Anita Cortez

Director, office of undergraduate research

Anita CortezHelping students through their academic journey is the most important goal for Anita Cortez, director of Kansas State University's office of undergraduate research.

Before coming director of the office, Cortez served as administrative director of the university's Developing Scholars Program, which she has guided the program since it was launched in 2000.

The intent of the program, which provides research opportunities for undergraduate students, is threefold: to address the changing demographics of Kansas by providing opportunity and access for historically underrepresented students; to increase graduation rates and postbaccalaureate education among underrepresented students; and to provide a more diverse pool of individuals for the 21st century work force.

Under Cortez, the Developing Scholars Program has quadrupled in size since 2000, from 20 to 80 students. The program has helped prepare students for graduate programs and professional programs such as medical school, law school, optometry and more. The program also was the only Kansas school awarded the Excelencia in Education Baccalaureate Honorable Mention in 2009 for success in recruitment, retention and graduation of Latino/a students.

Since arriving at K-State in 1985, Cortez has served in many capacities of student assistance. She was the coordinator for K-State's PILOTS Program, a program designed for the retention of at-risk freshman students, from its inception in 1994-2006. She served as a language arts specialist with K-State's Academic Assistance Center from 1989-1994; a learning skills specialist with educational supportive services from 1987-1994; and as an adjunct instructor in the K-State department of English from 1985-1989. Her work has been honored with the Commerce Bank Presidential Award for Distinguished Service to Multicultural Education in 2001-2002.

Cortez also has made numerous professional presentations on working with diverse undergraduate students, including to the Higher Learning Commission, in addition to publishing articles on the topic. Cortez writes creatively in her spare time and has had her poetry published.

A summa cum laude graduate of K-State in 1983 with a bachelor's in English, Cortez earned a master's in English from the University of Wyoming in 1985. She also attended the Landmark College Summer Writing Institute in Putney, Vt.

She can be contacted at 785-532-5864 or cortez@k-state.edu.