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Empowering Faculty and Staff to Effect Systemic Change

Aerial shot of the University of Northern Colorado's campus

April 10, 2023

As the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) embarked on phase two of the institution’s ten-year strategic plan, Rowing, Not Drifting 2030, it set a goal to “create plans, structures and programs that foster an inclusive environment at UNC where all individuals feel welcomed and supported.”

Inspired by that goal, Chevron has generously established student scholarships as well as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Fellows program at UNC. Designed to provide UNC’s faculty and staff with opportunities to develop competency and praxis in equity and inclusion, the Fellows program works to create and effect change on campus and within the university’s overall structure. Each Fellow designs and develops a project for the fellowship year, culminating in a campus-wide training or initiative.

Chelsie Romulo, Ph.D., associate professor of Geography and a 2023 DEI Fellow, says that the Fellows meet monthly as a group, and individually with janine weaver-douglas,* Ed.D., director of the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center.

“Part of the reason why this program is important is the work that we’re doing. Everyone had to propose equity-focused projects and we were selected based on those proposals. So, these are specific projects we’re developing that should improve equity outcomes of our students, faculty and staff,” she says. “The other part of why this program is important is that it is funded, demonstrating that the work that we do is valuable and folks should receive support for doing it.”

Tobias Guzmán, vice president for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, says that Chevron’s partnership and vision has been critical for the program’s development.

“With Chevron's support and under the direction of Dr. janine weaver-douglas,* we launched this initiative to empower faculty and staff to effect systemic change at the unit, department, and university levels,” he says. “Chevron has become an important financial supporter of UNC and a collaborative and forward-thinking thought partner as we consider the changing social and economic landscape. They have made it possible for the university to take a novel and mutually beneficial approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion issues.”

Chevron expressed their support for the innovative program and its collaborative work. 

“From the time UNC and Chevron began to talk about a partnership, we have experienced a remarkably collaborative relationship with open dialogue about needs and possibilities,” said Cary Baird, Community Engagement and Social Investment Advisor at Chevron. “DEI is one of the foundations of our social investment program, and we couldn’t be any prouder of the work underway at UNC. We see the DEI Fellows program as a model that can benefit other organizations beyond institutions of higher education, and we look forward to exploring more opportunities to further expand the program.”

*janine weaver-douglas has requested that her name be recognized through the use of lowercase letters.


Thanks to Chevron’s visionary and generous support, UNC named the following nine DEI Fellows for the 2023 fiscal year:

  • Karen Barton, Ph.D., professor, Geography Project: To create a pipeline program at UNC for underrepresented students to participate in Fulbright scholarship programs.
  • Teresa Buckner, Ph.D., R.D.N., assistant professor  of Kinesiology, Nursing and Dietetics Project: Service-Learning Project for Culturally Relevant Behavior Interventions with Nutrition.
  • Courtney Caston, library technician,  Skinner Music Library Project: To create a more diverse offering of music (specifically jazz) within the Skinner Music Library, that is more representative of the origins of the music and the practice of the field.
  • Hannah Conner, deputy director, Social Research Lab and adjunct faculty in Gender Studies Project: Creation of an Advanced Research for the Workplace course that centers DEI as foundation for assessment and research.
  • Kelly Langley Cook, lecturer, History Project:  Certificate of Inclusion competency development program that would create a baseline of anti-racist practice development.
  • Jieun Lee, Ph.D., associate professor of Geography Project: Women of Color Faculty development and advancement program, with particular emphasis on international women faculty of color.
  • Saeda Quist, retention and outreach coordinator, Monfort College of Business  Project: To create a visual curriculum for Kepner Hall, the home of the Monfort College of Business, that is both respective and inclusive of the identities within the school, but also of the scope of business as a field.
  • Chelsie Romulo, Ph.D., associate professor  of Geography Project: Peer Mentoring Program for AGES (Anthropology, Geology/Geography, and Earth Sciences program) specifically for underrepresented identities within STEM, including gender and race/ethnicity.
  • Cindy Wesley, Ph.D., associate dean, Graduate School Project: Improve and enhance the Graduate School catalog to be a more inclusive document, including examination of current processes, structures and expectations to ensure they do not create equity issues for graduate students. 

– written by Debbie Moors