Welcoming Our New Vice Chancellor for DEI

Sent: Feb. 15, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

I’m delighted to announce that the national search for our first-ever CU Denver-focused Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has successfully concluded. Antonio Farias, a longtime educator with more than 20 years of experience elevating underrepresented students and advising academic and military leaders on DEI best practices, has accepted the role. Currently serving as the Chief Diversity Officer & Senior Advisor to the President at the University of Florida, he will join CU Denver on March 15.

Antonio is a champion of students and public education, a servant leader who brings a values-based approach to his work, a strategist who understands the value and importance of DEI, and an expert tactician capable of effectively managing and shaping culture, climate, and policies at complex organizations. I’m confident that Antonio will be an excellent addition to our leadership team, and that he will help CU Denver become a national leader in DEI. I’m grateful to the search committee as well as Nelia Viveiros for her strong interim leadership.

With Antonio’s hire, we are one step closer to establishing the leadership team we need to propel CU Denver’s progress. Our current searches for a CU Denver-focused Provost and a  Senior Vice Chancellor of Strategic Enrollment and Student Success are well underway, and I’d like to share with you some other changes in the works.

In taking stock of CU Denver’s leadership organization structure with a specific eye toward what we will need to implement our forthcoming 2030 strategic plan, I’ve discovered some structural gaps and misalignments that we’re taking steps to address.

First, our enrollment management function has critical units spread across both the CFO and the provost offices. As of July 1, the enrollment management team will move into the Student Success unit. This will allow greater synergies between our recruitment and retention efforts, both critical aspects of enrollment management. 

Second, when our Office of Digital Education moved to the CU system last year, we were left without any dedicated, campuswide online leadership. We’ll launch a search for an online leader this month, to report to the provost.

Third, with the dismantling of the CU South Denver team that had been responsible for enterprise development, we lack a clear business-facing partnership strategy for CU Denver. Just last week I charged a committee, chaired by Vice Chancellor of Advancement Melisa Baldwin, to search for a new Managing Director of Partnerships and Innovation. This role will strengthen our relationships and partnerships across the region to attract corporate and nonprofit partners in strategic and deliberate ways that will enable us to shore up our recruitment pipeline, provide internship and other experiential opportunities for our students, provide faculty with additional avenues for research, and more. 

Finally, once we complete the strategic planning process in June, we need to move immediately into continuous implementation to ensure it’s truly actionable and doesn’t simply sit on the shelf. I’m announcing today that Jennifer Sobanet’s role will shift from Administration and Finance to Administration and Strategy, allowing more of her time to be spent on our strategic priorities. I have asked Jennifer to search for and hire a CFO to manage the day-to-day finance, budget, and Auraria-related work for CU Denver. 

We’ll be conducting national searches for these roles with an eye toward diversifying our leadership. In fact, all new positions will be recruited using best practices in diverse and equitable hiring. And in the spirit of efficiency in financially difficult times, I want to emphasize that there will be no net gain of administrators as a result of these changes. Since we’ll be using the cost savings created from the elimination of several positions, the result is no overall increase in administration and there will be no new vice chancellors. 

I believe one of the most important jobs of chancellor—or any leader—is to assemble the right organizational leadership structure and team to best position the institution to support its strategic direction. And while we don’t know yet exactly what our plan for 2030 will be, we do know some of the key components it will include: student success, partnerships, innovation in education and research, and equity. We’re establishing the structure we’ll need to excel in these areas.

Michelle Marks Signature

Michelle Marks

Chancellor’s Office

CU Denver

Lawrence Street Center

1380 Lawrence Street

Suite 1400

Denver, CO 80204


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