New chief academic officer enjoying the fast pace at CMU

Grand Junction – It was the high-caliber academic programs coupled with the rapid growth and change that attracted Cynthia Pemberton to Colorado Mesa University. She is now into her third month as CMU’s new vice president of academic affairs and is learning very quickly, she said.

“This is a highly charged, dynamic, evolving institution,” Pemberton said. “So often in higher education, things are very controlled and slow moving. That does not characterize CMU.”

Pemberton, EdD, described Colorado Mesa as “exciting, challenging, inspiring and bold!”

“It is very much like drinking from a firehose but I’m a quick learner,” she laughed. “I wake up every morning with a smile on my face and say, ‘Okay, here we go!’ “

She joined Colorado Mesa in July after serving for three and a half years as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Dickinson State University in Dickinson, N.D. She replaces Carol Futhey, PhD, who retired after 12 years at CMU.

Pemberton hails from Medford, Ore. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from Willamette University in Salem, Ore., a master’s in Interdisciplinary Studies from Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, Ore., and her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Portland State University.

She has worked in higher education for more than 30 years as a faculty member, coach and administrator. She was the recipient of the only U.S. Fulbright Scholar Award granted for Malta in 2011, where she taught in the University of Malta’s education studies program and conducted workshops for teachers on issues concerning education equity, diversity and social justice.

She has written numerous publications including two books, More Than a Game: One Woman’s Fight for Gender Equity in Sport and Getting There: Women’s Journeys to and Through Educational Attainment.

In her new position at CMU, she oversees 13 departments and various academic support units. For the immediate future, Pemberton plans to immerse herself in CMU and learn as much as she can as quickly as she can.

“I’m going to plant my feet firmly in the ‘what is’ so I can know, understand and appreciate that,” she said. “I am excited and honored to be here. I consider working in higher education a privilege. It matters to me. It motivates me.”

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