Faculty engage in dialogue with sole presidential finalist
CU presidential finalist Bruce Benson met with faculty Tuesday. This was Benson’s second round of visits throughout the CU system.
CU faculty crowded into the Glenn Miller Ballroom from 4 to 5:30 p.m. to listen to the sole presidential finalist speak and to ask questions about his leadership and qualifications.
Benson said the position the university is considering him for is not the same job it has always been.
“I think that this, the presidency, has changed through the years,” Benson said.
CU physicist and chairman of the Faculty Assembly Uriel Nauenberg prepared questions for Benson to answer during the first part of the faculty forum.
Benson worked on emphasizing his business expertise in his responses to the questions. The candidate addressed the issue of poor state funding, pointing out that Colorado is ranked 48th nationwide in funding, and that Referendum C, which was meant to provide extra funds for education, will expire in two and a half years.
“I believe I have the skills . . . it’s called fundraising,” Benson said.
Benson declined to say how he would reallocate resources within CU, saying that he had limited knowledge of the topic.
“I wouldn’t want to stick my neck out without that knowledge,” Benson said.
Check out our 11-part Benson series
When asked if he would submit his decisions for review by other members of the CU leadership, Benson said he would work with the chancellors of the CU system on his decisions.
He went on to emphasize how he would work with the chancellors to delegate tasks.
“I think that you do not give up your role as president, but you delegate as much as you can,” Benson said.
Faculty attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions of Benson during the second part of the forum.
Some faculty expressed worries that they would lose their jobs through budget cuts.
“If there’s a reason that someone should go, I’ll be straightforward,” Benson said in response.
Civil and environmental engineering professor Scott Summers said he felt uncomfortable with the idea of Benson as president.
“I fear you,” Summers told Benson. “You played political hardball for so long.”
Benson responded to Summers’s statement by saying that he planned to leave politics behind.
“When I tell you something, you can put it in the bank,” Benson said.
Summers also voiced his disapproval after the forum.
“I’m troubled that we don’t have more qualified candidates,” Summers said, adding that his statement came from an academic perspective. “I know he’s got the fundraising part down.”
Forrest Williams, a retired philosophy professor, said he was also unimpressed by the candidate.
“I’m against [him],” Williams said after the forum. “His expertise is all in engineering, oil and business.”
Despite some negative reactions from faculty members, others lent their voices in support of Benson.
Mary Kraus, a geological sciences professor and chair of the geological sciences department, said she has worked with Benson in the past.
“It’s been one of the most pleasurable parts of my job,” Kraus said.
Kraus added that research on climate change has gone unmolested in her department, a concern that has been expressed by students and faculty alike.
“He’s never ever hinted at micro-management,” Kraus said.
Benson said he has always acknowledged climate change.
The presidential finalist was ushered to a student forum at 6:30 p.m., shortly after the conclusion of the faculty forum, and was unavailable for interview.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Sam Dieter at Samuel.firstname.lastname@example.org.