colorado Boulder faculty and students voted to censure Kennedy for his actions and comments surrounding diversity.

The CU Board of Regents switched from a Republican to a Democratic majority for the first time in nearly 40 years after its November election, The Denver Post reported.

“I thank President Kennedy for his service to the University of Colorado,” Philip DiStefano, CU Boulder’s chancellor, said in a written statement. “His leadership during this historic pandemic required a unique combination of flexibility and understanding that will continue to serve us into the future. I have appreciated working with President Kennedy over the past two years as he worked to advance the university and serve the people of Colorado.”

Kennedy is a former Republican congressman who served Minnesota House districts before he was defeated by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar in the state’s 2006 Senate election. After his political career, Kennedy served as president of the  University of North Dakota from July 2016 to June 2019.

It’s not clear when Kennedy will step down, though he’s expected to leave his post in the coming months. He officially started leading CU on July 1, 2019.

The University of Colorado is the state’s largest university system at 67,000 students and 37,000 employees. The system has a $4.8 billion annual budget.

Kennedy’s resignation comes just days after Greg Salsbury announced he will step down as president of Western Colorado University on June 29. Salsbury faced backlash for his response to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.


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