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Advocacy group says it's outraged at the lack of Hispanic finalists for CU president

A spokesman for CU said the Board of Regents has not yet selected any finalists.

BOULDER, Colo — The Colorado Latino Leadership Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO) expressed outrage that the University of Colorado (CU) Board of Regents did not select former Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia as a finalist for the position of president. 

CLLARO specifically named Garcia as a candidate who the organization believes was overlooked despite his qualifications.

CU on Thursday did not confirm or deny to 9NEWS whether Garcia is under consideration. A spokesman said the Board of Regents has not yet selected any finalists.

CLLARO claims five finalists have been selected and Garcia isn't one of them. However, CU said they aren't expecting finalists to be selected "any time soon."

Former CU President Mark Kennedy announced he was leaving the school in May 2021 and was given the title of president emeritus.

CU administrator Todd Saliman was named interim president effective July 1, 2021.

In December, the 16-member presidential search committee announced it would narrow the pool to at least five candidates. 

The search committee is required by the Board of Regents to maintain the candidates' confidentiality during search, but according to CLLARO, Garcia was not selected as one of the five remaining finalists.

“I have known Joe Garcia since he was a Harvard Law student and his twenty year history in higher education is extraordinary," CLLARO Board Chair Federico Peña said. "It’s unbelievable that his name will not be presented to the full Board of Regents.”

RELATED: CU's president announces he is stepping down

A recent study referenced by CLLARO highlights the discrepancy between the United States' Hispanic population of 18.5% in general and their representation among executive ranks, which is only 4%.

“It is extremely disappointing that our community can never get to the top of the competition," said Virginia Castro, President of the Auraria Historical Advocacy Council and member of the Latino Advocacy Council. "When will our qualifications be enough? Even with people as qualified as Joe Garcia.”

CLLARO said the following organizations "stand with CLLARO in our disappointment":

  • Auraria Historical Advocacy Council
  • Cesar Chavez Peace and Justice Center for Denver
  • Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR)
  • League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
  • Nuevo Amistad
  • Servicios de la Raza
  • Servicios Sigue

CU Vice President for Communications Michael Sandler told 9NEWS in an email that "The Board of Regents has not selected any finalists in the presidential search, and the board is not expected to do so any time soon." 

Sandler continued, "So you understand the process, the board would announce a finalist or finalists at a public meeting. Then there will be a two-week period when the public can meet the individuals on our campuses before the board votes publicly to elect a president. The board has said that they expect for the process to be complete by the end of the spring semester."

Troy Pope contributed to the reporting of this story.

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