Two CU Regent races on ballot | PostIndependent.com

Two CU Regent races on ballot

Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

The campaign season for the Nov. 6, 2012, election is here, and the Post Independent wants to make sure readers and voters have plenty of information before casting their vote.

This month we are publishing question and answer articles with candidates for U.S. Congress, the state Legislature, University of Colorado Regent, Ninth District Attorney and the Garfield Board of County Commissioners, as well informative articles about the Garfield Legacy and Rifle sales tax ballot questions.

Today we present interviews with the two candidates vying for the open Third District seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents, Jessica Garrow and Glenn Gallegos.

On page 3, we present interviews with the three candidates running for the statewide at-large seat on the Board of Regents, Brian Davidson, Stephen Ludwig and Daniel Ong.

The CU Regent districts follow the same boundaries as those set for the state’s seven congressional districts. The Third District takes in much of the Western Slope, the San Luis Valley and Pueblo.

In early October, readers will hear again from candidates and issues campaigns when they speak directly to voters in opinion columns. And later in October, the Post Independent Editorial Board will publish its endorsements of candidates and ballot questions.

The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 9.

For dates of upcoming local election forums, watch the calendar on page 4.

For an archive of these stories, coverage of campaign forums and other election issues on the local, state and national level, please visit http://www.postindependent.com > News > Elections.

Q. What’s your approach to addressing the funding gap for higher education in Colorado, and finding a balance between state funding and tuition?

A. One of the most critical issues facing our higher education system is how colleges and universities will deal with rapidly dwindling state dollars. Since I graduated from CU-Boulder in 2004, tuition has nearly tripled. At the same time, state funding has decreased by about 54 percent.

Colorado is now 48th in the country in state funding for higher education, and according to a University of Denver report, state funding of higher education will be gone within 10 years.

I believe state funding for higher education is critical; education is a public good and is deserving of public investment. We cannot cut our way to success.

That is why I advocate working with the state Legislature to explore methods to maintain public dollars to higher education. In light of continued decreases in state funding, colleges and universities must also continue to focus on private giving and support to supplement lost state revenue.

Q. Have the recent tuition increases for CU been fair?

A. If we are going to have a successful higher education system we cannot simply transfer the burden of declining state dollars to students and their families.

Without significant changes to the way we fund higher education, all colleges and universities will continue to rely on tuition increases, which I believe is unfair. Our state must make tough choices when it comes to education if we are going to ensure college is affordable and attainable.

That may mean asking voters if they will support funding for higher education. It could mean asking voters if they will fund K-12, thereby freeing up dollars for higher education. It could also mean consolidating and combining programs within and between schools.

None of these choices are easy, but they are necessary if we are committed to educating future Coloradans, attracting new firms and businesses to the state, and continuing groundbreaking research.

Q. Should Colorado community college graduates be afforded automatic admission to transfer to CU?

A. Community college students who meet academic standards should be, and are, afforded automatic admission to CU. Any community college student with 30 community college credit hours and a minimum GPA of 2.7 are automatically admitted to CU.

Continuing this program is critical to ensuring a higher education remains accessible to all Coloradans. Transfer programs provide an important level of flexibility for students and their families. They mean a student can start college in their local community, take a few classes while working, or start taking classes towards a new career.

Transfer programs provide one way for students to budget for their higher education costs, as classes at community colleges are often less expensive than four-year schools. In addition, community college classes provide a way for students to take additional credits that count toward their four-year degree.

One way I was able to graduate on time was taking summer community college classes that counted toward my CU degree.

Q. Do you support Metro State’s recent decision to offer a special tuition rate for undocumented students who graduate from Colorado high schools, and should CU follow suit?

A. I support the policy, but I would like to see a statewide resolution to this issue rather than creating a patchwork of different rules between all higher education institutions.

I support the Colorado Asset Bill, which would provide a more affordable path for undocumented students who have graduated from a Colorado high school, to attend college by creating a third tier of tuition equal to the actual cost of an education.

As a candidate, I have had the opportunity to meet young people who are at the top of their high school class, but are not able to afford college because they came here as young children, of no fault of their own, and do not have the right paperwork. These kids only know this country, and denying them access to higher education denies them a future and our state the benefit of their determination, ambition and intellect.

Q. What’s your approach to addressing the funding gap for higher education in Colorado, and finding a balance between state funding and tuition?

A. The quickest way to solve state funding has to do with returning to a robust economy. People are working, businesses are flourishing, new businesses are starting, tourists are coming and goods are selling putting dollars into the state general fund and education.

Another solution involves working with legislators and educating the public on the Gallagher and TABOR amendments. Both need to be rethought, as they are limiting to funding education.

Balancing the budget can also be done by streamlining, cutting bureaucracy and archaic rules and regulations; setting goals and priorities and only funding based on results is an opportunity to evaluate programs and degrees. New dollars are found through evaluation and tracking results.

The state must be a partner in funding CU. Without the state, there is risk of privatization that could lead to loss of educational opportunities for students.

Finally, tuition increases are a solution for funding, but cannot be used to make up all shortfalls. Possibly we should look at a guaranteed in-state tuition rate for four years.

Q. Have the recent tuition increases for CU been fair?

A. The need for higher tuition became a matter of circumstance rather than of fairness. This was caused by a failing economy, a system for funding education that relies on a robust economy for general fund money, taxpayers who have not wanted any new tax increases and perhaps do not value nor have confidence in K-12 and higher education.

My daughter Erin graduated this spring from CU, so firsthand I can tell you that high tuition increases each year were hard on her and our family. It made it difficult for Erin to plan in advance. In that respect, tuition increases have not been fair to students and families, nor to CU, nor to the taxpayers.

It would be a simple problem if it were a matter of a university taking advantage by charging too much tuition. The issue is much more complex. It will take leadership and trust to solve education funding and educational reform in Colorado, and money may not be the answer.

Q. Should Colorado community college graduates be afforded automatic admission to transfer to CU?

A. Absolutely! Not only automatic admission to CU but the other public colleges and universities in the state. This is good business in that it requires our community colleges and public colleges and universities to plan together so there is rigor and the same standards.

Community colleges are an important part of moving toward higher education for individuals, whether it be a two-year training certificate or admission into a four-year baccalaureate degree. It is also an important part of CU being accessible to people in the Third Congressional District.

Q. Do you support Metro State’s recent decision to offer a special tuition rate for undocumented students who graduate from Colorado high schools, and should CU follow suit?

A. In my opinion this decision belongs to the state Legislature and legislators voted against this late in their legislative session.

For me, it is a matter of law, and I cannot agree with nor support Metro State’s decision to enroll these students at this special tuition rate. Under these circumstances, I would not support CU following suit.

It is unfortunate that immigration reform has not yet addressed these undocumented students, so laws towards citizenship are clear and defined. Instead, we continue to do things piecemeal, which further undermines the laws of this land and continue to leave these undocumented students without a future.

Getting into college at a lesser rate is not the issue, the issue is citizenship. With citizenship, all paths to a great future open up.

I know many of these undocumented students, and they are a tribute to their families, their schools and communities. We should be working hard to keep them in this country. Immigration reform needs to be a priority.


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