Former Republican leader met with mixed reactions
Bruce Benson, the only remaining candidate for the CU presidency, held an open forum for faculty, staff and students on Monday at the UMC.
Benson began with a speech focusing on his passion for education.
He spoke of his lengthy experience in working with Colorado schools and of his plans for the future of CU.
“My passion is education, teaching people today so people can get ready for life and the work place,” Benson said in his initial speech. “I look at the CU presidency as another step in my crusade for education.”
During the forum, Benson spoke about what he would like to accomplish as president. He mentioned, among other things, condensing the amount of time students go to school, finding great faculty and keeping CU’s diversity alive and well.
“We have to make sure that kids go to school no matter where they come from,” he said.
Before the forum was opened for questions, Benson acknowledged criticisms about himself. A CU graduate, he mentioned his bachelor’s degree in Geology.
“We all know I don’t have a Ph.D- I have a bachelor’s,” Benson said, also mentioning his experience working with and for Colorado public schools.
Once his speech was over, Benson entertained questions. An audience member posed a question regarding the two DUIs Benson received as a younger man.
“If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you will never be successful in life,” Benson said.
Benson is a national co-chair of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. He is also and a founding member of The Trailhead Group, a political group aimed at preventing Democrats from winning office. He was asked more than one question about his partisan past.
“Let’s talk Trailhead,” Benson said. “We ran tough stuff, I’ll say that, but the Democrats were running tough stuff too.”
Benson pointed out that he had the support of some influential Colorado Democrats. He mentioned that earlier in the day he read a flattering article about himself written by a Democratic operative in Denver.
Other questions focused on how Benson, the owner and president of an oil and gas exploration and production company, would maintain CU’s reputation of being one of the nation’s leaders in environmental research.
“We should drive right ahead and keep the research going,” Benson said. “I am not going to come in here and roll some policy just to do it.”
A woman in the audience asked about a sexual assault case in which Benson gave money to the suspect’s defense funds.
Benson said he did not know what the money was going to be used for.
“But I think he was allowed defense,” Benson said. He then mentioned how he is very proactive for women and if he were not, his wife would make sure he would be.
There were some complaints about the timing of the forum as well. Some students said they thought it was planned hastily, and that it should have been held sometime when students were not in classes.
Jesse Jensen, a senior political science major, vocalized those complaints at the forum. Benson agreed to hold another meeting in the future.
“With the speed of how this whole thing was put together, we now have him on record saying that he is in support of another public forum,” Jensen said.
Jensen said that she is skeptical about Benson’s potential presidency.
“He has a divisive history,” Jensen said. “I think we would see a drop in funding and become more dependent on fundraising if he were CU’s president.”
Justin Stasiowski, a freshman open option major, said he has faith in Benson’s abilities.
“I think he is extremely qualified for the position,” Stasiowski said. “I don’t like how misguided notions of his political past would sway people’s support of him.”
Benson ended the forum by thanking the crowd.
“I look forward to continuing work with you and seeing you at the next meeting,” Benson said.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Jon Tattum at email@example.com