Today, University of Colorado Denver Chancellor Michelle Marks announced the appointment of Antonio Farias as Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) following the completion of a national search for this important Cabinet-level position. Farias, a longtime educator, brings more than 20 years of strong and varied experience educating and elevating underrepresented students and advising academic and military leaders on DEI best practices. He currently serves as the inaugural Chief Diversity Officer & Senior Advisor to the President at the University of Florida, a top-tier research university of more than 50,000 students.
Farias has an immediate opportunity to drive and develop initiatives that build on and advance an institutional commitment to equity and justice that Marks has deepened and accelerated since her installation as Chancellor on July 1, 2020. Among other actions, the Vice Chancellor will finalize a DEI strategic plan and lead its implementation; partner with units across the campus to enhance DEI and build community; lead the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and establish a system of accountability using data and reporting; and proactively engage in resource development to support diversity initiatives.
The position will be the first of its kind to focus on DEI specifically at the CU Denver campus, the state’s most diverse research university, where students of color make up half of the undergraduate student body. Previous vice chancellors served both CU Denver and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.
“The Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a strategic and mission-critical member of the CU Denver community and leadership team,” said Marks, who spent her first 100 days in office dedicated to an extensive listening tour specifically focused on understanding issues of campus equity and racial justice. Marks made formal Commitments for Action and has, among other measures, established an equity task force, prioritized inclusion in the university’s current strategic planning process, and sought Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status.
“Antonio enters this new role with my full support and confidence in his ability to make CU Denver a national leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Marks. “During the search process, Antonio stood out as a champion of students and public education, a servant leader who brings a values-based approach to his work, a strategist who understands the value and importance of DEI, and an expert tactician capable of effectively managing and shaping culture, climate, and policies at complex organizations.”
For the past 15 years, Farias has led cross-divisional teams in systems-level approaches to DEI at three premier institutions: The University of Florida, where he enriched the institution’s inclusive excellence and commitment to diversity in STEM+ and embedded DEI into core operational functions; Wesleyan University, where he restructured and developed a central Office for Equity & Inclusion and strengthened student pipeline cohort programs; and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where he served as the inaugural Chief Diversity Officer for more than eight years.
“I’m thrilled to be joining Chancellor Marks’ leadership team, as it deeply aligns with both my values and organizational change experience. To be concise, it feels like coming home,” noted Farias. “I was attracted to CU Denver’s vision of weaving the power of DEI into its organizational fabric, serving an increasingly expanding and diverse community of students and scholars, and emphasizing strong outcomes for students of color, women, first generation, LGBTQ+, and low socioeconomic status students. I believe in the potential of public education to create opportunity, and I feel a strong responsibility to continue to open doors for the next generation. Together, we will create a more socially just environment where our students, faculty, staff, and alumni will compete, thrive, and experience a sense of belonging.”
Earlier in his career, Farias served as an administrator of the McNair Scholars Program at Mercy College; an instructor of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies at Hunter College; and a Higher Education Opportunity Program counselor at Colgate University.
He received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and an MA in Comparative Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside. Additionally, he earned management certificates from Cornell and Harvard and served as an infantryman in the United States Army.