Main Timeline of Mark Kennedy
A history of CU President Mark Kennedy's racist/problematic statements and actions
For a focus on Kennedy's career in academia, click here.
For a focus on Kennedy's career in politics, click here.
For a focus on Kennedy's career in business, click here.
President Kennedy's annual review is coming up and the Board of Regents will be discussing his annual review during their June 2021 board meeting.
Now is the time to contact the Regents and let them know what you think of Mark Kennedy as CU's President. Consider signing diversifyCUnow's letter here:
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If you would like to sign up to give public comment the day of the June 17 Regent board meeting, send an email to CUBoardofRegents@cu.edu with the subject line "Live public comment." Include your full name, your organization (or a description of who you are), and the topic "President Kennedy's annual review" in your email. Be sure to send in your request no later than June 14, 2021.
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"He certainly should not be allowed to lead a critical social institution and a vital economic driver like the University of Colorado system. Our $4.5 billion annual budget, 67,000 students, and 35,000 employees cannot survive his history of bungled business dealings, unapologetic partisanship, and adversarial leadership"
April 15, 2021
CU Boulder Student Government votes unanimously to support the BFA motion to censure Kennedy
The Legislative Council of CUSG voted unanimously, citing his “racist or problematic” remarks, and inaction on issues that face BIPOC students and international students, stating “President Mark Kennedy has failed to lead with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
April 14, 2021
CU Boulder Graduate and Professional Student Government votes 17-1 in support of the motion to censure Kennedy
The governing body for graduate students at CU-Boulder passed a resolution hoping “to hold President Mark Kennedy accountable for his inaction and damaging rhetoric through a formal censure,” saying “it is apparent that [Kennedy] has failed at his responsibility to uphold the pillars of the CU System, including justice equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
April 1, 2021
Faculty Council issues a Resolution on Reprimand of President Mark Kennedy
University of Colorado Faculty Council issues a Resolution on Reprimand of President Mark Kennedy to "strongly condemn and officially reprimand President Mark Kennedy for his failure of leadership in regard to shared governance as outlined in CU Regent Law and Policy." Faculty Council also calls on President Kennedy "to swiftly and publicly refute recent unwarranted and misinformed attacks on CU faculty in an effort to "promote free expression on the University of Colorado campuses…while simultaneously protecting the university environment" (Article 1E4)."
March 29, 2021
Boulder faculty consider censuring Kennedy
The CU Boulder faculty assembly considers a motion, based on a letter by Boulder faculty members, to censure Kennedy for failed leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
March 23, 2021
Kennedy fails to voice support for AAPI peoples
Kennedy did not release a statement of solidarity with the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) peoples after the shooting in Atlanta. After the fact, he “paralleled” his support for the AAPI community in a statement sent following the mass shootings in Boulder.
March 18, 2020
President Kennedy sends a cross-campus email comparing Covid-19 response efforts to antisemitic threats from the KKK in the 1920’s
At the beginning of the pandemic, President Kennedy sent an email to the CU community. In an inappropriate and insensitive comparison, he compared the recent shift to remote learning to President Norlin’s defense of Jewish and Catholic professors in the face of threats from members of the Ku Klux Klan. This comparison demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of both disaster response and systemic racism.
No defense of international students in the face of proposed regulation changes
The Trump White House proposed a rule which would have changed the duration of stay regulations for international students. Many universities and student governments provided public comment, including the Anschutz Medical Campus Student Senate, the CU Boulder campus, and UCCS’s Chancellor, Dr. Reddy. This rule faced no opposition from the CU system, but eventually died with the incoming Biden administration.
September 10, 2020
Drumbeat comment at Regent meeting
During his President's Report (starting at 47:40), Kennedy said that the "drumbeat of activity" on campus will pick up in the spring, appropriating the Indigenous symbol of renewal and balance. He again apologized for his "poor choice of words" in his Trail of Tears comparison just one minute later, but still provided no evidence that he understands why his comment was harmful. Three quarters of Kennedy's report was spent talking about the technology and innovation program corporate partnership expansion and his COVID messaging to students. This outreach appears to be limited to producing awareness videos for distribution on social media.
September 8, 2020
University enters contract with sports betting operator
CU signs a five year contract with PointsBet, a online bookmaking company that profits off the labor of students without compensating them.
September 3, 2020
Apology for "Trail of Tears" comparison
In a 112-word statement, Kennedy apologized for his statements at the Faculty Council meeting. He said "I apologize for my poor choice of words" and said he "can and will do better."
August 27, 2020
Racist "Trail of Tears" comparison
During a Faculty Council meeting, Kennedy compared the lack of online education options to the Trail of Tears, an act of genocide by the United States government to remove Indigenous people from the American South.
July 20, 2020
Purple ink protocol sent to CU administration
The President's Office sent a memo titled "Shared Communication Protocol," to nine administrators asking them to submit any statements on a list of sensitive topics to Kennedy's office for review before publication. The memo asked administrators to "write in purple ink, not blue or red" when talking about the following "sensitive topics":
Regent Gallegos later walked back the move, saying the memo "should not be viewed as policy, but as a suggestion."
Kennedy fails to adequately address Trump administration's discriminatory actions
On July 6th, the Trump White House issued a xenophobic directive for international students to attend in person classes when the majority of higher education was returning to online classes. Later that week, 180 universities joined together and filed a brief supporting Harvard students’ request for a restraining order to stop the directive. CU did not release a statement about this brief until the morning of July 14th, even though the Colorado State University System, Colorado College, the University of Denver, Regis University, and MSU Denver, were all original signatories. Although CU released a statement on July 7th, empty statements about working with partner institutions left international students feeling abandoned by their university. The July 14th statement, released one day before the Trump Administration rescinded the directive, rang hollow, since even then the University was still “reviewing opportunities to join amicus briefs.”
January 29, 2020
System strategic plan presented
Kennedy presented a four point strategic plan to the Boulder Faculty Council. One point of that plan is "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion." This plan presents no new strategy when compared to CU Boulder's IDEA Plan, released in the fall of 2019.
October 1, 2019
Kennedy refuses to publicly support Proposition CC
Though Kennedy privately supported the proposition, he did not use his platform to support the push to retain revenue for education and transportation, while Colorado public universities posted updates and publicly supported the measure.
July 1, 2019
Kennedy begins as CU System President
April 30, 2019
LGBTQ+ Committe of Faculty Council submits Open Letter asking Regents to reconsider
An Open Letter to the CU Regents From CU Faculty Council LGBTQ+ Committee was submitted, asking the Regents to reconsider their support for Kennedy as system president. They cited his anti-same sex marriage record in Congress and his statements during the UCF and CU search processes regarding DACA students and affirmative action.
April 28, 2019
Faculty Council issues Report on Mark Kennedy and Ethical Misconduct
Based upon the four campus open forums, the Faculty Council issued a scathing “Report on Mark Kennedy and Ethical Misconduct” detailing eight examples of misconduct, most of which were related to DEI matters.
Kennedy claimed that he had proactively reached out to One Colorado for counsel on LGBTQ+ issues, but they in fact reached out to him. (Boulder)
Kennedy highlighted certain aspects of his congressional record, while dismissing concerns about others. Kennedy said, "I had a bill that wanted to have hospitals be required to report undocumented workers before providing care. I voted against that bill," but dismissed concerns about his votes for a border wall and increased military presence at the border. (Anschutz and CU-Denver)
Faculty members question Kennedy on the statement in his CV that he "met with all tribal colleges to establish 2+2 Finish in 4 programs for priority degrees." At the CU Boulder open forum, Kennedy admits that the meetings likely occurred as part of his welcome tour to campus and that only one such program exists now.
Kennedy claimed multiple times at the open forums, and on his CV, that graduation rates increased at UND across the board, and that diverse communities had the same increase in graduation rates when he came there as president. However, UND statistics show graduation rates decreased for Asian and Indigenous students and that much of this graduation rate increase was created by lowering the number of credit hours required to graduate. (Anschutz and Boulder)
While answering questions about diversity and inclusion, Kennedy uses "exclusive" several times instead of "inclusive" and otherwise stumbles over language regarding race, sexual orientation, and gender. Sometimes, he catches himself and apologizes, or the crowd boos him into realizing the mistake, but other times he appears to be confused at the negative reaction from the crowd. (Boulder, CU-Denver, UCCS)
April 19, 2019
Students reject Kennedy
University of Colorado Boulder Student Government (CUSG) groups pass resolutions rejecting Kennedy as President finalist, but are told to "take a step back" by Regents.
April 18, 2019
Governor Polis suggests the Regents find a unifying candidate
Polis tweets, "As the University of Colorado moves forward in its selection process for a new President, it's very important that they find a candidate that unites the board. It's never good for a candidate or the institution if the board is split on a decision of this magnitude.
April 17, 2019
Kennedy refuses to answer affirmative action question
In an interview with CPR, Kennedy was asked for his thoughts in general on affirmative action in college admissions, he answered "I have not wrestled with that at the university yet in that our restrictions have not been as, let me go back. Can I just not answer that question?" Kennedy later made a statement saying his answer was a result of thinking he'd be late for another meeting, but he has never expressed support for affirmative action in college admissions.
April 12, 2019