The University of Colorado Board of Regents voted unanimously Wednesday to confirm Todd Saliman as the next president of the school's four-campus system.
"With the regents behind you, you can and will be able to accomplish a great deal to (move) this university forward," Regent Jack Kroll said following the vote, held at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. "The challenges our university, state, nation and world face are tremendous. You must now pick up the heavy mantle of the CU presidency and make progress."
Before the vote, students, professors and community members weighed in on Saliman's nomination during a public comment period.
While some were opposed to naming him president, many including lawmakers and professors of color spoke in favor of the board's choice.
Reiland Rabaka, a professor at CU Boulder and founding director of the university's Center for African & African American Studies, was one of the people who spoke in favor of Saliman. He said over the past few months, Saliman has listened to him and made him feel more a part of the community than he ever has.
"I do not often feel a sense of belonging on the Boulder campus. It has been very, very difficult and not consistent as there are (moments) where I feel belonging, but oftentimes not," Rabaka said. "Over the last several months, I really have felt like I've been heard, like I've been seen, and I have felt a greater sense of belonging (and) being a part of the CU family than I have in 17 years. That means a lot to myself and to the people that I represent."
Those who opposed the appointment — from the Colorado Latino Leadership Advocacy & Research Organization, students and alumni — asked the regents to postpone the vote because Saliman did not represent the campus community.
A member of the Latino organization even called for an investigation into the search process to determine "whether he was given unfair advantages."
"My message to you is brief, regents: You can do better, you can be bolder," said Emily Loker, a doctoral candidate at CU Boulder. "Better and bolder means restarting the search process. A search process that keeps producing white finalists is a racist process."
Following Wednesday's vote, Saliman, the university's 24th president, said there is a lot of work to be done in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion across the university's system.
"We know that we don't reflect the diversity of the people of Colorado and know we have a lot of work to do to ensure we make progress on that important priority," Saliman said. "It's about making sure we have campus cultures that create a sense of belonging for our students, our faculty and staff, where people want to be, and a culture that Colorado can be proud of."
Saliman was named interim president following the resignation of Mark Kennedy last summer. Earlier this month, the board announced that Saliman was the sole finalist in its presidential search.
Saliman grew up in Littleton and graduated from CU Boulder with a degree in political science.
During his career, Saliman has served in the Colorado Legislature and in the cabinets of two governors. He has also been the university's chief financial officer and vice president of government relations and strategy.