Looking into the future, new diversity administrator aims to build cultural competency

Adrian Rodriguez is Kansas State's newly appointed associate vice president for student life of diversity and multicultural student affairs. The office of diversity is restructuring under Rodriguez's leadership to create a safe and inclusive environment for all students at K-State. (Hannah Greer | Collegian Media Group)

Adrian Rodriguez was named Kansas State’s new associate vice president for student life of diversity and multicultural student affairs in December, and he’s got big plans for the university.

Prior to working at K-State, Rodriguez was vice president of student development services at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas. K-State offered him the position to work in diversity and in student life, which Rodriguez accepted.

“I fell in love with the state of Kansas, and I’ve always had my heart stay connected with the great folks of K-State,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of my work, my passion, my focus has been working in the field of diversity, so the idea of coming to a four-year university, I really wanted to work in student multicultural because I’m a student life guy.”

Helene Waldeck, junior in human development and family science, said she enjoys the opportunity she has to be able to meet and speak with Rodriguez every day while working in his office.

“I think he’s a good addition to our family as he does a good job being dedicated to the work that he was hired to do,” Waldeck said.

Brittany Burgess, senior in life sciences, said Rodriguez goes out of his way to make connections with students no matter the time or place. She said Rodriguez does what he can in order to make a positive impact here at K-State.

“I think he’s such a positive influence because he’s very optimistic and is always wondering what he could do to make things better,” Burgess said. “He walks into the office every day with a smile on his face, greets everyone no matter how busy he is or if he’s running late to a meeting. It is great that he always finds the time to stop and ask you how you are doing.”

Rodriguez said his plans for the university are to improve cultural competency and community relations. He is in the process of starting a new program called “IDI QA Training,” which stands for Intercultural Development Inventory Qualifying Administrating Training.

“Sixty different faculty and staff are going to be getting trained in intercultural learning and be qualified to administer IDI to different state holder groups such as student groups, faculty teams, staff and so forth,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said he plans on pairing individuals from the training with some Wildcat Warm-up counselors and leaders to help lead these initiatives with the students here at K-State and facilitate those small groups.

“We want to make sure that we’re providing that level of cultural competence, education and training to not just students, but for faculties and staff as well,” Rodriguez said. “As a part of that training, we already have three co-work groups set for April, June and August.”

Although big changes can come with difficulties, Rodriguez said he feels K-State is well prepared to move past anything it may encounter.

“I think we’re very fortunate that we have a university who’s willing to move,” Rodriguez said. “We have student advocates in each of our colleges and units. We have individuals that are very hungry to do this work and students who are very hungry for the work to be done.”

Additionally, Rodriguez said he is looking forward to boosting his efforts to provide support to the diverse student body.

“I think the future is very bright,” Rodriguez said. “I’m excited, enthusiastic about where we are going and all that can be accomplish. We want to demonstrate in our programs, in our services, and in our support on how we value multiculturalism, but most importantly how we appreciate every student that walks this campus.”