2021-22 University of Denver Workload Equity Committee Report
Workload equity reflects a complicated web of formal and informal policies and practices that have a significant impact on the experiences of faculty in academe. Over the last 18 months at the University of Denver, we have made progress toward understanding the problem through the work of a committee seated by the Faculty Senate.
The ensuing Report describes issues of workload equity facing our academic community, summarizes equity scholarship and the national policy landscape, and examines historic and current dynamics at the University of Denver. The purpose of the report is to update the institution on the committee’s work; share significant findings; and offer short-, medium-, and long-term recommendations for creating a more equitable place to work.
The Workload Equity Committee (WEC) was charged with bringing greater clarity and transparency to three interrelated areas:
- Faculty responsibilities and expectations
- Decision-making processes by which department and unit heads assign faculty responsibilities and set faculty expectations
- Standards through which faculty responsibilities and expectations are measured, assessed, and rewarded
To that end, the committee completed internal and national comparative research on policies, practices, and procedures. Relevant data and findings that inform this report are included as appendices. We expect that future workload equity committees will make further progress on data collection and sharing.
Our Recommendations are differentiated by stakeholder, and offer suggestions for short-, medium-, and long-term changes to improve workload equity, with attention to transparency, clarity, credit, norms, and accountability, as well as principles of faculty sovereignty and shared governance. We encourage you to read the table in full, but some of the most important recommendations include:
- Creation of “guardrail” policies around service at the campus level that protect faculty against the worst inequities, while leaving room for individual units and departments to define workload within their context.
- Faculty with discretionary authority—such as chairs, directors, and deans—should use this power to support equity for faculty in accordance with principles of shared governance and professional responsibility embedded in the University’s Appointment, Promotion and Tenure (APT) document.
- Departments, units, and the university should develop or improve tools for workload equity, such as dashboards, equity actions plans, articulated service expectations, etc.
- “Invisible labor” and “relational care” work should be made visible and rewarded in merit, tenure, and/or promotion procedures, which may require changes in both policy and practice.
Our Summary of the Literature highlights the inequitable impact of service burdens on historically excluded faculty and/or women, identifying the categories of invisible labor and relational care work. We point to research that identifies the particular challenges faced by associate professors and those off the tenure track, such as Teaching and Professional Faculty (TPF), as well as the impetus for addressing workload equity as we emerge from the pandemic.
The Nature of the Problem at DU draws on historical and survey data, stakeholder engagement, and committee interview data to illustrate how the broader challenges of workload equity show up at DU. Although a lack of clear data makes it difficult to illustrate the interplay between workload and faculty and staff retention, they likely relate. Other issues include lack of clarity around expectations across units and faculty lines, and whether activities like faculty advising and mentoring are best counted as teaching or service. DU also faces issues around the appropriate counting and crediting of administrative work (e.g., various faculty director positions), especially for associate professors, and how “service” work in general is or is not recognized and celebrated.
In the Best Practices section, we share workload equity recommendations from the American Council on Education, including concrete tools that can be implemented. We detail approaches to workload equity at other institutions and highlight practices that might be applicable to DU. Work Underway at DU illustrates progress occurring on our campus, including creation of dashboards and draft policies in relation to workload equity, and locates areas for growth, coordination, and leadership.
Suggestions for short-, medium-, and long-term changes to improve workload equity, with attention to transparency, clarity, credit, norms, and accountability.
Jump to Recommendations
Summary of the Literature
Jump to Summary of the Literature
Nature of the Problem at DU
Jump to Nature of the Problem at DU
Jump to Best Practices
Examples of Work Underway at DU
Jump to Work Underway at DU
WORKLOAD EQUITY COMMITTEE
Renee Botta, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
Kate Willink, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs
Sarah Pessin, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
Kate Willink, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Committee Members
Brian Gearity, Graduate School of Professional Psychology
Dean Saitta, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
Hava Gordon, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
Erin Elzi, University Libraries
Michele Tyson, Morgridge College of Education
Deb Ortega, Graduate School of Social Work
Brian Majestic, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Oliver Kaplan, Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Alison Staudinger, Office of the Provost
Matt Gordon, Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science