Colorado State University is a land-grant institution classified with the Carnegie Doctoral Very High Research Universities and is the flagship university of the Colorado State University System. Among the nation’s leading research universities, CSU enrolls approximately 32,000 students. CSU was the first institution in the world to earn a STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) Platinum score. Located an hour north of Denver, Fort Collins is a culturally vibrant and progressive community of 152,000. The city is situated on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains with views of 14,000 foot peaks, and offers easy access to numerous outdoor opportunities.

The Position

Reporting directly to the executive director, this is an executive leadership position in Housing & Dining Services (HDS). The executive leadership team is made up of the executive director, two associate executive directors, a business manager, and an executive assistant. As a member of the executive leadership team, the associate executive director will share responsibility for the overall operations of a completely self-operated, multi-unit auxiliary organization comprised of twelve areas: University Housing, University Housing Projects and Outreach, Dining Services, CSU Mountain Campus, Conference & Event Services, HDS Facilities, HDS Human Resources, Technology Services, RamCard Office, Workplace Inclusion & Talent Management, Communications & Sustainability, and Administration. These units employ an average of 450 full-time employees and over 1,700 student and non-student hourly employees who work in over 2.1 million sq. ft. of facilities, with an annual operating budget (including reserve accounts) totaling $105 million serving nearly 8,000 students. The associate executive director is directly responsible for the administration and management of the following six units within the housing & dining services’ organization: Communications & Sustainability, HDS facilities, HDS Human Resources, RamCard Office, HDS Technology Services, and Workplace Inclusion & Talent Management.

Characteristics of the Successful Candidate

Minimum qualifications include a master’s degree in student affairs, higher education, business, or a related field; seven or more years of progressive experience in Housing and/or Student Affairs in an institution of higher education; seven years full-time professional supervisory experience; a demonstrated understanding of and experience with a large, comprehensive housing & dining program; and an ability to relate effectively to all members of the university community, with an appreciation for cultural, ethnic, and individual differences and experience developing and supporting university priorities related to social justice, inclusion, and diversity.

In addition to the above, the characteristics and attributes of an ideal candidate listed below were consistently identified by Colorado State University stakeholders.

  • Team leadership experience providing direction and guidance to staff, developing strategic plans, and articulating a shared vision for the future of Housing & Dining and its position within the Division of Student Affairs and the campus community.
  • Strong understanding of the role of on-campus housing in higher education as a provider of inclusive programming and services, and as an agent and support system for co-curricular education and student development.
  • Experience managing complex personnel issues and addressing conflict directly.
  • A pioneering spirit coupled with balance of vision and ability to see the bigger picture.
  • A strong commitment to diversity and inclusion while embracing the CSU values including its land grant mission.
  • A recognizable passion for helping students be retained to graduation.
  • A proven track record of using a systems approach to solving issues and planning for the future.
  • Develop and implement strategic planning, visioning, goal setting, and direction for implementation of department mission relevant to programmatic and service delivery to the campus community.
  • Build an ethic of community and a climate of support throughout HDS through leadership, respect, and personal interaction with staff, students, and a wide variety of constituent groups throughout the campus community.

History of the Position

Mari Strombom started as the new executive director of housing & dining services in the summer of 2018 after a national search. Mari has a rich history at Colorado State University. Mari assessed the department and made the decision to restructure the organization to have two executive associate directors. This is one of two new positions. The other associate executive director is Laura Giles, and she is chairing this search.

Some key points of pride for HDS include:

Source: EBI 2016-2017

  • On average over 80 percent of residents are satisfied with Hall/Apt Student Staff efforts.
  • Over 85 percent of residents reported being satisfied with Cleaning/Maintenance Staff.
  • Over 78 percent of residents identify with supporting and engaging in sustainability initiatives.

Source: NACUFS 2017

  • Dining Services continues to rank strongly in overall dining environments and social responsibility.
  • Dining Services ranks higher in social/ethical practices and environmentally friendly practices than the industry average.

Source: Green Warrior Program FA17 (Sustainable initiative for residents)

Approx. 34 percent of our residents participated in sustainable programs and initiatives in FA17 Student quote: “I really liked the idea of challenging students to be more sustainable and be more aware of sustainability. It definitely gave me ideas of ways to be more sustainable that I had not thought of that I now do every day.”

Source: HDS Annual Report

  • A milestone of one million pounds of food waste diverted from the landfill through our composting and waste-to-energy initiatives was achieved in 2016. (Relation to partnership with Dining & Sustainability).
  • HDS contributed to CSU receiving second Platinum S.T.A.R award in two (2) years (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, AASHE).

Source: Quality of Work Life Survey 2015-2016

Top 5 factors of importance to employees in the work place are: Communication, Quality Work & Productivity, Customer/Student Relations, Respect & Fairness, and Safety/Health & Work Environment.

Source: Ram Welcome Move-in Survey to Parents & Families and Students

  • 85 percent of parents and families were satisfied or very satisfied with the volunteers who assisted with move-in.
  • 91 percent of students were satisfied or very satisfied with their check-in process in the residence halls on move-in day.

Quotes from parents about move in experience:

  • “As a parent of five from a multi-generational family of college grads, I have NEVER seen anything like the welcome my daughter received at CSU. Between the friendly swarm of volunteers who cheerfully helped her move into her dorm room in no time at all, to the welcoming, fun and unforgettable carnival . . . it was a welcome my family has not stopped talking about. You deserve an A+ for that! WAY to GO CSU!”
  • “Concerning the move-in volunteers, these people were just AWESOME! . . . I couldn’t thank them enough for doing the heavy lifting and saving my back. Made for a much pleasant day, and certainly the process of unpacking in the room. Greatly appreciated their help!!”
  • “Great experience and much better than other colleges… The best organized overall set of days we’ve seen vs other colleges. The campus, the volunteers, etc. Great to have all the organized events for the kids and parents. Great Job!”

Likely Opportunities, Priorities, and Challenges of the Position

Colorado State University’s Housing & Dining Services (HDS) enjoys a rich history of strong leadership on many different levels of the organization. Strong emphasis is placed upon building dynamic programs to help students be successful. A genuine interest in building strong relationships with faculty and staff is of utmost importance to success. Many of CSU’s key stakeholders outside of the department rely upon this positon to access students. This expectation of collaboration is critically important to the responsibilities. Although Mari Strombom is new to her role, she has been a pillar of HDS for over two decades. HDS is held in high regard around the CSU campus.

This position is the result of a re-organization after Mari became the executive director. A task force worked over a year to make recommendations for part of the re-organization. The process allowed for a tremendous amount of transparency and opportunities for all members of the HDS community to provide feedback. It will be critical for the new associate executive director to continue to embrace this transparent decision-making process. Further, as the changes are very recent, the successful candidate will have to be aware of the impact of this shift. The direct reports to this position will no longer be reporting directly to Mari and some have trepidation about this change. The new associate executive director must be politically savvy and thoughtful.

The new associate executive director must have a strong understanding of financial systems and budgets. The vast majority of CSU’s community expects the successful candidate to be able to show strong focus upon student success.

The associate executive director role embodies HDS standards and actively supports and articulates the vision, mission, and values to guide and mentor staff to successfully accomplish goals through high standards of operation and performance for all HDS facilities, programs, services, and personnel. They are responsible for reviewing budgets with their direct reports on a regular basis to ensure the fiscal integrity of the department, and oversee the development of unit budgets and collaborate on development of the overall HDS budget.  This position builds strong relationships and collaborates effectively with staff in HDS, across the Division of Student Affairs, and CSU, to accomplish HDS mission and goals and provide support for University-wide initiatives and events.

Measures of Success for the Position

At an appropriate interval after joining Colorado State University, the following items will initially define success for the new Associate Executive Director of Housing & Dining Services:

  • A thorough assessment of all areas within the portfolio has been conducted, mapping out clear goals, and direction in concert with Mari and Laura.
  • A meaningful and strong commitment to the mission of CSU and HDS is evident in all decisions being made.
  • The new reporting structure is embraced by all members of the HDS staff.
  • A welcoming tone has been established inviting collaboration and encouraging students and others throughout the campus community to share in the responsibility for creating a vibrant campus community and seamless learning environment.
  • An assessment of the current environment and the development of a vision for the short- and long-term future of the area will have begun.
  • An establishment of a strong collaborative relationship with all aspects of the CSU community will be well underway.
  • The new associate executive director will have a strong understanding of and ability to articulate the vision, mission, and values of the department.
  • A seamless transition to the new organizational structure will have occurred in conjunction with feedback from all staff members.

An Overview of the Division or Department

Institution & Location

Institutional Background

Colorado State University, also referred to as Colorado State and CSU, is a public research university located in Fort Collins, Colorado, a mid-size city of approximately 159,000 residents at the base of the Rocky Mountains. The University’s 583-acre main campus is located in central Fort Collins and includes a 101-acre veterinary teaching hospital. CSU is also home to the 1,438-acre foothills campus, a 1,575-acre agricultural campus, and the 1,177-acre mountain campus. CSU utilizes 4,043 acres for research centers and Colorado State Forest Service stations outside of Larimer County.

Colorado State University is a land-grant institution classified as a Carnegie doctoral research university (very high research), and is the flagship university of the Colorado State University System. CSU was founded as Colorado Agricultural College in 1870, six years before the Colorado Territory gained statehood. It was one of 68 land-grant colleges established under the Morrill Act of 1862.

During Colorado Agricultural College’s first term in fall 1879, the school functioned more as a college-preparatory school than a college because of the lack of college-prepared students. Consequently, the first course offerings were arithmetic, English, United States history, natural philosophy, horticulture, and farm economy. Students also labored on the college farm and attended daily chapel services. The spring term provided the first true college-level instruction. In 1882, CSU had just two full-time faculty members and 67 students, 24 of whom were women.

In 1935, the school became the Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, or Colorado A&M. The college shed its image as a narrow technical college and became a university in appearance and title during the 1950s under President Bill Morgan. Providing adequate student housing for an increasing number of youth approaching college age and improving cramped instructional facilities were among the first tests of Morgan’s leadership. He responded, and five new residence halls were completed between 1953 and 1957.

Academic offerings grew to include advanced degrees. The State Board of Agriculture approved a doctoral degree in civil engineering in 1951, and three years later allowed other qualified departments to offer doctorates. Morgan believed students earning this advanced degree should hold it from a university, and so began a campaign to change the name of Colorado A&M. In 1957, the Colorado General Assembly approved the new name of Colorado State University.

Fort Collins, Colorado

Colorado State University is located in Fort Collins, Colorado, an award-winning city on the front range of the Rocky Mountains. Outside magazine lauded Fort Collins as a New American Dream Town, while Money magazine has awarded Fort Collins the number one rank as America’s Best Place to Live, citing the city’s blend of good jobs, low crime, quality schools, amount of open space, home prices, and community activities as the reasons for its top placement. “The natural setting, the vibrancy of downtown, and the presence of Colorado State University helped put Fort Collins at the top of the magazine’s list,” noted Money’s executive editor.

CSU’s location, with views of the foothills and 14,000-foot peaks, allows easy access to hiking, skiing, rafting, and other outdoor sports. It is also about an hour away from metropolitan Denver and Denver International Airport.

For more information about Fort Collins, visit the Chamber of Commerce online at

University Mission, Values, and Guiding Principles

By statute, Colorado State University is a comprehensive graduate research university with selective admission standards. Charged with offering a comprehensive array of baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs, it holds exclusive statewide authority for programs in agriculture, forestry, natural resources, and veterinary medicine.

Colorado State University has a unique mission in the state of Colorado. The land-grant concept of a balanced program of teaching, research, extension, public service, and engagement provides the foundation for the University’s teaching and research programs, Agricultural Experiment Station, Cooperative Extension, and Colorado State Forest Service. The University has long been a leader in recognizing the rapidly changing global environment, and has a commitment to excellence in international education in all its instructional, research, and outreach programs. The University continues to make education and training accessible to deserving applicants from all classes and groups, and maintains a wide range of research, extension, and public service programs in response to the needs of the people of Colorado, the nation, and the world.


Inspired by its land-grant heritage, Colorado State University is committed to excellence, setting the standard for public research universities in teaching, research, service, and extension for the benefit of the citizens of Colorado, the United States, and the world.


CSU has further adopted the following values:

  • Be accountable
  • Promote civic responsibility
  • Employ a customer focus
  • Promote freedom of expression
  • Demonstrate inclusiveness and diversity
  • Encourage and reward innovation
  • Act with integrity and mutual respect
  • Provide opportunity and access
  • Support excellence in teaching and research

Guiding Principles

CSU is a community dedicated to higher learning in which all members share in the pursuit of knowledge, development of students, and protection of essential conditions conducive for learning. These protections are presented in the form of University policies, applicable federal and state laws, and statements of fundamental rights and responsibilities, which govern both the academic setting and the University community as a whole.

CSU expects students to maintain standards of personal integrity that are in harmony with the educational goals of the institution; to observe national, state, and local laws and university regulations; and to respect the rights, privileges, and property of other people. Principles of academic honesty, respect for diversity, and pursuit of lifestyles free of alcohol and drug abuse are examples of these standards. Students are not only members of the academic community; they are, additionally, members of the larger society and thus retain the rights, protection guarantees, and responsibilities that are held by all citizens.

Commitment to Diversity

CSU has a unique mission in the state of Colorado. As a land-grant university, the University is committed to a foundational principle of inclusive excellence, recognizing that its institutional success depends on how well it welcomes, values, and affirms all members of the CSU community. Only through the inclusion of the rich diversity of students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alumni can CSU truly be excellent in its pursuits.

CSU inclusive excellence efforts hinge on four key ideas:

Broad and inclusive definition of diversity

CSU recognizes that to truly be inclusive it must draw attention to the depth and breadth of the diversity represented at CSU. By definition, this includes age, culture, different ideas and perspectives, disability, ethnicity, first-generation status, familial status, gender identity and expression, geographic background, marital status, national origin, race, religious and spiritual beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and veteran status. CSU also recognizes that the historical exclusion and marginalization of specific social groups must be addressed to promote equity.

Inclusiveness and excellence are interdependent

CSU recognizes that to continue to stay current in the global marketplace and stay relevant in an increasingly diverse world, the university must embody inclusion. To practice inclusiveness is excellence.

Everyone is responsible for inclusive excellence

All members of the campus community (administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni) must recognize and assume responsibility for the climate of the University. A unit or person can drive the process, but every individual at CSU assumes responsibility for positive change.

Inclusive excellence goes beyond numbers

While historically, diversity has been gauged by demographics or numbers, CSU recognizes the need to move beyond solely numbers toward an inclusive community that embeds diversity throughout the institution in multiple areas, including demographics, policies, and communications; curriculum, pedagogy, and student learning; and recruitment, hiring, retention, evaluation, and supervision.

Achieving inclusive excellence is a long-term commitment and must have a comprehensive, broad approach, embedding appreciation of all members and inclusion best practices into the very fabric of CSU’s organizational culture.

Strategic Plan

The Colorado State University Strategic Plan (2016-2018) is organized around five broad objectives:

  1. CSU will champion student success.
  2. CSU will make a global impact and translate discoveries into products of knowledge, creative artistry, and innovation.
  3. CSU will engage with people and communities to solve problems, share knowledge, and support progress.
  4. CSU will be a rewarding, inspiring, productive, and inclusive community for all employees—and enhance faculty as its foundation.
  5. CSU will be accountable, sustainable, and responsible.

Consistent with the University’s mission statement, these broad objectives reflect CSU’s heritage commitments to teaching and learning, research and discovery, and engagement and service. The fourth section addresses CSU’s responsibility to create a community that effectively embodies all of the shared values. Finally, CSU is determined to develop financial and other resources that are critical to supporting CSU’s mission, in a transparent way consistent with a dedication to accountability.

In total, CSU has identified 11 specific goals related to these objectives and a number of strategies related to achievement of the goals. From this University-level outline, administrative divisions, colleges, departments, and specialized units are encouraged to develop more detailed courses of action in unit plans that, collectively, will constitute the University’s strategic plan.


Dr. Tony Frank, President

Tony Frank is the 14th president of Colorado State University, one of the nation’s leading public land-grant research universities with nearly 35,000 students and more than $332 million in annual research activity. Since his appointment to the presidency in 2008, Frank has overseen a period of record fundraising and enrollment, rising graduation rates, increased diversity, improved campus infrastructure, and unprecedented research support. He was named chancellor of the Colorado State University System on June 1, 2015.

President Frank earned his undergraduate degree in biology from Wartburg College, followed by a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the University of Illinois, and a PhD and residencies in pathology and toxicology at Purdue University. Prior to his appointment as CSU’s president in 2008, he served as the University’s provost and executive vice president, vice president for research, chairman of the pathology department, and associate dean for research in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Frank serves on a number of state and national boards, including the University Research Alliance, National Renewable Energy Laboratory External Advisory Council, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, the National Western Stock Show Association Board of Directors, the Boettcher Foundation Board of Directors, the Denver Metro Chamber Board of Directors, and previously the Association of Public & Land Grant Universities Commission on International Initiatives. He is currently chair of the Mountain West Conference Finance Committee. He has served on federal panels, including appointment by the U.S. Department of Commerce to the Deemed Export Advisory Council. He also has served on the editorial board of Toxicologic Pathology, and as a member of the Colorado Climate Action Panel. Professional and personal honors include induction into the Illinois and Colorado 4-H Halls of Fame, the regional Presidential Excellence Award from NASPA, the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education professional organization, and the 2010 Fort Collins Board of Realtors Citizen of the Year. He was awarded the Carl J. Norden Distinguished Teaching Award at both Colorado State and Oregon State University. Dr. Frank’s research interests have included toxicologic and infectious disease pathology, and he has authored and co-authored numerous scientific publications.

Dr. Blanche M. Hughes, Vice President for Student Affairs 

CSU’s Division of Student Affairs is a comprehensive division dedicated to helping students succeed, led by Dr. Blanche M. Hughes.

Dr. Hughes is in her seventh year as the Vice President for Student Affairs at Colorado State University. In this role she works with a division that includes 21 departments that collaborate with other units in the university community to help our students and staff succeed. She also teaches and advises in the Student Affairs in Higher Education Graduate Program.

Before becoming Vice President, Dr. Hughes spent six years as the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, 11 years as the director of Black Student Services at Colorado State, and also served as a professor of the Sociology Department at Pikes Peak Community College for two years, one of those years as chair of the department.

Dr. Hughes received her bachelor’s degree from Earlham College, and a master’s of education degree and doctorate degree in sociology from Colorado State University. She enjoys teaching, mentoring students and staff, presenting on issues related to diversity, parent transitions, and issues around managing work and family. Dr. Hughes is married with four children (two are alumni of CSU) and three grandchildren.

The Executive Director position is a direct report to Dr. Hughes and the position serves on the Vice President’s Council, which is the senior leadership team for the Vice President for Student Affairs responsible for management of the units within the Division of Student Affairs.

Mari Strombom, Executive Director, Housing & Dining Services

Mari was hired as the Executive Director of Housing & Dining Services (HDs) in May 2017 and had served as the Associate Executive Director since January 2008.   She has over 30 years of experience in higher education, primarily at CSU, and has worked in both student unions and in housing.  Her work experience also includes serving as the Director of Campus Activities, Associate Director of Residence Life, Assistant Director of Residence Life, and Program Coordinator for Campus Activities.  In addition to her higher education experience she spent 3 years working for Hewlett Packard as a Diversity Consultant and as an HR generalist.

Mari received her Master of Education degree from Colorado State University and her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.  She enjoys working with others to find solutions to challenges, supporting staff at all levels of the organization, finding new ways to support the ever-changing needs of the students who live in on-campus housing.  Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors, and reading.

The Student Body

Current enrollment at CSU is approximately 32,236 students, including resident and nonresident students. The University is planning on enrolling 35,000 students by 2020.

  • The student body is 49 percent male and 51 percent female
  • 27 percent of students live in college-owned, -operated, or -affiliated housing, and 73 percent of students live off campus
  • Student-faculty ratio is 18:1
  • 6 percent of classes have fewer than 20 students
  • Average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 86 percent

The most popular majors at Colorado State University include business, management, marketing, biological and biomedical sciences, social sciences, family and consumer sciences/human sciences, and engineering.

Outside the classroom and research lab, students can get involved with more than 400 campus organizations, including about 35 fraternities and sororities. Student-athletes can find sports at the recreational, club, and varsity level, with the CSU mascot and colors reflecting the school’s past. CSU began as an agricultural school, so the sports teams were called the Aggies and their colors were green and gold to represent farming. The school held onto the colors, but the 16 varsity sports teams are now called the Rams. They compete in the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference.

The Academic Program

Colorado State University offers more than 150 degrees in eight colleges, with graduate programs in the schools of business, engineering, and education, and the renowned College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. CSU is considered one of the leading research universities, where faculty and students work together to explore fields such as atmospheric science, infectious diseases, clean energy technologies, and environmental science.

The University has approximately 1,540 faculty in eight colleges and 55 academic departments. Bachelor’s degrees are offered in 65 fields of study, with master’s degrees in 55 fields. Colorado State confers doctoral degrees in 40 fields of study, in addition to a professional degree in veterinary medicine.

The eight colleges are:

  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Business
  • Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering
  • Health and Human Sciences
  • Liberal Arts
  • Natural Sciences
  • Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
  • Warner College of Natural Resources

In addition to its notable programs in biomedical sciences, engineering, environmental science, agriculture, and human health and nutrition, CSU offers professional programs in disciplines including business, journalism, and construction management, as well as in the liberal and performing arts, humanities, and social sciences.

CSU also offers bachelor’s degrees, graduate degrees, certificates, and badges online through Colorado State University Online, formally named the Division of Continuing Education.

Benefits Overview

Colorado State University’s benefits include the following:

  • Medical Insurance
  • Dental Plans
  • Vision Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Tuition Scholarship Program
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Employee Study Privilege
  • Discount Programs
  • Retirement Programs

For more information visit

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin January 21, 2019, and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Jennifer N. Hiatt at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the Colorado State website at

Colorado State University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action employer fully committed to achieving a diverse workforce and complies with all Federal and Colorado State laws, regulations, and executive orders regarding non-discrimination and affirmative action.