About the Equity Advocate Program

The Equity Advocate Program at MSU is meant to enrich the network of resources that are available to MSU faculty and staff by recognizing the already committed and caring personnel across campus as resources for others.

Equity Advocate Sheild

Equity advocates serve the campus community by contributing to the institutional transformation of MSU by promoting and enhancing fairness, equality, and inclusiveness for all faculty and staff.

  • An Equity Advocate should value and promote diversity, possess good listening and communication skills, and be available for training and commit to the position for at least one year.
  • This position provides a rich networking opportunity for faculty and staff, and is viewed as highly valuable service by the Provost and all Deans.
  • All full time employees (Tenure Track, Non Tenure Track, and Staff) are qualified to serve as Equity Advocates.

Equity Advocates are available to:

  • Talk with people about their equity concerns and experiences in an informal, non-judgmental setting
  • Promote the values of inclusion and diversity embodied in the President's Commission on the Status of University Women, the MSU Strategic Plan, and the ADVANCE Project TRACS.

Responsibilities may include:

  • Being accessible for people who may need a sympathetic ear to talk about experiences in an informal, non-judgmental setting—analogous to the “safe zone” members available to LGBTQ campus community.
  • Attending 1-2 faculty search committee orientation meetings with HR, if needed.
  • Helping departments with few women or minorities put together more diverse search and Promotion & Tenure committees and recruit and retain diverse faculty
  • Promote the values of inclusion and diversity embodied in the President’s Commission on the Status of University Women, MSU Strategic Plan, and the ADVANCE Project TRACS
  • Be informed on equity related policies, procedures, and resources on campus 

 Past Equity Advocates are able to: 

  • Support colleagues who may reach out to them on a one on one basis
  • Assist their home departments when needed 
  • Serve on search or P&T committees when called upon

Meet the Past Equity Advocates:

Allison Banfield

Allison Banfield 

System Administrator
Electrical & Computer Engineering
629 Cobleigh Hall

Allison Banfield currently serves as the System Administrator for Electrical Engineering and Civil Engineering in the College of Engineering. She has worked at Montana State University for 26 years. Allison is an 1995 alumni of MSU with a Master's degree in Computer Science. Allison is also the First Robotics Operational Partner for the state of Montana. This involves hosting a state wide Championship each year for First Lego League and First Tech Challenge. Middle School and High School teams from around the state compete in the tournament. 

Anne Bertagnolli

Ann Bertagnolli

Program Coordinator
Montana INBRE
AJM Johnson 211

Ann Bertagnolli received her PhD in English from Ohio State University and has focused her career on teaching, administration, and evaluation of programs. While at Ohio State University, in the position of Program Review Administrator through the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, she coordinated program reviews among the departments, colleges, and upper administration and negotiated Memoranda of Understanding for key participants. She served as Chair of the Department of Languages and Literature at Carroll College (Helena MT) and Interim Director of the University Honors Program at Montana State University, and currently serves at the Program Coordinator for the MT INBRE program, where she has been for 12 years. She is experienced in developing networks and facilitating their continued growth and success and has been associated with the biomedical sciences, either through her administrative positions or work as an editor, for most of her career. In her current position, she also mentors faculty and students in developing research projects and programs.

Ado Giusti

Ada Giusti

Modern Languages & Literatures
Gaines 117B

Ada Giusti is Professor of French & Francophone Studies in the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures. She teaches courses that span the entire French curriculum. Her research interests include service learning, and Contemporary French Civilization (immigration, poverty, French NGOs).


Megan Higgs

Megan Higgs 

Assistant Professor
Mathematical Sciences
Wilson 2-242

Megan Higgs has been an Assistant Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematical Sciences since 2008. As a statistician, she values interdisciplinary work with other researchers and focuses on the application of statistical inference to ecological and environmental problems. She collaborates with fellow faculty members, federal and state agencies, and graduate students from various departments, and her teaching reaches students from around campus. She is an undergraduate alumni of Montana State University and is happy to again be part of the land grant institution of her home state.

Andrea Litt

Andrea R. Litt

Assistant Professor
Lewis Hall 303

Andrea Litt is an assistant professor in the Ecology Department and her primary research interests include quantifying responses of animals to human activities and disturbance and exploring the mechanisms of those responses to develop tools for restoration. She and her students strive to collect information that can be used to develop practical solutions to ecological problems and to guide policy and management.


Jeni Luft

Jeni Luft

Materials & Purchasing Manager
Facilities Services
Campus Stores
Jeni Luft is the Purchasing & Materials Manager for Facilities Services. She was raised in Havre, MT and graduated from MSU-Northern with a Bachelors degree in Business. Before coming to MSU Bozeman and accepting the position of Purchasing & Materials Manager at Facilities Services in 2012, she was the Bookstore Director at Montana Tech for 12 years. Currently she is on the MSU 2015 RMA APPA Annual Meeting Committee which will be hosting the meeting at Big Sky in 2015. Jen enjoys traveling, gardening and spending time with family & friends.


Laura Stanley

Laura Stanley

Assistant Professor
Mechanical & Industrial Engineering          
302 Roberts

Laura Stanley, received her B.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech and her M.S. and Ph.D. from Montana State University in Industrial Engineering. Her research interests include human factors in transportation safety, biomechanics, sustainability, and engineering education. She mentors graduate and undergraduate students in her human factors engineering lab and is a strong proponent for the undergraduate research experience via MSU's Undergraduate Scholars Program, McNair Scholars Program, and the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Program. Additionally, she is a strong proponent for the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in engineering. She enjoys skiing, mountain biking, fly fishing, photography, restoring vintage motorcycles, and traveling.


Denbigh Starkey

Denbigh Starkey

Professor Emeritus
Computer Science
Call to arrange a meeting
586-7614 (home) 
570-4252 (cell)
Denbigh Starkey received his BA at Merton College and his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania before coming to MSU to teach in Computer Science. His academic interests include computer graphics and scientific visualization. Though now retired, Dr. Starkey stays involved at MSU and continues to be an avid outdoorsman. He loves fishing and skiing and backpacking in the State's beautiful National Parks. 



Shannon Willoughby

Shannon Willoughby

Assistant Professor
EPS 224
Shannon Willoughby has been doing Physics and Astronomy Education Research at MSU for 8 years. In addition to teaching Mysteries of the Sky and lower level Physics courses, she also enjoys hiking, biking, fishing and camping with her family.