Laura Niesen de Abruña

Laura Niesen de Abruña, Ph.D., serves as the provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her areas of expertise encompass diversity, equity and inclusion, HSI/Minority Serving Institutions, Title V and Title III grants, digital pedagogy, and literature of postcolonial women writers. Her career focus is on culturally responsive pedagogy, enrollment and retention management.

In addition to teaching, she is actively involved in several professional organizations, including the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies and the American Conference of Academic Deans. She has co-authored “Becoming a Provost.” featured in the Provost’s Handbook as well as “The Role of the Dean in Decision Making at the University Level in the American Council of Academic Deans’ Handbook.

Before joining MSU Denver, Niesen de Abruña was the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs and Professor of English at Dominican University of Chicago. She was the principal investigator on a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation digital fellows project that supported more than 30 provosts at institutions around the country by implementing resources to improve undergraduate teaching and learning.

Niesen de Abruña earned her Master of Science in Education in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. She earned both her Ph.D. and Master of Arts in English Language and Literature from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Manuel Del Real

Manuel Del Real, Ph.D., serves as the Executive Director of Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives and Inclusion at Metropolitan State University of Denver. His areas of expertise include HSI/Minority Serving Institutions, diversity, equity & inclusion, Greek-letter organizations, civic engagement, Title V grants, and National Science Foundation grants. His professional focus is centered around culturally responsive pedagogy and curriculum.

Del Real is the assistant vice president of membership for The Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators. He is also the co-founder of the Colorado HSI Consortium and is the current president of the Colorado Coalition for the Educational Advancement of Latinxs. He has presented at a panel at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) conference and facilitated the 2021 Sigma Lambda Betas International Fraternity Inc.’s Virtual Leadership Institute.

Before joining MSU Denver, Del Real was an adjunct faculty member in Ethnic Studies at Colorado State University.

Del Real earned his Doctorate in Education with a focus on higher education and social justice from Iowa State University, Master of Arts in higher education with a focus on diversity in organizations and Bachelor of Arts in French, Psychology, and Spanish from the University of Denver.

Arturo Jimenez

Judith Strathearn

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.

Alfred Tatum

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.

Chalane E. Lechuga

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

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

Katia Campbell, Ph.D., is the associate dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and former chair of 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

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.

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