Welcome logo on the wall

Welcome, New Faculty Members!

Dozens Attend Virtual New Faculty Orientation

August 19, 2021

There are many reasons to be excited about the fall 2021 semester: the return to campus in over a year for many students, faculty, and staff, the opening of CU Denver’s first on-campus housing dedicated to first-year students, and the addition of 39 brand new faculty members. The week of Aug. 16, the mix of instructors, lecturers, and professors across all schools and colleges attended their first virtual orientation.

Chancellor Michelle Marks and Provost Constancio Nakuma kicked off the day with candid remarks, sharing their personal journeys in higher education and emphasizing the truly unique student body the new faculty members will be teaching at CU Denver. 

“I came to CU Denver because of its immense potential to serve these students, for whom a college education is not a given,” said Marks, who started her career as an assistant professor of psychology at Florida International University in Miami before serving as the vice president for academic innovation and new ventures at George Mason University in Virginia. She joined CU Denver in July 2020. She added, “Emerging from the COVID pandemic, and addressing the inequities that it’s so starkly revealed, will require innovation, imagination, and smarts. I truly believe that CU Denver— and all of you—can be a tremendous force in helping develop the solutions we need.”

Nakuma joined CU Denver roughly two months ago from Clemson University in South Carolina, where he served in administrative roles for 19 years. Speaking to the immense difficulties brought on by COVID-19, he encouraged the new faculty members to be understanding and flexible with students and to uphold rigorous academic standards with compassion. “Take time to make your students feel comfortable with you by demonstrating that you know them by name, and want them to be successful,” Nakuma said. “Please understand that some of your students will not feel comfortable coming to share their problems with you and may be suffering quietly. Be kind always.”

The new faculty members join CU Denver at an instrumental time in history as the university plans for a successful return to in-person teaching and learning and kicks off a visionary 10-year strategic plan coined “Make Education Work for All.”

Meet CU Denver’s New Faculty Members

Aakash Sahai, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering, College of Engineering, CEDC

Adam Lesniewski, Senior Instructor, Finance, Business School

Amber Surls, Lecturer, Counseling, CLAS

Angela French-Mack, Lecturer, Responsive Literacy Education, SEHD

Brian Phillips, Lecturer, Music & Entertainment Industry Studies, CAM

Clemith Houston, Lecturer, Information Systems, Business School

Cynthia Cazanas Garin, Assistant Professor, Film and Television, CAM

Cynthia Kennedy, Lecturer, Accounting, Business School

eD Dixon, Lecturer, Marketing, Business School

Elena Sandoval-Lucero, Assistant Professor, Leadership, SEHD

Elizabeth Garcia, Ethnic Studies, CLAS

Gisella Bassani, Assistant Professor, Information Systems, Business School

Jasmine Colgan, Lecturer, Photography, CAM

Jeff Helton, Finance, Business School

Kiley Spirito, Senior Instructor, Physics, CLAS

Krishnendu Das, Lecturer, Business, Business School

Kwabena Kesse, Assistant Professor, Finance, Business School

Lawrence Skor, Lecturer, Accounting, Business School

Marisa Aragón Ware, Lecturer, Illustration, CAM

Maulik Jagnani, Assistant Professor, Economics, Business School

Melissa Swenson, Professor, Education, SEHD

Patricia Joseph, Lecturer, Architecture, CAP

Phillip Njoroge, Assistant Professor, Accounting, Business School

Phyllis Thomas, Lecturer, Information Technology, Business School

Priyanka deSouza, Assistant Professor, Urban and Regional Planning, CAP

Qiong Hu, Senior Instructor, Business Analytics, Business School

Renee Gurganus, Lecturer, Physics, CLAS

Ryan Leonard, Lecturer, Psychology, CLAS

Sarah Aziz, Assistant Professor, Architecture, CAP

Sarah Hearne, Assistant Professor, Architecture, CAP

Scott Russell, Senior Instructor, Marketing, Business School

Sophie Cook, Lecturer, Vistual Arts, CAM

Susan Melsop, Associate Professor, Architecture, CAP

Tamara Browning-Caraballo, Senior Instructor, Education, SEHD

Todd Friesen, Lecturer, Psychology, SEHD

Wenjuan Tan, Lecturer, Chemistry, CLAS

William Martin, Lecturer, Architecture, CAP

Zhengxiong Li, Assistant Professor, CSE, CEDC