Provost Constancio Nakuma

Five Takeaways from the IRC Faculty Task Force Roadmap

November 8, 2022

More than 60% of CU Denver’s 1,000+ faculty members are lecturers, instructional, research, and clinical faculty. While these faculty members’ employment structure and benefits fundamentally differ from those of tenured or tenure-track faculty, they are essential to the success of our students and growth of this university. A little over one year ago, an IRC Faculty Task Force was formed to address inequities and broadly improve the working conditions of these essential faculty members—not only to ensure their success, but also to uphold CU Denver’s commitment to its strategic goals of being an equity-serving institution and a best place to work.  

Below are five takeaways from this process and the recent release of the Provost’s 2022–25 Roadmap, which outlines the action plans for progress.  

1. CU Denver leadership acknowledges the concerns lecturers, instructional, research, and clinical faculty have expressed, and has pledged to work toward a more equitable and supportive academic environment.   

Following its formation in September 2021, the IRC Task Force assessed the policies and practices impacting working conditions for CU Denver’s lecturers, instructional, research, and clinical faculty. In May 2022, this Task Force submitted a report to Chancellor Michelle Marks and Provost Constancio Nakuma with two dozen recommendations for improvement that were organized around three categories: Pay and Benefits, Job Security and Protections, and Recognition and Professional Support.  

The challenges faced by these faculty members are not unique to CU Denver. Some conditions at the root of recommended changes are based on traditional academic practices and hierarchies, external policies, or multifaceted fiscal or operational factors. Many are ripe for revision, and all are worthy of consideration and exploration.  

2. With faculty input, CU Denver academic and administrative leaders developed a 2022–25 Roadmap for addressing these concerns.  

In an Oct. 28 email to all CU Denver faculty members, Provost Nakuma distributed the 2022–25 Roadmap. The publicly available Roadmap articulates the direction for resolving each IRC Task Force recommendation, partners who will contribute to it, and steps to be taken in each academic year, with complete implementation by mid-2025. “Addressing the IRC faculty concerns is our moral and institutional responsibility as a community,” Provost Nakuma wrote in his message. “The quality of teaching and learning at CU Denver significantly depends on IRC faculty’s knowledge, work, and engagement with students and the broader campus community.” 

Some changes will be implemented by the end of the 2022–23 academic year. These include the establishment of a professional development fund pool for IRC Faculty, the implementation of a Lecturer award for Excellence in Teaching, and an increase in use of multi-year contracts for eligible IRC faculty. The Roadmap also outlines current university initiatives that overlap with recommendations from the IRC Task Force Report. 

3. An inclusive process, committed to shared governance, will continue to drive the implementation of the Roadmap.  

Shared governance is the bedrock of CU Denver—the Provost’s 2022–25 Roadmap and communications highlight that point. Going forward, ongoing discussions with faculty members and other key constituents will guide Roadmap implementation work. Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Affairs Turan Kayaoglu will continue to play a central role in coordinating this collaboration and aligning the efforts stemming from the work of the IRC Task Force.  

To further enhance shared governance during Roadmap work specifically, new working groups or committees will be convened (including an Academic Operations Working Group), and existing ones may be asked to study and advise on select topics. Faculty Assembly and UCDALI will remain essential partners. 

4. Ensuring a culture of belonging for all faculty is not only a strategic imperative: it’s the right thing to do. 

The quality of teaching and learning at CU Denver significantly depends on all faculty’s knowledge, work, and engagement with students and the broader campus community. To achieve CU Denver’s 2030 Strategic Plan, especially our goals of being an equity-serving institution and a best place to work, the university must pursue new ways to create an inclusive and just environment while ensuring equitable structures, policies, and pathways are put into place.  

“In May, we said we wanted the initial IRC Task Force Report to be a roadmap to the future. Now, we have that roadmap, and our future is within reach,” Chancellor Marks said. “I sincerely thank the IRC Task Force, Provost Nakuma, AVC Kayaoglu, Faculty Assembly, UCDALI, our CU System partners, and each one of our CU Denver faculty members who participated in this shared process so that we can ensure our lecturers, instructors, research, and clinical faculty members feel valued for their contributions and rewarded for their hard work. Without them, the high-quality education, research, and service CU Denver provides would simply not be possible.” 

5. You’ll hear more about this at regular intervals.  

AVC Kayaoglu has committed to providing clear and consistent communication on this issue moving forward.  

Each semester for the next three years, Kayaoglu will provide a written report and answer questions about 2022–25 Roadmap action item progress. These reports will be shared publicly and posted—along with the initial IRC Task Force report, the 2022–25 Roadmap, and related information—on the Lecturer, Instructional, Research, and Clinical Faculty Task Force web page

“As we navigate through the Roadmap over the next three years, we will do so with transparency and accountability,” Kayaoglu said. “We will be available to address any questions on these action plans and hear feedback from both faculty and staff.”