EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - The University of Colorado is two stories in this state, says valley native Glen Gallegos who's running for CU regent.
One story is the school's reputation - the good and bad - the other is about the skyrocketing costs of a CU education. It's headed beyond $30,000 a year and that's out of reach for most Colorado families, Gallegos said.
His mission as a regent would be to keep CU affordable, he said. Some of that will come through cuts in administration, some in other ways. He said he supports Amendment S, which will help clean up the state's personnel system.
"I have business experience, education experience and college experience. This position was made for me," Gallegos said.
The two CUs
Gallegos said as he campaigns he constantly hears about how CU is considered Liberal Land in many parts of the state, especially the largely rural and conservative 3rd Congressional District which he's running to represent.
"People remember it being ranked the No. 1 party school the big pot smoke-out," Gallegos said. "But there are so many different life choices students can make. A big part of my job would be to help people understand that."
Like any collection of thousands of college-age people, all sorts of things will make you roll your eyes. But CU is one of the nation's top universities, he said.
"CU has two Nobel Prize winners on its faculty and the most space shuttle astronauts of any university," Gallegos said. "When America's space program launches a satellite, chances are several of the components are a results of CU's partnership with Bell Aerospace. The Anschutz Medical Center is one of the nation's top medical schools."
"CU is a good story," he said.
Fifth generation Colordan
Gallegos' Colorado roots go back five generations. His dad's family moved to Colorado in 1835 from Spain. He jokes that his mom's family came over on the land bridge between Asia and Alaska.
His Eagle County roots go back almost that far. He attended Red Cliff Elementary School, his grandfather helped build Camp Hale, his father was a member of the 10th Mountain Division who met his mother at a local dance.
His grandfather was the mayor of Red Cliff and president of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union, and traveled the country negotiating union contracts. He did all that with an eighth grade education, Gallegos said.
His dad left the family when Glen was in the third grade, leaving his mother to raise four boys and two girls alone. They soon found they weren't alone.
"In Minturn we had lots of help when we were growing up," Gallegos said. "That's where we came to the idea of giving back to our community whenever we can."
And that's why he says he willing to spend enormous amounts of time campaigning for an unpaid job.
Education and business
He spent 19 years as a teacher and principal in Eagle County schools, Red Cliff elementary and Minturn Middle School where he also coached football and wrestling, and sometimes drove the bus. He wandered off to Grand Junction as Mesa County's assistant school superintendent for eight years, then came back to join brothers Gerald and Bob in the family business, Gallegos Construction.
In all his spare time he helped land grants to build recreation fields in the Vail area and helped guide the educational component of the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships.
While he was in Grand Junction Gov. Bill Owens asked him to be on the board Mesa State College, now Colorado Mesa University. It wasn't long before he was board president and helped spearhead the college's incredible growth over the past few years.
While he headed that board, Colorado Mesa University grew from 5,000 students to 10,000 and added several programs, including an engineering degree through the University of Colorado.
"I don't think CU needs a brick and mortar presence on the Western Slope," Gallegos said. "There are opportunities for partnerships, and we need to seek out those opportunities."
The road to regent
Except for CU, Colorado's colleges and universities have appointed boards of trustees. CU is operated by an elected board of regents, one from each of Colorado's seven congressional districts.
He enjoys meeting people while he campaigns, he said.
"People live in the area not because they'll get rich, but because they love it and they're tied to it," Gallegos said.
CU and CSU each turn out about 11,000 graduates a year. Colorado Mesa University graduates about 3,500, he said.
Gallegos said the question for those universities is simple: "Are those graduates ready to take their place in the workforce?" he asks.
When a business wants to locate to Colorado, their first question is about workforce training, he said.
"For years we thought we needed to train people for the service industry, but it's tough to make money working in that sector," he said. "New jobs are more than computers. They call for math and science, higher levels of thinking."
He's retired, or as much as he's going to be, so he has the time he says it will take to do this correctly. He doesn't have a well-honed aptitude for leisure.
"Like my brother Gerald used to say, when you give, you get it back and more," he said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.