- The Washington Times - Monday, March 7, 2005

DENVER — University of Colorado President Elizabeth “Betsy” Hoffman resigned yesterday after a rocky four-year tenure marked by scandals over football recruiting, fraternity drinking binges and outspoken left-wing professor Ward Churchill.

Mrs. Hoffman, who was named president in August 2000, said she would resign effective June 30 or as soon as the university’s governing body, the Board of Regents, names a successor.

“It has become clear to me that, amid the serious matters the University of Colorado now confronts, my role as the leader of the university has become an issue,” said Mrs. Hoffman in a letter to the board. “It appears to me it is in the university’s best interest that I remove the issue of my future from the debate so that nothing inhibits CU’s ability to successfully create the bright future it so deserves.”

Her decision was no surprise to those familiar with the university’s recent spate of bad publicity. Calls for Mrs. Hoffman’s resignation had been increasing amid accusations that she had been ineffective in curbing the excesses of the football team, the fraternity culture and Mr. Churchill.

Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, and state legislators from both parties praised her decision, saying her resignation would help the university move beyond the turmoil of recent years.

“I think it is a good decision. She’s a good person,” said Mr. Owens, who denied pressuring Mrs. Hoffman for her resignation. “She’s been president during some challenging times. This moves some of the issues for the university beyond Dr. Hoffman and allows the university to move on.”

Among the few to criticize her decision was Mr. Churchill, who recently added to the university’s headaches with an essay that compared victims of the September 11 terrorist attack to Nazis.

“It’s both a tragedy and a travesty,” Mr. Churchill told the Associated Press. “I think the woman has, under the circumstances that have been imposed by the political realities of the state, done an amazing job under extraordinary pressure.

“She has been … working to defend the principle of academic integrity,” he said.

Mrs. Hoffman outraged critics last week, when she implied that academics like Mr. Churchill were in danger of becoming victims of a “new McCarthyism.” The Board of Regents is expected to announce as early as this week the results of its 30-day investigation into whether Mr. Churchill should be fired.

Her tenure also was plagued by a seemingly nonstop parade of accusations against the football team, starting with charges in 2001 that the team was holding sex-and-booze parties for recruits.

In 2002, one woman filed a lawsuit saying that she was raped by players and recruits. Two other women — former CU soccer player Monique Gillespie and former CU football kicker Katie Hnida made similar accusations. Mrs. Hoffman reacted by forming an independent commission to investigate the charges.

The university endured more bad news last fall when an 18-year-old freshman, Lynn Gordon Bailey Jr., died from alcohol poisoning at a fraternity pledge party.

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