The sole finalist to become president of the University of Colorado system was, as a state teachers' union describes it, “the architect and chief proponent” of changes at Metropolitan State College of Denver that "eliminated tenure as we know it.” Bruce Benson, the owner and president of an oil and gas exploration and production company since 1965, served as chair of Metro State’s Board
Robert M. O'Neil has been a player on academic freedom issues from many perspectives. He has been a university president (University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin System), a legal scholar (law professor at U.Va.), and First Amendment advocate (director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression). He has also been chair of the American Association of University Professors' committee on academic freedom.