Contreras Named Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, Diversity, and Inclusion

June 15, 2016

Sheila Marie Contreras has been named Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, Diversity, and Inclusion, effective August 16, 2016.

In this expanded position, she will assume the responsibilities of Fred Rauscher, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, who is stepping down to return to the Department of Philosophy to focus on research and teaching. Contreras also will continue the work she is doing in her current position as Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement.

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“To embody the core value of inclusiveness, Sheila understands that we must invest resources and articulate priorities at all levels of the academic mission – curriculum, faculty, and culture  – because excellence does not exist without diversity,” said College of Arts & Letters Dean Christopher P. Long. “We best live out our land-grant mission through inclusive engagement.”

An Associate Professor in the Department of English, Contreras was Director of Michigan State University’s Chicano/Latino Studies Program for seven years. Her research and teaching interests are in Chicana/o and U.S. Latin@ literature, multiethnic literatures, comparative indigeneities, and Women's and Gender Studies.

“Curriculum should be at the heart of all efforts to advance diversity and inclusion in higher education,” Contreras said. “The College of Arts & Letters is an established MSU leader in the development of inclusive curricula, and it is my privilege to join the incredible team of folks working in CAL undergraduate education.

“My experience in interdisciplinary curriculum development and implementation has prepared me well to help meet the challenges and goals that lay before us as a College. Over the last year in the Dean’s office, I have been inspired by and benefitted from regular contact with the broader community of my CAL faculty colleagues, and I’m excited to begin these new conversations with them.”

Contreras teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the Department of English, Chicano/Latino Studies, and Women's Studies. She has written a foundational text in the study of Chican@ indigeneity, Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism and Chicana/o Literature, and currently is working on a project at the intersection of Chican@ and Indigenous Studies that will further develop this important and emerging area.

Rauscher has served as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education since 2014.

“He has done a great job as Associate Dean,” Long said, “and his accomplishments have advanced the quality of the undergraduate experience in the College of Arts & Letters.”

Among other things, during his tenure as Associate Dean, Rauscher created the new Classical and Ancient Mediterranean Studies minor, revised the Interdisciplinary Humanities and Humanities Prelaw majors, shaped the College’s involvement in the University's undergraduate entrepreneurship initiative, played a leadership role in creating courses for the Citizen Scholars program, and guided the curriculum launch of the new Graphic Design major and the new Comic Art and Graphic Novels minor.