Increasing Diversity and Inclusion at Southern Utah University

Listen to this article

After months of interviews with highly-qualified candidates from all corners of the US, Southern Utah University announced the new Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion: Dr. Schvalla Rivera. In her previous role, Dr. Rivera served as the Dean of Students at Western Nebraska Community College.

“I am so very happy to be here at SUU,” said Dr. Rivera. “I look forward to working with campus and community partners to increase our understanding of diversity and inclusion. I believe that conversation is an important step in learning about new people, places, and things. We must engage with one another so that we can learn from one another. Only then can we grow together.”

The Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion was recently developed to initiate and sustain diversity and equity opportunities throughout the entire institution. Rivera will provide her expertise on institutional diversity and inclusion as it relates to governance, administrative policies, and federal and state regulations. She’ll also play a key role in Enrollment Management and with the Human Resources Department. With her help SUU aims to recruit and admit students of diverse backgrounds, train new and current employees on equity and diversity, as well as develop community outreach strategies for underrepresented populations.

“I am thrilled that Schvalla has agreed to join our team and very much look forward to working closely with her to further refine and improve our campus climate, culture, and overall experience,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Jared Tippets.

Rivera earned both her M.S. in Political Science and Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in teaching, learning, and leadership from Indiana State University. She is certified in both psychological first aid and Title IX and Civil Rights Investigators. She is also a Certified Diversity Executive, which comes from at least five years of progressive work experience in the field of diversity or HR.

“Diversity is about recognizing all of the wonderful things that make us all unique,” said Rivera. “Inclusion is the process of leveraging those differences in a productive and equitable manner. I do not see my work as political, although political ideologies are encompassed in diversity. My role is to promote an environment that is welcoming to all. This is essential as the world becomes more globally connected. We must learn how to leverage our greatest resource, which is our human capital. In America, we are blessed to have people from around the world with diverse experiences who live, learn and work together. This diversity of thoughts and experiences is why American ingenuity has been highly prized. Our differences make us better, stronger, greater.”

“Improving diversity and inclusion promotes social justice and enriches all our lives with increased knowledge and respect for people and cultures that might be new to us,” said Scott L Wyatt, President of SUU. “I can say without question that my life is more fulfilled and enriched by the friendships I have made with people at this university and around the world.”

There is an opportunity to create an inclusive environment at SUU where diversity is respected and appreciated. Rivera made it her goal to do just that.

Rivera describes herself as a visionary, energetic, creative problem solver who is a critical thinking leader with 10 years of experience and a diverse work history which includes; training development and delivery, diversity and inclusion initiatives, team building/leadership, project management, mediation, counseling and community building.

About Southern Utah University

Established in 1897, Southern Utah University evolved from a teacher training institution to Utah’s designated masters’ university, offering over 140 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. With world-class project-based learning, unique undergraduate research opportunities, and a personalized learning environment (18:1) students lead projects mentored by professors. True to the University’s core vision, SUU faculty, staff and administrators enable students to honor thought in all its finest forms, achieve excellence in their chosen field, and create positive change in the world.