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Multi-Year Academic Transformation Project Making Strong Progress 

March 12, 2024

How should CU Denver’s core curriculum, course schedules, and modalities evolve, as tendencies shift for how we live, learn, and work? Can we better ensure healthy and equitable faculty workloads, while increasing our effectiveness in helping students succeed?    

These are among important questions that CU Denver’s Academic Transformation initiative is addressing through an ambitious and inclusive multiyear community effort, led by the Office of the Provost, to explore potential evolutions on several topics related to academic operations. 

“This project is CU Denver’s opportunity to engage its community in thinking about ways to be innovative and sustainable, and to support the institution moving forward—in making sure that we’re treating people fairly, and that we’re connecting with students around issues that matter to them,” said Richard Allen, PhD, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences senior associate dean for academic and strategic planning, and Academic Transformation steering committee co-chair. 

The initiative aligns with CU Denver goals of ensuring equity, curriculum accessibility and relevance, and being a best place to work, within a framework of operational sustainability. 

Since soon after Provost Constancio Nakuma introduced the Academic Transformation initiative in September 2023, four working groups—involving more than 70 faculty, staff, and students, representing each school and college and most major CU Denver units—have been meeting to explore these topics:  

Group members and detailed charges can be found on webpages linked from titles above.  

So far, working groups have assessed data and other information from CU Denver and peer institutions. They have collected and reviewed relevant policies on each topic’s purview and are working to align on topic-specific recommendations they will make. In April, working groups will submit progress updates to Provost Nakuma that detail work to date and anticipated next steps.  

Due to the varied scopes and complexities of topics under review, final deliverable timelines will vary for each working group. By the end of April, some groups may have preliminary recommendations ready for consideration and community discussion during the 2024–25 academic year. Other groups will continue meeting into the next academic year to develop recommendations.  

Starting in fall 2024, there will be multiple opportunities for campuswide engagement and dialogue about the project and preliminary recommendations, Allen said, some of which may occur in a town hall or similar format.  

While some evolutions based on Academic Transformation recommendations may begin as soon as fall 2025, none will move forward without opportunities for constituent dialogue and consideration of CU Denver community feedback.  

Working group recommendation scopes will likely be macro in nature. For example, the groups will not recommend a specific course be added to the core curriculum nor a specific program for review. Rather, their recommendations may reflect the development of a framework or shared principles to guide implementation by appropriate administrators and faculty, including shared governance entities such as Faculty Assembly and Staff Council.  

“The working groups are not being asked to make these kinds of [granular] decisions,” said Beth Myers, PhD, associate vice chancellor for academic planning and institutional effectiveness, and Academic Transformation steering committee co-chair. “They’re being asked, ‘As a community, how do we want to think about those kinds of issues?’”  

Provost Nakuma will provide a community update on the Academic Transformation project after working group progress updates are delivered in April. 

While considering change on a broad scale can be daunting, Allen said that as working groups have progressed through their meetings, he has been highly encouraged by the collaborative tone of the dialogues. “It’s become clear that there is community ownership of this process,” he said. “That’s been healthy, and it’s moved us toward creativity and innovation. I think we’re going to have an end result that the community feels really good about.”