Jun. 1—University of Colorado system Chief Financial Officer Todd Saliman will be CU's interim president starting July 1, the Board of Regents voted Tuesday, taking the helm from President Mark Kennedy as the board conducts its second national search since 2019 for a leader of the four-campus system.
The nine-member board voted unanimously to appoint Saliman during a virtual meeting.
"Todd is a valued and respected member of the university community who has a sound understanding of the issues it faces," Board Chair Glen Gallegos said in a statement. "He was the unanimous choice of the Board of Regents and we look forward to working with him to continue CU's momentum and upward trajectory."
Saliman has worked for CU since 2011 and previously served as the state's budget director for Gov. Bill Ritter and as an adviser early in John Hickenlooper's term as governor, according to a CU news release.
He represented Colorado House District 11 from 1995-2002 in the state legislature, which then included north Boulder, northwestern Boulder County and Allenspark. Saliman also served for four years on the Joint Budget Committee and owned and ran a lobbying firm. Saliman was born and raised in Colorado and is an alumnus of CU Boulder.
"I'm so honored that you asked me to do this and that you put your trust in me, and I will do my very best every day to do a good job for all of you and for the students, faculty and staff of our great university," Saliman told the board Tuesday. "We will continue to focus on what matters most — serving the students, serving our community, doing great research and serving Colorado."
Kennedy is stepping down on July 1 under a $1.3 million agreement approved by the Board of Regents in May, one year before his three-year contract was set to end. The university will begin a national search for the permanent president before the end of the year, according to the Board of Regents motion. Saliman will not seek the permanent position, according to a CU news release. His employment contract has not been finalized, which means details of his salary for this role are not available.
Kennedy's departure is the culmination of a tumultuous two-year tenure, including navigating a pandemic, budget cuts and enrollment declines. Kennedy was criticized by CU students, faculty and staff for some of his comments, actions and policies and received votes of censure and criticism from system and CU Boulder governance groups for lack of shared governance and failed leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion.
Kennedy has declined interviews regarding his departure, but in public statements has referred to the Board of Regents' changing political make up. The board flipped from Republican to Democratic control in January for the first time in more than 40 years.
Saliman on Tuesday received bipartisan support from CU Regents, former university presidents and elected officials.
"You have all the wonderful qualifications we need to set our ship on a right course and to have the stability that is necessary. We've had that, we will continue to have it," said Republican Regent Sue Sharkey. "I think all of the stakeholders of the University of Colorado can feel good about today and the coming months and time you will be our president."
"If there's a better person out there for this job, I don't know who it is. I wish you well," said Regent Nolbert Chavez, a Democrat.
CU released statements in support of Saliman from Kennedy; former CU presidents Bruce Benson and Hank Brown; U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette; state Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker; state Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon; state Rep. Matt Soper, R-Delta; and state Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver.
"As a former CU Regent, I have seen the hard work and expertise it takes to lead this University, and having worked with Todd for many years, I know he has the leadership and experience it takes to guide us through this transition," Neguse said in a statement.