BOULDER, Colo. -- A retired history professor has turned
down a prestigious service award from the University of Colorado
because of her disgust with the football program's sex and
In a letter sent Monday to the Board of Regents, Joyce Lebra
said she could not accept the University Medal award.
"It's not a decision that I took lightly," Lebra said
Wednesday from Maui, where she spends three months a year.
Lebra, 78, started teaching at Colorado in 1962 and retired in 1991.
She holds a doctorate from Radcliffe and Harvard, has been a
Fulbright scholar three times and has written 11 books.
Lebra said she has followed allegations that the football
program used sex and alcohol as recruitment tools.
Until the university undertakes a fundamental reassessment of
its priorities, Lebra said she will decline to accept the medal,
which the university awards to people whose achievements and contributions are
associated with the school.
The regents have appointed an independent panel to investigate
the allegations, which took on urgency in January when remarks by
Boulder County District Attorney Mary Keenan became public.
Keenan said in a deposition in a lawsuit against Colorado that she
believes the football program uses sex and alcohol-fueled parties
to lure top recruits. The lawsuit has been brought by a former Colorado student who
said she was raped at a December 2001 off-campus party attended by
football players and recruits.
Two other women are suing the school, claiming they were raped
at or just after the party. The lawsuits accuse the university of fostering an
environment that is hostile to women.
Prosecutors declined to file sex assault charges.
Barbara Bintliff, chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly, said
she does not know Lebra personally, but respects the decision.
"I think you have to respect and admire people who have
principles that strong that they can turn down an honor that is
this significant," she said.
Regent Cindy Carlisle said she wishes Lebra would accept the
award and air her criticism.