Candidates present for diversity officer position

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Candidates for the Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer presented to students, faculty and staff on March 14 and 15. The candidates include Alicia Chavira-Prado, Yudi Lewis, Daniel Teraguchi and Tommy Stevenson.

Chavira-Prado received her doctorate in anthropology at the University of California and became a diversity administrator at Ohio University following a career as a professor of cultural anthropology and Latino studies. UVU’s open admissions practice is what drew her to the position.

“What UVU is, in its open admission, is tangible proof that we can and should provide an equitable education to everyone,” Chavira-Prado said. “Diversity is not a word, it is a practice. It is a way of life, it is a belief system.”

Lewis is the only candidate that is an internal applicant. She graduated from UVU and is a current doctoral candidate in education leadership and policy at the University of Utah. Lewis has worked at UVU for 26 years and currently works in the Department of College Success Studies. She is also currently over the Latino Initiative.

“When I look at the work of inclusion and diversity, I take it to my heart,” Lewis said. “Because inclusion and diversity mean that we are providing services for people who would not have that chance, so it is an honor to be talking about it.”

She believes that her experience at UVU gives her an advantage because she understands the current culture and plans to enhance it by bringing everyone’s voice to the table. During her closing remarks, she got emotional as she thanked the audience for the opportunity to be considered for the position.

“Our students come from all walks of life and they want opportunity,” Lewis said.

Teraguchi, the third candidate, got his doctorate in education leadership from Idaho State University. He explained the many theories and strategies that can be implemented in order to increase the diversity on campus.

“[There is] no such thing as a student at risk, rather what in the environment puts that students at risk,” Teraguchi said. “Diversity is the catalyst for institutional excellence.”

He emphasized that it is the responsibility of the school to create the right atmosphere. His previous approaches have involved thinking outside of the box and holding the university accountable.

“Any student, given the opportunity, can do and achieve what they want to achieve,” said Stevenson, who obtained his doctorate at Bowling Green State University. “I believe at all levels of the institution you have to have representation.”

Stevenson is from Mississippi and he believes he will bring a fresh perspective to UVU. He is passionate about creating relationships, being someone who is a champion for others and reminding them that they can achieve their dreams.

“Diversity in this institution is sometimes construed to be more of a check list, rather than a sharing of power in a manner that is more equalizing,” Cristobal Mauricio, a graduate of UVU and academic advisor for multicultural students, said.

Elizabeht Hernandez, a sophomore majoring in communication, thinks that UVU is doing a great job at being inclusive and diverse, but thinks inclusion and diversity programs and events should be promoted better.

“There isn’t much diversity in Utah to begin with, but there is a lot more of it at UVU than other universities I looked into when I was preparing to transfer from California,” Hernandez said.

“They are making efforts, but I feel like their efforts aren’t well known throughout the student population,” Tina Soto, a junior majoring in communication, said. “I just found out about the university’s efforts for diversity and inclusion because of my class and I feel like if it wasn’t for my class I wouldn’t have known.”