Money – rather, the lack of it – has emerged as the defining issue in hotly contested races for Colorado University’s nine-member Board of Regents.
At a Tuesday meeting with the editorial board of The Durango Herald, Arvada’s Dr. Brian Davidson, the Republican candidate for the board’s at-large seat, which is a statewide race, said he would combat the effects of excruciating budget cuts by expanding the university’s online course offerings and reducing administrative costs.
Since 2009, the state has cut CU’s funding by more than $120 million a year, a budget shortfall so drastic that CU’s website compares it to a “fiscal cliff.”
Davidson, a physician and faculty anesthesiologist at CU’s medical campus, is running against incumbent Democrat Stephen Ludwig of Denver, who defeated Davidson in 1996; Daniel Ong, a Boulder Libertarian; and Tyler Belmont, a 17-year-old American Constitution candidate from Colorado Springs.
In the meeting, Davidson – a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and CU Medical School – touted his CU bona fides and said he supported increasing public funding for education, a view that puts him “at odds with the rest of the Republican Party. I look at education from an investment point of view.”
Davidson said the future of CU – a sprawling institution with four campuses, 56,000 students, nearly 4,000 faculty members – would affect all Coloradans.
Technology has revolutionized education, and, Davidson said, CU was in danger of falling behind East Coast universities such as Harvard and Yale that are pioneering online education. He said increased online course offerings would help curb the rising cost of tuition at CU.
“With a cheap computer and the Internet, you can learn pretty much whatever you want. Yet the cost of a CU degree keeps going up and up, even though what they are providing hasn’t changed. I want to make sure we get the best education for the lowest price,” he said.
Davidson said the primary difference between him and his chief opponent, Ludwig, was that Ludwig is “more access focused – which isn’t wrong, it’s important. But I will be more product focused: once students are there, how can we make them as marketable as possible?”