Published: April 1, 2021

The Boulder Faculty Assembly on Thursday discussed a motion introduced by the governance body’s executive committee calling for a censure of CU President Mark Kennedy for “his failure of leadership with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

The 10-point resolution originated with a March 22 letter to BFA Chair Bob Ferry calling for a censure of Kennedy. It was turned into a resolution after a consensus on the executive committee that “it was proper to bring it forward,” Ferry said. 

The resolution accuses Kennedy of refusing to include diversity, equity and inclusion as “a standalone pillar in his administration’s strategic plan,” failing to support campus efforts to secure visas for international students in response to a Trump administration policy, and conduct that continues to undermine “the institution’s commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion,” among seven other accusations in the resolution. 

Ferry was careful to explain to the assembly that the motion should be carefully considered and discussed by faculty across the campus before a scheduled vote on April 29. 

“The BFA isn’t telling reps or units whether they should agree with all the bullet points on’s up to you in your unit to return with your vote on April 29 for or against the censure––you can do what you like,” Ferry said. 

Ferry said it was likely the motion would undergo amendments and edits, “but at the end of the day we’ll have a resolution—essentially this one—and we’ll take a vote.” 

BFA representative Alastair Norcross of Philosophy supported Ferry’s encouragement to socialize the measure with rank-and-file faculty, saying it was important to “make available the motion and supporting documents—show them the links, show them the faculty council resolution, we want this vote to be as informed as possible.”

Some discussion ensued following a question by BFA member Melinda Piket-May of Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering as to how the Colorado Springs Gazette had been able to run an opinion piece posted on March 31 criticizing the BFA measure and defending Kennedy before the BFA had formally introduced the motion. 

Some discussion focused on the purpose of the motion and whether it was fair. 

BFA member Adam Norris of Applied Mathematics said he had been asked by more than one person, “What’s the point and where are we trying to go with this?” 

Ferry said he felt it was important the BFA discuss the issue and that “whatever happens, the expression of our feeling about this is in and of itself the goal.” 

Ravinder Singh of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology said he wondered if Kennedy would be credited for hiring Chief Diversity Officer Theodosia Cook and whether the crafting of the resolution was “blunting” any possible achievements in diversity Kennedy should be credited with. 

“The question is, is this one-sided?” Singh said. “What is the exit strategy here—I’m just pointing out it’s worth considering these things.” 

David Paradis of History quickly countered, “He didn’t take any initiative on diversity topics until he was pushed to do was only after he was carried there kicking and screaming.” 

A statement from Kennedy provided by CU system Vice President for Communication Ken McConnellogue stated progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion “is a priority I share with the CU Board of Regents and the entire university community.”

“I am committed to this work and believe we have made significant progress to date. Yet there is much more to do, and I look forward to the opportunity to engage the Boulder Faculty Assembly to discuss ways we can collectively advance DEI,” Kennedy said in the statement.

Ferry explained it was also possible that the BFA could conduct a poll of the faculty senate as well.

The Faculty Senate consists of all members of the general faculty of the University of Colorado with appointments of 50% or more and with the titles of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, senior instructor, instructor, scholar in residence and artist in residence.

“I think we’ll bring these together—to say here is the BFA vote and here is the Faculty Senate vote,” Ferry said. 

In addition to the BFA motion, earlier in the day the executive committee of the Faculty Council––the governance organization for faculty across the CU system––passed a resolution of reprimand for Kennedy for “his failure of leadership in regard to shared governance as outlined in CU Regent Law and Policy.”

“Moreover, Faculty Council’s Executive Committee 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,’” the Faculty Council resolution said. 

In other BFA news

Members voted unanimously to support a resolution supporting more awareness around Anti-Asian Racism. The resolution was brought forward by the BFA Diversity Committee on March 19, 2021.

CU Boulder Provost Russell Moore briefed the faculty on preparations for next fall. 

  • Moore noted the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed, “sometimes in a disastrous way, some of the non-resilient systems we have on campus.” In response to a question, he cited as an example “Study Abroad, which, he said, as an auxiliary funded enterprise, “was decimated (financially) and we had to come to its rescue.”

CU Senior Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Assessment Katherine Eggert reported to the BFA: 

  • “Seventy percent of our classes (for fall 2021) are in-person; 11% are hybrid-in person, and 19% are remote and online.” 
  • She expected masks would be required in the fall for indoor instruction and activities, until further notice.
  • Due to the availability of vaccines, “We’ll go back to normal practice for those who need an accommodation. If a faculty member has a medical or family need for accommodation or leave, we’ll be back to the usual practice of FMLA leave or requesting ADA accommodation. Students who need a classroom accommodation for medical reasons will work with disability services to document that need.”