Emerging Faculty Leader Academy

For a comprehensive overview of the program, including background, ideal applicant profile, expectations, and benefits of the program, please view this overview document

The NASPA Emerging Faculty Leader Academy is a one-year program for emerging faculty leaders who want to gain knowledge, techniques and experience in order to develop and sustain a fulfilling faculty career. Seven participants, one from each of the 7 NASPA Regions, will participate in on-line and in-person professional development and educational sessions in order to gain additional knowledge and skills about being a leader as a faculty member.  Potential topics may include: teaching strategies and curriculum development, resources to deal with issues of tenure, merit and performance, and serving within professional associations such as NASPA. 

The cohort who completes the NASPA Emerging Faculty Leaders Academy will be able to:

  • Define leadership in a faculty role for themselves
  • Identify individual plans to excel in a faculty career
  • Target at least one "take away" from the individual plan to actuate 
  • Expand network of colleagues to collaborate within faculty work
  • Explore ways to be involved in NASPA as a faculty member

Application Process

The application process is now open for the 2017-2018 year. Applications are due November 1, 2016. Please access all application information here: http://apps.naspa.org/cfp/evt_frm_user.cfm?event_id=521

2016-2017 Cohort Information

We are proud to announce the 2016-2017 Academy Cohort:

Region Name Institution Biography
Region I dasht-gibson headshot Jaleh Dashti-Gibson Merrimack College

Dr. Dashti-Gibson is Professor of Practice and Director of Professional Preparation for Merrimack College's M.Ed. Program in Higher Education. At Merrimack, she oversees the fellowship component of the master's program and other initiatives related to the professional preparation of graduate students in higher education. She has worked in the field of educational administration previously as an academic advisor for first-year students and as director of academic programs for the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Dashti-Gibson has interests in reflective practice, supporting gifted college students, innovative pedagogy, and conflict transformation.  

Region II funk headshot Michael Funk New York University

Michael Sean Funk is a Clinical Assistant Professor for the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, Higher Education and Student Affairs program at New York University. He received his doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Social Justice Education program. In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate students at UMASS, he held positions in Residence Life and Academic Advising Services. Furthermore, Dr. Funk served as the Senior Bertha Capen Reynolds Fellow for Smith College Graduate School for Social Work where he assisted faculty members and taught aspiring clinicians how to support clients around issues of race and racism.

Region III salinas headshot Cristobal Salinas Jr. Florida Atlantic University

Cristobal previously served as the College of Design’s multicultural liaison officer at Iowa State University, where he provided assistance and guidance in understanding issues of diversity in the college and beyond. He holds a B.A. in Spanish Education and ESL from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies and Ph.D. in Higher Education, both from Iowa State University. He coauthored the Iowa’s Community Colleges: A Collective History of Fifty Years of Accomplishment book. Cristobal is the co-founder and Managing Editor for the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity. His research promotes access and quality in higher education, and explores the social, political, and economic context of education opportunities for historically marginalized communities, with an emphasis on Latino/a communities. 

Region IV-East kniess headshot Dena Kniess Eastern Illinois University

Dr. Dena Kniess graduated with her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership - Higher Education from Clemson University.  Dr. Kniess has worked in residence life at Ball State University and the University of Delaware.  While working on her doctorate at Clemson, she was an Associate Director in the New Student and Family Programs office.  Her research interests are assessment, multicultural issues in higher education, retention, and the second-year experience. 

Region IV-West sponsler headshot Laura Sponsler University of Denver

Dr. Laura E. Sponsler is appointed as Clinical Assistant Professor, Higher Education in the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver. Dr. Sponsler received her doctoral degree in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Saint Joseph’s University and a master’s degree in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. Previously, Dr. Sponsler served as the founding director for NASPA’s Lead Initiative, a project recognizing a network of nearly 100 postsecondary institutions for their commitment to civic learning and democratic engagement. Prior to her scholarly work, Dr. Sponsler served as a practitioner in student affairs. She coordinated the Franklin Community, which is dedicated to developing civic leaders for an increasingly democratic and culturally complex world. Dr. Sponsler also served as the Assistant Director of Service-Learning in an immersion program along the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico as well as coordinated service and leadership programming at Cabrini College.

Region V nguyen headshot Thai-Huy Nguyen Seattle University

Thai-Huy Nguyen is an assistant professor of student development administration at Seattle University and a Senior Research Associate at the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Thai-Huy's interests are anchored in racial minority student achievement in STEM education, workforce diversity, and minority serving institutions. Currently, he is the Co-principal investigator with Marybeth Gasman on the Helmsley Charitable Trust funded national study on STEM education at HBCUs. Thai-Huy’s work has been published in Teachers College RecordJournal of Diversity in Higher Education and Urban Education.

Region VI Wright headshot Erin Kahunawai Wright University of Hawaii at Manoa

Erin Kahunawaika'ala Wright is from Kalihi, O'ahu, raised on the lands belonging to her maternal great-great grandmother.  She also has genealogical paternal ties to Kona, Hawai‘i and Nānākuli, O’ahu and maternal ties to Wai’anae, O’ahu and Southern China.  Currently, Dr. Wright serves as an assistant professor in Educational Administration at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa. Previously, she served as the founding director of Native Hawaiian Student Services in Hawai'inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge.  Her research focuses on understanding Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and other Indigenous communities' students’ success in higher education and its implications for practice. She earned her BA in Hawaiian Studies from Mānoa and her MA and PhD in Higher Education from UCLA.