The 4D Team
The University of Denver 4D team, supported by a unique partnership of executive leadership in student affairs, academic affairs and career and professional development, develops and operationalizes strategic goals designed to enhance the 4D Experience at DU. They do so in three critical ways. First, by educating the DU community and offering consultations to raise awareness, increase dialogue and elevate practice around the 4D model of holistic student development. Second, by building creative capacity to support and generate innovative approaches to embedding and amplifying the 4D experience. And third, by engaging the community through strategic initiatives and programming, in close collaboration with campus partners, to ensure that the DU experience is the 4D Experience.
If you have questions about the 4D Experience, or want to know how to get involved, the 4D team invites you to reach out.
Laura Perille, Ph.D.
4D Executive Director
Laura Perille, PhD, provides strategic leadership for the development and operationalization of the university-wide 4D model and experience centered on holistic learning and development. She brings to this role deep experience designing and overseeing high-impact, co-curricular programs. Previously, Laura served as associate director of the Center for Research and Fellowships at Georgetown University, where she guided undergraduate students, graduate students and alumni in reflecting on and integrating their learning, deepening their expertise and telling their stories. Prior to Georgetown, she worked as an associate with the Office of National Fellowships and the Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research at the University of New Hampshire. She holds a PhD and AM in history from Brown University, where she was a Peter Green Doctoral Scholar and Brown/Wheaton Faculty Fellow. She has participated in special institutes through the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Folger Shakespeare Library.
4D Director of Experiential Learning
Audrey Townsend has many years of experience conducting research on internationalization at home and study abroad programming in higher education. In addition to her work on the 4D team, she is an adjunct instructor in the Office of Internationalization and Living and Learning Communities and is currently pursuing her doctorate in higher education with a cognate in internationalization at the University of Denver. She received her BA in International Studies and BS in Natural Resources Recreation and Tourism from Colorado State University and her master's degree in higher education with a focus on student affairs and administration from the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver.
Erin Willer, Ph.D.
4D Director of Faculty Innovation; Professor, Communication Studies
Dr. Willer’s work is guided by two questions: 1) how do grievers narrate their lives against the backdrop of complex systems of power? and 2) how can we engage storytelling, art, and embodied practices to cultivate well-being, communication, creativity, compassion, and community in the face of illness, death, and loss? Erin teaches several courses at DU, including Communicating Grief and Loss; Communication, Compassion, and Craftivism; Visual Narratives of Women’s Health; and Running as Feminist Embodiment. She has served in several administrative positions, including the Communication Studies Director of Graduate Studies and Graduate Teaching Instructors, as well as the Faculty Director of the Wellness Living and Learning Community. Dr. Willer has been honored with several research and teaching awards, including the 2016 DU Center for Community Engagement to Advance Scholarship and Learning’s (CCESL) Service-Learning Faculty of the Year Award, the 2018 Journal of Family Communication Article of the Year Award, and the 2020 Western States Communication Association’s Distinguished Teacher Award.
Nathan Willers, EdD
Director of Communications, 4D Experience
Dr. Willers ('22) has worked in higher education and nonprofit communications and marketing leadership for more than 15 years. Skilled at connecting people, relationships, and strategic initiatives, his work and professional interests include authenticity in higher education communication, public fiscal policy, staff engagement and retention, and connecting student experiences to institutional mission. Nathan has worked at DU since 2017 and held previous roles at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts and the College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics. He served as president of the previous Staff Advisory Council and currently serves as the president of the Staff Senate (pro tem). He earned his doctorate in education from DU's Morgridge College of Education in 2022.
Associate Director, 4D Mentoring & Planning
Sam Anderson-Lehman has diverse experiences across a variety of higher education fields, including campus activities, housing, orientation, career/academic advising, and student leadership. These experiences help him to bring a holistic approach to building an engaging campus environment. He has worked across a variety of institutions in the Front Fange area as well, spanning private, public, four-year, and community college. Across all of his experiences, he has sought to empower students with the skills, knowledge, and abilities to be able to chart their own path through higher education and beyond. He received his BA in Gender and Women’s Studies and MA in Higher Education with a focus on diversity in higher learning at the University of Denver.
Kateri McRae, Ph.D.
4D Faculty Fellow of Well-Being; Professor, Psychology
Dr. McRae is an affective scientist who studies emotion regulation - how we're able to control (and how we're not able to control) our emotions. To do this, she uses a variety of methods - questionnaires, laboratory tasks, peripheral physiology, and brain imaging - to examine what works and what doesn't to change emotion in the body and the brain. Dr. McRae has been deeply involved in Student Success efforts at DU since 2019 and is excited to integrate her scholarship around emotion and resilience with other aspects of well-being to support more dimensions of student success at DU.
Kara Taczak, Ph.D.
4D Faculty Fellow of Reflection; Teaching Professor, University Writing Program
Dr. Taczak is a teacher and scholar and the current co-editor of Composition Studies. Her award-winning research centers on composition theory, pedagogy, and curriculum, specifically focusing on reflection and teaching for transfer. The first-year writing curriculum, Teaching for Transfer (TFT), has been adapted at multiple institutions across the country and internationally. The book, which outlines the curriculum, Writing across Contexts: Transfer, Composition, and Sites of Writing received the 2015 Conference on College, Composition, Communication Research Impact Award, and the 2016 Council of Writing Program Administrators Best Book Award. This research has been supported by multiple national grants and several faculty research grants from DU. In response to this research, she has been asked to give keynote addresses and lead faculty workshops at institutions across the country and internationally. As the 4D Faculty Fellow of Reflection, she hopes to bring what she has learned from her research on transfer and reflection into helping elevate conversations and understandings about reflection at DU.
Cris Tietsort, Ph.D.
4D Faculty Fellow of Character; Assistant Professor, Communication Studies
The heart of Dr. Tietsort’s research centers on how we can strengthen human connection. For him, this has led to research on empathy and compassion in personal and organizational contexts. Much of his research has examined the contextual factors that limit or constrain compassion, such as how organizational discourses impact whether or not people receive compassion at work. He is also very interested in how it is that we can cultivate empathic and compassionate abilities as well, such as pedagogical theories that help people *become* more empathic as opposed to just understanding what empathy is. In his role as 4D Faculty Fellow of Character, he hopes to partner with other faculty to think critically about the ways we are equipping our students with enduring qualities and commitments - like empathy and compassion - that will support their ability to live lives of purpose and work for the public good.