Sen. Wayne Allard has floated his name out there. State Rep. Bernie Buescher says he’d do it. Perennial college presidential favorite Hank Brown has been mentioned. And now Jim Martin, a former Republican and a former regent at the University of Colorado (CU), is promoting the man he thinks is the obvious choice to lead Colorado State University (CSU): former congressman and current executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education David Skaggs.
As Martin notes, Skaggs is an inspiring visionary with a strong record on the environment, who has earned the respect of leaders “from Durango to Sterling.”
The jockeying for president began shortly after CSU President Larry Penley unexpectedly resigned in mid-semester.
Allard, the conservative two-term Republican senator, called up Doug Jones, the president of the Board of Governors that oversees the state’s second largest university system, and said he’d be interested in the job. Allard’s staff then started circulating his name, which set off a maelstrom of protests from activists who have cited Allard’s dismal voting record on legislation involving education and the environment. In recent years Penley and other CSU leaders have worked hard to retool CSU as a “green university.”
“Wayne Allard has the worst environmental record in the U.S. Senate,” said Martin, in an interview last week with the Colorado Independent. “He still denies and has publicly denied global warming exists.
“He’s a kind and humble man, but as we welcome Wayne Allard back to the state of Colorado, there are many places that his skills now can be utilized for the benefit of the state,” Martin said. “The presidency of one of our major research universities is not one of them.”
This weekend, the colorful Martin, who left office in 2004 and is now a Democrat, penned an opinion piece praising Skaggs, a Democrat and former six-term representative from Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, as the perfect — and obvious — man for the job. From the pen of Martin:
Given the economic situation that Colorado and the country now faces, the selection of a new president for CSU takes on a heightened importance. The University needs someone with experience and vision; someone who can work with leaders in Denver and D.C.; and a person who will inspire students, faculty, alumni, and citizens of Colorado. Skaggs can do all three.
David works well with people. He knows Colorado and he knows Colorado’s higher education system. He can appeal effectively to donors and convey the excitement present on the Fort Collins campus. He is a thoughtful, reflective person who has the rare ability of making good decisions while remaining sensitive to the competing needs present in any institution of higher knowledge.