Western announces structural, personnel updates to Student Affairs, Finance

Abel Chávez, Ph.D, stands in front of a tree.

Western announces structural, personnel updates to Student Affairs, Finance

Taylor Cull
Photo by Nov 25, 2019

Western Colorado University President Greg Salsbury, Ph.D., today announced structural and personnel updates to the divisions of Student Affairs and Finance.

The moves reinforce Western’s increased emphasis on student success and on ensuring that every student moving through Western has the resources and relationships necessary to thrive academically and socially.

Abel Chávez, Ph.D., has been named the inaugural vice president of student success—and will continue to serve in his existing role as dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Chávez, a member of Western’s faculty since 2014, will report directly to Salsbury.

“I am excited to see how Dr. Chávez will use his experience and creative mindset to deliver on student success,” Salsbury said. “He understands the importance of a culture of inclusivity and accountability, and I believe his engineering background will serve him well for the data analysis which the Student Success Initiative team deemed as so important.”

Meanwhile, Gary Pierson will continue as dean of students, reporting to Chavez but with more capacity under this structure for individualized student interaction and support. With Western growing in student enrollment and a nationwide uptick in campus demand for mental health resources, Pierson and his team have seen increased workloads.

“Perhaps Gary’s most valuable role individually is his superb handling of issues one-on-one with students, parents, community members, police and fellow employees. In many cases these issues are highly stressful, delicate and important to both the individuals involved and Western,” Salsbury said. “For these reasons I wanted to find a way to allow Gary to devote more time to what he does best—dealing with all of these student, parent and community issues—usually in one-on-one, interpersonal conversations.”

Additional structural changes include the University Center and Contracted Services group moving under Business Services Manager Sherry Ford in the Finance Department and recruitment of a dedicated Title IX administrator to bolster equity and student success.