ProgressNow swings at possible Allard presidency as ‘disastrous’

It didn’t take long for ProgressNow to come out swinging at the prospect that retiring RepublicanU.S. Sen. Wayne Allard may be in the running to replace Colorado State University President Larry Penley, who resigned unexpectedly in midsemester. Just after Allard’s name started making the rounds, ProgressNow Executive Director Mike Huttner fired off what is sure to be the first of many salvos.

As usual, he didn’t mince words: “Allard would be a disaster for CSU,” Huttner said in a news release. “Allard has been completely ineffective as a Senator and that is the last thing CSU needs in a time of dire fiscal needs.”

The Denver-based progressive advocacy group followed up with a call to action for members statewide, urging them tosign a petition directed at the governing board that will oversee hiring the next president of the state’s second-largest higher-education system.

Outgoing right-wing Senator Wayne Allard is shopping his name for the position of Chancellor of Colorado State University. (Fort Collins Coloradoan, 11/19/08)

We have serious concerns about the prospect of Wayne Allard as CSU’s Chancellor. Allard lacks academic experience. And he had a very disappointing record in the U.S. Senate. In 2006, Time magazine ranked Allard as one the country’s five worst senators. (April 14, 2007) Time dubbed Allard “the Invisible Man” and one of the “least influential senators.”

The Denver Post also criticized Allard, noting that as Senator he “squandered any influence he might have with a narrow agenda.” (DP, 4/22/2006)

Especially in light of the new dynamics in Colorado and Washington, the last thing CSU needs is a proven ineffective ideologue.

At the very least, CSU’s Board of Governors should conduct an open and transparent search for the best person available to lead CSU at this critical time in the University’s history.

We urge the Board of Governors to conduct a thorough search before handing this critical position to another washed-up Republican.

On Thursday the Greeley Tribune ran a response from a none-too-pleased Steve Wymer, Allard’s communication director, who said, “Senator Allard is not ‘pitching himself’ for any position.”

“Should the senator’s interest in the sustained success of his alma mater lead to a role with Colorado State University, he has simply stated that he would certainly be interested,” Wymer was quoted saying. “The CSU Board of Governors sets the vision for the institution, not bloggers or activists. At this point, it is counterproductive to speculate about a process and a potential position that has not been defined or even discussed in great detail.”

Counterproductive to speculate about a process and a potential position? Not really.

The position is certainly open, even if it may be refined from that held by Penley, who resigned weeks after an investigative report by The Colorado Independent highlighted the president’s efforts to shift state funds away from the university’s academic colleges and library system while injecting cash to the school’s athletics department and nearly tripling the budget of his own Office of the President.

As for the process, well, no speculation there. According to the CSU student newspaper, the Collegian, the official search starts in January.

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