Colorado Editorials

The Colorado Springs Gazette: Elect Ken Montera to continue CU’s success

Author: The Gazette Editorial Board - October 30, 2018 - Updated: October 30, 2018

The University of Colorado’s four-campus system stands among the great successes of our state. The last thing anyone needs is an election that sends the university backward to the days of scandal and dysfunction.

To stay the course, voters should elect Ken Montera as the at-large member of the university’s Board of Regents.

Before making this important decision, voters should consider the way things were at CU.

Ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill embarrassed the state with everything from plagiarism charges, to claims of ancestral fraud, to a book comparing World Trade Center victims to Nazis.

Things began to change when voters elected business leaders as regents. They sent the nutty professor packing. They hired a seasoned executive as president. They helped him stabilize tuition, double the endowment, grow financial aid, double the budget, double research funding, grow the Colorado Springs campus, and transform the University of Colorado Hospital into a national leader in health care at the growing 227-acre CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

Most important, regents worked with CU President Bruce Benson to defend intellectual diversity, free speech and academic freedom.

Once a laughingstock among its peers, CU ranks today among the country’s top universities. Other colleges and universities send teams of administrators to Colorado so they can study CU’s success.

Montera has exactly the kind of background we need to keep this going and improve on it. A Colorado native, Montera grew up in a blue-collar Pueblo family supported by farm and steel mill labor. Unable to afford college, he applied for and won the Presidents Leadership Class scholarship and graduated from the CU Leeds School of Business.

He spent the past 30 years working in high-ranking executive positions for four Fortune 200 companies, managing tens of thousands of personnel and the details of multibillion-dollar budgets. He maneuvered one Fortune 200 company through the Great Recession of 2008 without a single headcount reduction.

Montera plans to use his budgetary skills to shift tens of millions of dollars back to expenses directly related to students and classrooms.

Montera’s opponent, Lesley Smith, is an aquatic biologist with no executive experience. She spent most of the past three decades teaching environmental sciences and ecology in Boulder. Those are honorable and important disciplines, but regents manage details of multibillion-dollar budgets and policies affecting thousands of employees and tens of thousands of students. Requisite experience matters.

Smith’s endorsement in the far-left Boulder Weekly trashes the university’s successful direction of the past decade, apparently craving the old days. It criticizes the appointment of an annual visiting conservative scholar as “a sort of conservative crusade” it believes Smith won’t tolerate.

Never mind only 6 percent of the Boulder faculty identify as Republican. Systemwide, the number goes to 9 percent. That leaves near-unanimous contingent of socialists, left-leaning greens and Democrats dominating academic agendas and discourse.

Rather than offering more intolerance, Montera pledges to enhance and defend free speech, academic freedom and intellectual diversity. He will tolerate that one conservative dropping in for a visit among 7,224 full-time faculty employees, most of whom harbor and teach left-wing values.

“Instructors have to know how critical it is to provide an educational forum that tolerates all views, so long as they are nonviolent,” Montera said.

The University of Colorado makes all of Colorado proud. Let’s keep it that way, by electing Ken Montera.

The Gazette Editorial Board