Thursday, May 04, 2006

Steve Ludwig for CU Regent

Steve Ludwig kicked off his campaign for CU Regent at Large yesterday at Denver's Forest Room 5. The campaign to sit on the guiding board of Colorado's third largest employer is an interesting challenge. He will have to appeal to all the voters and constituencies that a statewide race requires, but will have to take it on with the limited dollars and resources of a 'down ticket' campaign.

He will have to navigate his way through a primary and a general election for this open seat, and he will have to both get out the vote and motivate voters to mark complete ballots. In off term elections voters often stop after declaring a preference on Governor and the referenda, and never get to the seemingly less important races.

This is not an unimportant race. The university is not only a large employer, and a two billion dollar organization, but a magnet for high technology buisness in Colorado, and with the growth of the Fitzsimmons Health Clinic it is a key research facillity for Alzheimer's, HIV, cancer, and diabetes. Steve Ludwig also envisions that it could be a hub of co-operation between UNC, CSU and the CU system in tackling issues surrounding improving K-12 education.

Ludwig sees a danger in a current administration that focuses too heavily on athletics, and that lets other nations take the lead in teaching the academics. He indicated that the Chinese are building a university that will educate 500,000 people, their graduates will dwarf the 50,000 total students of CU. Likewise, Indian universities will produce 300,000 high tech graduates this year, a number six times larger than what American schools will produce.

I asked the candidate if a diminished focus on athletics would draw revenues away from the school and impact tuition rates. He said that it was not, "a zero sum game." He felt that if the board hired a competent athletic director, then the athletic program would stay strong. The board could then put its focus on the larger academic picture. Under current leadership, the board, the media, and the athletics department all have a single topic of conversation. He felt that you could still have those conversations led by people empowered to do so, and rather than be an either-or situation, "this can be 'both-and'."

Mr. Ludwig is a man of obvious intelligence, and has a solid background with the University. He is a graduate of CU - Colorado Springs with a degree in Philosophy. He was the student Chair of the CU Intercampus Student Forum, and then later worked in the CU President's office. He was accessible and friendly and struck me as being very much qualified for the job.

The other declared Democrat in this race is former CU Buffalo football player and student athlete mentor, Milt Rogers. Mr. Rodgers, an IT consultant from Boulder who is running on a platform focused on cleaning up the athletic program and restoring pride in CU. I will write more on him if I have the chance to meet him, but at this point I find that Mr. Ludwig's message ressonates more with me. As a techie and political wonk, I find there is more possibility in a future where Colorado is as invested in laboratories as we are in stadiums.

The Republican in this race is Juli Steinhauer wife of CU Regent Pete Steinhauer.

The event was very upbeat, and there were a number of familiar faces in the room.

Rep. Mike Merrifield (D - El Paso) and I talked about the legislative session that is almost closed. He was disappointed that his bill to ban disruptive protests from millitary funerals failed in a 3-3 committee vote over first ammendment concerns. It was still possible for Joan Fitz-Gerald to call it back, but with so few days left in the session and so much left to cover, it most likely will not make it back on today.

Regent Michael Carrigan gave an introduction of the candidate that reflected a long friendship that included their time ten years ago in the Young Dems. Like the others I spoke to, he was certain that Ludwig would be a strong candidate and a solid Regent.

Other notables in the crowd were Tamara Ward from the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Bill Wolf from Morgan Carrol's campaign, State Board of Education member Karen Middleton, and Soapblox contributor and Ludwig campaign honcho Lynette Mayo.


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