Former spy, El Paso County attorney announces bid for 5th District CU regent seat

Author: Ernest Luning - March 17, 2017 - Updated: March 17, 2017

Attorney Chance Hill, a candidate for University of Colorado regent representing Congressional District 5 (Photo courtesy Hill campaign)
Attorney Chance Hill, a candidate for University of Colorado regent representing Congressional District 5 (Photo courtesy Hill campaign)

Colorado Springs Republican Chance Hill announced this week he’s seeking the GOP nomination to represent the 5th Congressional District on the University of Colorado Board of Regents in next year’s election.

Hill, 38, a former CIA officer and Navy veteran, practices employment and labor law at Sherman & Howard. He says he’ll be running on a platform of promoting intellectual diversity and free speech on CU’s campuses and also focus on reducing the burden of student debt by cutting costs and cultivating public-private partnerships with the university. He also says CU should emphasize its pursuit of research and development funding.

“Extreme political correctness stifles open debate and has a chilling effect on honest discussions,” Hill said in a statement. “Institutions of higher learning should promote free thought rather than indoctrinate students into subscribing to any particular worldview.”

He vows to focus on hiring administrators who agree with that perspective, including a successor to CU President Bruce Benson, who has presided over the university since 2008.

“I also will further develop initiatives — such as the Conservative Thought and Policy Program and the Center for Western Civilization at CU Boulder — to push back against groupthink mentality,” Hill said. “Our universities should be bastions of free expression rather than echo chambers.”

The seat’s term-limited incumbent, Colorado Springs Republican Kyle Hybl, has endorsed Hill, his campaign says.

Regents oversee the CU system’s $3.5 billion annual budget and make key hiring and policy decisions for the university’s four campuses, CU Boulder, CU Colorado Springs, CU Denver, and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

Hill served six years as a Naval intelligence officer, including a year-long deployment in Iraq, and served three years as an agent and analyst with the CIA, including undercover work in the Middle East.

Hill is so far the only declared CU regent candidate for the next election, when three of the nine seats are on the ballot. Voters elect two at-large regents and one from each of the state’s seven congressional districts to staggered, six-year terms. Republicans currently hold a one-seat majority on the board.

The at-large seat represented by Democrat Stephen Ludwig, the 3rd District seat represented by Republican Glenn Gallegos, and the 5th District seat represented by Hybl are up for election next year.

Hill’s campaign manager, Jillian Likness, acknowledged that the candidate has only lived in Colorado for a short time — he moved to the state about a year ago after completing law school — adding that his recent campus experience “will enable him to add value from the start if elected as regent.”

Hill got his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College, where he also served as student body vice president. He graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service in 2010 and from the University of Michigan Law School in 2015.

A member of the current class of the Leadership Program of the Rockies, he serves on the Colorado Council for Economic Education, the Downtown Board of the YMCA in Colorado Springs and the Government Affairs Council of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.