CU president critical of Metro State’s illegal-immigrant tuition-The Denver Post

CU president critical of Metro State’s illegal-immigrant tuition

Posted:   06/12/2012 01:00:00 AM MDT
June 12, 2012 12:15 PM GMTUpdated:   06/12/2012 06:15:51 AM MDT

By Anthony Cotton

Although he desires to increase educational opportunities for all students, University of Colorado president Bruce Benson said Monday that he would not have moved to create a special tuition rate for illegal-immigrant students, as Metropolitan State College of Denver did last week.

“There’s a building down the street from me with a gold dome on top of it,” Benson said, referring to the state Capitol, not far from his downtown office. “And they took a vote that, in effect, decided the state policy.”

The legislature’s failure to pass the ASSET bill, which would have lowered tuition rates for illegal-immigrant students statewide, spurred Metro State’s board of trustees to work on its own plan, arguing that it was on sound legal ground to do so.

The action brought about a firestorm of reaction.

Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, chairwoman of the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, a key part of the funding process for colleges and universities, said the decision could have repercussions when the process begins next year.

Gerou and others, in speaking of the failure of the ASSET bill to pass, said the issue was more a federal problem and that Metro State was subverting the will of the legislature.

That was the position Benson took Monday.

“Federally, we have policies where we demand that things are done when kids are in K (kindergarten) through 12, but then we say, ‘the heck with you’ when it comes to higher ed,” Benson said. “If we have a federal policy for K-12, then we need one for higher ed too.

“But having said that, I wouldn’t have done what Metro did. If the legislature didn’t pass anything, then that’s it.”

Reached Monday, Metro State president Stephen Jordan declined to comment, saying through a school spokeswoman that he “didn’t want to debate Bruce Benson through The Denver Post.”

The spokeswoman said Metro State officials will attend a meeting next week called by Gerou to discuss the situation. One of her colleagues on the Budget Committee, Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, testified before the Metro State board last week on behalf of the new rate.

One of the topics that may be in play next week is Metro State’s decision to, in essence, go it alone.

In the aftermath of last week’s vote, Steadman said he wouldn’t be surprised if other schools followed suit, adding that he had already heard that the Colorado Community College System was considering a similar move. But CCCS president Nancy McCallin said such talk was premature, mainly because there hadn’t been enough time to digest what happened at Metro State.

“From a historical, legal and higher-education perspective, we’ve never seen anything like this, and it hasn’t even been a week yet,” McCallin said. “Metro had been working for months before, formulating its plan. For anyone else, there’s a slew of research and analysis that would need to be done.”

Before funding for the just-completed school year was requested from the legislature, virtually all of the colleges and universities in Colorado presented a proposal as a single entity.

McCallin said that getting the schools to come together may have been just as surprising as Metro State’s decision to break away from the pack.

“It was really unprecedented for us to have a consensus on one thing,” McCallin said. “There’s usually so many different opinions, so many different missions. I’d be much more surprised if everyone were jumping on board right away about this.”

 

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The Daily Camera: CU president critical of Metro State’s illegal-immigrant tuition

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