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Meet the Office of Diversity and Inclusion faculty fellows

These individuals will work to advance the University’s diversity strategic plan, with attention to faculty recruitment and retention.

By Lindsey Coulter

December 15, 2021

This year, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion launched the expansion of the Faculty Fellows Initiative and invited faculty members from each of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s colleges and schools to serve in these roles. The office recently named its next cohort of six faculty fellows.

Working closely with Chalane Lechuga, Ph.D., director for Faculty Diversity Research and Development, and Michael Benitez, Ph.D., vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, faculty fellows support the administration of programs and initiatives developed by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to advance the University’s diversity strategic plan, with attention to diverse faculty recruitment and retention.

During their yearlong roles, the faculty fellows will: 

  • Implement and monitor diversity initiatives
  • Help with implementation of existing faculty-recruitment and -development programs
  • Develop proposals and recommendations for institutional-policy revisions
  • Plan, design and coordinate programs and deliver workshops that foster inclusive and culturally responsive pedagogic development, cultural competence, inclusive teaching, leadership development, mentoring, and networking and career progression, among other diversity-identified topics
  • Provide support to departments, groups and students in efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion

Additionally, fellows will serve on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, analyzing institutional-climate-survey data to identify issues and concerns; developing and initiating faculty-development curriculum and programs; and collaborating with and serving as curriculum reviewers for the Pathways to Possible Scholars Program. They will also identify promising practices in recruitment, retention and success for faculty diversity; collaborate on the establishment of a new LGBTQ affinity group; and serve as points of contact within their academic departments as well as across colleges and schools on diversity, equity and inclusion.  

The six fellows were selected from faculty members currently collaborating with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion as well as through recommendations from deans and department chairs.

Meet the ODI faculty fellows

Sandra Leu Bonanno, Ph.D.Sandra Leu Bonanno, Ph.D.

Bonanno is an assistant professor in the School of Education who focuses on teaching and research on culturally sustaining leadership and education. In her role as a faculty fellow, Bonanno is collaborating with the Pathways to Possible Program, which builds bridges from high school to MSU Denver for first-generation students and students of color from Denver Public Schools, Adams 14 and rural Colorado districts. She is specifically collaborating with MSU Denver faculty and staff members to increase the cultural relevancy of the program’s curriculum to reflect the backgrounds, cultures and identities of the students they serve.  

Jovan Hernandez, Ph.D.

Jovan Hernandez, Ph.D.

Hernandez is an associate professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences whose research examines veterans’ experiences with discrimination. This is his seventh year at MSU Denver, and he has been involved in social-justice work for more than 20 years. Hernandez has been active in DEI efforts throughout MSU Denver, and he is excited to be part of the inaugural ODI Faculty Fellows program. Hernandez will help lead the Campus Climate subcommittee of the DEIC and conduct analyses of the Campus Climate Survey quantitative data.

Eric OlsonEric D. Olson, Ph.D.

Olson is the chair of the Rita & Navin Dimond Department of Hotel Management and an associate professor in the School of Hospitality. His research focuses on the experiences of the LGBTQ+ tourist/event attendee/consumer as well as event sustainability. Olson has a doctorate from the University of Central Florida and has published extensively in top-tier hospitality-and-tourism academic journals. As a faculty fellow, Olson is developing a faculty/staff affinity group for LGBTQ+ and ally MSU Denver faculty and staff members as well as examining processes and procedures for creating equitable and diverse faculty/staff application/recruitment efforts.

Ofelia Schepers, Ph.D.Ofelia Schepers, Ph.D.

Schepers is an associate professor in the Department of Elementary Education and Literacy in the School of Education. She earned her doctorate in Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her passion for teacher retention and mentorship has been a launching point for her work with the ODI. She has taken on the planning and development of the Tenure Track Supper Club and will collaborate on the launch of MSU’s National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity membership. The ODI will be rolling out a facilitated NCFDD core-curriculum series beginning in January led by Schepers. She is also looking forward to adapting and adjusting ODI faculty-development efforts based on faculty feedback and in collaboration with the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design. 

K Scherrer, Ph.D.K Scherrer, Ph.D., LCSW

Scherrer is a professor and BSSW program director in the Department of Social Work. Her areas of expertise in research and practice include gender and sexuality, LGBTQAI+ identities, social inequalities, families, gerontology and intergenerational issues. Scherrer teaches courses on privilege, oppression and power, writing and professionalism in social work, social-work practice with diverse communities, and electives on creativity, gender and sexuality. Scherrer received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder and conducted her graduate work at the University of Michigan, where she received a Master of Social Work degree, a master’s degree in Sociology and a doctorate in Social Work and Sociology. As an ODI faculty fellow, Scherrer will focus on the Campus Climate Survey subcommittee of the DEIC and data analysis associated primarily with qualitative components of the survey.

Topics: Academics, Diversity, Excellence, Inclusion, Inclusive leadership

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