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Meet the Race, Bias and Equity Initiative team part 1

With the sleepy start to the spring semester, many students may have forgotten about President Joyce McConnell’s plans for the Race, Bias and Equity Initiative. 

Announced last fall after a series of bias-related incidents at Colorado State University, the Race, Bias and Equity Initiative is a team of faculty members led by Blanche Hughes, vice president for Student Affairs.

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The team is charged with reviewing and implementing proposals from the community to prevent bias-related incidents and create a more inclusive environment at CSU for marginalized communities.

Meet the rest of the team next week.

I believe discovering how to better address such matters is central to discovering how we, as a CSU community, gain a better understanding of how to face many of the most complex of issues that permeate society on local, national and global levels.” –Albert Bimper Jr., RBEI member

Mary Ontiveros

Mary Ontiveros, vice president for Diversity, has been associated with CSU for 50 years, having initially started her undergrad with CSU in the physics department before an eventual shift toward psychology and then administration. 

As a student, Ontiveros served as vice president for student government before she began working for CSU in 1974, she said. Since then, she has served in many roles including vice president in the division of enrollment, special assistant to the president of CSU-Pueblo and, most recently, vice president for Diversity since 2010.

Ontiveros said that working on issues of diversity has been a career-long endeavor for her, and it has been “incredibly rewarding” to continue that work.

“I had a mentor who once told me that one advantage of being born Latinx is being born with a cause,” Ontiveros said. “That cause is to address issues of inequity in marginalized communities.” 

Ontiveros said that the RBEI’s purpose is to “enhance what has already been done,” pointing to cultural centers in the Lory Student Center and the Principles of Community as examples of CSU working to address concerns of diversity. 

Albert Bimper Jr.

Albert Bimper Jr. is an associate professor in the ethnic studies department, the assistant vice president of Student Athlete Support Services, director of the sport management program and senior associate athletics director.

In his associate professor position, he teaches foundations of sport management, racial representations of Black athletes and inclusive sports organizations.

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Bimper held a past position as an assistant professor in CSU’s ethnic studies department, was an assistant professor in the department of student affairs at Kansas State University and has played football professionally for the Indianapolis Colts.

He earned his B.S. in health and exercise science, his M.S. in sport psychology and his Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in cultural studies, according to his profile on the Race, Bias and Equity Initiative “meet the team” page.

He has been published in the Journal of Black Psychology; the Journal of College Student Development; the Journal of Sport and Social Issues; Race, Ethnicity and Education; and Quest, according to his profile.

In his role in the RBEI, Bimper said he hopes to foster “critical and intentional thought that may translate to establishing efforts that produce sustainable change for the better.”

“(The initiative is) important to me because I believe discovering how to better address such matters is central to discovering how we, as a CSU community, gain a better understanding of how to face many of the most complex of issues that permeate society on local, national and global levels,” Bimper said.

Laura Jensen

Laura Jensen is Colorado State University’s vice provost for Planning and Effectiveness.

Jensen has been at CSU since 2008 and possesses extensive collegiate experience after working for the Office of Institutional Research at Front Range Community College. Jensen also worked for the University of Colorado conducting clinical drug trials on repeat offenders of the correctional system.

Jensen’s experiences have afforded her a unique outlook on race, bias and equity, she said.

“These experiences made it very clear to me how inequitable access to healthcare, education and employment opportunities can negatively (and cyclically) impact individuals and communities,” she said.

Jensen today holds oversight of institutional research and data support for executive leadership at CSU, while also being heavily involved in the student success initiatives aimed at supporting students in undergrad and boosting graduation rates.

Jensen will use her expertise in the RBEI as a team leader that will review various proposals and aid in implementing the proposals that are eventually selected for funding. Jensen said she believes she was chosen for RBEI leadership “because of my demonstrated passion for informing decision-making focused on equity and student achievement.” 

Diana Prieto

Diana Prieto is the associate vice president for Human Capital at CSU.

She is a leader for the Office of Equal Opportunity, Human Resources, Training & Organizational Development and Ombuds, according to her profile on the RBEI webpage.

She joined CSU 10 years ago as the director of the Office of Equal Opportunity, according to her profile.

Before beginning her work at CSU, she served as the director of the Office of Institutional Equity at Purdue University for 13.5 years. She took this position after graduating from law school and worked on complaints of discrimination and harassment, Prieto said.

Over two decades of her work have been dedicated to eliminating discrimination, harassment and bias.

Her role in the RBEI is to assist in leadership, drawing from her experience with and passion for implementing equity.

“My hope and expectation is that the work of the Race, Bias and Equity Initiative will be broad and deep, imparting knowledge, raising awareness, reducing barriers and creating opportunities while building a community with a common focus on comprehensive equity and inclusion for all University members,” Prieto said.

Rick Miranda

Rick Miranda is serving his last semester as provost for CSU on the RBEI. As provost, all of the eight colleges report to his position, as well as the libraries, the graduate school and many other academic units. Miranda also serves as the executive vice president for the University. 

While his term as provost is ending, the work doesn’t stop there for Miranda. In an email to The Collegian, Miranda said he is in his 38th year at CSU since starting as an assistant professor in mathematics.

Still a professor in that department, Miranda has also served as chair for the department of mathematics and as dean for the College of Natural Sciences in the past. Most recently, he joined the executive team for the RBEI.

“We all have seen examples of bias in our careers, and many of us have experienced it first hand,” Miranda said in the email. “That is both unfortunate and gives us a good perspective on what we might want to work on.”

According to the email, the RBEI is going to encompass a set of “concrete” steps that CSU can take to address stresses related to incidents of bias on our campus.

“We are not alone in experiencing such things here, but we are determined to improve our campus climate — and culture,” Miranda said. “The primary missions of education, research and engagement cannot be fulfilled without having that culture here. We hope that this RBE Initiative will uncover some concrete strategies that we can employ to allow CSU to be a model for higher ed.” 

Ryan Barone

Ryan Barone is the assistant vice president for Student Success and an assistant professor in the School of Education at CSU.

He received his M.S. from CSU in student affairs in higher education. He then worked at what is now the Women and Gender Advocacy Center focusing on “sexual assault prevention and student engagement around men and masculinities,” Barone said.

After leaving this job, he worked at a larger land-grant university whose mission, he said, did not align with CSU’s mission of “access and excellence” and instead focused more on external rankings. He returned to CSU in 2017.

Over the course of his career, Barone has worked at six institutions of higher education in a multitude of areas such as Campus Activities, Housing and Residential Life, Women’s Centers, First-Year Experience, Fraternity and Sorority Life and Academic Advising, according to the RBEI webpage.

Barone said that through his experience connecting students and academic affairs, he hopes to bring “a broad lens of analysis focused on the transformation of educational cultures, both in and outside of classrooms, in the service of equity and social justice.”

“This initiative is important to me because I care deeply about those directly impacted by racism, white privilege and white supremacy as a direct result of their racial identity and because I think that when white people are socialized to uphold racism, it functions to restrict us from experiencing equitable and socially just relationships, institutions and systems,” Barone said.

Joey Wagner, Noah Pasley and Isaiah Denning can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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About the Contributor
Noah Pasley, News Editor
Noah Pasley is a senior journalism and media communication major with a minor in English. He is excited to continue his career with The Collegian and spend more time focused on reporting on social issues as well as reporting on breaking news in the Colorado State University and Fort Collins communities. As news editor, Pasley is hoping to spend more time in the community following stories and uplifting student voices. When he isn’t writing, he’s usually hunkered down with a video game and a good playlist. As a senior, Pasley is very excited to get underway with the rest of his college experience. He is most interested in learning more about the world of film and video, which he also explores daily as the Tuesday night entertainment anchor over at CTV 11. Noah Pasley can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @PasleyNoah.

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