March 8, 2021

Dear CSU Community,

I hope that many of you got the chance to get outside this past weekend, enjoy the first taste of spring weather in Colorado and nurture your spirit.

The month of March marks the change in seasons from winter to spring and which is also Women’s History Month.  I love the juxtaposition of those two things in this month—the reawakening and blooming of the world around us paired with our celebration of women’s roles in shaping our world.   Because women make us thrive, and I am proud to take a moment to celebrate just a few of the extraordinary women here at CSU.

Last summer, we welcomed two women to key leadership roles: Yolanda Bevill joined us as the Vice President for University Communications in July and Mary Pedersen joined as Provost and Executive Vice President in August.  In the few months that they have been here, both Yolanda and Mary have already had a powerful and positive impact. Yolanda has revitalized our brand both for our campus community and externally, while Mary has steered our academic enterprise through the many twists and turns necessitated by the COVID pandemic.

In January, Roe Bubar from the Department of Ethnic Studies and the School of Social Work also joined the university’s leadership team as the interim Vice President for Diversity. In the few months she has been in this important role, Roe has worked with her talented leadership team—all women—to make sure our VPD is proactively addressing the many diversity and equity issues that are currently gripping our country.

These newest leaders join women leading at all levels and in every discipline at CSU.  Of our ten Deans, five are women: Beth Walker in our College of Business; Jan Nerger in Natural Sciences; Lise Youngblade in Health and Human Sciences; Mary Stromberger in the Graduate School; and Karen Estlund in the Libraries.  And Blanche Hughes, our invaluable and irreplaceable Vice President for Student Affairs, has made CSU her professional home for more than 37 years!

Meanwhile, women have been at the forefront of CSU’s COVID response, with Lori Lynn, Executive Director of the CSU Health Network, serving as Co-Chair of our Pandemic Preparedness Team; Chief Medical Research Officer Heather Pidcoke coordinating much of our testing and screening strategy; Director of the Research Integrity & Compliance Review Office Karen Dobos producing and distributing hand sanitizer right on campus; and Director of Clinical Diagnostics for the CSU Veterinary Health System Kristy Pabilonia securing a CLIA certification to allow her lab to process COVID tests and report results.

Incredible women researchers working in labs across the university have also risen to the challenge of COVID by focusing on assessing risks, finding treatments, and developing a vaccine.  Several of these scientists— Marcela Henao-Tamayo, Lindsay Hartson, Izabela Ragan, Mary Jackson, and Amy MacNeill—were featured in a recent SOURCE article about vaccine research and we just highlighted even more of our amazing women scientists in a compelling video on our YouTube channel.

And of course, CSU is proud to be the home of many, many talented women leaders of tomorrow, including students like current ASCSU President Hannah Taylor, Graduate Council Co-President Lindsay Wickenbach, the President of our chapter of the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers Michelle Hefner, and the leader of my President’s Multicultural Student Advisory Council, Valarie Lopez.

Of course I could go on, naming, celebrating, and thanking literally hundreds—thousands—of women in the Ram family who embody our land grant mission, working to make our world a better place now and for the future. I won’t do that here, but I encourage everyone reading to think about the women they work alongside, the women they encounter in classrooms, labs, fieldwork, offices, and out in our community, and recognize their tremendous impact.

During Women’s History month—as with any month or week or day set aside to celebrate a certain identity group—it is important to remember that “history” is not just what is past.  History is also what we are making right now.  And the women of CSU are making that history one to be proud of.  Thank you!