Faculty Fellows

ITLP draws upon the expertise of current faculty to disseminate innovative and inclusive practices across the system, including teaching first-generation college students and creating equitable teaching environments.

Student Mental Health and Wellbeing

In spring 2020, Professors Bonnie Gasior, Ph.D., and Darci Strother, Ph.D., planned to offer Mental Health First Aid workshops for faculty on several CSU campuses. When the CSU transitioned to remote teaching and learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they developed two webinars to prepare faculty, as well as student support professionals, to become virtual mental health allies.

​Now that the National Council for Behavioral Health has converted MHFA certification for online delivery, Dr. Gasior and Dr. Strother are offering the training to faculty across the CSU.​​

Bonnie Gasior, Ph.D. 

Bonnie Gasior, Ph.D.

Professor of Spanish
Interim Director, University Honors Program
CSU Long Beach

Dr. Gasior's experience as a Spanish Professor and her ten-year term as undergraduate advisor in her department prompted her to reframe mental health as an extension—if not significant determiner of—of student success. A graduate of CSULB's President's and Provost's Leadership Fellows Program, in which fellows collaborate across divisions to realize campus-impacting projects, Dr. Gasior has since been able to empower faculty as mental health first aiders, serve students in academically adjacent ways and ultimately advocate for a scaffolding approach to addressing students' mental health issues. She currently serves on CSULB's Mental Health Advisory Committee and hopes to embark on new research that involves student mental wellness as it relates to the University Honors Program in her position as Interim Director.

Dr. Gasior is a first-generation college student originally from Pittsburgh, PA and a former Division-I athlete. She earned her MA and PhD in Spanish Literature from Purdue University and recently published two articles (2019), one in Laberinto Journal (“Women's Mental Health Advocacy in Lars and the Real Girl and the Don Quixote Connection" and the other in Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America (“La locura como crítica social: reexaminando el cuento del loco de Sevilla (Don Quijote II.1)", that explore mental health issues in early modern Spanish literature.​​


Darci Strother, Ph.D. 

Darci Strother, Ph.D.

Professor of Spanish
​CSU San Marcos

Dr. Strother is honored to serve as a Faculty Fellow for Mental Health First Aid.  Following an undergraduate career as a double major in Psychology and Spanish (UPenn), and several years working in the mental health field, Dr. Strother pursued Spanish as the primary discipline for her MA and PhD degrees (UC Irvine), and has taught in the Modern Language Studies Department at CSUSM since 1993. She also serves as the Vice President for the CSU World Language Council.  Her time as a department chair and as an ongoing faculty mentor convinced her that she needed more tools in her skill-set to support student success, and that knowing how to address her students' mental health needs better would make her a more effective educator.

Dr. Strother recently designed and taught a course called Literatura y salud mental (Literature and Mental Health), and directed a Faculty Learning Community at CSU San Marcos on the topic of Mental Health First Aid.  During Spring 2020, she will provide MHFA trainings both in the CSU and at UCSD.  She will also deliver a paper at the Annual Symposium of the Association for Hispanic Classical Theatre titled: “Lope's Los locos de Valencia and Student Mental Health: Pedagogical Possibilities," and is delighted to co-present on student mental health with Faculty Fellow Dr. Bonnie Gasior at the 2020 On Course National Conference.​

Teaching First-Generation College Students

Professors Maria Estela Zarate, Ph.D., and Rebecca Gutierrez Keeton, Ph.D., have developed an online seminar on teaching first-generation college students by drawing on cultural strengths. In summer and fall 2019, 25 faculty from nine CSU campuses participated​ in the course.

In summer and fall 2020, as the CSU prepared to continue teaching in primarily virtual formats in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, another 60 faculty participated in the seminar, which emphasizes using digital tools to engage first-generation college students in any learning environment.

The seminar's strengths-based approach to promoting achievement and engagement was refined in two summer institutes offered by the Faculty Development Center at Cal State Fullerton. They were also invited to teach a pre-conference session at the NAPSA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education annual conference.

Maria Estela Zarate, Ph.D. 

Maria Estela Zarate, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Educational Leadership
Coordinator, Preliminary Administrative Services Credential Program
​California State University, Fullerton

Dr. Zarate's research addresses the trajectory of immigrant students in U.S. schools, including the education of English language learners and the connections between schools and families. She has also examined issues influencing college access and persistence for first-generation college students and students of color, including academic preparation and support. Overall, Zarate's work points to the role that educators and institutions play in determining students' success. In higher education contexts, faculty are a critical determinant of students' learning and engagement.

Rebecca Gutierrez Keeton, Ph.D. 

Rebecca Gutierrez Keeton, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Leadership
California State University, Fullerton

Dr. Keeton has dedicated her career to the California State University, having worked in student affairs for 26 years at Cal Poly Pomona. She now uses an equity and social justice lens to teach the next generation of student affairs professionals at Cal State Fullerton. She also coordinates the master's of science in higher education program that serves diverse cohorts of primarily underserved, first-generation, low-income students of color. The program has balanced gender representation and no statistically significant differences in graduation rates, based on gender or race.

Keeton's experiences and commitment to social justice inform her research agenda, which includes the persistence of underrepresented students and student affairs professionals in higher education and identity development work that honors intersectional identities. She earned a bachelor's in music education from Chapman University, a master's in student development from Azusa Pacific University, and a doctorate in higher education administration from the Claremont Graduate University.

​ Past Fellows

Fellow for Equitable Teaching Environments

In spring 2019, Marcella De Veaux, Ph.D., offered a workshop titled “Exploring Bias to Build Equity-Minded Learning Environments" on three CSU campuses. Created for Faculty Development at CSUN, the workshop creates a dynamic space for faculty to explore, through self-reflection and introspection, their own bias and learn strategies for creating equitable environments for learning in and beyond the classroom.

Maria Estela Zarate, Ph.D.  

​Marcella "Marcy" De Veaux, Ph.D.

Professor of Journalism
Director, Special Projects for Faculty Development
California State University, Northridge

As director of special projects for Faculty Development at CSUN, Dr. De Veaux facilitates the Institute for Transformative Teaching and Learning, which aims to close opportunity gaps among students by engaging faculty in self-reflection and professional learning about equity-minded practices. De Veaux is an ambassador for a variety of issues related to diversity, inclusion and cultural competence at CSUN: She serves on President Dianne Harrison's Commission on Inclusion and Diversity Initiatives; conducts a workshop based in the science of unconscious bias for university faculty and staff entitled “Rooting Out Unconscious Bias: How Do You See the World?"; and serves as chair of the Educational Equity Committee, whose projects include mentoring faculty through the retention, tenure and promotion process as an avenue to retaining educators of color.

De Veaux earned her doctorate in depth and liberation psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Depth psychology involves techniques for exploring motives that underlie conscious awareness. Psychologies of liberation emerged from depth psychology with a focus on ethnically diverse and indigenous communities. She also holds a master's in human resource management from Lesley College. Both degrees support her work addressing unconscious bias in the workplace.