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Dr. Derek Lopez selected to Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities La Academia de Liderazgo

Release Date: September 18, 2019

Haley Sue Robinson

Director of Communications/Public Information Officer

Marketing, Communications & Community Relations

(719) 549-2284

Derek Lopez

Dr. Derek Lopez, Director of Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Initiatives of CSU-Pueblo, was selected as one of 24 individuals to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Presidential Leadership Academy, La Academia de Liderazgo.  This new initiative, launching fall of 2019, provides the opportunity for emerging leaders in higher education to participate in leadership development, conferences, and be mentored by former presidents and senior-level administrators. 

"I am thrilled that Dr. Lopez will participate in this prestigious academy,” said Dr. Timothy Mottet, President of CSU-Pueblo.

The purpose of La Academia de Liderazgo is to serve as a response to the declining percentage of Hispanic university presidents.  Additionally this bolsters leadership development for HSIs and Hispanic college student enrollment is on the rise nationwide.  Although this opportunity should lead to more Hispanic presidents at universities in the future, it also serves as a push for more leadership representation generally for Hispanics in higher education.

“CSU-Pueblo’s mission is to serve our system and our state by closing the educational attainment gap in southern Colorado,” said Dr. Lopez.  “We know that far too few of our Hispanic students graduate with a 4-year degree. In fact, while our Hispanic population in Colorado is the fastest growing demographic, fewer and fewer Hispanic citizens are choosing college. We have to do better. We start this work by ensuring that leadership in higher education is representative of the student populations we serve.”

La Academia de Liderazgo fellows will participate in the 33rd annual HACU conference in Chicago in October. There are other opportunities throughout the year including two other conferences, one in the spring and an international conference outside the U.S. in the summer of 2020.  The leadership program offers a hybrid approach with in-person conferences and webinars to accommodate the work schedule of higher education professionals.  La Academia fellows will learn from former presidents of HSIs and other upper-level administration professionals in higher education.

Dr. Lopez ’96, Psychology, returned to CSU-Pueblo to serve the same institution he attended as a first generation college student himself.

“I’m doing the work here that I studied and researched in graduate school.  Pueblo is the community that I choose to live in and make a difference,” said Dr. Lopez.  “Our educational institutions have a great opportunity to change lives.”

Dr. Lopez has worked in education ranging from pre-school, to Cesar Chavez as a K-8 administrator, and then eventually moving to higher education here at CSU-Pueblo.  His work has not only included teaching but now primarily focuses on grant writing and institutional work to benefit the university and its students.  He works closely with university leadership and has raised a sizable amount of grant money for CSU-Pueblo during his tenure.

“Derek is a tireless advocate for Pueblo, this community, our campus, and the students we serve. For more than 20 years, he has worked in roles that supported educational opportunities for first generation, minority, and low-income students,” said Dr. Donna Souder Hodge, Chief Strategy Officer of CSU-Pueblo. “He’s created programs, written and received millions of dollars in Hispanic Serving Institution federal grants, and implemented strategies to develop our own employees’ capacity to serve these student populations.”

The one-year program of La Academia de Liderazgo will benefit Dr. Lopez and speaks to the leadership development CSU-Pueblo encourages of its staff and faculty.

“Derek has made significant contributions to our campus including serving as a member of the university’s visioning team, designing and implementing student success initiatives, and writing and administering numerous capacity building grants,” said Dr. Mottet.  “These contributions have allowed him to emerge on the national stage as a fellow in this leadership academy."

The HACU La Academia de Liderazgo is a one year program to prepare the next generation of culturally diverse leaders for the ranks of college and university presidents.  For more information about La Academia visit

HACU’s conferences and special events each year provide a vital platform for advocacy, information, collaboration, and recognition. Thousands of young Hispanics benefit from HACU with internships, scholarships, college retention and advancement programs, pre-collegiate support, and career development opportunities and programs.

HACU represents more than 470 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America, and Spain.  Although member institutions in the U.S. represent only 13% of all higher education institutions nationwide, together they are home to two-thirds of all Hispanic college students. HACU is the only national educational association that represents HSIs.

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