Re-1 board member Hakanson runs for CU Board of Regents
Running for a seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents is not something Susan Hakanson dreamed of doing, but after some encouragement from outgoing Regent Gail Schwartz and others, she’s making a run anyway. “It’s certainly a fascinating position, but not something I was seeking,” she said. In the November general election, Hakanson, a Democrat who is approaching the end of her second term on the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 Board of Education, is running against Republican Tillie Bishop of Mesa County to represent the 3rd Congressional District on the CU Board of Regents. “Having the university and a university of this capacity in our state is so important in so many ways, so being its champion is really important to me,” she said. Hakanson, of Glenwood Springs, said she doesn’t believe her potential seat on the Board of Regents would create a conflict of interest with her seat on the RFSD board. If elected, she would have less than a year remaining in her term on the school board, a seat for which she said she won’t likely seek re-election. She said she may decide to resign from the RFSD board early, partially because she’s considering moving out of Glenwood. Hakanson and her husband are building a house in Crested Butte, placing her much closer to Western State College, where she is a full-time student seeking a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication. It’ll be Hakanson’s first bachelor’s degree – something she had little time to pursue while raising her two daughters, who are both college-age. Neither attend CU, however. One attends the University of New Mexico, and the other is taking a break from Mesa State University. Hakanson said her status as both a college student and a mother of college students gives her a unique perspective generally absent from the CU Board of Regents.”It gives me a fresh knowledge of what students need, what they expect, how hard they’re working, the kind of level they’re working at, why they’re attending college,” she said.If elected, her experience as a school board member for seven years will give the Board of Regents a new perspective on secondary education by providing the board insight into public schools’ “standards-based” educational system, and how CU can adapt. With Colorado ranking low among states for university funding, bringing affordable higher education to rural and urban Coloradans alike is one of the biggest issues Hakanson said she wants to tackle while on the Board of Regents. “It’s been our challenge in K-12 (education) to have more and more students college-bound and college-ready, but it’s becoming less and less affordable in the state of Colorado for students to attend college,” she said. “That, to me, is ridiculous.”One example, she said, is making CU’s medical school more affordable, which is important for providing rural communities without doctors with adequate medical care. Meanwhile, Hakanson is concentrating on her campaign, which covers a vast district that includes cities as far-flung as Trinidad, Pueblo, Cortez, Grand Junction and Craig. Much of her campaigning has been done electronically, soliciting distant Democrats who are active in the 3rd Congressional District to help build her base in a geographically difficult district in which to run a low-profile race. “I don’t intend on running a $50,000 campaign,” she said. “I have no personal wealth to put into this, as many people do. I’ll just meet people, talk to them, get my name out as best I can.” Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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