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Audience Skeptical Of Sole Candidate For CU's Next President

DENVER (CBS4) - As Mark Kennedy begins his tour around Colorado, the candidate to be president of the University of Colorado System is having a hard time convincing skeptics he should be the next leader.

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"I was a little disappointed, more than a little disappointed," said Ash Mechtley, an IT employee for the CU System.

On Monday, Kennedy's tour kicked off in downtown Denver meeting with chancellors of the four campuses as well as lawmakers at the capitol. In the afternoon, he held an open forum with system employees.

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Kennedy opened the event by talking about how he won't impose his personal beliefs on the system and believes in an open supportive environment, but the cloud from his congressional votes remained. Kennedy has drawn criticism for conservative views including voting against gay marriage and in favor of abortion restrictions.

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Mark Kennedy (credit: CBS)

"We've invested and expanded our services for the LGBTQ community during my time at the University of North Dakota," Kennedy said. "We'll look forward to being a champion for diversity and a champion for inclusiveness."

Mechtley says he chose to work at CU because of support and inclusion around gender identity. He pressed Kennedy about a changing stance around LGBTQ issues.

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CBS4's Jeff Todd interviews Ash Mechtley (credit: CBS)

"I was really hoping to hear some concrete examples about how that happened," said Mechtley. "His concrete example for how he's given support to the LGBTQ community was welcome packets."

"We have as strong or stronger protection in North Dakota than they have in Colorado," Kennedy reiterated.

The candidate was also spoke about his commitment to helping the university system battle climate change, how he'll fund raise, and what kind of food he likes.

Some in the audience questioned his lack of ties to Colorado.

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Mark Kennedy (credit: CBS)

Regents picked Kennedy for his Political experience as a congressional representative, his time in higher education leading the University of North Dakota and George Washington University, and his business experience.

He'll visit UCCS on Tuesday, the Anschutz Medical Campus on Wednesday, CU Denver on Thursday and a controlled event at CU Boulder on Friday.

"The boulder campus is one of the most LGBT diverse schools in the country," said Mechtley. "It's not even really on his radar, it's really disappointing. I would like to see another candidate."

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