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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG - 06/29/2007- Stating that he wants to build upon already successful diversity initiatives, UCM President Aaron Podolefsky has named Jesus "Sonny" Castro chief diversity officer.
Experience Valuable in New Post
Dr. Jesus "Sonny" Castro
"This important position requires someone who understands the culture of higher education at UCM, and who also understands the nature of diversity as a valuable educational and institutional resource. I'm confident that Sonny Castro will bring to this position the same level of leadership and professionalism that he has brought to Student Affairs for so many years," Podolefsky said.
Demonstrated Commitment to Diversity
The chief diversity officer reports to the president through the vice president for Student Affairs. The Offices of Community Engagement, Campus Advocate, and the UCM office at Union Station in Kansas City will be under Castro's direction.
Rich Morrell, vice president for Student Affairs, said Castro is well known on campus and understands the institution's strengths and capabilities. He is also known to people in the local community and has the ability to create alliances both on and off campus.
"Sonny is someone who has a commitment to diversity and the broad experience to be successful," Morrell added.
Looking Forward to Building, Nurturing Relationships
Castro said he is honored to serve as the university's first chief diversity officer. He insists that his appointment demonstrates the president's commitment to "lead the UCM higher education community to a realization that, in the 21st century, diversity and multi-culturalism are fundamental pillars of a great university.
"I am excited by the challenge of the position, and the opportunity to build and nurture relationships across the UCM campus, as well as Kansas, Missouri and beyond," he said.
Successes of Office of Community Engagement Recognized
Castro praised the Office of Community Engagement for promoting a diversity agenda, and added that that the president's decision to expand and create a chief diversity officer position is indicative of his priorities in this area. Community Engagement has initiated efforts to address concerns among minorities in the metropolitan area through the Kansas City Task Force.
Community Engagement has brought guest speakers to campus and created special programs aimed at increasing diversity awareness, and provided programs for youth underrepresented in higher education with a goal to make them better prepared for college life. In his new role, Castro will continue to work with Community Engagement and others on and off campus to ensure these initiatives and other new diversity endeavors are successful.
"As I settle into my position, my intention is to do as much as I can to help the institution achieve its diversity goals," Castro said.
Strong Background in Student Affairs
Castro came to the university in 1996 as assistant vice president for Student Affairs, and was serving as associate vice president of that division at the time of his new appointment. In that capacity, he has provided supervisory responsibilities for the Office of Community Engagement, Campus Dining Service, Marketing and Research Office, and the division's Graduate Assistantships Program.
His educational background includes a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis on Higher Education from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP); and a Bachelor of Arts in English from UTEP.
He came to UCM from the UTEP, where from 1972 to 1996, he served at positions including assistant vice president for student auxiliary services, director of auxiliary services, union director, and director of student programs.