Town Hall Addresses Faculty, Staff Concerns and Plans for Spring 2021

October 16, 2020

Roughly 390 faculty and staff attended an Oct. 13 virtual town hall to hear from campus leaders on pressing issues such as budget, academic and mental health resources, and what lies ahead. With the uncertain nature of the pandemic, the campus community can expect a similar spring 2021 semester at CU Denver. 

“We’re planning for the spring semester to look very much like this one, with a mix of four class formats aimed at enhancing flexibility for our students while reducing density on campus,” Chancellor Michelle Marks said, adding, “Thanks again to everyone who worked hard to figure out which courses should have which formats, and for getting the coding in place for the different formats by Nov 2.” Registration for spring semester classes opens on this date.  

Meet the Panelists

  • Michelle Marks, Chancellor
  • Rod Nairn, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs
  • Jennifer Sobanet, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance
  • Chris Puckett, Managing Associate University Counsel
  • Alana Jones, Interim Vice Provost/Senior Vice Chancellor for Student Success, Co-Chair, Safe Return Implementation Team
  • Paul Teske, Dean of the School of Public Affairs, Co-Chair, Safe Return Implementation Team

Marks kicked off the virtual event by sharing a list of updates with the campus community, touching on some silver linings of the new ways of teaching and learning, and recognizing the hard-hitting impacts of the pandemic. 

Marks expressed gratitude to the faculty and staff whose adjustments are improving the way students are served. The Center for Undergraduate Exploration & Advising, for example, extended advising hours into the evening to better accommodates student schedules. In a new Student Course Assistant program, 61 CU Denver students are providing technical support for over 150 Zoom classes courses serving roughly 7,500 students. More than 200 people are taking advantage of free virtual fitness classes offered by the Student Wellness Center this semester. The list goes on. 

On the other hand, Marks recognized the ongoing challenges the campus community faces: the difficulties of working from home, work-life balance, increased anxiety and depression, budget cuts. The graduated furlough plan will remain unchanged for the remainder of this fiscal year (through June 30), but no additional budget cuts are anticipated, she said. 

As for mental health, Marks acknowledged that no one is immune to the emotional toll of 2020—the pandemic, economic hardships, the racial justice movement, an upcoming election— and encouraged everyone in the CU Denver community to support each other. 

“We are working on ways to bring more services and support to campus,” Marks said.  “I ask that each of you do something to make connections and remind each other that we’re not alone.”

During the town hall, panelists answered questions submitted by faculty and staff on topics of research, salaries, work formats, grading policies, teaching and learning resources, retirement, tenure track, and more. If you were unable to attend the virtual event, we encourage all faculty and staff to watch the video for important updates from CU Denver leadership.