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Applaud the MSU Denver faculty, staff and alumni sharing their talents and energy.

By Lindsey Coulter

November 20, 2018

students throwing balloonsIn addition to Faculty Citings, the Early Bird shines a spotlight each month on the accomplishments of Metropolitan State University of Denver faculty and staff. This month, we’re also recognizing MSU Denver alumni making our community safer and healthier. If you know colleagues or graduates who deserve a round of applause, email

Kudos to faculty and staff

MSU Denver and Denver Botanic Gardens, partners in the OWOW Center, are bringing international attention to the Mile High City at the Open/Big Data and Citizen Science for Managing the Water, Food, Energy and Environment Nexus workshop Thursday in Perugia, Italy. The UNESCO- and World Water Assessment Program-sponsored event is a direct result of the collaboration developed by Ali Thobhani, Ph.D., and will include Elizabeth McVicker, Ph.D., as a speaker and Denver Botanic Gardens as a co-host.

David Heska Wanbli Weiden, M.F.A., J.D., Ph.D., associate professor of political science and Native American studies, was selected for PEN America’s inaugural Writing for Justice Fellowship cohort. The cohort consists of 10 emerging and established writers, and each will develop a project that engages readers around issues of mass-incarceration reform and has strong potential to inspire change and promise for publication. The yearlong fellowship will support Weiden’s work to create a hybrid piece of memoir, reportage and essay that explores the Major Crimes Act’s direct contribution to the rise of Native American incarceration through the story of his cousin’s first-degree murder conviction, rehabilitation and release.

Congratulations to Kishore Kulkarni, Ph.D., distinguished professor of economics at the School of Business, who was recently selected for the Federation of Business Disciplines’ Outstanding Educator of the Year award. The selection was based on Kulkarni’s academic achievements and his contributions to the Southwestern Society of Economists. Kulkarni will accept the award in Houston in March.

Applause for Alumni

Out of more than 37,000 employees nationwide, Zachary Berger (’16) was named the 2017 Marriott Select Brand SpringHill Suites Team Member of the Year for franchisees, which he accepted at a recent corporate ceremony in Washington D.C. Berger graduated with a double-major in history and hospitality with a concentration in hotel management. He is now the breakfast supervisor for Springhill Suites Denver Downtown, at the center of the Hospitality Learning Center public-private-partnership, and is a past recipient of the MLK Peace award. Berger credited his study at MSU Denver, including autism advocacy work with the University’s Access Center and Urban Leadership Program involvement, for setting him on the path for his career — and (inter)national recognition.

“Springhill Suites and Sage Hospitality as a whole is an amazing company and I love everything about the industry,” he said. “It’s a really big award and such an honor — it’s still kicking in.”

Congratulations are also in order for faculty, staff and students of MSU Denver’s Accelerated Nursing Option program in the Department of Nursing. All 43 graduates to take the 2018 National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses passed the test, a feat matched only by graduates of the Colorado State University – Pueblo nursing program. Graduates of the department’s Traditional Nursing Option also did well, with more than 88 percent of graduates passing.

Graduates of the K-12 Physical Education Program are also shining in the community.  Help us in congratulating graduates Jennifer Smith (’12), Brad Hull (’09) and Brian Hull (’09), who swept teacher-of-the-year awards at the recent Society of Health and Physical Educators state convention in October. Smith was named elementary physical-education teacher of the year for her work at Sabin Elementary School in Denver; Brad Hull was named middle-school physical-education teacher of the year for his work at Everitt Middle School in Jefferson County; and Brian Hull was named high school physical-education teacher of the year for his work at Bruce Randolph High School in Denver.

Chris Swathwood (’06), director of aircraft sales and acquisitions for Altivation, was selected for the inaugural 2018 Business Aviation Top 40 Under 40, presented by the National Business Aviation Association at the NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Orlando, Florida. Swathwood was recognized for his work as chair of the legislative-affairs committee for the Colorado Aviation Business Association. He played an instrumental role for the Association in working with the State of Colorado to pass legislation creating license plates celebrating the aviation industry and is now tackling aircraft sales-tax reform.

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