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Interim vice president of diversity appointed as VPD search continues

Colorado State administration building
The administration building is home to President Joyce McConnell’s office as well as many other Colorado State University administrative offices, Sept. 9, 2019. (Gregory James | The Collegian)

Colorado State University President Joyce McConnell appointed Roe Bubar as the interim vice president for diversity, filling the spot of retired Mary Ontiveros. 

Bubar has been a professor of ethnic studies at CSU for 22 years after arriving in Fort Collins with her partner. 

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“I’ve always been interested in historically marginalized communities, particularly in an intersectional way folks that have been poor and marginalized,” Bubar said.  

Bubar was chosen to fill the position by McConnell because of the work she has done and the contributions she has made to enlighten communities on ethnic issues as a professor.

“I have worked in administration outside of the University and I’ve worked in large organizations in a board sort of sense, and I’ve done a lot of diversity related work, both as a consultant and also as an academic,” said Bubar.

Bubar elaborated on her vision and agenda for the VPD office during her interim term.

“I don’t necessarily see it as being driven by an agenda that I’m bringing in, I really see it as driven by the program and the staff and the people that are here (and) the direction that the program needs to go in terms of where this office was actually at,” said Bubar. 

Bubar said she looks at her new position as a way to carry on the work that has been done and to honor the leadership and staff that came her. She thinks that the VPD has come a long way and made progress since its founding and believes it is ready to contribute to pushing that success even more forward. 

The conversation changes, the demands change. We need to constantly be responsive to the needs of the campus.” -Ria Vigil, member of the VPD search committee

“I was here before this program was created, and I’m here now and I can see the movement that has happened here … and the impact that a program like this has made,” Bubar said.

Bubar will fill the position for six months until the search committee can find a more permanent replacement. 

The University has employed national search firm WittKieffer to conduct the search for a new VPD. Working alongside WittKieffer is a CSU search committee that has been focusing on public outreach and input to the position.

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President McConnell has made Dean of Libraries Karen Estlund chair of the search committee.

Estlund and the search committee have been putting in substantial amounts of research before they decide what the job description of the VPD should look like. 

“We had 12 listening sessions last week and I think over 250 registrants,” Estlund said. “We’ve obtained real community input, and that will actually all go into the position description.”

Taking the time to do the research and thoroughly understand what CSU as a University needs before filling the positions is very important, Estlund said. The research and outreach done by the search committee will determine the job description and what CSU as a whole collectively wants to see in potential VPD candidates. 

From the initial rounds of research, Estlund and the search community have heard a consensus on what qualities a good candidate for the position should have to have strong relationship building skills around campus. CSU recognizes that diversity and inclusion is going to be not only the work of the VPD office but a collaborative effort within all departments and offices at the University, Estlund said. 

“Leading the University towards an anti-racist campus and recognizing that, that takes a lot of work and also understanding the intersectionality of diversity,” Estlund said. “We’re talking about gender, race, disability, religion and all sorts of different marginalized identities that can’t necessarily be separated.”

Once they are finished with public engagement, Estlund and the search committee will draft a job description and go into the recruitment phase. Estlund hopes to involve the public in the recruitment phase as well once a shortlist of candidates have been named. 

Anyone can follow the progress of the recruitment at Vice President for Diversity’s website.

Ria Vigil also sits on the VPD search committee.

When the office began operations in 2010 there were only three staffed positions. The office has since grown to nine, although COVID-19 has kept them working remotely instead of at the Diversity house.

“(Ontiveros) was able to grow the office, which was a really tremendous legacy, and kind of put us on the map, as far as what we can offer and what we do provide for the campus,” Vigil said. 

Vigil wants to carry on the legacy of Ontiveros by continuing to focus on the mission of the office and pursue the vision of diversity and inclusion on campus. 

“The conversation changes, the demands change,” Vigil said. “We need to constantly be responsive to the needs of the campus.”

The VPD is separate from the student Diversity Programs and Services office in that it works directly with faculty and staff to promote diversity and inclusion. 

“We educate, we coach, we provide support and structural change to the University,” Vigil said. “We support not only their colleagues but students.”

Vigil explained how the landscape for diversity work has changed substantially since the beginning of the office and even from five years ago. 

“What I’m looking for in a new supervisor or a new leader is just somebody who’s visionary and can help take us into this next phase so that we can continue to be relevant and meet the needs of the campus,” Vigil said.

Isaiah Dennings can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @isaiah_dennings.

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