Since the day he was announced as the sole nominee for CU’s president, there have been controversies following Bruce Benson. With his background as an oil magnate and far-right conservative, Benson has been an anti-democratic force for privatizing our university and denying our campus the ability to hold to our expressed values. During his initial review, faculty voted him down 40-4 and the Regents overruled in Benson’s favor.
While Benson now talks of increasing our state budget, it was him that chaired the Blue Ribbon Panel for the governor in 2001-03 and recommended CU adopt a voucher program that was more in tune with market forces. Following this, we see a slow and steady decrease in state funding and rise in tuition rates.
Benson was once a primary funder for Trailhead Group, a political group forced to change operations after they were caught spreading misinformation and smearing Democratic candidates in Colorado. Through Trailhead and related groups, Benson’s hefty bank has worked heavily to sway politics in Colorado to the right, and has risen investigation into illegal laundering.
Under his tenure, faculty have written about the chilling effects on the University’s values, respect of academic freedom, and internal processes. Benson has continually ignored student campaigns and change initiatives, telling faculty and students “no” to a widely-supported fossil fuel divestment push.
Given the values Boulder speaks and tries to represent, Benson has been a figure of resistance. Praised only for his connections to money, he is unfit to be our president and has no sense or care for the logic of higher education. He is a businessman through and through whose actions have weakened the independence and integrity of CU.