Brenda J. Allen – professor, Department of Communication and associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) – has been named associate vice chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Colorado Denver. Provost Rod Nairn announced the appointment, effective Aug. 1.
Allen began her work for CU at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1989 as an assistant professor, then joined the CU Denver faculty in 2001.
“During her 20-plus years as a faculty member at the University of Colorado, professor Allen has served in numerous leadership roles, and she has developed a track record for scholarship, teaching and service in the area of diversity and inclusion,” Nairn said. “She is a highly respected scholar and colleague who will bring experience and expertise to the role of chief diversity officer.”
The AVC position reports to the provost as part of the executive leadership team in Academic and Student Affairs to enhance and sustain diversity, promote a culture of inclusiveness and develop strategic initiatives that contribute to the success of faculty, students and staff.
“I am honored to serve in such an important role,” Allen said. “I look forward to leading and coordinating a strategic and sustainable institution-wide approach to diversity and inclusion. I also am excited about collaborating with many of my colleagues who already are working diligently to achieve our mission of being a diverse teaching and learning community that creates, discovers and applies knowledge to improve the health and well-being of Colorado and the world.”
Allen’s scholarship focuses on organizational communication and social identity (e.g., gender, race, sexuality, age, ability, and social class). Named the Carroll C. Arnold Distinguished Lecturer in 2011 by the National Communication Association, she often illuminates and analyzes issues related to communication and diversity in higher education.
Among her publications is a groundbreaking book Difference Matters: Communicating Social Identity, (2nd Ed., 2011, Waveland Press), which is widely used to teach courses about diversity, and to facilitate diversity and inclusion discussions. In addition, Allen developed a website for instructors who teach diversity.
While serving as chair of the Department of Communication, Allen was invited in 2007 to assume the newly created role of associate dean for Planning and Initiatives in CLAS, with the primary responsibility of oversight for the college’s strategic plan. She created the CLAS Diversity Council (composed of faculty, staff and students) in 2009 to concentrate on the diversity component of the college’s strategic plan.
As master mentor of the Tenure Track Faculty Mentoring Program, Allen works to develop and implement a variety of mentoring activities. Besides identifying and matching mentors with new faculty members and providing resources to optimize mentoring relationships, the program provides specialized programming for groups such as women faculty, faculty of color, and science faculty with education specialties. In 2010, she received the inaugural Annual Award for Excellence in Faculty Mentoring at CU Denver.