Impact Report 2021–2022

CAHSS Dean Rhonda Gonzales

A Message from Dean Gonzales

Now into my second year as Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, I continue to be amazed and inspired by the remarkable achievements I have observed throughout our community. From the vitally important research our faculty lead to the superb creative works our students produce, the 2021-2022 academic year illustrated CAHSS’s achievements in these unique times.

Our accomplishments this year have been extraordinary. The CAHSS First-Generation Student Program expanded its ability to offer programming and mentorship to students who are the first in their families to attend college. Students from across CAHSS took part in internships and hands-on learning, making a direct impact on local and global communities while gaining valuable experience in the process. And of course, our alumni and friends continue to make CAHSS proud all around the world, giving back to our current students by generously helping them achieve their own goals.

As we look to the future, we are determined to pursue our mission of fostering curiosity and creativity in a complex and changing world. Of note, our Internships for All initiative strives to provide paid internship opportunities to all CAHSS students, so that this professional preparation is open to all students who otherwise might not be able to accept an unpaid internship.

I encourage you to explore this report to learn more about the inspiring students, faculty, and staff who make up our vibrant college.

Now more than ever, I firmly believe in the power of liberal arts education to enrich our lives. I look forward to many more years of supporting students and helping the next generation of artists, researchers, scholars, alumni, and supporters be positive change leaders across the world.

Rhonda M. Gonzales
Dean, College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

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Students on campus

Strategic Initiatives

CAHSS continues to prioritize new ways to empower students to become leaders in our complex and changing world. Through our First-Generation College Student Program, students who are the first in their families to attend college receive academic advice, skills-building courses, mentoring, and other resources. Our Internships for All program will offer all students a paid opportunity to apply classroom knowledge in professional settings, eliminating barriers for those who cannot afford to work for free. Throughout the year, our community came together to support our shared values of diversity, equity and inclusion.

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Professor Carlos Jimenez teaches a group of students who are participating in Hidden Voices.

Center for Innovation in the Liberal & Creative Arts (CILCA)

  • Documenting Colorado’s Hidden Voices

    Documenting Colorado’s Hidden Voices provides training and support for University of Denver students to collect oral histories from Coloradans across the state. The collections are focused on populations that are often absent from our histories and narratives, such as farmers, day laborers, domestic workers, and people who are experiencing homelessness, who have been incarcerated, or who are undocumented. In its first year, 20 students participated in the program. Along with preserving the student-created stories at History Colorado, the project recently launched a podcast, “Hear, Allá, Presente,” to share the stories more widely with the community. Students cap their experience by participating in a paid internship with a community partner. This year, Documenting Colorado’s Hidden Voices is working on adding an interdisciplinary micro-credential program. The program will support students with the Spanish and multimedia skills needed to collaborate with the group’s community partners.

    Learn about the podcast

  • Spanish Program for Heritage/Bilingual Student Keystone Project

    The Spanish Program for Heritage/Bilingual Students invites students with personal, familial or community connections to Spanish to develop their academic and professional Spanish skills in a culturally relevant environment. Students engage with U.S. Latinx culture and language with a community of Spanish learners. This year, CILCA funding enabled the program to develop an internship component. This internship builds upon and puts into practice the skills students learn in the Heritage/Bilingual program, while also giving students the opportunity to engage with Spanish speakers in the Denver community. Director Lina Reznicek-Parrado, a teaching assistant professor in the Department of Spanish Language, Literary & Cultural Studies, is collaborating with local organizations and the Documenting Colorado’s Hidden Voices project to support career-relevant internship opportunities where students’ Spanish skills are essential.

  • The Center for International Mountain Area Studies

    The Center for International Mountain Area Studies (CIMAS) supports high-impact experiential learning and research opportunities specific to mountainous spaces and the people who inhabit them by funding students’ and faculty members’ social science, humanities-focused research or creative ventures. This year CILCA helped fund the research of Professor of Andean & Quechua Studies Alison Krögel. Her work explored carvings on aspen trees (arborglyphs) in northwestern Colorado’s Routt National Forest and the long-standing links between sheep ranches in northwestern Colorado and herders from rural high-country communities in northern New Mexico, México, and Perú that the carvings illuminate. Krögel has brought her research to life by curating a multilingual (Spanish-English-Quechua) exhibit. The physical portion of the exhibit debuted this fall at the Davis Gallery in the Shwayder Art Building with over 200 guests, many from the Denver-Aurora Peruvian community. The exhibit now travels back toward the research sites, and will open Dec. 2 at the Tread of the Pioneers museum in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Learn more and explore the digital exhibit at The Aspen Archives website.

    Explore the Aspen Archives Exhibit

  • Classroom to Careers

    Classroom to Careers helps faculty and departments identify, highlight and communicate the career-relevant competencies that undergraduates develop in their arts and humanities majors, for the purpose of supporting students in capitalizing on those skills and articulating them to future employers. In the 2021–22 academic year, 12 faculty members from six departments formed the first cohort. Together they attended trainings and met to provide peer support and development opportunities. Each faculty member taught a course optimized to feature the career relevant competencies students acquire through the work of the course. In addition, students from the highlighted courses were recruited for fully guided internship experiences to apply their knowledge. This innovative program helps students connect the dots between their classroom learning and their professional trajectories. 

Student Highlights

As more COVID-19 restrictions were lifted this year, students have increasingly participated in innovative, immersive experiences that enlivened and extended classroom learning. Student interns expanded their understanding and honed skills through public- and private-sector partnerships. Many took advantage of opportunities to conduct research, gaining new insights into their fields of study and even discovering new areas to explore. As they prepare to graduate, students used their hands-on experiences as springboards to meaningful careers while alumni continued to give back to current students through mentorships and advising.

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Faculty & Research

Across CAHSS, our distinguished faculty garnered awards and national and international recognition not just for their scholarly work, but for their extraordinary teaching and service as well. Projects embraced wide-ranging topics—from history, economics and psychology to sciences and mathematics—to benefit DU’s commitment to the public good. Research topics addressed critical, current challenges such as climate change, immigration and the effects of childhood stress on human development. Our faculty members’ creativity and scholarship inspired our students to acquire and hone methodologies that enabled them to deeply explore their own academic interests.

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Philanthropic Impact

Students relax together outside of Sturm Hall, the home of CAHSS.

Donor Generosity Supports Student Scholarships and Faculty Innovation

Our CAHSS community has come through for our students and college this year, raising money to support scholarships, internship opportunities, and amazing faculty projects that have an impact on the Denver community and beyond.

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CAHSS in the Community

Newman Center

True to DU’s mission of being a private university for the public good, CAHSS faculty, students, staff and alumni use their skills and passion throughout the Denver metro community to connect and work toward positive changes.  

Click through to explore a few of those connections.

Painting of La Malinche by Alfredo Ramos Martinez

CAHSS sponsors Denver Art Museum’s “Traitor, Survivor, Icon” exhibit 

Denver Art Museum’s “Traitor, Survivor, Icon: The Legacy of La Malinche” exhibit explored the history and enduring significance of La Malinche, an enslaved Indigenous girl who became an interpreter and cultural translator for Hernán Cortés. CAHSS sponsored the exhibit, which brought Mexican and Mexican-American art and culture to the Denver community. Our connections to the show didn’t stop there. Jesse Laird Ortega (MA '13), a senior curatorial assistant at the Denver Art Museum and alumna of the School of Art and Art History, was thrilled to put her degree to work collaborating with the curators on this exhibit featuring the topic of her thesis, La Malinche!

Image: Alfredo Ramos Martínez, La Malinche (Young Girl of Yalala, Oaxaca), 1940. Oil paint on canvas; 50x40-1/2 in. Phoenix Art Museum: Museum purchase with funds provided by the Friends of Mexican Art, 1979.86. ©The Alfredo Ramos Martínez Research Project, reproduced by permission.

DU PAI actors perform "If Light Closed its Eyes"

DU PAI launches radio station, stages documentary play 

The DU Prison Arts Initiative is breaking new ground as it continues its mission to bring arts programming to Colorado’s detention centers, promoting the voices and work of artists who are incarcerated throughout the state. This year they launched the first statewide prison radio station in the country—Inside Wire: Colorado Prison Radio. Teams at Colorado DOC facilities produce radio shows that give people inside and beyond the prison walls an opportunity to hear the stories and music of those within. This fall, DU PAI worked to share a 360-degree view of the criminal justice system through “If Light Closed its Eyes,” a verbatim documentary play highlighting interviews with people connected to the prison in a variety of ways.

Panelists at the institutional justice series

Estlow Center co-hosts institutional justice series 

The Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media joined forces with the Interdisciplinary Research Institute for the Study of (In)Equality (IRISE) to give the DU and Denver communities an opportunity to explore institutional justice. The series featured a trio of gun safety activists who have been recognized for working to change the conversation about gun violence using media. Along with lectures, the series included a masterclass that brought together almost 300 students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of DU. We’re excited to continue to partner with experts to address topics vital to our Denver community.

The Spirituals Choir performs conducted by director M. Roger Holland II

M. Roger Holland II and The Spirituals Project partner with Colorado Public Radio to share spirituals with the Denver community 

“Journey to Freedom: The Spirituals Radio Project” began with a yearlong exploration of spirituals marked by outreach and education. Holland, the director of the Spirituals Project and teaching associate professor in the Lamont School of Music, chose a spiritual each month to feature on CPR classical, along with a story of its history and continued relevance. Through radios spots, articles and videos, Holland shared The Spirituals Project’s mission of preserving and bringing new life to the sacred songs created by enslaved Africans in America. The project culminated this June with a sold-out performance of the Spirituals Project Choir, a fitting celebration featuring a community-building themed spiritual singalong.

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Media Highlights

CAHSS faculty, research, and programs were featured in numerous elite, international, national, and local media outlets, including NPR, The Washington Post, Time, BBC, Politico, The Denver Post, and many more. Throughout the year, faculty shared their expert insights on current events and cultural moments as they were happening. These samples are just a few of the dozens of appearances CAHSS made in the media this year.

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Connect with Us

Jennifer Garner

Executive Director of Development

Hannah Thompson

Director of Alumni Relations

Tonya Kelly

Senior Director of Development

Laura Mack

Director of Development

DU community gathered for Newman Center event.

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