Shaun T. Schafer is the associate vice president of curriculum, academic effectiveness and policy development in the Department of Academic Affairs at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. Schafer is also professor in the Journalism and Media Production Department. His areas of expertise include media law, media ethics, free press, curriculum policies and artificial intelligence in academic settings.
Devon Wright, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Africana Studies and the Department of Sociology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. His areas of expertise include Black social movements, conservative right-wing social movements, white-supremacist ideology and racist rhetoric in conservative right-wing media organizations and the politics of hip-hop culture. Wright currently teaches Politics and Black People, Social Movements and the Black Experience, and Black Lives Matter and COVID-19.
Prior to joining MSU Denver, Wright taught as a social-sciences instructor at Fort Lauderdale High School. Wright has been asked to speak on various topics, including the history of black social-protest movements, the Black Lives Matter Movement, white-supremacist hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the segregationist Citizen’s Councils of America and hip-hop culture.
He received his doctorate in Sociology and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in History, all from Florida International University.
Kip Wotkyns, MBA, is a professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Production at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He teaches intro to journalism and mass media; and ethical and legal issues in journalism.
Wotkyns has 24 years of experience as a journalist. He worked for Time Inc. for 14 years, was a reporter for FORTUNE magazine and a copy editor for TIME magazine. Wotkyns was also the president of Leman Publications Inc., a magazine publishing company formerly owned by Rodale Press Inc. He joined MSU Denver in 2008 and was promoted to full professor in 2018. He is a member of Southwest Education Council for Journalism and Mass Communication and Society of Professional Journalists, as well as faculty advisor for Colorado Press Association.
His research interests include journalism, convergent journalism, social media and drone journalism. Some of Wotkyns’s more recent published works are “Drone Journalism: A Flight Plan for Curriculum Development” in the 7th Annual International Conference on Journalism & Mass Communications in 2018 and “New, Bold and Tenuous: Ethiopian Journalism Education” in Southwestern Mass Communication Journal. He has given several presentations on journalism around the country and in Singapore.
Wotkyns received his Master of Business Administration in media management and a master’s in journalism from Columbia University in 1979 and a bachelor’s in English magna cum laude from Stanford University in 1976. He is a licensed remote pilot airman.
David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Ph.D.; JD, an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota nation, is a professor of Native American Studies and Political Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
His academic scholarship involves Native American issues, law and political science, and he’s an attorney, licensed to practice in all Colorado state courts. Weiden is an alumnus of Vona, a Tin House Scholar, a 2018 MacDowell Colony Fellow, and a 2019 Ragdale Foundation resident. He received the 2018 PEN America Writing for Justice Fellowship. He is the fiction editor for Anomaly, journal of international literature and arts (www.anmly.org), and he teaches writing at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver.
Weiden novel Winter Counts is forthcoming August 2020 from Ecco/HarperCollins, as is the second book in the series, Wounded Horse. Winter Counts is the story of a local Native American enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation who becomes obsessed with finding and stopping the dealer who is bringing increasingly dangerous drugs into his community. It’s a Native thriller, an examination of the broken criminal justice system on reservations and a meditation on Native identity. Both novels will be published in France by Gallmeister Editions.
He’s published or has work forthcoming in Shenandoah, Yellow Medicine Review, Transmotion, Criminal Class Review, Tribal College Journal and other magazines. His children’s book, Spotted Tail, will be released in 2019.
A first-generation college student, he received his MFA in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts, his J.D. from the University of Denver Strum College of Law and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.
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.
Craig Svonkin, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of English at Metropolitan State University of Denver. His expertise is in amusement parks and children’s literature.
In addition to teaching, Svonkin is an executive director of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association. He has quite a few publications including “A Southern California Boyhood in the Simu-Southland Shadows of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room” published in the Disneyland and Culture: Essays on the Parks and Their Influence journal and “From Disneyland to Modesto: George Lucas and Walt Disney,” chapter 3 in Myth, Media, and Culture in Star Wars: An Anthology. Svonkin has also done many presentations including “Theorizing Multicultural and Multiethnic Children’s Fantasy” at the Children’s Literature Association Conference in 2008 and “Muggles & Giants & House-Elves, Oh My!: Harry Potter, Liberalism, and Evil” at the National Popular Culture Association Conference in 2003.
Svonkin is often called upon to share his expertise on pop culture topics related to amusement parks, Disney, Sesame Street and The Muppets. He is a member of Children’s Literature Association, Modern Language Association, Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association, Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association, American Studies Association, Popular Culture Association and Oceanic Popular Culture Association. His research interests include American literature, children’s literature; and American film and visual culture.
Svonkin received his doctorate in English from University of California, Riverside in 2008, a masters in English from California State University, Los Angeles in 1997 and a bachelor’s in English from University of Southern California in 1986.
Renee Ruderman teaches the Art and Craft of Writing, poetry and creative nonfiction writing workshops, poetry and memoir writing studios and the Senior Experience course, Advanced Writing. She has been a full-time faculty member at Metropolitan State University of Denver for over 30 years.
Ruderman has two books published: “Poems from the Room Below” and “Certain Losses,” a chapbook. Some of her award-winning poetry may be found in the Bellingham Review, I-70 Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and the Raleigh Review.
Luis Rivas, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of English at Metropolitan State University. His areas of expertise include rhetoric and composition theory, students of migrant/seasonal-farmworkers and post secondary education.
Rivas previously worked as director of the College Assistance Migrant Program where he oversaw daily activities reporting to the Office of Migrant Education. He also attended and presented at several Office of Migrant Education sponsored conferences to share relevant experience with other CAMP programs. Prior, he also worked as a student liaison in 2010 for CAMP, where he developed workshops and other activities for students.
Rivas received his Ph.D. in composition and rhetoric theory and a master’s in creative writing in poetry from the University of Nebraska. He received his bachelor’s in English from York College.
Vincent Piturro, Ph.D., is a professor of film and media studies in the Department of English at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
He hosts an annual science fiction film series in conjunction with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Denver Film Society. Piturro writes a film review column for The Front Porch, a neighborhood Denver paper with a circulation of about 30,000. In addition to teaching, he is also the general studies chair on the Faculty Senate Standing Committee at MSU Denver.
Piturro published several works including a book chapter on “The Ballad of Little Jo” in the edited collection of “Love in Western Film and Television,” an article in the International Academic Forum journal titled “Documentary Film Rhetoric: Saving Face and the Public Sphere” and a book chapter on gays in Westerns in the upcoming edited volume “The New Western.” His areas of research include Westerns, science fiction, documentaries, Italian cinema and Italian-American cinema.
Piturro received his doctorate in film studies from University of Colorado Denver in 2008.
Professor Marvell Lawson is Creative Communication Coach for Center for Information Design, Inc. providing Communication Training Coaching and Consulting services to individuals and organizations. Professor Lawson uses his experience and education in organizational communication by teaming with clients to identify and establish a communication path to produce results within client organizations. This internal system focuses on action and results. As Professor of Communication, Professor Lawson brings real world expertise to the classroom, thus helping to guide students toward becoming contributing professionals. Combining learning principles and information collection with communication processes creates a synergistic process that improves organizational and individual performance. Professor Lawson views information and communication as two inseparable components of a single strategy.
Professor Lawson earned his Masters Degree in Applied Communication, and a Certification of Advanced Studies in Organizational Communication from the University of Denver. Combining his extensive work experience with his education, Professor Lawson formulated his unique method for isolating the important elements of overwhelming amounts of information assaulting us today. Professor Lawson’s expertise adds value to client internal operations through his understanding of the relationship between information and communication. That relationship enhances both organizational decision-making and organizational planning.