Following denied requests for student representation on the search committee that will help select the CSU System’s next chancellor, CSU-Pueblo’s student government led a protest at its campus Thursday, asking Board of Governors chair Doug Jones to reconsider.
David Fresquez, the president of the Associated Students’ Government, headed the gathering of about 20 students who converged on Pueblo’s student pavilion in a picket demonstration.
The protest follows a failed letter-writing campaign piloted by Fresquez and Taylor Smoot, president of the Associated Students of CSU, that asked Jones to put a student on the committee, which was put together by the BOG and holds seats for members of the board and local business and political figures.
Michele McKinney, BOG spokesperson, said the board felt it had given fair opportunity for students to voice their input regarding the chancellor’s qualifications and said that because search committee proceedings are already underway, more members will likely not be added.
“(The committee has) a charge, there’s a plan and they’re on a very ambitious timeline,” she said, noting that the BOG is appointed by the state governor to handle the judiciary responsibilities of a university.
The committee received its charge from Jones last week and is to meet next month and potentially in May.
“The search committee is made up of people who have managed, are managing million-plus dollar operations and understand the skill sets needed in a leader to do that,” McKinney said.
On Wednesday, Jones told the Fort Collins Rotary Club that he would like to see the chancellor position filled by early June.
Smoot said he does not foresee a protest similar to CSU-Pueblo’s taking place at the Fort Collins campus.
“We’ve done what we needed to do,” he said, though he expressed regret in not coordinating efforts with Fresquez.
“If (Jones) is going to budge, the efforts are going to have to come from other board members.”
Steve Titus, a member of CSU-Pueblo’s student government, said he thinks the board is keeping students out of committee proceedings out of concern for candidate confidentiality.
“The person who will fill this position will be playing a very influential role in the community, and the board doesn’t want anything that can be harmful to the candidate to leak,” he said.
The newly created chancellor position is one that the CSU-Fort Collins president previously fulfilled. The BOG split the two positions officially last month, saying it wanted to keep a system head in Denver to continuously represent student needs to the state legislature.
Rich Schweigert, chief executive officer of the CSU System, has overseen the chancellor’s duties since former CSU President Larry Penley’s abrupt exit last November.
Five of the members on the committee — which will narrow down chancellor applicants to a likely sole finalist — are CSU-Fort Collins alumni. None are alumni from CSU-Pueblo.
Titus said he thinks lacking Pueblo representation is based on the fact that CSU-Pueblo is only five years old and doesn’t have as many donors as he said the Fort Collins campus does.
“Alumni give money to the system, too. They [the system] need to put the money where their mouth is so we can have some level of equality,” he said.
McKinney said Smoot and Fresquez, who act as non-voting members of the BOG, will be charged with representing their respective campuses’ students after the board receives a final recommendation from the search committee and reviews that candidate.
Titus said this is not enough representation.
“The system can benefit from the ideas of the students. Without any students, there would be no system. Without a system, there wouldn’t be a chancellor. . (Pueblo) is growing furiously, and we need representation from our own city,” Titus said.
Smoot said Sunday that he feels students could provide the board with “a very viable element that could really help out in the vetting process of the (chancellor) candidates.”
Collegian News Managing Editor Elyse Jarvis and Pueblo TODAY staff writer Jessica Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.