May 26, 2005
Vol. 24 No. 17

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    Vázquez named OMSA director

    By Jennifer Carnig
    News Office

    Ana Vázquez has been appointed Deputy Dean of Students in the University and Director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs. Her appointment will begin Monday, June 13.

    Since 2000, Vázquez has served as the director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at DePaul University, an office serving nearly 7,500 students of color, a large number of which are first-generation college students. For the five years before she became director of the office, Vázquez served first as assistant and then associate director. In these positions, she was responsible for the development and implementation of comprehensive retention initiatives with a primary focus on students of color.

    “She is the person we’ve been looking for,” said Kenneth Warren, the William J. Friedman & Alicia Townsend Friedman Professor in English Language & Literature. Warren—who co-chaired the search committee with Sonya Malunda, Assistant Vice-President and Director of Community Affairs—also said there were more than 110 applications for the position and that more than eight applicants were invited to campus for interviews. “She showed an astuteness about why Chicago students are different than other students, and she was able to establish a rapport with the students here very quickly.”

    At DePaul, Vázquez is credited with the rejuvenation of a mentoring program that matched 250 first-year students with 38 mentors, assisting them on a variety of academic, cultural, transitional and leadership issues. In the area of outreach and communication, she initiated and managed the development of the first departmental Web site, multilingual brochure and annual report.

    “Ultimately, her hard work and vision led directly to a measurably significant increase in the retention rates of students of color,” said Stephen Klass, Vice President and Dean of Students in the University.

    Prior to her appointment at DePaul University, Vázquez was an educational counselor for a community-based organization in Chicago called Aspira Inc., and assistant director in the student life department at Loyola University in Chicago. A lifelong Chicago resident, Vázquez earned a Ph.D. in higher education, a M.Ed. in college student personnel and a B.S. in Psychology, all from Loyola.

    “My interest in higher education began in the 1980s when I worked for Aspira Inc.,” Vázquez said, explaining that she assisted primarily Latino and African-American students from the Chicago Public Schools—most of whom were first-generation or low-income students—in their search for access to higher education. “I quickly noticed the lack of diversity on most college campuses and the need to create more welcoming and supportive college environments. It was at that point I realized that my passion and future work would be in creating access for students who traditionally had been denied access to higher education in this country.”

    Vázquez said her main goal is simply to offer support to students of color. “Specifically, I want to make sure that my efforts help students of color academically succeed, and also help build a community on campus in which students can feel they are a part.”

    At DePaul, Vázquez has helped build a number of strong communities through her work on a number of committees, planning groups and advisory boards, including those supporting the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Allies Student Services, the Women’s Center, the Cultural Center, and University Ministry.

    “I’m really looking forward to joining the University of Chicago’s community,” she said. “The University’s reputation as a premier local, national and international institution is thrilling.”

    For the past year, OMSA has undergone a number of changes. It has been reorganized and has received expanded resources to help narrow and better its focus on student services and support.

    Klass offered a special word of thanks to OMSA’s interim directors, Cheryl Bradley-Stone and Linda Choi, Special Assistants to the Vice President and Deans of Students for Diversity Affairs. Both offered “exceptional leadership and tireless support of our student of color community during this challenging transitional year,” Klass said.