Diversity office changes name to promote equality

By Ryan Shelton, Asst. News Editor

The U Office of Diversity announced Thursday that it has changed its name to the Office of Equity and Diversity.

Octavio Villalpando, associate vice president of the office, said the new name will more accurately reflect the U’s growing student and faculty diversity and ensure greater equality in all aspects of campus life.

“We want a larger representation of diversity at the U,” Villalpando said. “We want to make sure everyone has a positive, fruitful experience on campus, whether they’re minorities or not.”

The number of ethnic minority students at the U has risen 26 percent in the past five years, according to an Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis study. In 2007, more than 2,600 minority students enrolled at the U.

In addition to the name change, the office has added four new positions to help expand community outreach and campus involvement.

“They really need the support,” said Valery Pozo, diversity director for the Associated Students of the University of Utah. “Having more people in their office will help them continue to create a safe climate for students.”

On Tuesday, Jennifer Williams-Molock began working as the office’s new assistant vice president for student diversity, where she will oversee and support the numerous student diversity groups on campus.

“I look forward to working with people on campus and in the community to support students toward their personal and academic goals,” Williams-Molock said. “My goal is to demonstrate that all parts of this campus are dedicated to promoting diversity. These new positions will really help us increase our on-campus identity.”

Other newcomers include Jennifer Bangerter, who will serve as an administrative director, research fellow Rachel Pickett and Community and Outreach Director Colleen Casto, who joined the office on July 1.

Casto said Bangerter and Pickett will arrive on campus soon.

Pickett will work with the OBIA to better quantify diversity on campus, which Casto said will help the office measure its success.

“These changes reflect the University of Utah’s continued commitment to support the success of historically underrepresented students, faculty and staff,” said U President Michael Young in a statement. “We believe we have assembled one of the best organized and knowledgeable diversity teams in higher education.”

The Office of Equity and Diversity’s expansion comes just weeks after the U Center for Ethnic Student Affairs, a student group overseen by the diversity office, hired three new employees to coordinate CESA’s African-American, Pacific Islander and American Indian programs.

Under the leadership of the Office for Equity and Diversity, the U is preparing to host the national conference for the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science in October.

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