Alumni Testimonials

Dr. Manya Whitaker is Acting Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff and Associate Professor of Education at Colorado College.

As Acting Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, Manya partners closely with the President on a variety of cross-divisional and executive initiatives, providing critical direction and leadership to optimize strategic priorities such as the college’s antiracism commitment. She serves as the President’s principal aide in managing sensitive and confidential issues; helps with the development of college policies, processes, and practices; is the President’s representative on key college committees, and helps to manage high-priority projects to ensure successful launch and execution.

Manya is also Associate Professor of Education. A developmental educational psychologist with expertise in social and political issues in education, her research examines the development and sustainment of teachers’ diversity-related self-constructions within Title I schools. She is especially interested in the long-term effects of anti-oppressive and liberatory curricula and pedagogy within teacher preparation programs on teachers’ inclusive instructional practices. Her courses such as Diversity & Equity in Education, Teacher and Teacher Identities, and Educational Psychology inform, and are informed by, her research. Her recent book, “Public School Equity: Educational Leadership for Justice,” capitalizes on her consulting with K-12 organizations. She also writes an early career advice column for The Chronicle of Higher Education.


How did you find out about the Consortium for Faculty Diversity (CFD)? What motivated you to apply?

I don't remember how I found out about it. I must have stumbled upon it while searching for a job during my last year of grad school. I figured it couldn't hurt to fill out a profile. I did it and promptly forgot about it.

What were some of the most beneficial aspects of your experience as a Riley?

Having the opportunity to observe others' classes. Having time to get my dissertation publishable before beginning TT. Just being able to 'try out' a SLAC and decide if it was truly the type of school I wanted to be in.

What were some of the challenges you faced as a Riley? How did you navigate those challenges?

Not enough mentorship. Dean Cisneros was amazing but it wasn't his job to mentor us. I was kind of feeling my way through the post-doc experience as best I could.

What advice do you have for people considering applying to the CFD?

I tell people to apply no matter what. It doesn't take long and it can't hurt. I tell them to craft a profile that demonstrates the breadth of their abilities so that they are the most marketable as possible. I also tell them to emphasize any teaching experiences they may have had because the CFD is for SLACs.

What advice do you have for departments or programs considering hiring a Riley?

To only get a Riley if they truly have a long-term TT (or at least 3 year visitor) position available. Otherwise it feels like you are using them. I also suggest departments choose one faculty member to be the Riley's mentor or at least their point of contact.

What advice do you have for current Riley Scholars at Colorado College?

To make the most of the experience by getting as deeply involved at CC as possible. This will expand their professional networks and give them experiences for their CV. So, attend faculty meetings, apply for internal research support, go to conferences, watch others teach, develop new courses, co-teach, participate in department curricular activities, etc.

What advice do you have for programs or departments currently hosting Riley Scholars at CC?

The chairs of those departments should get together and collectively develop a plan to support the Riley scholars. Offer the Riley opportunities to meaningfully participate in department life. Co-teach with them their first block and develop the course with them. Let them develop their own course(s) as opposed to 'filling in' for someone else. Help them navigate the job market by reviewing their materials, writing letters of rec, etc. Facilitate professional introductions around campus and in your broader professional network.

What advice do you have for the college and universities currently hosting predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows through the CFD?

Be more intentional about supporting the fellows. One conference in September is not enough. There needs to be consistent PD, a clear on campus mentoring model, and some kind of longitudinal following. What happens to fellows when their fellowship ends? Schools need to also consider how the program fits within their institutional goals. How much are they willing to invest in the program? Why?

Report an issue - Last updated: 08/01/2022