Judith Strathearn, Ph.D., is a lecturer in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department and an affiliate professor in the Africana Studies Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her areas of expertise include black feminism, experiential pedagogy, literature of the African Diaspora and Gullah Geechee studies.
Marie T. Mora, Ph.D., is deputy provost and professor of economics at Metropolitan State University of Denver. A labor economist, she has been invited to share her research expertise on the socioeconomic outcomes of Hispanics/Latinos with institutions and agencies across the country, including the White House and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
Alfred Tatum, Ph.D., is the provost and executive vice President of Academic Affairs and professor in the School of Education at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He has over 18 years of higher education experience and is passionate about relationship building and inclusive leadership. He is a leading authority and one of the nation’s prominent education scholars of African American boys’ literacy development.
Tatum currently oversees academic activities throughout MSU Denver, with direct responsibility for developing, delivering and evaluating academic program policies and procedures. He is also responsible for the promotion, tenure, retention processes as well as other faculty related plans within the university.
Prior to becoming provost at MSU Denver, Tatum was the dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 2013-2020 and directed the UIC Reading Clinic from 2007-2020. Also during that time, he hosted Boys College for three years aimed to advance the literacy development of Black boys in elementary school. Additionally, he led two Post-Release Education and Preparation projects for young men on intensive probation with Cook County after convincing the juvenile court judges to assign the young males to the UIC Reading Clinic instead of jail. Tatum’s most recent research project, focused on the roles of texts and writing to advance the literacy development of African American males in elementary school. His most recent scholarship focuses on moving U.S. students to advanced levels of reading, writing and intellect development across the academic disciplines.
Tatum has co-authored three books, four major reading and writing programs and 77 academic papers and publications. He authored the award-winning book, “Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males: Closing the Achievement Gap” in 2005. His second book, “Reading for Their Life: (Re) building the Textual Lineages of African American Males” was published in 2009. His third book, “Fearless Voices: Engaging a New Generation of African American Adolescent Male Writers” was published in 2013. A fourth book, “Teaching Black Boys in the Elementary Grades” is scheduled to be released by Teachers College Press in November 2021.
Tatum received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois Chicago and his bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University.
Chalane E. Lechuga, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Chicana/o Studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her concentrations are in race/ethnicity and education, with an emphasis in Latina/o sociology.
Lechuga’s research examines the racial identities of Latina/o high school students and the relationship between racial identity and academic achievement. Currently, she is working with a local public-school district to examine school discipline and racial disparities in exclusionary practices. Further up the educational pipeline, she researches the recruitment and retention of underrepresented faculty in higher education. Lechuga has over 19 years of experience conducting program evaluation and assessment and leads the comprehensive assessment of departmental student learning outcomes.
Lechuga received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of New Mexico, a master’s of science in sociology from the University of Denver and a bachelor’s in English and ethnic studies (Chicana/o studies and black studies) from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Ramon Del Castillo is a retired professor of the Chiana/or Studies Department. He taught at Metropolitan State University of Denver from 35 years. Del Castillo’s publications include “Institutionalizing Curanderismo in Colorado’s Community Mental Health System,” “Institutionalizing Curanderismo into a Mainstream Healing System: Boundary Spanners and Innovation in Action” and “The Life History of Diana Velazquez: La Curandera Total.”
As past Chair of the Masters Program in Nonprofit Program at Regis University (1999-2005), he directed educational services and program development for the department and taught classes in the history of the nonprofit sector, leadership, ethics, managing diversity in organizations and the capstone project. He traveled to Mexico for 5 years, developing collaborative bi-national curricula between the nonprofit and civil society sectors through the “Making Connections in Mexico Program,” in collaboration with ITESO Jesuit University, located in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.
Del Castillo possess a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a double major in Sociology and Mexican American Studies from the University of Northern Colorado. He obtained master’s degrees are in Social Science and Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver (UCD) and his Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the same university. His master’s research was on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Chicano Viet Nam Veterans and his doctoral dissertation, examined Curanderismo, a traditional approach to holistic and spiritual healing, using theories of innovation to critique the institutionalization process within a publicly funded mental health agency.
Katia Campbell, Ph.D., is the chair in the Department of Communication Studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Her scholarship and teaching focuses on rhetoric, free speech, cultural representation, popular media and critical pedagogy. Campbell is also the Faculty Senate President. Outside of MSU Denver, she consults and facilitates workshops on communication and diversity, media literacy, free speech, public speaking, and dialogic ethics. After completing her doctorate, Campbell worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Communication at University of Colorado Denver.
Her research areas of interest include, but are not limited to, citizenship and civic engagement, cultural diversity and communication within a U.S. cultural context and cultural studies with an emphasis on media studies. Campbell has co-authored three publications in the areas of civic engagement and social justice. Her book, “Neo-Pragmatism, Communication, and the Culture of Creative Democracy,” focuses specifically on the malleable conceptions of citizenship and civic responsibility and explicates the possible social ramifications of our modern practice of citizenship.
Campbell earned her doctorate in human communication studies from University of Denver in 2004.
Michael Benitez, Ph.D., is the vice president for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is a nationally acclaimed scholar practitioner and educator in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education. Benitez has a critical perspectives on social and cultural issues on topics related to leadership and identity development, intersectionality, race and ethnicity, knowledge production as well as critical and inclusive pedagogy/practice in higher education.
Prior to his current role at MSU Denver, Benitez served as director of diversity initiatives at Dickinson College, director of intercultural development and the black cultural center at Lafayette College, affiliate faculty in the Graduate School of Leadership and Professional Advancement at Duquesne University, director of intercultural engagement and leadership at Grinnell College, and chief diversity officer/dean of diversity and inclusion, and Title IX and EEO officer at the University of Puget Sound.
Benitez’s deep knowledge and practice of innovative equity and inclusion-based strategies has helped to address some of higher education’s more pressing campus climate issues of today, including the Diversity Monologues- a critical spoken work initiative he helped implement and shape at multiple institutions, the campus climate community participatory framework and the Northwest 5 Consortium for supporting faculty of color.
He has authored book chapters and articles on student identity, hip hop culture, cultural centers, cultural and ethnic studies, institutional research and campus climates as well as faculty development. Benitez has also been featured in educational documentaries such as “Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity” and has appeared on talk shows such as “Worlds Apart,” “Hard Knock Radio” and “Speak out with Tim Wise.”
Benitez received his Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy with a focus on social justice in higher education from Iowa State University, a master’s in counselor education and a bachelor’s in human development and family studies from Pennsylvania State University.