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As you can tell in the byline, I am running to be the next CU Regent representing CD-5, the first Democrat in decades and support education for rural Coloradans. After being asked the correct pronunciation of my last name (Wool-Us-Key), the next question I am asked is what is the Board of Regents, anyway?

The Board of Regents is the group that oversees the operations of the University of Colorado system, including the local campus of tUCCS (University of Colorado Colorado Springs). Sadly, this “Board of Directors” has done nothing to reverse the crushing burden of tuition on our families, the primary reason people can’t go to any of the University of Colorado campuses.

I am a high school, community college and university teacher and have been in the classroom for 28 years. I am so inspired by my students at every grade level and want them to enjoy the many benefits available to those with a university education such as social mobility, job security and a greater sense of how they can fit into the world. However, when I talk to Coloradans, the number one barrier to attending CU is the escalating tuition and inevitable burden of student debt.

Attending one of the four CU campuses (UCCS, CU Boulder, CU Denver and CU Anschutz) means students face an average $21,000 in debt and take about 12 years to pay it off. Tuition goes up another 4 percent this year. The Regents have done nothing effective to rein in these costs in the last 50 years of GOP majority voting control.

Back in the 1970s, the state of Colorado paid 70 percent of the cost of higher education with students and their families paying 30 percent. This has degraded over the years and has totally reversed to the extent that a UCCS student pays 73 percent of the cost with seven percent coming from donations and only 20 percent from the state! This is why Colorado consistently ranks at the bottom (42nd this year and $2500 less than the national average) when it comes to support for college students, even though this education opens the doors to a life of opportunity, job security, and significant contribution to society.

While the Legislature is also part of the problem, the CU Regents have abdicated any responsibility to advocate for more funding and have done nothing in the management of a $4 billion budget to lower tuition. This may be a consequence of a CU President whose claim to fame is being an oil tycoon and the lack of education experience among the Regents.

I also served 28 years in the US Air Force and had the benefit of serving as an Associate Professor of Law at the Air Force Academy, as well as returning to be the senior legal advisor to the Academy Superintendent on admissions and other issues,. So I will bring to the role a thorough understanding of how a prestigious university runs. If we elect another Regent from CD-5 with no education or academic leadership experience, nothing will change for rural students or their families.

I ask that voters look at qualifications, as well as my commitment to public service and a career in education, when they cast their ballots next month.

By Dr. G. Anthony Wolusky Candidate for CU Regent, District 5