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As students and faculty made their way back to campus, so did members of the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE). Executive Director Dr. Angie Paccione and her team sat down with CMU faculty, staff and students to discuss the work being done to serve historically underrepresented groups, as well as meet with members of CMU's External Health and Medical Advisory Committee to learn about how the university is continuing to respond to COVID-19 challenges.

Colorado Mesa University Associate Professor of Psychology Nikki Jones, PhD, CMU Inclusivity and Mentor Specialist Ta'Lor Jackson and Student Trustee Aaron Reed spoke about CMU's Campus Climate study and culture competence vs. cultural humility. They also discussed navigating how to have discourse on campus about race, religion, gender and sexuality, and understanding cultural competency is a process not an end product.

Seated at the table were important community and state leaders, including CMU Board of Trustee Chair Alison Griffin, CDHE Chief Education Equity Officer and CMU alumnus Dr. Roberto Montoya, Commissioner Aaron Harber and Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative Director Shelley Banker.

“It’s always a pleasure having Dr. Paccione and the CDHE team on campus. Our foundation as an institution is built on a moral imperative to give people from all different backgrounds access to the best education possible,” said CMU President John Marshall. “We’re always excited when we get the opportunity to share the work our faculty, staff and students are doing to make sure every Maverick on this campus feels safe, welcome and at home.”

In addition to the important conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion, the group dove into the university’s COVID-19 prevention strategies. Infectious and Communicable Disease Committee Chair Dr. Amy Bronson explained how her teams utilize data and emerging science to make evidence-based decisions in order to keep our campus safe. Dr. Bronson walked the CDHE through the concept of protective immunity to understand CMU’s approach to campus COVID-19 policies and protocols.

Another important conversation of the day was the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI). COSI provides qualifying Colorado students with scholarship awards to aid them in their pursuit of a college degree. The CDHE team met a few Mavericks who are pursuing higher education because of COSI scholarships.

During the visit Marshall, Dr. Paccione and Harber took to the basketball court to compete in a friendly game of MAVS aka HORSE. CDHE Commissioner Steve Meyer and Matt Soper, state representative for district 54, were also in attendance. 

"It was great for our players to hear from a Colorado native [Dr. Paccione] who graduated from Stanford and decided to dedicate her professional life to higher education in her home state. Her enthusiasm for basketball, Colorado and education were infectious," said Men's Basketball Coach Mike DeGeorge.

Paccione, a former division one basketball player, talked to student-athletes about leadership and teamwork, and the importance of staying humble, honest and open to whatever life throws their way. 



Written by Kelsey Coleman