CU Chief Credited With Helping Overcome Scandals

By Jon Sarche, Associated Press Writer

(AP) BOULDER, Colo. University of Colorado President Hank Brown, who helped burnish the school’s image after a series of embarrassing scandals at its Boulder campus, said Thursday he will resign early next year, just 30 months after taking over the state’s flagship university.

Brown said by the time he leaves on Feb. 1, 2008, all the reforms and reorganizations he wanted will either be in place or will be well on their way.

“We set a goal and the truth is, I think the university is on track,” Brown said. He called the job a “wonderful privilege.”

Brown, a former U.S. senator, took charge of the three-campus CU System in August 2005. He replaced Elizabeth Hoffman, who resigned after a trio of controversies: a sexual assault scandal in the football program, a professor who ignited a national firestorm by likening some Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi, and criticism of the school’s fundraising arm for not opening its books.

“He came in at literally a time of crisis for the university,” said state Rep. Alice Madden, D-Boulder. “He was truly the right person at the right time.”

Changes began immediately. Within a day of taking office, Brown eliminated 10 jobs in his office to save an estimated $824,000 annually, and banned the use of state money to buy alcohol for university functions.

Among other changes, Brown formed a commission to recommend ways to improve ethnic diversity among the university’s students and faculty and installed accounting changes to ensure financial rules were followed.

Brown said he hopes to teach political science at CU’s Denver campus after he leaves office. Asked if he planned to run for the Senate again after fellow Republican Wayne Allard retires in 2008, he laughed and told the questioner: “You’ve got a great sense of humor.”

Brown said his top goal as CU president was creating a “new culture” of openness to resolve complaints and suspicions about fundraising, crisis management and its responsiveness to lawmakers, the public and the media.

He said Coloradans expect the university to have problems, but they want to know what the school is doing about them.

“What they won’t tolerate is you not addressing problems and not being open about it,” he said.

Brown said there are signs the changes he has made were taking hold: Enrollment is surging, and donors have poured about $62 million into the school in the first six months of the fiscal year, nearly breaking the full-year record.

State lawmakers praised Brown’s work and said they were sorry to see him go.

“I think he has given CU some great stability and set them on a course to achieve great things,” said Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Golden.

CU officials praised Brown for restoring the school’s public image and said he helped give it a moral compass.

“He has been a leader of character and vision at a vital moment in the university’s history, perhaps its most vital moment,” said G.P. “Bud” Peterson, the chancellor who heads the Boulder campus. “He has brought public confidence, esteem and a spirit of optimism to the entire university system and to all our campuses.”

Regent Tom Lucero said Brown deserves credit for the changes under his watch, although Brown said many came from new chancellors and vice presidents throughout the CU System.

“When I was on the board six years prior to Hank, it was more of a hunkered-down feel,” Lucero said. “There wasn’t the good information flow between the campuses or with the general public, the Legislature and the media. In 18 short months, we’ve seen all that change.”

Brown said he announced his resignation a year in advance to give the university time to find a successor. Pay Hayes, chairwoman of the Regents, said the board would begin talking about a national search when it meets next month.

Said Regent Michael Carrigan: “If we could clone Hank Brown, he would be the leading candidate.”

(© 2007 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. )