This spring, a new member is joining the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) leadership team. Edén Cortés-López will be leading the Fostering an Inclusive Climate priority area at the university and the corresponding EDI Strategy Council working group as the new director of research and climate. He will also direct the launch of the research arm of EDI in collaboration with University of Utah Health.
The new director of research and climate position is a joint appointment shared between EDI and the College of Education Department of Educational Leadership and Policy (ELP). This partnership will add value to EDI’s mission by giving it access to the faculty and research expertise of the college while giving the College of Education better access to the administrative and policy-related know-how of EDI.
Cortés-Lopéz is excited to bring his experience and knowledge to this position and support research that supports equitable outcomes and practices across campus. “Research is important to help us unearth issues of equity that often go unnoticed. Research provides us with the data to ask critical questions about systemic and structural inequities—and it can help us form more equitable practices and outcomes,” he says.
Cortés-López is a higher education researcher, practitioner and consultant who brings over 10 years of experience in higher education to the position, including his most recent employment with the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE). As a special projects coordinator at USHE, Cortés-López oversaw the state-wide transfer site, Senate Bill 196 (Concurrent Enrollment QL Mathematic Competency Initiative) and provided expertise on transfer-related policies and initiates. He is also the author of several research papers focused on transfer students’ experiences, national reverse credit transfer initiatives and equity assessment. His work has also contributed to the field of higher education in prison as co-author of “The Landscape of Higher Education in Prison, 2018-19,” which assesses some 300 higher education prison programs from across the country.
Cortés-Lopéz has previously taught in the U’s ELP graduate program and has been commissioned by the Programs of Public Affairs to evaluate the Master of Public Administration program’s curriculum, recruitment and admission policies and procedures regarding equity. He was also a consultant for the Park City Community Foundation and analyzed data to address housing disparities and their impact on low-income families and communities of color in the area.
Cortés-López is excited to be joining the University of Utah in this important role. “It’s an amazing feeling to be part of a community of scholars, students, and practitioners at the University of Utah,” he says. “When I first started my graduate work at the U, I knew that I wanted to work here. The work of faculty and practitioners to create an equitable campus for historically marginalized students is admirable and invigorating, and I am excited to join those efforts and honored to join the U’s EDI and UHEDI team as the director of research and climate.”
Please join us in welcoming Cortés-López to the University of Utah and EDI team.