CU REGENT: At-large CU regent race could tip board’s longstanding GOP majority

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    The race for the open at-large seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents this election cycle comes with a slew of long-term political implications. A win for Democratic candidate and former State House Majority Leader Alice Madden could flip the political majority to the left for the first time in recent memory. On the contrary, a win for Republican candidate and businesswoman Heidi Ganahl could assure the GOP’s political dominance of the CU Board for the foreseeable future. The two candidates agree about the many of the issues facing the state’s university system, although the two women often offer slightly different solutions for overcoming those challenges. Comprised of nine members, the CU Board of Regents oversees the entirety of the university’s funding. Regents serve for six-year terms and represent each of the state’s seven congressional districts. There are two at-large seats that represent the entire state.

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    [wc_accordion collapse=”1″ leaveopen=”0″ layout=”box”] [wc_accordion_section title=”About the Race“]

    By QUINCY SNOWDON, Staff writer

    At-large CU regent race could tip board’s longstanding GOP majority

    A pair of Colorado Buffaloes is battling to represent one of two at-large seats on the University of Colorado Board of Regents this fall, in a race that could flip the long-standing political majority of the nine-member board.

    Heidi Ganahl
    Heidi Ganahl

    Republican businesswoman Heidi Ganahl is challenging lawyer and former Democratic state lawmaker Alice Madden in the statewide contest for the at-large seat, which will be vacant for 2017 when Republican Steve Bosley reaches his term limit.

    Comprised of nine members, the CU Board of Regents oversees the entirety of the university’s funding. Regents serve for six-year terms and represent each of the state’s seven congressional districts. There are two at-large seats that represent the entire state.

    Alice Madden
    Alice Madden

    CU regents Michael Carrigan, a Democrat representing CD1, and Sue Sharkey, a Republican representing CD4, are also up for reelection this November, though those jurisdictions are decidedly more partisan than the state’s increasingly purple persona. Republican tax attorney John Carson was elected to represent Aurora’s 6th Congressional District on the Board of Regents last year.

    Madden, who served as the state House Majority Leader in the early 2000s, earned her bachelor’s and law degree from CU. Ganahl, a businesswoman known for founding the national pet care enterprise Camp Bow Wow, earned her undergraduate degree at CU before going on to receive a graduate degree from the University of Denver.

    Unsurprisingly, the two candidates largely agree that rising tuition costs are a burden for many CU students, though their strategies on quelling the problem slightly differ.

    Ganahl, who currently sits on the CU Foundation Board of Directors, highlighted the university’s recent dip in administrative expenses, increased private fundraising and a relatively new tuition program that freezes rates for four years for every freshman class at CU Boulder, as successful tuition curbing measures.

    “I certainly think CU should continue to work to drive expenses down and innovate on driving revenue as they have been,” the Republican said in an Aurora Sentinel candidate questionnaire.

    Madden pointed to Colorado’s controversial hospital provider fee as one potential source of future funding for public institutions.

    “We must work toward bipartisan solutions to lower tuition, increase need-based scholarships and reinstitute loan forgiveness for certain jobs,” she wrote in response to an Aurora Sentinel questionnaire. “My immediate priority is to ‘fix the glitch’ in the hospital provider fee to capture an additional $700 million for public education. And we must increase efficiency, e.g. audit salaries of teaching versus non-teaching professionals to identify potential areas to reduce costs.”

    The question of whether to divest in oil and gas ventures has emerged as another buzzing topic at CU and other large universities around the country in recent years, with Republicans generally in favor of retaining or bolstering those investments, while Democrats are typically more skeptical of the practice.

    In a video posted on her website, Ganahl asserts that divesting in local energy shares is not in the university’s best interest.

    “We can all agree that protecting the environment is necessary, but divesting is not an effective way to protect the environment,” she said. “If we don’t include energy in our investments at CU, it hurts families and students across Colorado.”

    Madden has been much more reticent regarding divestment strategies at CU. However, pundits have continuously pointed to her lengthy career in the environmental field, both as an appointee to the U.S. Department of Energy and as climate change advisor and deputy chief of staff to former Gov. Bill Ritter, as nods to her opinions on the topic.

    Madden has acted as the executive director of the CU Law School’s Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment since July, according to her website.

    Finally, the two candidates differed in their views of the institution’s decision to pay $5 million over the course of as many years to sponsor the new RTD A Line between Denver’s Union Station and Denver International Airport.

    “The investment into the RTD A-Line was to create more interest from potential students, to build awareness of CU’s important role in the community to drive private donations, attract business partnerships and create interest from talented faculty to teach at CU,” Ganahl said in response to an Aurora Sentinel questionnaire. “We have to continue to let people know what we’re doing at CU, the return on investment shows as CU breaks fundraising goals, enrollment projections and rankings.”

    Madden retorted with a more critical tone.

    “I know marketing is warranted but I was pretty shocked when I heard this number,” she wrote. “I want to institute stricter review of marketing proposals to ensure a robust return on investment.”

    Madden had accrued $52,700 in monetary contributions as of the last campaign finance filing deadline Oct. 3, according to the Secretary of State’s office. She has spent almost exactly half of her overall pot and has about $26,500 on hand.

    Ganahl’s fundraising totals as of Oct. 3 dwarf her opponent by a ratio of nearly 3:1. Ganahl has brought in nearly $143,000 in monetary contributions, according to the Secretary of State. The Republican has spent the majority of her funds, but still has nearly $18,000 on hand, according to her latest filing report.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=” Alice Madden’s biography“]

    Democrat Alice Madden has long been involved in state politics as both an advisor and legislator. She was elected to the State House of Representatives in 2000 and was named the chamber’s Majority Leader several years later. Madden earned both her bachelor’s and law degree from CU. She has served as the Director of Alumni Relations at CU Law School and the chief climate change advisor and deputy chief of staff to former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=” Heidi Ganahl’s biography“]

    Republican Heidi Ganahl is a businesswoman known for founding the national pet care enterprise Camp Bow Wow. She earned her undergraduate degree at CU before going on to receive a graduate degree from the University of Denver. Ganahl currently serves on the Board of Directors for the CU Foundation.

     

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=” Alice Madden’s issue questions and responses“]

    Should Colorado cap CU tuition costs for in-state residents, forcing the university to either draw revenue from any other source, or cut expenses? I don’t believe we can view this as an either/or. We must reinvest in higher ed and be vigilant about costs. Colorado is 48th in higher ed funding in the nation, and 8 percent below our own 2008 levels. We must work toward bipartisan solutions to lower tuition, increase need-based scholarships and reinstitute loan forgiveness for certain jobs. My immediate priority is to “fix the glitch” in the hospital provider fee to capture an additional $700 million for public education. And we must increase efficiency, e.g. audit salaries of teaching versus non-teaching professionals to identify potential areas to reduce costs.

    CU now has several campuses spread across the state. Is there a point where the institution gets too big? Would you support further physical expansion of the University? I think the increase in online education will reduce the need for further physical expansion. I also support smaller, satellite partnerships to better serve the entire state. For example, we have an engineering partnership with Mesa University. We should work to place students in rural areas as they finish up their on-the-job training, e.g. teachers and nurses.    

    Do you believe the university should hire more adjunct professors to save costs and create a more varied faculty, or should it work to grow its base of tenured instructors? I think we need to maintain a balance in order not to jeopardize our accreditation and rankings, but the percentage of tenure track positions is already shrinking. Each has pros and cons. The grant money that tenured researchers bring in literally keeps the lights on (~50 percent of grant funds goes to the university general fund to cover indirect costs). And universities are still ground zero for innovation. Adjuncts can make excellent instructors and can bring in real-world experience (but some are paid so little that teaching is just a hobby — that could end up lowering the quality of education).

    Do you believe the university could reduce the number of administrators and non-faculty working in its system? In short, yes. However, I keep hearing contradictory numbers on this, so I think an audit is called for. That way, we will have actual data to analyze salaries of teaching versus non-teaching professionals to identify potential areas to reduce costs.

    Why was or wasn’t it a good idea for the university to purchase marketing rights on the new RTD A-line? I know marketing is warranted, but I was pretty shocked when I heard this number. I want to institute stricter review of marketing proposals to ensure a robust return on investment.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Heidi Ganahl’s issue questions and responses“]

    Should Colorado cap CU tuition costs for instate residents, forcing the university to either draw revenue from any other source, or cut expenses? Not sure capping CU tuition is a realistic approach with state funding down to 5 percent, but I certainly think CU should continue to work to drive expenses down and innovate on driving revenue as they have been. The current leadership has been able reduce administrative expenses to 28 percent below the average of its peers, that’s a good start. The Regent board also created a new tuition program at CU Boulder that freezes tuition rates for four years for every freshman class. Another great start, but of course more opportunity to continue to create efficiencies and drive down the cost of tuition. President Benson has built a solid advancement team at CU that has broken private fundraising records the last few years, helping to make up the gap in state funding. Building our endowment (I’m on the CU Foundation Board of Directors) is critical, and private fundraising will be key to funding our university in the future.

    CU now has several campuses spread across the state. Is there a point where the institution gets too big? Would you support further physical expansion of the University? As long as tremendous value is provided by growing CU, I say let it grow! CU-Anschutz is providing incredible healthcare in our communities, and valuable research on a wide array of diseases. UCCS is becoming a leader in cybersecurity, CU-Denver is one of the best values in urban colleges in the country, CU-South is building valuable business and community partnerships, and CU-Boulder was just ranked one of the top public universities in the country. The more students that CU can educate, the bolder and stronger our state’s workforce, the more talented entrepreneurs that launch in Colorado, the more amazing products and services that can build our economy, the more research CU is involved in, the more our community reaps the benefits of the incredible outcomes. I’m not seeing a downside to CU’s growth.

    Do you believe the university should hire more adjunct professors to save costs and create a more varied faculty, or should it work to grow its base of tenured instructors? The regent board is a governing board, not a managing board. I believe as a regent we set the vision for the university and hire incredibly talented people to execute on that vision. This is a tactical decision that should be left to the capable leaders on the various campuses.

    Do you believe the university could reduce the number of administrators and non-faculty working in its system? The current board, working with President Benson, have reduced administrative expenses to 28 percent below the national average of its peers. I go back to the job of the regent board — to hire talented, capable leaders that we can trust to find the right balance of administrators to faculty. It’s an important issue, but one best left to the leaders executing on the vision of the university.

    Why was or wasn’t it a good idea for the university to purchase marketing rights on the new RTD A-line? I have talked to my franchisees for years about marketing, being an investment not an expense. The investment into the RTD A-Line was to create more interest from potential students, to build awareness of CU’s important role in the community to drive private donations, attract business partnerships and create interest from talented faculty to teach at CU. We have to continue to let people know what we’re doing at CU, the return on investment shows as CU breaks fundraising goals, enrollment projections and rankings!

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”LIGHTER SIDE: Alice Madden’s personality questions and responses“]

    What food do you hate most? Jell-o, it wiggles!

    Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No, just not my bag.

    Who would play you in a movie about your life? Laura Linney or Julianna Moore. (Do I get to pick my leading man too?)

    What Olympic Sport do you wish you could win gold at? Diving — I swam and dove through high school.

    What was your favorite childhood candy? We had Hershey’s with almonds for special occasions!  Little Debbie’s after school.

    If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? The lunar landing!

    If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Gidget

    If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. Just one? Dancing in the Street,” Martha and the Vandellas, and “Ring of Fire,” Johnny Cash.

    What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? All things considered, I would rather be skiing.

    Is a hot dog a sandwich? No! And it shall be eaten with mustard.

    What is the last concert you attended? Lyle Lovett at Red Rocks.

    What movie do you never tire of watching? “The Natural”

    Dogs or cats? Dogs, but have had both.

    What’s the most overrated thing about living in Colorado? Ya got me there — nothing!

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”LIGHTER SIDE: Heidi Ganahl’s personality questions and responses“]

    What food do you hate most? Calamari.

    Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No I don’t.

    Who would play you in a movie about your life? Courtney Cox!

    What Olympic Sport do you wish you could win gold at? Soccer.

    What was your favorite childhood candy? Sour Patch Kids.

    If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? The signing of the Declaration of the Independence.

    If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Dagney.

    If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. “Hey Jude”

    What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? Carpe Diem

    Is a hot dog a sandwich? No!

    What is the last concert you attended? Calvin Harris in Las Vegas.

    What movie do you never tire of watching? “Legally Blonde”

    Dogs or cats? Dogs!!

    What’s the most overrated thing about living in Colorado? Not sure there is anything overrated, it’s awesome! Maybe the lack of a beach, but that’s the best I can do.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Alice Madden’s campaign finance“]

    Click here for Alice Madden’s Campaign Finance Reports

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Heidi Ganahl’s campaign finance“]

    Click here for Heidi Ganahl’s Campaign Finance Reports

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Alice Madden Endorsements“]

    Endorsements

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Heidi Ganahl Endorsements“]

    Not available.

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