Weber State hires new executive director to help reach goal of serving more Hispanic, Latino students
OGDEN, Utah – As northern Utah’s demographics have grown to see an increase in Hispanic and Latino populations, Weber State University has hired a new executive director of Hispanic-Serving Institution Initiatives.
Yudi Lewis is a nationally recognized professional in higher education. She earned two bachelor’s degrees before obtaining a master’s in business administration. She’s nearing completion of her doctorate in educational leadership and policy from the University of Utah.
Lewis said she’s excited to join Weber State and sees her role as much more than increasing enrollment or getting students into classes.
“This is about strategically positioning the students so they can transition from high school graduation to a certificate or degree program enabling them to work in the field they’re passionate about,” she said. “That in turn will help Utah’s economy and our community.”
Lewis’ hiring comes after WSU committed to increasing the percentage of students who identify as Hispanic or Latino to 15% by fall 2025 in the university’s five-year strategic plan. Weber State’s current Hispanic and Latino enrollment is 11%.
This is a step toward reaching Emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution status and eventually becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution as defined by the U.S. Department of Education, which requires a 25% Hispanic and Latino enrollment.
Lewis said increasing the population of underserved students on campus will benefit the whole university, not just Latino students.
“Achieving HSI status will provide funding we currently don’t have to enhance and expand access, opportunities, support services, faculty and staff development, creating positions across the board,” she said.
The new HSI initiatives position is funded by a generous $500,000 commitment from Ally Financial Inc.
“Ally strongly supports WSU’s goal of increasing Hispanic student enrollment and achieving HSI status,” said Jan Bergeson, Ally executive director and Community Reinvestment Act Officer. “And Yudi’s past accomplishments make her a great addition to the Weber State team.”
Lewis, who has a solid track record of Latino recruitment and retention, recently completed the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities 2021-22 Fellows of the Leadership Academy/La Academia de Liderazgo, where she was nationally recognized for her work in the field.
WSU President Brad Mortensen, who serves on the governing board of HACU, said he’s excited to have Lewis join the Weber State team because she’s a passionate and experienced advocate for high school students being able to access higher education.
“Utah's changing demographics and ever-increasing workforce demands require our higher education institutions to better serve Hispanic and Latino communities,” Mortensen said.
Lewis will report to Mortensen as well as Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Adrienne Andrews.
Andrews said Weber State is fortunate to have Lewis’ nationally-recognized skills and commitment to supporting education.
“I’m excited to see what will happen next as we move the needle forward on our strategic plan goal of becoming an Emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution,” Andrews said. “Yudi is the right person, in the right place and this is the right time to make it happen.”