Elliott Hood – CU Regent At Large

2024 primary — candidate q&a


Boulder Weekly sent candidate questionnaires to all primary candidates for state and local office. These are their written responses, edited for length and clarity. Find a full list of candidates and questionnaires here.

Office: University of Colorado Board of Regents, At Large
Campaign website: hoodforcolorado.com

Relevant experience

I think I have the most relevant experience for this job; I’ve dedicated my professional life to public education.

I’ve been a public school teacher, I was a development director for large education nonprofit, i’m now an education attorney practicing law for schools in the K-12 space.

Former vice chair of state commission on disability access
Vice chair of Boulder County I Have a Dream Foundation
Former director of Colorado Bar Association’s nonprofit education arm


  • Affordability
  • Preventing gun violence
  • Environmental sustainability

First, I’m committed to making CU more affordable. It is now four times more expensive for in-state students to attend CU than it was when I graduated 20 years ago. This is not acceptable, and it is pricing out Colorado families from seeking a degree from our state’s flagship university system. As Regent, I’ll advocate for keeping tuition and fees in check, providing more affordable housing for students, lowering the cost of books and materials, expanding financial aid and building up our endowment to drive down tuition. I’ll also advocate for eliminating TABOR to better fund our public schools, including higher education institutions.

Second, we need to ban concealed carry and get guns out of our classrooms. However you feel about guns — whether you are the most ardent Second Amendment defender or you think all guns should be banned — we can all reasonably agree that guns have no place in our classrooms and on our campuses. As Regent, I’ll advocate to exercise our authority under state and federal law to ban concealed carry on campus (open carry is already banned).

Third, we must make CU more sustainable and do more to fight the climate crisis. Regents have the authority to enact policy and law that sets priorities for the entire university system, the largest higher-education system in Colorado and the third largest employer in the state. Currently there is no system-wide (including all four campuses) climate policy to hit net zero carbon emissions. As Regent, I will push for the board to enact a system-wide policy that sets aggressive and measurable climate goals, including net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and zero direct emissions from our university by 2040.

Lightning round

Yes/no answers only

Would you support the University of Colorado’s divestment from fossil fuels? Yes
Would you support a tuition freeze or tuition cap policy within the CU system? Yes
Do you support elimination of tenured positions within the CU system? No
Do you believe higher education — in its current state — benefits the nation? Yes
Do you support the Supreme Court’s 2023 ruling on affirmative action? No 

When was the last time you paid rent? How much was it?

2014-2015; over $2,000/ month; Oklahoma City

What are the top challenges facing the University of Colorado system today, and how will you address them?

  • Affordability
  • Gun violence
  • Recruitment and retention of student of color and first-generation college students

Affordability. Affordability is challenging because we get so little funding from the state (largely because of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR). Less than a third of our budget comes from state funding — down from two-thirds when I graduated. We need to pay our bills and pay our staff and faculty competitive salaries and benefits to attract and retain the best and brightest academics to teach our students. 

We can address this challenge by finding smart ways to cut costs — and thus debt loads — for our students (like more affordable housing, lower costs for books, etc.), keeping tuition raises rare or minimal and only doing so to give cost of living adjustments to our faculty and staff, and expanding collective bargaining rights for all workers at CU so they have a voice in the workplace.

Guns. Under current Regent policy, students and staff/faculty can take loaded weapons to class. Guns are extremely disruptive and dangerous and have no place in our classrooms or on our campuses. If there is a need for armed response, we have campus police and security personnel for that purpose. I will strongly advocate for banning concealed carry at CU and getting guns out of our classrooms.

Recruitment and retention of a diverse student body. While the CU system as a whole largely mirrors the racial demographics of our state, CU Boulder in particular lags behind in attracting students of color, students from low-income communities and first-generation college students. There is also a perception that CU Boulder is not as friendly a campus for this profile of student.

CU Denver, which serves much higher percentages of students of color and first-generation college students, has a much higher drop-out rate than CU Boulder. My idea is to focus more on a case management model, where students are grouped together in smaller academic and social communities their freshman year so they establish connections with each other and have staff responsible for directing students to resources given their individual needs. Retaining these students will also help CU Denver address its budget challenges.

What are the top challenges facing CU students today, and how will you address them?

  • Affordability
  • Safety
  • Civil discourse

Affordability. As Regent, my main priority will be making CU more affordable and reducing the debt load of our students, a huge drag on them personally and on the health of our state’s economy. I have addressed above how I will tackle the cost issue.

Safety. Students have repeatedly called for concealed carry to be banned at CU. Classrooms are for learning and engaging with your peers and are not a place where students and staff should have to worry about safety. There is a legal precedent supporting banning guns in certain sensitive places, I will strongly push for a concealed carry ban. 

Another aspect playing a significant role in safety for students is mental health. To address this, CU needs to continue to be proactive in providing mental health resources and promoting stigma reduction. It is essential for all students to be aware of the mental health resources that are provided. This may include email announcements, social media posts, campus newsletters, posters and flyers in high-traffic areas, website resources and presentations during orientation or student events.

Climate Change. Young people across this country, including students at CU, understand the gravity of climate change and the dire consequences awaiting us if we do not act, and act now. This problem is truly existential and threatens the health of our entire planet. Students are demanding action on climate change, whether by reducing our carbon footprint, using more renewable energy or divesting from fossil fuels. I agree wholeheartedly with them, and as Regent I will fight hard to make CU more sustainable and commit to more aggressively fighting the climate crisis.

What is your plan for limiting or reversing tuition and fee increases for students?

First, I will advocate for keeping tuition raises rare and, when we do increase tuition, keeping it as limited as possible to give reasonable cost-of-living adjustments to our educators.

Second, I will advocate for locking in tuition rates for all students from freshman year through graduation. Students at CU Boulder currently have that benefit — i.e., they pay the same amount over the four years they are in college — and I think we should extend that benefit to our students on other campuses, especially since those campuses have higher rates of low-income students attending them. 

Third, I will advocate for low-cost or free access to books and materials for our students, especially based on need. CU Boulder currently has a program where certain students can access books and course packets digitally for free. I would expand that program to all students at all campuses. Finally, as mentioned, I would advocate for expanding our endowment, the income from which could be used to provide need-based tuition assistance to our students.

What, in your view, is CU’s role in addressing the affordable housing crisis within the communities where it operates? How could it be better in this regard?

Housing affordability directly affects the well-being, academic success and quality of life of individuals associated with CU. Students in particular face challenges in finding affordable housing, as housing costs often constitute a significant portion of their expenses and can lead to substantial debt. Faculty and staff members may also struggle to afford housing in areas with high housing costs, affecting their recruitment, retention and overall job satisfaction. We must expand affordable housing for our students and staff. 

My goal would be to have at least two years of housing for our students and supply affordable housing for at least 50% of our faculty in the first five years of employment with CU.

How would you evolve the Benson Center for Western Studies / Visiting Conservative Scholar program to balance academic rigor with diversity of thought? Please suggest three future scholars.

While I have significant problems with Benson Center and question the need for a center dedicated to conservative thought at CU Boulder, the regents have no control over the Benson Center and whom it hires, as it relies entirely on private funding. That center has its own board of directors, and I know that they have tried to make it more politically diverse. Even if the regents had some control over the Benson Center, I would not, consistent with principles of academic freedom, advocate for the regents interfering with who that center hires or what courses those scholars teach. I would not want a conservative regent interfering in that way with departments or schools that he or she might find offensive.

There has been, and rightfully so, a huge amount of attention given to the hiring of John Eastman, who never ever should have been hired in the first place and whose connection with CU will forever be a black eye on this institution. However, there have been visiting scholars since Eastman, including a well-regarded professor from my law school (Northwestern), with whom I might not agree on policy issues but who I found to be a very reasonable person dedicated to academic scholarship, not stealing an election.

Along those lines, given how polarized our society appears to be, I think it would be essential for the Benson Center to hire visiting scholars who have demonstrated bipartisan leadership and/or encouraged civility in a variety of contexts. For example, I would be thrilled if the Benson Center welcomed people like Liz Cheney, David Brooks or Mitt Romney.

CU Boulder recently published a new Climate Action Plan. How will you prioritize its implementation and curb the campus’ emissions of fossil fuels?

I will work closely with university administrators, faculty, staff and students to ensure widespread awareness and understanding of the Climate Action Plan’s goals and objectives. This includes organizing workshops, forums, and educational campaigns to engage the campus community and foster a culture of sustainability.

I will also advocate for the allocation of resources and funding towards initiatives outlined in the Climate Action Plan. This includes supporting investments in renewable energy infrastructure, energy efficiency upgrades, sustainable transportation solutions and carbon offsetting measures. By prioritizing budgetary considerations, we can accelerate progress towards emission reduction targets.

We also need to take bolder action as part of the plan, including committing to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

How can CU ensure diversity within its system (students, staff, faculty, etc.)? Are there any populations that are being overlooked that you would like to see more emphasis on recruitment and retention?

In addition to my responses above to the question on challenges facing the CU system, I would prioritize increasing CU’s geographic diversity. Currently, the vast majority of our in-state students come from the Front Range, a few percent come from the Western Slope and Eastern Plains, and almost no one comes from the San Luis Valley. We also must increase our representation from Native American communities. We must make CU more accessible for students from outside the Front Range and encourage those students to apply to and attend CU. 

One thing that I have learned from the campaign, and from my time serving school districts as an attorney across Colorado, is that CU doesn’t always show up in these communities or show interest in their students. That needs to change.

What efforts do you make in your daily life to consider and understand people with different lived experiences from your own?

I always make a point of having a weekly conversation with people I know may have different political beliefs than me on salient policy issues. This comes from my upbringing growing up a Democrat in a very conservative town and recognizing the benefit of seeing different perspectives.

Given prevailing issues related to unhoused populations, whenever I can, I also try to have conversations with unhoused people to try and more fully understand their situation and what they feel is needed to improve opportunities for them (and sometimes their families). They typically are very friendly and have a lot to say.

As part of this campaign, I have made it a point of talking often with students, especially students of color and first-generation students, about their impressions of the CU system and how we can improve it. If we are going to understand our university, we must understand how our students are feeling and what they want from leadership.

When’s the last time you changed your mind about something, and what was it?

I wasn’t a huge Taylor Swift fan, but recently I watched her concert video and now I totally get it.

What question would you ask a fellow candidate on the ballot?

Do you support increased funding for higher education?


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