Lawsuit ruling draws more criticism for search that named Mark Kennedy president in Colorado

File photo of UND president Mark Kennedy. P hoto by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Controversy continues to swirl around the process used to name former UND President Mark Kennedy to the presidency at the University of Colorado.

A Denver judge ruled that the University of Colorado Board of Regents violated the state’s open-records law when the board refused to release a list of candidates for the system’s leader to the Boulder Daily Camera, the Colorado newspaper reported Friday.

The newspaper filed the lawsuit in September. Friday’s ruling found that the system did not properly interpret the state’s open-records laws. The system will now have to turn over the names and application materials for six finalists to the Daily Camera within three weeks.

The Daily Camera reported the CU system leaders are “digesting” the ruling and considering options. The Camera reported that CU could not rule out appealing the decision, but a spokesperson declined to comment further.

There has been controversy surrounding the regents’ process since Kennedy was named the sole finalist for the University of Colorado last April. After the initial announcement on April 10, the Denver Post reported on April 12 that the Herald’s initial report rushed the announcement of Kennedy as the sole finalist.


Many in Colorado were angered by the search process and that Kennedy was the only finalist. Some wanted the regents to release the other finalists’ names to allow for diversity of opinions and other discussion. Kennedy ultimately was chosen to become CU’s president on May 2.

A few months after the Daily Camera filed suit, a list of potential candidates was leaked to the Colorado Independent, which caused more turmoil. In December, a list of potential candidates was leaked to the Colorado Independent. That list included the names of two individuals with ties to UND, including incoming President Andrew Armacost and recent graduation speaker, Heather Wilson.

Armacost told the Herald in December that he was invited to apply for the position last February, long before the UND position ever opened. He did not interview for the Colorado position.

The issues in Colorado stand in stark contrast to the process used to replace Kennedy. That search process named six candidates, effectively semi-finalists, and three finalists for the president’s position.

Each of the six candidates spent around two days on campus, meeting with students, faculty, staff and community members in open forums. The three finalists were interviewed for an hour each in an open meeting by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education.

The board ultimately selected Armacost to become the next president of UND. He’s working part-time for the university until he takes over leadership officially on June 1.

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.

For story pitches contact her at or call her at 701-780-1134.
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