2021-22 University of Denver Workload Equity Committee Report Released

Sep 6, 2022

Dear colleagues,

We, as co-chairs of the Workload Equity Committee, along with our committee members, are delighted to announce the release of our report on faculty workload equity. Here you will find the report as well as a website designed to support our collective next steps as we continue to move forward with Advancing Equity in Faculty Workloads and Rewards. For your reference, here is the original committee charge which sets out the scope of this report.

The report and website provide a set of guiding principles to frame faculty workload equity discussions, resources to guide these efforts, and a suggested timeline for this process. It is important to emphasize that the goal of these resources is to address inequities and create fair and equitable work environments.  With the aid of these tools, our hope is that departments, programs, schools and colleges engage in deliberative processes aimed at increasing equitable practices, processes, and policies that consider input from faculty of all rank and series.

Read the Report

A recently published study by the American Council on Education points out,

One of the most important, but often overlooked, areas in which inequity can arise is within the distribution of faculty labor…. the context that surrounds faculty workload reinforces and perpetuates workload inequities, and these inequities have the potential to undermine productivity, satisfaction, and retention (Eagan and Garvey 2015; Griffin et al. 2011; Misra, Lundquist, and Templer 2012; O’Meara, Bennett, and Neihaus 2016). It may seem challenging to address the realities of the existing faculty work environment, but academic leaders, departments, and faculty members can take action to create better, fairer, equity- minded workloads.

The same study also points to the growing inequities in workload that have resulted from the pandemic. Over time such inequities lead to faculty burnout and lower morale. As also described in the report:

We concede that opening the can of worms related to faculty workload may cause short-term discomfort as patterns of inequity emerge. Yet, addressing workload inequities now offers the long-term potential to creatively address some pandemic related workload demands, mitigate losses of faculty productivity, increase retention, and overall promote a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive academy.

 After spending the last eighteen months studying this complex topic, we have learned the following:

  • Deliberate designing for workload equity focuses on meaningful faculty work, our collective responsibilities to each other, and to the work of our departments, programs, schools, and colleges with an eye towards equitably sharing the workload across rank and series.
  • Workload equity begins by becoming clearer on all the contributions of our colleagues and identifying collective pain points and working to design processes, practices, and policies that make them better, one small step at a time.
  • Trying to do everything all at once is a recipe for failure and resentment. Trying to make improvements in one area, succeeding, and then celebrating small wins is the path towards sustainable, faculty-led success.
  • Workload equity is part and parcel of many of our existing practices—such as evaluating teaching, research and creative activities, and service; managing our curricular responsibilities; and thinking about appropriate service loads across rank and series. As such, improving workload equity processes, practices, and policies often involves improving what we already do.
  • The emphasis is not on doing something new or adding more work, but on working together to work better. We need to keep our eyes focused on valuing the many contributions of our colleagues, and in this way, supporting equitable workloads.

For AY 22 -23, the next phase includes:

  • Exploring how schools and colleges can innovate and iterate small wins in this work to make incremental improvements in workload equity, and to help identify and find solutions for pressing pain points. For example, in some units, working on equitable advising workload might be a priority for faculty, while in other units explicating service expectations for each rank might help clarify expectations and support greater equity in promotion.
  • Seating the AY 22-23 Workload Equity Committee (see Faculty Senate approved charge for details on the work of this year). Please reach out to Faculty Senate President Renee Botta if you would be interested in serving on the committee or if you would like to nominate someone to serve.
  • Continuing the local work of the Department Equity Action Planning (DEAPS) teams and to recruit the next cohort of DEAPS to begin in January 2023.

Please feel free to reach out to either of us with feedback on the report or to set up a meeting to discuss your experiences. This year’s committee will continue this work and we will be happy to aggregate feedback with them to inform future action.

We look forward to discussing this report in the first Faculty Senate meeting of the year on September 16 from 11:30-1:30 p.m. As always, any faculty member is welcome to attend Senate meetings. Your senators will also be reaching out to you as this work continues.


With best regards,


Kate signature

Kate Willink
Vice Provost of Faculty Affairs

Rene signature

Renée Botta
President, Faculty Senate

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