Leadership & Governance

Recording of Colorado Board Meeting Reveals Maneuvering Over Chancellorship

July 26, 2009

An audio recording of a closed-door May meeting captured members of the Colorado State University system's Board of Governors discussing why the board's vice chairman, Joe Blake, should be named as soon as possible as the sole candidate for the post of system chancellor—a post to which he was subsequently appointed. According to the Fort Collins Coloradoan, the recording also caught Douglas L. Jones, then chairman of the board, urging members to act before the state legislature could force the board to name at least three finalists for top posts.

Mr. Jones was also recorded saying that the legislature's effort to make the process more open was the result of "un-Christian attitudes." The Coloradoan noted that Paul Weissman, the majority leader of the State House of Representatives and a Democrat, sponsored the House version of the bill. Mr. Weissman, who was raised Jewish, told the newspaper that he does not hold grudges and doesn't think Mr. Jones's remarks would hurt the university's relations with the General Assembly.

The recording was released last week when the university system settled a lawsuit brought by the Coloradoan and two other newspapers, The Pueblo Chieftain and The Colorado Independent. The suit accused the board of violating the state's open-meetings law. In the settlement, the board agreed to pay $19,000 in legal bills run up by the three newspapers, but board members did not admit wrongdoing.

Mr. Blake is a former president of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce who has a record of involvement in political and business issues. Mr. Jones told The Chronicle in an interview in March that the board was looking for a nontraditional chancellor with a "good knowledge of Colorado business and politics."