Adrian Rodriguez brings change to administrative staff

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Adrian Rodriguez filled the office of the new associate vice president for student life of diversity and multicultural student affairs Dec. 4.

The job title is new to Kansas State, but the funding for the job itself was integrated in the 2018 fiscal base budget.

Cindy Bontrager, vice president for administration and finance, said the allocation for Rodriguez’s salary was approximately $140,000.

The position was vacant for 18 months while Zelia Wiley acted as the interim associate provost for diversity. During that time, the office for the job moved from the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President to the Office of Student Life.

“The move was made to increase coordination and communication among the administrative units that are designed to retain, recruit and increase student success among underrepresented student groups,” Pat Bosco, vice president of student life and dean of students, said.

The search for an associate vice president for student life of diversity and multicultural student affairs began in June, said Jack Ayres, student body president and senior in chemical engineering, and ended in November with the announcement that Rodriguez had been chosen.

According to a K-State Today article, Rodriguez’s job will be to “collaborate with many departments, offices and academic units to develop programs and services to enhance students’ academic, social and emotional success.”

Emily Lehning, associate vice president of student life and the director of new student services, served as the co-chair on the search committee. Lehning said she is confident in Rodriguez’s ability.

“[He] has demonstrated experience working on behalf of students,” Lehning said. “He has a passion for working with students and helping them be successful.”

Previously, Rodriguez served as the vice president for student development services at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas.

Rodriguez said he is excited to be here and is looking forward to fully immersing himself in the K-State community.

“Number one, my job is to provide student advocacy,” Rodriguez said. “One thing will be to build cultural competency and to build the capacity for our entire K-State community to really close the gap.”

The search committee for the chief diversity and inclusion officer held open forums Dec. 5-7 for the the finalists. The CDIO will serve on President Myers’ cabinet.

The main focus of the CDIO is to promote diversity within the K-State faculty, Bosco said. This position is new to K-State and will be allocated in the 2019 fiscal year base budget.

LaVerne Bitsie-Baldwin, director of the K-State Multicultural Engineering Program, said investing in diversity at K-State should be a priority.

“There is good outlook in having two positions that can now focus on different parts of the need for K-State,” Bitsie-Baldwin said. “It makes sense to put money where there is growth … so that you can continue to grow that one aspect of recruitment and retention, and then also not lose out on culture and climate, which K-State is struggling with.”

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