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

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After nearly two years bemoaning their president’s slow responses and missteps on critical issues, University of Colorado students — particularly those of color — are celebrating the early departure of Mark Kennedy. They see his exit as a chance to steer the system toward a more progressive track.

Faculty who censured Kennedy a month ago also expressed relief.

The University of Colorado Board of Regents will pay Kennedy $1.3 million to leave his post July 1, a year before his three-year contract expires.

Activist students are demanding the regents conduct a transparent search to find Kennedy’s successor and allow students to meet finalists and to have a say in the selection. They hope regents will identify a leader who listens to students’ varied perspectives, if not serve as an outspoken ally to their causes.

In his resignation message, Kennedy alluded to political pressures, saying the board has a new makeup this year that’s led to changes in focus and philosophy. Six months ago Democrats took control of the board of regents for the first time in half a century, after campaigning against his presidency.

Kennedy’s ouster comes as the nation has demanded leaders take more forceful action on racial issues. Observers say university boards across the country are seeking more active leadership on social, political, and economic issues confronting their students and the nation.


Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado

Twitter: @ByJasonGonzales