Team Academy

4/30/2014: NMSU Teaching Academy director Tara Gray. (NMSU Photo)

Tara Gray, Ph.D., became the first director of the Teaching Academy in January 2003. She is also an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice, where she served for ten years after teaching economics for ten years and writing her dissertation on the question, “Do prisons pay?” Tara studies scholarly writing, teaching for active learning, directing effective teaching centers, and collaborative faculty development programs. She teaches collaborative short courses, including: Publish & Flourish; Promotion & Tenure Portfolios; and Team Mentoring for Faculty New to NMSU. She also sets the direction of the Academy in terms of programming; hosts a half dozen special events per year; builds spirit among Team Academy; manages the budget; and fundraises. Tara has won ten awards for teaching, scholarship and service both on campus and nationally. She has presented workshops to more than 10,000 educators in 120 venues, 35 states and in Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Tara’s work is her play, but she also treasures spending time with friends and family as well as teaching parenting to women at Doña Ana County Detention Center. You can reach Tara at 575.646.1013 or

profile picture of Morgan Iommi

Morgan Iommi, Ph.D., joined the Teaching Academy in 2018 as associate director for teaching and learning. She leads workshops and book groups that explore topics such as motivating students to enhance learning and principles for universal design. Morgan also assists faculty and staff in designing, developing, and delivering their own workshops on a variety of teaching and learning topics. Morgan comes to NMSU most recently from the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology at the University of Iowa, where she provided professional development for graduate students and post-docs. Morgan’s Ph.D. work was completed at The Ohio State University in communication studies, with a dissertation on motivational factors influencing instructor involvement in teaching development. She also earned a specialization in college and university teaching, while serving as a graduate teaching fellow who provided professional development for graduate students in The Ohio State School of Communication. If you have an idea for a workshop at the Teaching Academy, or a question about teaching and learning, you can reach Morgan at 575.646.1788 or

Shawn Werner, associate director for leadership and mentoring

Shawn Werner, M.A., joined the NMSU Teaching Academy in 2012 as associate director for leadership and mentoring. From 2008–2011, she worked as a program specialist for the NSF ADVANCE–PAID grant at NMSU. This grant disseminated the ADVANCE mentoring program, department head training program, and promotion and tenure workshops across the state. She is now responsible for continuing the work of ADVANCE at the Teaching Academy through the coordination of faculty leadership and mentoring programs: Advancing Leaders, the Department Head Academy, the one-on-one Mentoring Program, and Promotion and Tenure workshops. Shawn is a certified mediator, StrengthsFinder coach, and trainer in Crucial Conversations® and she facilitates meetings, workshops, book clubs, and team-building retreats for the Academy and other units. Shawn has also served as an adjunct instructor for the Department of Communication Studies at NMSU since 2006. Courses she has taught include organizational communication, small group communication, communication theory, persuasion and conflict management. When she is not spending time with her family, Shawn enjoys reading, writing, and watching live music. You can reach Shawn at 575.646.2583 or

Sandy Katayanagi, Administrative Assistant

Gail “Sandy” Katayanagi, B.A., started working as the administrative assistant for the Teaching Academy and Instructional Innovation and Quality in April 2015. Previously, she worked seven years for the Business and Information Systems Division at Doña Ana Community College. She earned her BA in radio and TV at San Francisco State when she was working for Levi Strauss and Company. Sandy performs the myriad unseen tasks that make events run smoothly and seem effortless. Sandy is an art aficionado and has an avid interest in music, photography and Aggie basketball. You can reach Sandy at 575.646.2204 or at