History of DEI

The Regents of the University of New Mexico (UNM) approved the creation of a Division of Institutional Diversity in July 2007. Under the leadership of University President David Schmidly and Interim Provost Viola Florez, this Division was charged with the development of an Institution-wide plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Efforts were led by the Interim Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Rita Martinez-Purson.

The State of New Mexico has a historically diverse population, and today stands as one of four states in the U.S. that can claim minority/majority status – that is where the minority population of the state outnumbers the non-minority population. Moreover, our state is one in which diversity and cultural richness has been recognized through the centuries, and the University of New Mexico recognizes that diversity needs to be articulated, cultivated and made meaningful in our planning process. New Mexico has unique traditions, languages and a multi-cultural heritage which can provide inspiration for UNM to cultivate an important model for university diversity efforts.

The Division of Institutional Diversity was formed to strengthen organizational capacity to serve UNM's diverse student body. The state of New Mexico is comprised of 58% minority population, and as its flagship institution UNM boasts 43% minority students at its main campus. In its branch campuses of Gallup, Taos, and Valencia County, minority students outnumber non-minority students, and the UNM Los Alamos branch serves 48% minority students.

The Division of Institutional Diversity was renamed the Division of Equity & Inclusion in April of 2008. The UNM Diversity Plan and the UNM Diversity Report Card were published in May of 2008. The new permanent VP for Equity & Inclusion, Dr. Josephine De Leon began in July of 2008. Following De Leon's departure in 2017, Dr. Lawrence Roybal served as interim VP from 2017 through 2019. Following a national search, Dr. Assata Zerai was named as the new permanent VP in August 2019.