Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
University of Utah’s chief diversity officer stepping down
Protest » Students demanded answers in December over rumors of forced resignation.
First Published Mar 31 2014 05:34 pm • Last Updated Mar 31 2014 09:43 pm

Months after students protested after hearing he was being forced out, University of Utah’s chief diversity officer, Octavio Villalpando, announced Monday he will step down.

Villalpando said he’s ready to return to teaching and research.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"I’ve accomplished about as much as I can accomplish in this job," said Villalpando, who has been associate vice president for equity and diversity for 7½ years. He pointed to the Diversity Scholars mentoring program as the office’s most important contribution under his leadership.

The nearly 700 students it has served "have among the highest retention and graduation rates on campus, and also one of the highest involved rates," he said. "They’re leaders in student organizations and you see their talent represented across almost all colleges."

Villalpando will return to his position as a professor of Educational Leadership and Policy.

"The last seven years have given me some important insights into the practical side of diversity," he said.

Villalpando was on research leave in December when students said they were told by his interim replacement, Edward Buendia, that Villalpando had been asked to resign. Worried about losing an outspoken advocate for students of color on campus, they eventually organized a sit-down protest outside U. President David Pershing’s office.

Pershing spoke to the group, denying the rumors and saying Villalpando would be back in January. For his part, Villalpando declined Monday to comment directly on whether he was asked to leave.

"It was very unfortunate, what happened during the fall semester. I just prefer to look forward," he said. "Those events that occurred, I’m sure everyone would take back and change if they could."

Graduate student Socorro Morales was part of those protests. She said she is confident this time that Villalpando is leaving of his own accord.


story continues below
story continues below

"I know Villalpando has been wanting to go back to teaching for a long time. I think in part it was the treatment on behalf of the university," she said. "It’s a decision he made on his terms."

Morales said she’s glad the U. will conduct a national search for his replacement in the fall and hopes administrators take student concerns into account as they review candidates. In December, students said the confusion around Villalpando’s status was symptomatic of larger campus diversity problems.

"There are still a couple of areas," Morales said, "that need to be significantly improved upon before the university will feel more comfortable, more welcoming."

Professor Kathryn Stockton, a respected gender and LGBT studies scholar, is slated to take over as interim director of the Office of Equity and Diversity on June 1.

In a statement posted Monday on the office’s website, Pershing praised Villalpando’s efforts to increase the number of students of color, start new programs and develop partnerships with civic and business groups.

"We are deeply grateful to Dr. Villalpando for his many contributions as a leader," Pershing wrote in the joint statement with Ruth Watkins, senior vice president for academic affairs, "and wish him well as he returns to his scholarship and teaching."

lwhitehurst@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lwhitehurst



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.