LONGMONT — The four candidates for the University of Colorado Board of Regents at-large seat who spoke during Thursday night’s election forum agreed that accountability, transparency and affordable in-state tuition were important issues for this year’s election.
But the candidates disagreed about how to accomplish those goals.
Republican candidate Brian Davidson said that with his background as chief resident physician at CU, he would work to provide excellence in health care, health education, and medical and scientific research.
“I firmly believe that CU’s Health Sciences Center will be one of CU’s most proud and impressive contributions to the citizens of Colorado,” he said.
Davidson said he also supports CU president Hank Brown’s quest to improve the university’s academic standing by addressing issues like potential grade inflation, academic rigor and tenure.
“The Board of Regents must serve to grant tenure to only responsible, respectful and deserving faculty members at CU,” Davidson said. “This process must be rigorous and open to outside review.”
Democratic candidate Stephen Ludwig said the regent’s race was about more than just a football team, one campus or a controversial professor, alluding to past problems at the Boulder campus.
“This race is about the future of our state and our country,” Ludwig said.
“Like it or not, we are no longer competing for jobs and companies with Austin, Boston and San Francisco, but with Beijing and Bangalore,” he said. “Right now, the governments in China and India are doing everything they can to compete with us in areas where we thrive.”
Ludwig said those areas are education, innovation and creativity.
CU has to have strong leadership, he said, because those areas begin at the doorstep of Colorado’s public colleges and universities.
Independent candidate Marcus McCarty, who grew up in Longmont, emphasized that state funding of higher education is an investment.
“The university education is one of the most important opportunities a state can offer its people,” McCarty said.
But the benefits of higher education work both ways, he said.
“We also have to understand the enormous economic impact the university has on the economy of this state,” McCarty said. “State legislators have to be willing to invest money in the university — and it is an investment.”
Every dollar invested in CU returns more than $22 to the state economy, he said.
“The Board of Regents is important in that function because when good things happen to the university, good things happen for higher education in Colorado too,” McCarty said.
Daniel Ong, the Libertarian candidate, said he would bring a diverse and necessary viewpoint to the board.
“Most regents and candidates bring business, political science or law experience backgrounds,” Ong said. “But there is no representative of engineering, hard sciences or mathematics, which is crucial to our economy’s dependence on high-tech.”
With his background as a electronics engineering technician, Ong said, he could fulfill that perspective.
“I’m running as a Jeffersonian Libertarian because I believe government should be as small as possible and minimize its intrusion in our daily lives,” he said. “But government has a limited role in supporting higher education to better our society and standard of living.”
Ong said CU and Colorado state government should seek to stabilize funding to weather business cycles and that budget surpluses should be set aside for lean years.
The fifth candidate running for the at-large seat, Douglas Campbell, was not at the forum.
Josh Boissevain can be contacted at 303-684-5336.