Ibon Izurieta, Ph.D., educator and associate dean for Operations, Policy and Personnel within the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, died Monday. He was a dedicated Roadrunner, educator and academic as well as an enthusiastic ambassador and champion of Basque culture. 

“Dr. Izurieta will be remembered by his colleagues for his love of and tireless work for MSU Denver,” said CLAS Dean John Masserini, DMA. “In the Department of World Languages, he is known for his dedication to advising students toward degree completion and meaningful careers in the World Language field; his interest in teaching Spanish phonetics; his kind and gentle nature; and his genuine friendliness.” 

In memoriam Ibon Izurieta

Originally from Bilbao in the Basque region of Spain, Izurieta spoke Basque, Spanish and English. His research focused on historical, political, sociological, cultural, artistic and literary aspects of the coexistence of Basque and Spanish languages and cultures in the Basque Country but also contemporary aspects of Spanish literature, film and society. He concentrated on 21st-century Spanish literature but was most interested in overarching paradigms of culture and history and how world events inspired literature and informed the ways in which it is read and understood. This big-picture mentality impacted the way he worked.  


Izurieta came to Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2008 as a Spanish faculty member in the Department of World Languages. He earned the rank of associate professor with tenure in 2014 and was promoted to professor in 2018. Since 2017, he served as the associate dean for Operations, Policy and Personnel in the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. As the longest-serving associate dean in CLAS, Izurieta was instrumental in ensuring that the high-volume needs and requests related to facilities, policy, operations and personnel were handled quickly and thoroughly. Over the past few years, he focused on operationalizing collegewide diversity/equity/inclusion-related efforts and topics and leading the CLAS DEI Committee. He offered welcome perspectives to the CLAS leadership team and important historical contexts. He was also known to be a generous and productive collaborator, and he embarked on more projects with others than he ever did on his own.

“For Ibon, the University is a place of respect, equality and true enlightenment, which he demonstrated to his students,” Masserini said. “Through his actions and words, his students learned that they were participating in a respectful and respectable endeavor, it was serious, it meant something and they were important for participating in it. He was a gentleman and a scholar, in the truest sense.”  

Izurieta also took great pride in representing Basque culture in Colorado. He was an active member of Colorado Euskal Etxea (Colorado Basque Club), where he served as a board member and instructor of adult and children’s Basque language classes, attended North American Basque Organization meetings as representative of the Colorado club and housed several newcomers from Basque Country while they got settled in Denver. 

Izurieta earned his doctorate in Spanish and master’s degrees in Spanish and Comparative Literature from the University of Iowa. His book “Collapse, Catastrophe & Reconstruction: Spain’s Cultural Panorama in the XXI Century” was published in 2014 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, and he contributed numerous book chapters, journal articles and presentations to his scholarly field. He was also finishing a manuscript on philosopher, writer and cultural critic Miguel de Unamuno, who was born in Bilbao and bridged the cultural divide of Spanish and Basque perspectives in literature, culture, history and philosophy.  

Izurieta’s family has indicated there will not be a funeral service. Instead, the family invites friends and colleagues who would like to honor Izurieta’s memory to donate in his name to the Rose Community Foundation Newcomers Fund, as Izurieta was himself an immigrant who was very proud of the life he built in the United States.  

If donating by check and postal service, please indicate that the donation is in memory of Ibon Izurieta and note “Newcomers Fund” in the memo line of the check. Send to: 

Rose Community Foundation
4590 Cherry Creek Drive South, Suite 900
Denver, CO 80246 

As MSU Denver has experienced several recent faculty losses, please take care of yourselves and refer any faculty or staff member expressing grief or distress to the Colorado State Employee Assistance Program (C-SEAP). C-SEAP can be reached at 1-800-821-8154 and is a confidential resource.