Lesley Smith, candidate for CU regent, at-large


Party: Democratic

City or town of residence: Boulder

Profession: Scientist, educator

Campaign website: www.LesleyforCU.org

Why are you seeking this office?

CU faces big challenges — public funding has been cut dramatically while tuitions are through the roof, and there are persistent gaps in enrollment and graduation rates for students of color. I believe Colorado's flagship university system should be affordable and accessible to every Coloradan. Whether a student is a Boettcher Scholar, first generation or a non-traditional student (or all three!), I want to ensure that they have the opportunity to attend CU, thrive, and graduate.

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I've lived in Colorado for 30 years, as a CU scientist, CU educator, CU mom, and Colorado taxpayer. I held a similar position to Regent as a School Board Member for eight years, overseeing a $400 million budget, managing the superintendent with 3,500 employees, and serving 30,000 students, all during the 2008 recession when schools faced devastating funding cuts. Plus, I have experience increasing diversity and equity in our schools — a challenge for CU.

What are the most important responsibilities of a regent?

The Board of Regents hires and oversees the President of the University of Colorado system, oversees the University's $4.5 billion budget (including setting tuition), and develops and oversees the governing policies for CU.

What would your top priorities be if elected?

No. 1, hire a new president who is a visionary leader, can collaborate with the University's diverse stakeholders and is an effective advocate for public and private funding for CU. Number 2, improve affordability for Colorado residents, in spite of drastic cuts to CU's funding by the Legislature. Recent efforts by the Boulder campus to keep tuition flat for incoming students and drop class fees are a step in the right direction.

What else should voters know about you?

One fun fact: I was the first woman aquanaut to live and work in the Aquarius Underwater Research Lab (think: underwater space station), and I've done aquatic research in the Amazon, the Artic and alpine lakes in Colorado. As a woman scientist, I've seen the gender gap in the scientific community firsthand, and I would love to see STEM enrollment reach 50/50 at CU.


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