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Important Announcement About Vice Chancellor Rodriguez

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Jeremy Haefner

Announcement  •

Dear DU Community,

I write with the bittersweet news that Dr. Lili Rodriguez has shared her decision to resign as Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence (SAIE) effective May 15, 2020. We are sad to see Lili leave after five successful years at DU. We will miss her creativity, her humor and especially her commitment to ensuring student voices are heard. Lili leaves to start an education consultancy that will extend her work in equity and citizenship from kindergarten to higher education, all in hopes of impacting institutions across the country. She and her family will relocate to a small farmstead in Vermont, a dream she and her partner have had for over 20 years.  

In Lili’s words, “This is a critical time for my young family, for our nation and for higher education. While leaving DU is hard, I feel called to spend more time with my children during these very important early years of their life, and to more directly focus my work on helping as many institutions as possible ensure a more socially aware and responsible citizenry.”  

Lili joined the University of Denver in July 2015 as the inaugural Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence (SAIE), charged with ensuring greater inclusion and equitable services for all students. Under her leadership, SAIE evolved its support of students in distress through substantial growth of the Office of Student Outreach and Support (this year’s “Department of the Year” award winner), enhancing mental health services and the addition of a 24/7/365 tele-mental health option that is culturally responsive for all students. Also under her leadership, DU added a Collegiate Recovery Center and developed a Behavioral Health Care Team, staffed by dedicated professionals, that has received accolades from national peers. Lili’s background in psychology uniquely positioned her to help DU navigate the national mental health crisis.  

As a first-generation college student herself, Lili paid special attention to increasing access and support systems. She formed the Office of Access and Transitions, bringing together legacy programs and creating new ones to help first-generation and students from historically marginalized communities navigate collegiate life and prepare for enriching careers. She was also a major lead in ensuring that Yellow Ribbon funding for veterans was enhanced. Her dedication also earned her NASPA’s prestigious James Rhatigan Outstanding Dean Award in 2018.  Lili also spearheaded the design of The Community Commons and Dimond Family Residential Village (opening 2020)—both buildings have been designed to encourage a sense of belonging and to foster community engagement.

“The new leadership team is ready to take DU to new heights,” writes Lili. “I am honored to have grown and learned here, to have helped set the foundation for that next step, to have represented such inspiring students, and to have served with some of  the most committed student affairs professionals in the nation.”  

As we prepare for this transition, we can do so knowing that Lili’s leadership has left DU with a solid foundation for compassionate and holistic student care. A national search for the next Vice Chancellor of SAIE will begin early in the new year. I will update the community at that time about the search and the members of the search committee, which will include faculty, students and staff members.

We will have opportunities this spring to celebrate Lili’s numerous contributions to DU. I hope you will join me in wishing her the very best as she embarks on the next chapter of her remarkable career.


Jeremy Haefner