[Vision2020] A focus on diversity

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Thu Sep 3 08:54:55 PDT 2015

Courtesy of the UI Argonaut at:


A focus on diversity

Suarez steps down, takes position at Portland State

Whether serving on community organizations or teaching university employees, Carmen Suarez’s passion for diversity came out through her work.

“It’s not a job for her,” said Erin Agidius, associate director of the office Human Rights, Access and Inclusion, who will serve as interim director for the office. “It’s not work because it’s truly what she cares about.”

Suarez stepped down as Chief Diversity Officer and associate vice provost for Student Affairs Aug. 14 after three years in the position. She left UI to become the Chief Diversity Officer at Portland State University. Suarez was at the University of Idaho for six years.

On an interim basis, Suarez’s position has been split up into two positions.

Yolanda Bisbee, executive director of Tribal Relations, will serve as interim Chief Diversity Officer and Agidius will serve as interim director of the HRAI office. Agidius will also serve as the university’s Title IX coordinator.

UI President Chuck Staben anticipates a search for Suarez’s replacement will start this fall and said the university might not have someone to fill the position until July 2016. With these positions, he said the university would want to conduct a national search, which often takes up the academic year.

Staben said the university is looking into conducting two searches and keeping Suarez’s former position permanently split.

“I think that the functions — of the HRAI office and the diversity office — are a little bit different,” Staben said. “And we may be best suited by having them separate.”

In the position, Suarez is credited with helping found the President’s Diversity Counsel and made diversity a more visible part of the university, Staben said.

Agidius said Suarez also worked to create the Our Inclusive Workplace training that was required of all UI employees.

In her role as UI’s Title IX coordinator, Agidius said Suarez was also able to adapt Title IX procedures to fit federal rules.

Staben said he will remember Suarez’s contribution to adapting Title IX procedures at UI.

“I think she did a good job of sort of modernizing our approach to Title IX,” Staben said of Suarez.

He said Suarez, along with the offices she oversaw, helped UI achieve a higher retention rate among minority students compared to majority students.

Suarez also conducted trainings for departments on campus, explaining the importance of diversity to UI employees, Agidius said.

“You could see her passion come through in the work that she did,” Agidius said.

Suarez was also a champion of diversity outside UI, serving on the Latah County Human Rights Task Force and the city of Moscow’s Human Rights Commission, Agidius said. She said Suarez saw that a focus on diversity was not just good for the university, but was good for the community as well.

Although Suarez will be missed, Staben said the office is in capable hands with the interim positions and the various offices she oversaw.

“So we have to be a very inclusive community,” Staben said. “We have to be one where diversity is a part of our curriculum.”


Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" 
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho
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