Inside Academe Vol. XIX No. 2 2013-2014
Effective trustees are deeply engaged at their institutions, identifying problems and creating solutions. Two such leaders are University of Colorado regents Jim Geddes and Sue Sharkey.
Together, Geddes and Sharkey recognized the limitations of the University of Colorado’s anti-discrimination policy, which did not cover “political affiliation or political philosophy.” They brought the issue to their colleagues on the board. While they met some opposition from members of the faculty and administration who wanted to avoid a sensitive topic, in the end the board unanimously agreed to expand the policy.
Encouragingly, the board was not content simply to mandate academic freedom in writing. In addition, they commissioned a campus climate survey to gather hard data on how well the university was living up to its principles.
Regent Sharkey explained that without the survey the board “cannot gauge how well it is meeting this goal” and that “consistent with principles of academic research, rather than relying upon anecdotal evidence or urban legend, this climate survey will tell us where we have succeeded and where we have opportunities to make the University of Colorado stronger.”
America needs more trustees who will not only take the lead in implementing changes but also follow through and monitor their decisions with objective research. ACTA salutes the efforts of regents Jim Geddes and Sue Sharkey.