SILVERTHORNE — Members of the University of Colorado’s Board of Regents did some soul-searching on Thursday as they discussed the board’s role in governing the university system.
The regents met for the second day of a two-day retreat at President Bruce Benson’s ranch north of Silverthorne.
The nine-member, publicly elected board spent all day Thursday discussing big-picture topics, such as how they should be spending their time, their committee structure and their relationships with each other and with paid staffers in the CU system office and on the four campuses.
The discussion was led by consultants from Wheless Partners, an executive search firm that also advises governing boards on strategy and leadership. CU is paying the firm $50,000 for their work with the regents and up to $10,000 in expenses.
The regents, chancellors from the four CU campuses and other high-level staffers talked about the fact that CU’s regents have to work hard to get elected to their seats and thus are extremely passionate about their work on the board. They discussed how involved the board should be in day-to-day campus matters and how the board can be more efficient.
“A democracy is slow,” said Regent Steve Ludwig, a Democrat with an at-large seat. “We might take two or three times as much time as your traditional board and that’s just what’s so.”
With help from consultant Kevin Coyne, the board brainstormed what they would like to see from the campuses and the university system in the next 10 years.
They also talked a bit about CU’s next round of leaders, acknowledging that Benson and several campus chancellors are getting older.
Benson is 78 and was hired as president in 2008. Phil DiStefano, chancellor on the Boulder campus, was first hired at CU as an assistant education professor in 1974.
“What are the leadership requirements (in those positions) that will be different than they are today?” Coyne asked.
Benson shared his thoughts.
“You don’t need to be the computer expert or the finance expert in these jobs, you need to figure out how to get those people,” Benson said. “If I were looking for someone to replace me, I wouldn’t say you have to be a this or a that or something else. I’d just want someone with good, solid business judgment. Do you know how to get things done? Can you hire the right people? Do you have the skills to work with people so that everybody gets along?”
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