Sep 232010
Authors: Abel Oshevire

Mary Ontiveros came to CSU in 1969 with nothing but a bus ticket.

Her father sent her on the path to education without any financial support and now, 41 years later, she is helping students who are facing the same struggles as the university’s vice president for diversity once did.

“Historically, diversity has been viewed as me vs. you. We plan to get people on campus to view diversity not as a problem but a mechanism of excellence,” Ontiveros said. “Working together with people who have different ideas enables growth.”

“In order for CSU to graduate students into the workforce, they (students) need to understand diversity,” she said. “Leaving out other populations doesn’t lead to success.”

As a student Ontiveros worked anywhere from one to three jobs at a time and found success in student government and in a position with the Admissions Office. This drives her now.

Ontiveros, who officially started the position on July 1, is also the associate vice president for enrollment and access.

“I expected things to be busier with two jobs. It has not been difficult to adjust just yet,” she said. “I feel like I have had no problems adjusting because I was mentally prepared for this.”

Most of her colleagues, Ontiveros said, have helped her transition into the position and organize larger projects.

“I have worked with Mary for many years, and much of that work has centered around diversity issues, and I know how committed and passionate she is,” said Blanche Hughes, vice president of student affairs. “She is already doing a fabulous job in the role and I will do everything that I can to be supportive and to assist her in this role.”

The Operations Team for Diversity, which is responsible for setting up priorities and agendas focused on diversity, was created to help the university toward Ontiveros’ goal.

Ontiveros said the committee is currently working on updating the Equal Opportunity Statement to include new content.

The committee will also recommend that university employees undergo training and meet certain expectations in regard to diversity.
“For the first time, the federal government is making changes to the way race and ethnicity is defined in certain situations,” Ontiveros said. “CSU is doing its part to make sure that it makes the right comparisons.”

The idea: To have an external committee made up of parents and alumni and an internal committee made up of university staff. These two groups will work under the Operations Team for Diversity.

For 41 years, as an alumna and then a faculty member, Ontiveros has served the university community.

“During my time as vice president of diversity I want people to be able to describe CSU with words like ‘celebration of diversity’ or ‘access’,” she said. “I want people to see CSU as a place that cares about students and diversity.”

Diversity Beat Reporter Abel Oshevire can be reached at

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