UCCS appoints first Director of DEI Strategic Initiatives

Bella Hettich has been named UCCS’s first Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Strategic Initiatives.

This new role reports to Rame Hanna, Vice Chancellor for DEI (VCDEI), and is essential to the current strategic effort to foster a more inclusive and equitable culture on campus through developing DEI components and assessing the impacts of DEI-related programs and initiatives. These components include research, data collection and analysis, program development, and management of DEI reports for UCCS and the CU system.

Additionally, Hettich will enhance DEI communication, facilitate campus and community DEI engagement, represent the DEI division on committees, and pursue diversity-related funding and grant opportunities.

Hettich has nearly 20 years of DEI and intercultural relations experience. She has led inaugural DEI work at Diversus Health to improve mental healthcare access disparities, student-centered DEI work at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Mayville State University and global DEI engagement through the intensive English program at the University of North Dakota. She is a member of the Strategic Planning Committee at the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, and she has also served in leadership roles at NAFSA and TESOL. In her early career, she worked as an interpreter in relief and development in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

“I am excited to join UCCS to further its commitment to inclusive excellence and belonging, so that individuals that have been historically excluded from the benefits of higher education could find UCCS systemically supportive to improve their lives through educational and career growth,” said Hettich.

Hanna formed the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion soon after starting in their inaugural role as Vice Chancellor for DEI in Spring 2022. “The Division is committed to sustainable inclusive excellence and empowering community agency to foster a greater culture of belonging,” they said. “We hope to not only build a supportive community for all students, staff, and faculty, but also inspire and empower a culture where people can be their authentic selves.”

“We are delighted to have Bella join the Division during this critical time of institutional DEI transformation,” continued Hanna. “As we launch the Inclusive Excellence and Belonging (IEB) Action Plan this Spring semester, Bella will play a central role in aiding colleges and divisions in the development of their DEI actions and goals. Her moral and social obligation to DEI can be seen throughout her tenure in this field and I know she will be an immense support and resource to the UCCS community. Her previous experiences working in both higher education and the corporate world give her insight on developing effective DEI practices and policies to support our DEI framework pillars. We are fortunate to have Bella’s leadership as we work to foster a more inclusive campus where all individuals can belong and thrive.”

As Director of DEI Strategic Initiatives, Hettich will also work with partners both on- and off-campus to optimize DEI endeavors, such as assisting colleges and divisions in the development and review of their IEB implementation plans as well as partnering and collaborating with key constituencies across campus to design and review DEI-related policies, strategies, and initiatives through coordinated and consistent engagement.

“Moving DEI-centered systems change from performative to authentic is my passion, and I am looking forward to partnering with UCCS students, staff and faculty in this crucial effort for the betterment of our increasingly diverse society,” Hettich said.

About the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion aspires to strengthen DEI innovation, impacts, and practices as integral components of inclusive and academic excellence. The Division is committed to fostering an inclusive learning and work environment where all at UCCS feel a sense of belonging and can thrive. The DEI Division promotes the principles of inclusive excellence, multicultural education, and social justice that both enhance the University’s service to the public and contribute directly to the work environment and the quality of learning for all who participate. Additionally, the Division seeks to elevate the impact UCCS has as a regional and national leader in preparing students for success in a diverse global society and workforce.

You can also learn more about the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion online.