The University of Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) has added critical expertise to its Racist and Bias Incident Response Team (RBIRT) to better provide coordinated and thoughtful responses to incidents on campus.
Rebecca Titze will serve as special assistant to the chief safety officer. Ana Ascencio will serve as program manager for RBIRT.
“We are committed to creating a safe, welcoming and equitable campus,” said Keith Squires, Chief Safety Officer. “It is important that we dedicate the necessary resources to identify and implement the best programs to address racism and bias on campus. I have a great deal of confidence in both Rebecca and Ana, and I know they will be great assets to the department.”
As special assistant to the Chief Safety Officer, Titze serves as the primary liaison and source of coordination for the department in community engagement and safety. A graduate of the University of Utah with a master’s degree in public administration, she has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years, most notably as deputy director of Utah Clean Energy and associate director of Utah Health & Human Rights.
“There is a tremendous opportunity to embed a shared vision of safety across our campus community,” Titze said, “and I’m eager to work with our students, staff, faculty, and leadership in new, collaborative ways.”
Rebecca’s previous leadership in organizational strategy, community-based programs, environmental justice, and fundraising resulted in collaborations with the U.S. Department of Energy, Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, and Office of Refugee Resettlement.
“My intent is to continue elevating the Department of Public Safety’s programs and responses to be community-centered, evidence-based, inclusive, and innovative,” she said. “Our vision is to eventually become a national leader in campus safety. This will take time, but is critical as the university continues to serve more students and expands outreach into the community.”
As program manager for the Racist and Bias Incident Response Team (RBIRT), Ana oversees the daily operations of the RBIRT process and participates in the analysis of cases, communications about incidents, and program management. Ascensio is a liaison between internal and external constituents and works with committee members and Titze to develop a coordinated approach to responding to racist and bias incidents on campus.
Ascencio graduated from the University of Utah in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration. She is passionate about community building and fostering a culture of diversity, visibility and inclusivity and has worked in various leadership roles throughout campus that focus on inclusive, innovative and community-centered efforts at the University of Utah.
“Understanding how racism and bias manifests itself on campus is critical to reducing harm in our community,” said Ascencio. “Tracking the frequency, type, and location of racist and biased incidents helps us identify trends and shape future programs and education efforts, with the goal of reducing bias and racism on campus.”