President’s Commission on the Status of Women Celebrate Six UHart Women

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the President’s Commission the Status of Women (PCSW) is featuring Women of UHart in recognition of their contributions to the University of Hartford.

It is the hope of the PCSW that this will be the first of many years in which Women of UHart are highlighted in this series. 

2024 Nominees

Torshia Maxwell
Executive Director, Student Engagement and Inclusion  

Torisha MaxwellOne thing Torshia loves about and/or has contributed to UHart: In a world rife with inequalities, conflicts, and environmental challenges, the quest for solutions often leads us to the transformative power of education. The assertion that "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world," attributed to Nelson Mandela, encapsulates the profound impact that education can have on our collective societies.  I strived to live a life that exemplifies excellence and commitment to education. I consider the Office of Student Engagement and Inclusion (OSEI) at the University of Hartford a notable part of my professional impact and legacy. It was a part of my vision to merge five different offices, with the goal of providing students with a seamless synergistic experience. All our work filtered through four foundational pillars DEIJB, Well-Being, Leadership Development, and Citizenship. The OSEI boldly supports and advocates for the comprehensiveness of a diverse community by creating and managing inclusive spaces and equitable systems that unapologetically challenge the status quo. This framework has supported an environment that fosters a true sense of belonging.  Through the empowerment of our students, this work holds unparalleled potential to craft a future that is more equitable, prosperous, and harmonious.  

Clara Fang, Ph.D.
Professor in Civil Engineering; Chair, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Biomedical Engineering; Director, Civil Engineering program 

Clara Fang, Ph.D.One thing Clara loves about and/or has contributed to UHart: One thing I deeply cherish about my time at the University of Hartford is the opportunity to work with a diverse array of students on various projects and research initiatives. Through both internal and externally state & federal funded grants, I have been able to engage students in meaningful ways. I am particularly passionate about promoting undergraduate student research, believing that hands-on experience greatly enhances their academic and professional growth. Witnessing students learn and apply advanced skills in Artificial Intelligence (AI), computer modeling simulation, alongside their classroom knowledge, to real-world challenges is truly rewarding and gratifying. It not only helps the students develop crucial skills but also enables them to make tangible contributions to their field and the world. 

Lesley Muchnick
Senior Student Success Specialist, Center for Student Success

Lesley MuchnickOne thing Lesley loves about and/or has contributed to UHart: I love that UHart is a welcoming learning environment for all, regardless of who you are; what your academic interests and goals are. With all the educational and development opportunities presented, everyone has the chance to grow intellectually, emotionally, and professionally. You can find a niche at UHart while finding a supportive network. 


Sheetal Sood, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Special Education; Co-Leader (Department of Education); Director of Undergraduate and Graduate Special Education Programs (Department of Education); Associate Dean for Assessment, Faculty Development, Special Projects (ENHP); Director of Graduate Student Experience (Provost Office) 

Sheetal Sood, Ph.D.    One thing Sheetal loves about and/or has contributed to UHart: My time at the University of Hartford has been an enriching journey, enabling me to forge meaningful connections with students. The role of guiding students as a mentor and eventually evolving into colleagues has been a source of continual motivation for me. Additionally, the university has provided a supportive environment for professional development. It has offered opportunities for continuous learning, encouraged innovation in my field, and facilitated my growth as a professional. This blend of building meaningful connections and fostering professional advancement has been central to my experience at the university. 

Tee Merced
Assistant Director of Diverse Populations and First-Year Advisor

Tee MercedOne thing Tee loves about and/or has contributed to UHart: The one thing I really love about UHart is our Community. I’ve surrounded myself with students from different backgrounds, ethnicities, races, ages, and the one thing we all have in common is the love for our community. It’s truly something to admire. Whether it comes from our staff, faculty, or our amazing students the community of UHart is something to really be proud of. 


Joyce Ashuntantang, Ph.D.
Professor of English, Hillyer College (Focus: Literature of Africa and the African Diaspora) 

Joyce Ashuntantang, Ph.D.One thing Joyce loves about and/or has contributed to UHart: Beyond teaching at the university, I have contributed to building leadership and confidence in women by volunteering as a presenter for WAI's Laura Johnson Leadership and LEAD programs.