In a shocking Monday announcement, University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano revealed that New Mexico state Sen. Benny Shendo, Jr. (D-Jemez Pueblo) was appointed Associate Vice Chancellor for Native American Affairs at CU Boulder. He will relinquish the state Senate seat by the spring of 2024.
A graduate of the University, Shendo brings his experience as a New Mexico state senator and his former high positions, such as tribal administrator and lieutenant governor for the Pueblo of Jemez.
A commitment to Native American affairs has marked Shendo’s professional journey, evident in his past roles at the University of New Mexico and as part of the dean of students office at Stanford University. His multifaceted background positions him uniquely for his new role, which will see him contributing to the Office of Government and Community Engagement.
In his capacity as Associate Vice Chancellor, Shendo will play a key role in fostering connections with tribal governments and communities across Colorado. His duties extend beyond the campus, involving collaboration with state and federal entities on matters pertaining to tribal affairs and higher education.
Shendo stated in a news release, “I cannot wait to get started in this new role at CU Boulder to strengthen our relationships with the tribes of Colorado and those historically connected to Colorado and to build a strong, supportive Native American community on campus for our students, faculty, and staff.”
Shendo is poised to assume his full-time position at CU Boulder on March 1, a move that necessitates his departure from the state senate. His decision to transition into this role underlines his dedication to advancing Native American initiatives within the realm of higher education.
Chancellor DiStefano highlighted Shendo’s appointment, saying in a news release, “We are delighted to welcome Benny Shendo back to the CU Boulder community,” adding, “His wealth of experience and commitment to Native American affairs will undoubtedly contribute to the university’s ongoing efforts to create an inclusive and culturally rich environment.”
Shendo was first elected in 2012 and currently chairs the powerful Senate Tax, Business & Transportation Committee.
New Mexico InDepth reported, “‘We’re trying to work out the details’ of the University of Colorado job, Shendo said, mentioning there was a possibility he could work from his home in New Mexico.”