Attendees clap at the Roadrunners Who Soar ceremonyMetropolitan State University of Denver’s best and brightest faculty and staff members sparkled at the fifth annual Roadrunners Who Soar Awards ceremony on April 4. The event celebrated more than 70 employees from across the University who inspire their students and colleagues and embody the event’s “gems of inspiration” theme. 

“Like diamonds, rubies or emeralds, our faculty, staff and student-employees are rare, multi-faceted and they reflect brilliance,” said emcee Laz Tomdio, nursing student, in his opening remarks. “They are shining examples of MSU Denver’s CADRE values.” 

President Janine Davidson presented several of the evening’s top honors, including the 2024 President’s Leadership Award, which went to Marie Mora, Ph.D., for her service as provost ad interim and her ongoing work as deputy provost.  

“Marie was not expecting to step in the role of interim provost just six months into her tenure; regardless, she did so with skill and grace,” Davidson said. “Her inclusive and measured leadership approach helped guide MSU Denver through some very challenging times.” 

Davidson also presented the President’s Distinguished Service Award to three long-time staff members, who together have contributed nearly 65 years to the University: 

  • Martina Grasse, senior assistant to the chair and office manager, Department of Psychological Sciences 
  • Ladonna Hunt-Hiatt, budget analyst, Office of the Budget 
  • Mary Kay McCue, office administrator, Department of Physics 
MSU Denver President Janine Davidson, Ph.D.

“These administrative aces are not usually in the spotlight, because their work happens largely behind the scenes,” Davidson said, noting how each awardee has gone above and beyond to support their teams. “All the more reason they should be celebrated here tonight. 

A group of people pose after winning an award at the Roadrunners Who Soar ceremony.The biggest surprises of the night, however, were the Soar Awards and Team Roadrunner Awards, the only categories in which winners are kept carefully under wraps. Soar Awards are reserved for faculty and staff members who according to Davidson, talk the Roadrunner talk and walk the Roadrunner walk. 

This year’s honors went to: 

  • Steve Galpern, Senior Director of Development for University Advancement 
  • Meredith Jeffers, Ph.D., director of Strategy 
  • Chalane Lechuga, Ph.D., professor of Chicana/o/e Studies and director of Faculty Diversity Research and Development 
  • Michala Stock, Ph.D., director of MSU Denver’s Human Identification Lab 
  • Kristy Duran, Ph.D., Faculty Director of Undergraduate Research 

Rowdy the mascot poses with a group of people recognized at the Roadrunners Who SoarThe Office of Clinical Experiences and Partnerships team of Bryan Bohanan, Ph.D., director and clinical experience coordinators Meghan MacNeil and Andrea Barber, took home the first Team Roadrunner Award for their work to annually place over 800 field experience students and 200 K-12 student teachers (all within the first two weeks of the semester). 

The College of Health and Human Sciences and the College of Aerospace, Computing, Engineering and Design advising teams accepted the second Team Roadrunner award for their outstanding contributions, including completing 2,791 unique student appointments in the past year. 

The event is managed by the Human Resources and University Events teams, with support from the Office of the President and numerous partners and volunteers across campus. Watch the Roadrunners Who Soar webpage for the full video recording of the event and a complete list of winners.