Academic Affairs

The Office of Academic Affairs works to ensure the integrity and quality of the undergraduate and graduate programs at Western State Colorado University. The Office provides careful stewardship of human, fiscal and physical resources associated with academics.

Academic Affairs Mission

Academic Affairs seeks to foster a culture of academic excellence and support through recruiting, supporting, developing and retaining excellent faculty and staff who enhance student learning and experience. The office also ensures appropriate policies and governance structures are in place to provide oversight, assessment and accountability of academic programs.

Institutional Mission

Western Colorado University fulfills its statutory mission by promoting intellectual maturity and personal growth in its students, and graduates citizens prepared to assume constructive roles in local, national and global communities. Western helps its students to develop the skills and commitments needed to continue learning for the rest of their lives and strives to elucidate the connections unifying academic domains which have traditionally existed separately: the sciences, the liberal arts and professional programs. The University provides students with a solid foundation of skills in written and spoken communication, problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. Our programs encourage a breadth and depth of knowledge, which will serve as a foundation for a professional career or graduate study, and an appreciation of values appropriate to a liberally educated individual. Western’s distinctive character emerges from its unity among academic and professional disciplines, its high standards of scholarship and its unique environment in the mountains of western Colorado.

In addition to academic programs, Academic Affairs oversees the following programs and departments:

Student Success at Western

Student Engagement



Abel Chávez, Ph.D. headshot
Dean of Graduate Studies; Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs; Assistant Professor of Environment and Sustainability
B.S., University of Colorado Denver, M.B.A., University of Houston, Ph.D., University of Colorado Denver
Office Location: Kelley Hall 104
Melanie Hulbert, Ph.D. headshot
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
B.A., Western Washington University, Sociology, M.A., State University of New York at Albany, Women’s Studies, Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, Sociology
Phone: 970.943.2055
Office Location: Taylor Hall 322
Dr. Kathleen M. Kinkema headshot
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs; Professor, Department of Recreation, Exercise & Sport Science
B.A., Grand Valley State University, M.S., University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Ph.D., University of North Carolina-Greensboro
Phone: 970.943.7133
Office Location: Wright Gym 229
Dr. William L. Niemi headshot
Vice President for Academic Affairs; Professor of Politics and Government
B.A., University of California-Santa Cruz , M.A., University of California-Santa Barbara, Ph.D., University of California-Los Angeles
Phone: 970.943.3045
Office Location: Taylor Hall 322