Elizabeth Hoffman left her former university because of a free speech conflict. She also addressed the athletics scandal during her term.

UNM presidential finalist Elizabeth Hoffman said during her campus visit Friday that she learned a lot from her controversy-ridden tenure as University of Colorado president, which ended in 2005.
Hoffman said she resigned from the presidency because she refused to fire a professor who likened some Sept. 11 victims to Nazis.
She said then-Colorado Gov. Bill Owens called her and told her to fire the professor, but she refused because she supports freedom of speech.

“I have never bent to the political wills,” she said. “It was my refusal to do what I was ordered to do by the governor.”

But the scandal over the professor wasn’t the only controversy that coincided with her resignation.

Hoffman’s resignation also followed a football scandal that included allegations of rapes, strip club visits and alcohol-fueled sex parties for recruits, Fox News reported in March 2005.
At least nine women said they were assaulted by Colorado football players or recruits since 1997, and an independent commission reported that Colorado players used sex, alcohol and marijuana as recruiting tools.

Hoffman said she learned from the experience.

“Having been through a very difficult athletic experience, I have no tolerance, absolutely zero tolerance, for misbehavior,” she said.

Hoffman said if she’s elected UNM president, she plans to live on campus in the presidential house and be highly visible to UNM community.

“You’ll see me walking my dog on campus,” she said. “I’ll be visible on campus and visit with student, faculty and staff leadership, and be visible at football and basketball games and not just sit there, but go and talk to students.”

She said her five-year plan for the University includes increasing graduation rates.

“I’d like to see a 50-55% graduation rate with a much-reduced difference between majority students and minority students,” Hoffman said.

Elsa Murano hopes to bolster dismal graduation rates. She has a history of appointing diverse staff, but regrets her previous presidency

Elsa Murano, the first of the five UNM presidential finalists to visit the University, defended her resignation as president of Texas A&M University during her campus visit Thursday by saying the regents wanted to use university funding for political favors.

Murano stepped down from the presidency after just 18 months on the job, but she said she wishes she had never been president.
“If I had to do it over again, I would not take that job,” she said.

About 40 students and faculty members attended the forum where Murano said she faced challenges with regard to the university during her time as the first female and first Hispanic president of Texas A&M University.

“When I was first president, all the deans were white guys,” she said. “I have nothing against white guys — my husband’s a white guy. I love white guys.”

She said that she made a concerted effort to hire diverse administrators, including a female dean, a Hispanic vice-president and two African-American vice-presidents during her tenure.

“At A&M, I knew it had to start from top, as in the people I hired as vice-presidents and deans needed to reflect the population of Texas,” Murano said.

Murano said she hopes to tackle the UNM’s retention rate. “Frankly, the retention of 46 percent of overall students is awful and not just a problem with minorities,” she said. “We have 79 percent at A&M and don’t think it’s that good. We want it to be 90 percent or more.”

She suggested “creating learning communities,” where groups of students with similar interests live together, as well as an increased focus on freshman advising and orientation.

Murano said she hopes to manage problems with tuition and fees hikes at UNM by proving the University’s value to the state Legislature.

“Without an educated population, we can’t attract or create jobs, the tax base is going to plummet, and you’ll have a third-world country, basically, and that’s not what we want,” she said.

Student forums will be held from 11:45 to 1 p.m. in SUB Ballroom B through this week. Candidate Robert Frank speaks on Monday, Meredith Hay on Tuesday and Douglas Baker on Wednesday.