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Winter Message 2019

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University of Denver

Letter  •

After six months of learning and listening across campus, one of my key observations is the strength of the University’s faculty and staff. I am delighted to work with faculty who are so dedicated to the teacher-scholar-practitioner model, who are doing both cutting edge basic research as well as research that is use-inspired solving vexing problems of our society, who are creating or performing art that delights all of us, and who are dedicated to making contributions to their professional society or to the University through their service work. I’m also pleased to get to know our talented staff, who work closely with faculty and provide a crucial network strengthening the entire University. 

For our faculty to be successful, they must receive meaningful and robust support. I am very aware that over the years, universities have increased faculty responsibilities beyond the traditional roles of teaching, research and service. Modern faculty responsibilities include assessment of learning, student engagement, student success, international service to their professional societies, sponsored research, and innovation. I am committed to cultivating an environment at DU where faculty may thrive. Contemporary recruitment strategies, programs and resources geared to retain talented faculty, support for their research and teaching development, career advancement opportunities and leadership training are all key to nurturing faculty members and their important work.

This is especially true for us as we strive to ensure DU is a model university for the 21st century. We have done admirable work in supporting faculty with a variety of programs and resources that are matrixed across the university. However, higher education is a competitive field. To continue recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty, we must enhance and expand the University’s traditional methods of faculty support. For example, we must consider tactics such as:

  • Providing a deep portfolio of career development opportunities;
  • Empowering and developing the next generation of faculty administrative leaders;
  • Celebrating faculty with a rich set of institutional awards and recognitions;
  • Creating and sustaining a welcoming and inclusive environment for faculty and staff;
  • Diversifying the faculty in an intentional and data-driven manner;
  • Supporting the scholarly, research, and creative work of faculty with seed grants;
  • Identifying resources to provide robust start-up funds for faculty;
  • Establishing a dual career program to recruit and retain faculty with the ‘2-body’ challenge;
  • Ensuring fair, equitable, and market-driven compensation practices;
  • Supporting faculty in the classroom with the latest research in pedagogy; and
  • Building international collaborations that enhance the international research aspirations of our faculty.

Chancellor Chopp and I are committed to taking our support for our faculty to a new level. And I’m pleased to share with you two initiatives that will help us make sure we are making the right contributions and growing in the right directions.

(1) The University has partnered with the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. COACHE is a research-practice consortium of peer institutions seeking to identify the drivers of faculty success and create an environment for faculty to do their best work. You can find more information about COACHE at its website.

A fundamental feature of COACHE is its Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey that is administered in 3-year cycles. This survey provides a deep understanding of faculty needs in areas such as the nature of work, resources, tenure and promotion, shared governance, and department engagement, quality and collegiality. The COACHE survey is completely compatible with the Modern Think survey, but it also goes much further in exploring faculty needs and providing actionable data from a faculty-centric perspective. The Office of the Provost, the Office of Teaching and Learning, and the DU Faculty Senate are partnering to support the administration of the 2019 COACHE survey this spring. Look for more information soon.

(2) Second, we will need a faculty leader who will focus on exactly this kind of support for faculty and have the time and resources to make this support a reality. We need someone dedicated to innovating with new ways to provide faculty support and work tirelessly to sustain a welcoming, accommodating, and intellectual culture and climate. It is for these reasons that I am adding the position of Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs to provide the overall campus leadership needed to sustain extraordinary faculty talent and enhance my office’s capability to support faculty in ways that matter to them and impact their quality of life on campus over their careers. Such a position is standard for many universities (such as Drexel, Emory, George Washington, Syracuse, and Tulane, to name a few), and, in many respects, is not a new position as DU has previously had an associate provost for faculty.

As I have come to appreciate, faculty leadership here on campus is terrific, so we will begin with an internal search immediately. Once hired, the person in this position will develop a 5-year plan to expand faculty support mechanisms and resources in order to achieve our vision for a world-class 21st-century faculty environment.

In addition to these two initiatives, I am also pleased to announce title changes to some staff in the Office of the Provost. These title changes bring my office more in line with standard nomenclature used by similar provosts’ offices and better reflect the contributions these positions make to the University.

Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Education Corinne Lengsfeld will now have the title Senior Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Education. In addition to her leadership roles of graduate education and research, Dr. Lengsfeld will also serve as a secondary point person for the Office of the Provost.

Senior Associate Provost for Academic Administration Linda Kosten will now have the title Vice Provost for University Budget, Planning and Administration. Working closely with me and Chancellor Chopp, Dr. Kosten has university-wide roles in budgeting, institutional research, and planning as well as serving as an administrative staff lead for academic affairs personnel.

Vice Provost for Academic Programs Jennifer Karas will now have the title Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. Dr. Karas is responsible for a broad range of academic affair topics including the Higher Learning Commission accreditation process, academic student success, and a range of university academic programming.

Chancellor Chopp and I are committed to making the University of Denver a vibrant, stimulating and intellectual community of learners. We understand that faculty are the backbone of a great university and believe the cultivation of faculty talent should remain a continuous, critical priority. In addition, we deeply appreciate the hard work and dedication of academic staff whose tireless efforts provide an essential foundation for faculty and students alike. The changes discussed here not only reflect our commitment to this rich community but also are in direct support of DU Impact 2025.

I look forward to more conversations as I continue to learn and listen.


Jeremy Haefner, Ph.D.

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor