Teaching & Learning


faculty interactions, representing 523 unique faculty in one six-week period in 2020, while OTL transitioned to remote operations while supporting faculty in preparing for a completely online spring

faculty members served by the OTL in 2020–2021, including 200 unique one-on-one consultations and 355 event participants

unique faculty members served by OTL in 2021-2022, 313 unique faculty attended OTL events and 488 attended consultations

founding of the “Spring Showcase” to honor faculty teaching excellence and growth

faculty participants in the Course Design Institute since 2017


The Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL) is part of Faculty Affairs, with the Director reporting directly to the VPFA. The OTL works to improve and advance teaching excellence and build community. The teacher-scholar model is essential to DU, and the work of improving the student experience—while helping faculty grow in the classroom—is essential. For a complete account of OTL programming, mission, goals, and values, please see their annual reports. The following section specifically highlights teaching and learning collaborations between the OTL and VPFA.

Signature Programs

Expansion Of Instructional Design Support

The OTL supported five additional instructional designers to assist faculty in creating effective courses across modalities in 2020–2021 and 2021–2022.

Faculty Institute For Inclusive Teaching

The Faculty Institute for Inclusive Teaching (FIIT) is an interactive, self-paced, asynchronous online program. Developed through the OTL, the course employs various instructional methods to invite faculty into the collective work of improving success, belonging, and fit for all students. In August 2020, the Chancellor made a historic announcement, formally requiring all faculty to complete the course by the first day of the academic quarter. While continuing to offer its pre-Covid programming, the OTL supported FIIT as it became the first required course in OTL history. The program consists of eight content modules, each exploring a specific topic, and provides a definition, inclusive teaching content, pedagogical tools, and a critical self-reflection prompt. Through FIIT, faculty revitalize their teaching abilities to ensure the academic success of an increasingly diverse, dynamic, and vibrant student body.

Teaching Excellence Task Force

The 2018 COACHE findings indicated a need for improvement in areas related to teaching evaluation and service. In May 2020, the Faculty Senate responded with a motion creating the Teaching Excellence Task Force. The motion conceived the Task Force as “the first step in a multi-year and likely multi-committee process. We seek to move the institution beyond the use of student evaluations as a primary mode of evaluating teaching performance for merit, promotion, and reappointment.” Initially co-chaired by Kate Willink and Senate President Sarah Pessin, OTL Director Leslie Alvarez became chair starting in 2021–2022.

Faculty Learning Communities

The OTL supports a range of faculty learning communities (FLCs), wherein faculty engage deeply with a set of texts, questions, and each other. Recent and upcoming offerings include:

  • The Heart of Higher Education
  • Parenting and Productivity
  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • White Fragility
  • Trans* in College
  • Cohort Engagement with FIIT (all modules)
  • White Allyship
  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Spotlight Event

Neurodiversity Institute

In summer 2021, the OTL offered the first-ever Neurodiversity Institute, through a collaboration with the Learning Effectiveness Program and featuring Lauren McGrath.  In line with the OTL’s increased focus on universal design and accessibility for all learners, summer and winter institutes were held in 2022.

Winter 2022 Neurodiversity Institute Group Photo Winter 2022 Neurodiversity Institute


  • In the shift to emergency remote teaching, the OTL facilitated widespread Canvas adoption in courses across campus—from 44% to 100% between 2019 and 2020.
  • The OTL delivered additional pandemic-era services through the Institutional Investment in Teaching and Learning initiative, which dedicated $676,000 to expanding teaching supports through instructional design, classroom assistants, peer-faculty networks, and training for graduate teaching assistants.
  • The OTL has grown with additional staff dedicated to instructional design and accessibility/Universal Design for Learning support.
  • The OTL offered the first-ever Teacher Scholar Lecture, featuring Professor of Law Roberto Corrada.
  • Over the past three years, the OTL has become increasingly data-informed, using surveys and focus groups to guide programming, modalities, and services.
  • Data from 2020–2022 indicate that the OTL serves faculty at all ranks and series across campus with tenure-line faculty comprising one-third of participants annually.



Leslie Cramblet Alvarez, Ph.D.

Leslie Cramblet Alvarez, Ph.D.

Director of the Office of Teaching and Learning

Teaching and learning are at the heart of Leslie Alvarez’s work. As director of the OTL, she strives to bring the office’s mission to life: “To support faculty in the advancement of transformative, inclusive, and impactful teaching and learning across all disciplines and modalities to actualize DU’s educational promise to all students.” After over a decade as a faculty member, Alvarez came to DU to engage in the work of faculty education full-time. The OTL serves as the central resource for faculty in reaching their teaching goals. The OTL team envisions their work as that of curator, collaborator, ideas incubator, and sanctuary for all who care deeply about teaching and learning.

Jared Del Rosso, Ph.D.

Jared Del Rosso, Ph.D.

OTL Faculty Fellow, Teaching and Learning

Jared Del Rosso is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology & Criminology, faculty chair of Faculty Senate’s Teaching Excellence Task Force, and Faculty Fellow of Teaching and Learning in the OTL. In these roles, Del Rosso supports the Faculty Senate, OTL, and individual faculty members in their efforts to develop holistic, reflexive, and formative approaches to course and faculty evaluation.

Barbekka Hurtt, Ph.D.

Barbekka Hurtt, Ph.D.

OTL Faculty Fellow, Teaching and Learning

Barb Hurtt is an Associate Teaching Professor in Biological Sciences at DU. As an OTL Faculty Fellow, Hurtt aims to collaboratively and purposefully improve the faculty experience for those in the Teaching and Professional Faculty series, and promote meaningful conversation and positive change around the development, implementation, and evaluation of teaching experiences.

Paul Michalec, Ph.D.

Paul Michalec, Ph.D.

OTL Faculty Fellow, Teaching & Learning

Paul Michalec is a Clinical Professor in Teaching and Learning Sciences and brings to his teaching an affinity for ecological thinking, interdisciplinary knowledge, holistic models of teaching and learning, and transformative learning. As a fellow, Michalec has hosted regular faculty engagements through the “heart of higher education,” facilitated peer-to-peer conversations, and supported deep reflection on the practice of teaching.