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IRC Task Force Completes Report, Requests Pay Increases, Improved Job Security

May 12, 2022

The IRC Task Force, commissioned at the start of the academic year by Provost Constancio Nakuma, has completed its report and focused on three areas for improving the climate for Instructional, Research, and Clinical faculty: Salary/Pay and Benefits; Job Security and Protections; and Recognition and Support.

The 15-member task force, whose membership includes instructors, assistant deans and campus leadership representatives, met with Nakuma and Chancellor Michelle Marks on May 6 to share findings and to gauge which recommendations may be put into action in the coming academic year.

“We are on the same page,” Nakuma said at the meeting. “We are not on opposite sides of this issue. We want our IRC faculty to feel welcome here.”

IRC faculty make up more than 63 percent of CU Denver’s 1,023 faculty members and “every one of them deserves to be seen, heard, and valued,” said Elizabeth Pugliano, PhD, instructor of art history. The task force report seeks to create a culture where all faculty are called just that and not referred to as two separate groups of tenure/tenure-track faculty and “non-tenure track faculty.” Furthermore, task force members said, IRC faculty want department voting rights just like their tenure/tenure-track colleagues. 

“Shifting the language used in everything from official documents to casual reference fosters sameness and connection and subtly reminds the entire campus community that we are scholars, creatives, and educators all contributing to the same goals and mission,” according to the report.

The task force’s other recommendations include:

  • Equalizing faculty pay ranges within ranks across title series and within disciplines
  • Compensating lecturers on a sliding scale if courses are canceled within one to four weeks before the semester start, to recognize effort expended to that point
  • Providing professional development funds for IRC faculty
  • Creating multi-year contracts for IRC faculty desiring such arrangements, to improve job stability

Such contracts “provide us with job security and academic freedom,” said Vivian Shyu, PhD, an associate professor, clinical teaching track, in the Psychology Department. “It goes both ways, too. We get the job security and the university gets to keep talented faculty for multiple years.” 

Nakuma was receptive to the task force’s findings and said they are in line with Strategic Plan Goal 5, being a people-centered best place to work. Some task force recommendations can be implemented by the fall semester, the provost said, while others will take time and budgetary resources.

“I was blown away by the quality of this report,” he told the task force. “You addressed every aspect of everything we wanted to know. The real work is ahead of us.”

Nakuma told the group that salary increases occurred for IRC faculty, including lecturers, this past January and will again in the upcoming fiscal year. Going forward, lecturers’ salaries will also be included in the Board of Regents merit pool discussion. A compensation equity study is underway, with a representative from the University of Colorado Denver Association of Lecturers and Instructors (UCDALI) serving on the study committee. Nakuma and Chancellor Marks also agreed to the concept of multi-year contracts and said other recommendations would be feasible, too.  

“We take this report very seriously,” Marks said. “We wish we could make this happen tomorrow, but it will take some time. We want this report to be a roadmap to the future.”