Dr. Kari Dockendorff (they/them) is a 2019 graduate of the PhD program in Educational Leadership and Policy, and an Assistant Professor in the Higher Education Leadership Program at Colorado State University. Kari is originally from Wisconsin and they did an undergraduate degree in Human Biology at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay and a masters degree in student affairs at the U of Utah. Kari has worked in housing, first year experiences, and academic advising. They started pursuing their PhD while working full-time in the school of business at the U and chose the program at the U because they were, “excited about who the faculty were” as the ELP program continued to grow and develop.
After more than one faculty member in ELP recognized Kari’s interest in and ability to engage in high-quality research, the faculty encouraged Kari to consider pursuing their PhD full-time. Kari said, “I started meeting with Erin and started having ideas about what I wanted to study and that was the first time someone suggested to me that I consider being full-time. I never thought that was possible before for me.” Faculty in the Department found funding to support Kari as a full-time doc student, and as Kari recalls, “Erin kept showing me things and mentoring me and faculty became something I wanted to do and something I could do.” As a first-generation college student, having faculty see Kari’s potential certainly propelled them forward on their research journey.
As a student, Kari had the opportunity to work as a research and teaching assistant with Drs. Erin Castro, Amy Bergerson, Irene Yoon, and Chris Linder; additionally, Kari participated on some of Dr. Jason Taylor’s research teams and served as a TA for his quantitative research course. Kari’s experiences in each of these roles prepared them to become a faculty member in a higher education program and Kari says, “these experiences showed me that I really like research and I got access to both qual and quant research.”
Currently, Kari’s research focuses on gender and sexuality equity, specifically focusing on trans student experience on campus. For their dissertation research, Kari developed a scale that measures trans inclusivity through examining the attitudes, behavior, and knowledge of campus staff. Through their research, Kari hopes to shape policy and training for staff related to trans student identity, ultimately providing better access to higher education for trans students. Additionally, Kari is working on a gender measurement scale, creating better ways to measure gender beyond a binary categorical measure.
In addition to being a new faculty member, Kari and their wife Kelsey are parents to a newborn, Bennett, who keeps them busy and grounded. For fun, Kari and Kelsey like to explore their new home in Colorado through hiking and Kari also enjoys running, biking, and reading.
Thank you for sharing part of your journey with us, Kari, and keep up the good work in CO! We appreciate you!