Finalist for president has been very active in Colorado
Bruce Benson, the sole finalist for President of CU, has a long resume with different interests all over Colorado.
Michelle Boehm, a sophomore Spanish major, was unaware of what Benson had done before his nomination.
“Absolutely nothing. I don’t know anything, but what I’ve heard has been negative. I keep seeing Boycott Benson signs in classrooms, but I don’t know why people don’t like him,” she said.
Lauren Lau, a senior communications major, felt the same.
“I haven’t heard a lot about him but what I have heard is that he’s unqualified,” she said.
Check out our 11-part Benson series
Benson has been actively involved in Colorado education boards and political campaigns since the 1980’s.
Currently, Benson is serving on the P-20 Education Coordinating Council, which he was appointed to by Gov. Bill Ritter, and on the Denver Public Schools Foundation.
According to his resume, Benson also worked on Gov. Bill Owens’ Blue Ribbon Panel on Higher Education for the 21st Century, and was the chair of the Colorado Commission for Higher Education. Benson also served as the chairman for the Board of Trustees for Metro State College until 2007.
Benson is one of three co-chairs for the P-20 Education Coordinating Council, which was announced on April 24, 2007, in a press release. He is also the chair of a subcommittee of the council, called the Educator Subcommittee.
Evan Dreyer, a spokesman for Gov. Ritter, praised Benson for his work in Colorado education.
“Bruce is a very dedicated, passionate and committed leader for education issues in Colorado,” he said.
Dreyer said that the P-20 council was created to be a vehicle for improving education in Colorado and to align all of Colorado’s education systems, from preschool to grad school.
Dreyer said that the council issued a set of 15 recommendations to Gov. Ritter in Nov. 2007. On Dec. 5, 2007, Gov. Ritter announced a package of education reforms, based on the recommendations.
Among those reforms was the expansion of all-day kindergarten to 22,000 more children, the elimination of the wait list for Colorado’s preschools and the creation of the Colorado Counselor Corps, an organization of 70 counselors for targeted middle schools and high schools to prepare students for college.
Dreyer said that the decision now rests with the Board of Regents, but if elected, Gov. Ritter looks forward to working with him.
Benson has served chairman of the Denver Public Schools Foundation since 2002, according to his resume. The Denver Public Schools Foundation’s Web site says it does fundraising in support of the district’s reform plan to help raise student achievement.
Additionally, Benson has many political ties to the state. In 1994, he ran for governor but lost to incumbent Roy Romer.
Benson has worked on many local and national campaigns, the most recent being Mitt Romney. He was the chairman for Romney for President Colorado, and was a national co-chair for Romney. His resume also includes work on the Republican National Committee in 2004, as well as work on the Bush/Cheney Reelection campaign.
Benson was also a co-chair of the Colorado Economic Recovery Act in 2005, which helped Referendum C be voted. Referendum C raised funds for several state programs and provided some financial relief to colleges and universities.
Members of the College Republicans and the College Democrats have come out to support or to discredit Benson.
The College Republicans have sent out a press release advocating his election on Feb. 3, saying that the group strongly supports the preliminary vote for Benson.
Jack A. Roldan III, the vice-chair of the College Republicans, said that the group supports Benson, not because he is a Republican, but because he is what’s best for the university.
“People have looked at him as a successful Republican, not as a successful individual,” he said. “People have made this into a political battle versus trying to find the right candidate for the job.”
Roldan believes that Benson will be able bring the leadership and experience the university needs to get funding.
He said that though it hasn’t been difficult to gain support for his group and for Benson, they’re faced with individuals who have not looked up the facts.
“I challenge my peers to look at his resume, look at his experience, and look at the job description for President, and then make an objective decision. I think they’ll find he’s overqualified for the job, and there is no reason why we are objecting him,” Roldan said.
Jesse Jensen, the President of the College Democrats was contacted but unavailable to comment.
However, the group posted a response to questions surrounding the College Democrats’ position on Benson in their Facebook group. The response said that as Democrats, they feel that his political relations threaten the non-partisanship the university administration needs.
However, the response said that member have set aside their party affiliation to work with a diverse group of students to boycott Benson.
It also said that the boycott against Benson has diverted their attention from other campus projects.
“We must quickly move past the Benson question, and redouble our efforts to build an active community,” it said.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Marcy Franklin at email@example.com.