Acevedo remembered fondly for University involvement

By Sarah Small

With the death of Associate Dean of Students Cathy Acevedo on April 7, the University lost a woman passionate about her work, a woman devoted to her students, a woman active in many programs and activities throughout campus and a woman whose involvement left a profound impact on the University, friends and colleagues said.

A memorial was held for Acevedo Thursday with a Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Urbana, followed by a memorial in Foellinger Auditorium.

“Cathy was a strong student advocate, a mom and someone who had the ability to reach across diverse groups to address issues impacting the campus community,” said Adele Lozano, director of La Casa Cultural Latina.

She began her career at the University in 1990 in the Counseling Center.

There, she served as an outreach programs coordinator to students of color and served as a therapeutic service coordinator, according to the Student Affairs Web site.

“Cathy and I started a Women of Color group at the center,” said Carla McCowan, director of the Counseling Center. “It was one of my favorite activities.”

McCowan said Acevedo was “warm and welcoming and met me for the first time with the biggest smile.”

She had strong relationships with her students, and they would stay in touch with her years after they graduated because they knew they had found someone truly concerned about them, McCowan said.

Her dedication to her students was recognized with the 2002-2003 Student Affairs Outstanding Staff award.

“She was at the very fabric of our existence,” McCowan said. “She contributed so much to what we are today.”

In 1993, Acevedo moved from the Counseling Center to the Office of the Dean of Students where she worked with the cultural centers on campus, coordinated campus diversity programs and worked with students to promote and fund multicultural programming at the University.

“Cathy was great at making sure that the cultural centers had a seat at the table,” said Angela Clark, assistant program director at the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center.

She was involved in the organization of the Taste of Nevada block party held every August on Nevada Street.

“My first year on campus, I was assigned to chair the planning committee for (the Taste of Nevada),” Lozano said. “Cathy really helped me out that first year by sharing her knowledge and insight regarding how to best work with various groups to successfully pull off a major campus event.”

Acevedo helped to establish the Latino-Latina Family Visit Day and served as its founding chair.

This program serves as a way for families of Latino-Latina students to become more informed about the University and feel more comfortable having their students away from home at the University.

“She had the type of warm and friendly personality that parents really appreciated, especially those parents who might feel marginalized at other University events because of language barriers,” Lozano said.

She was also involved in planning the Race, Diversity and Campus Climate Conference which was held at the University on April 10, Clark said.

Her campus involvement extended the boundaries of cultural centers; she was active in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, and Curt McKay, dean of students for the Office of LGBT Resources, said she was a “strong ally” for this community.

“Love wasn’t just a word, love was an action,” McCowan said. “Love was in service to Cathy.”

Acevedo received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California at Los Angeles where she graduated magna cum laude.

She also earned her master’s degree and was designated as “all but dissertation” in psychology.

She is survived by her husband, Philip Garnier, and her son, Cristian, as well as her parents, three sisters and many other family members in California.

“She laughed a lot and loved a good story. She was a fantastic mom to her son, Cristian,” Lozano said. “As busy as her life was, she always made time if you needed to talk to her. It amazes me how many lives she has touched.”