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President takes life by the horns

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After a year of hunting for the perfect person to be the head honcho and leader of CSU-Pueblo, the Board of Governors finally found her. The president, for the first time in the university’s history, is a woman and she is all smiles as she describes this job opportunity as her proudest moment thus far.

President Lesley Di Mare began her work at CSU-Pueblo Dec. 1, 2011, and she's in it for the long haul, she said. Photo by Chelsea Reese.

“It’s like a lifetime achievement for me. My only regret is that my father is not alive to see this because he would’ve been so thrilled,” the new president said in a more somber tone than before. “I’ve never been a bucket list kind of person and I think that’s because I’ve been doing all the things I wanted all my life.”

Lesley Di Mare, 60, was born Nov. 13, in Utica, N.Y., where she resided with Philip, her younger brother of three years, Gloria, her mother whom she considers her best friend, and her father Jim.

Her childhood was as a typical one she said, however their home soon ended up being on the other side of the country in California. This is where she completed most of her higher education.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater arts in 1972 from California State University-Chico with a minor in English. She then went on to complete her teaching credential at CSU-Sacramento’s School of Education in 1974, according to the vitae she used to get the job at CSU-Pueblo.

Later she earned her Masters of Arts degree in speech communication at CSU-Hayward. Her doctorate degree in speech communication came after she moved and attended Indiana University in 1984.

While still attending school herself, she decided to put her teaching credential to good use and bestow the same knowledge she learned to her students for 25 years before she fell into administrative positions. Her most recent position was the interim president of Nevada State College, according to the vitae.

When she got the call from the BOG, Di Mare was delighted to be a part of the momentous occasion at CSU-Pueblo as being the first female president and she quickly accepted the invitation to move to Colorado. She not only wanted to escape Nevada’s desert climate but also wanted to be a part of the thriving institution CSU-Pueblo has become, she said.

“We love Colorado. I mean it’s just a beautiful state with what we’ve found to be very warm and welcoming people in every region,” Di Mare said. “I love the cold weather. It’s not too cold, you don’t get too much snow, it’s just enough so that you actually have seasons and because I’ve lived in the desert now for over 20 years, I really am enjoying the seasons.”

“My husband said Lesley never met a coat she didn’t like,” Di Mare joked. “I’ve got 5,000 coats and I just wear a different one every day now. I’m just so happy.”

Di Mare met her husband David Walter on the online dating site oneandonly.com while she was in Scottsdale, Ariz. They met 12 years ago and later married Dec. 27, 2007, she said.

“I believe my husband is my soul mate,” Di Mare said.

Walter and Di Mare do not have any children together, but Walter had three children in a previous relationship that Di Mare cares for like they are her own, she said.

“I feel very close to them and our grandchildren.”

So far, Di Mare is pleased with the decision to accept her new position and is very impressed with CSU-Pueblo’s facilities and programs, she said.

“This campus has some of the most sophisticated equipment in the state, in biology, in engineering, in nursing, and our students are getting a very hands-on applied education that meets the industry’s needs,” she said.

“And plus that we have music, and art, and theater. So I really feel our students, between hands-on experience and education, athletics and the arts and humanities, we really have well-rounded graduates,” she continued. “It’s got so many positives. If I were a student I would definitely choose to come here.”

Does she have any advice for the students she will, from now on, be leading? Basically, she just encourages her students to have integrity.

“Just persevere and do what you think is right and you’ll be successful,” she said. “Those two words, perseverance and right. You just got to have integrity.”