Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs
Kate Willink is the inaugural Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and an Associate Professor of Communication Studies. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs (VPFA) works closely with the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor and faculty members across the university to support the continued excellence of DU faculty by enhancing faculty development initiatives, increasing faculty diversity, and building a strong, inclusive, and collaborative faculty community. Through collaboration and innovation, Kate works closely with deans and department heads to recruit and retain high-quality faculty, support faculty career advancement, and to create collaborative department cultures that support transparency, equity, trust and belonging.
Director of Faculty Development and Career Advancement
Faculty Development is the heart of my work at DU to support faculty as they reach their goals. The VPFA’s office provide asynchronous resources, regular programming such as workshops, retreats, and panels, and drop-in consultations. I support Writing Accountability Groups and Faculty Learning Communities to help faculty develop in community and navigate challenges. I help faculty determine how they can best live their values here at DU, but also how they can put these values into action in the classroom and beyond. My experience as a former faculty member and department chair helps inform my approach to faculty development and engagement with best practices in the field.
Teaching and Learning is central to the work of faculty. Along with partnering with OTL on programming, I help faculty articulate and assess how they have grown as teachers, especially in terms of inclusivity and supporting new majority students.
Faculty Relations is about providing support to faculty facing concrete challenges, but also proactively informing policy and initiatives related to faculty success and thriving such as the Workload Equity Committee or mentoring initiatives. To set up a time for a confidential conversation, please send me a meeting request on Outlook or a quick email!
Faculty Lifecycles means support for faculty throughout their time at DU, beginning with making sure prospective faculty have a clear picture of academic life at DU, and continues as they prepare to start in their new roles. Onboarding continues throughout their first years at DU, including as they prepare for tenure and/or promotion, and grow as teacher-scholars. Mid-career faculty need support, too, and I create opportunities for them to explore the next stage of their career and intentionally move towards their goals. Full Professors and other seasoned faculty members might want to plan for a scholarly legacy, or consider leadership positions like Directors or Chairs. Finally, I support faculty as they retire and continue to contribute to the DU community and beyond.
Leslie Cramblet Alvarez
Director of the Office of Teaching and Learning
Teaching and Learning is the heart and soul of my work. As the director of the Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL), I strive to bring our office’s mission to life. We “foster innovation and strengthen practices in teaching, course design, and curriculum development to improve learning across the university.” After over a decade as a faculty member, I 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. We envision our work as that of curator, collaborator, incubator of ideas, and our office as a sanctuary for all who care deeply about teaching and learning.
Faculty Development is a critical piece of the OTL’s work. We offer educational programming related to inclusive teaching, course design, enhancing learning through technology in the classroom, integrative learning, classroom innovation, assessment of learning, and more. Through institutes, workshops, webinars, Faculty Learning Communities, and individualized consultations, we engage with faculty as thought partners and serve as curators of best educational practice.
Faculty Lifecycles for the OTL means that we engage with faculty learning and development at all points of their careers and across series. We provide onboarding support through our Teaching @DU short course and offer a rich portfolio of programming supporting growth at every point in a faculty’s career arc.
Faculty Relations is a smaller part of the OTL’s role in the VPFA office, however, the OTL works to create connections among faculty through our programming and learning communities. We highlight and amplify the faculty voice through our Faculty Fellows and peer-to-peer programming. Where appropriate, the OTL serves as an advocate for policy change, most visibly with our involvement in campus-wide initiatives such as the Teaching Excellence Task Force.
Reagan is a recent Denver transplant. She is the executive assistant to the vice provosts here
at DU, where she supports four wonderful examples of extraordinary leadership. Prior to DU,
she lived and studied in the midwest. She attended Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame,
Indiana, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in music education. Next, she obtained her
master’s degree in vocal performance and literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana
Champaign. Reagan spends her free time exploring the outdoors, singing in ensembles and
operas, and teaching voice to her wonderful students.
VPFA Fellows/Research Scholars
Heather Martin joined the VPFA’s office as Faculty Fellow of Mentoring Initiatives (FFMI) in 2021. As FFMI, Heather’s mission is to collaborate with faculty mentors from across ranks and series on research-based mentoring initiatives that enrich faculty experiences, cultivate community, and promote faculty wellbeing.
Heather is a Teaching Professor of Writing and the Faculty Director of the First-Year Seminar program. She began her DU journey as a graduate student in the English department in 2002. Since then, she has had many mentors. Heather is seeking other faculty champions to join her in institutionalizing high-quality mentoring experiences for faculty from across campus.
Laura E. Sponsler
Laura E. Sponsler, Ph.D is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of Denver. Dr. Sponsler integrates her teaching, scholarship, and service in service of the institutional mission to be a great private university dedicated to the public good. Her work broadly examines the role of colleges and universities in creating more democratic practices for all constituents and institutionalizing the civic mission of higher education. As the Resident Scholar for Teaching and Professional faculty, Dr. Sponsler’s research and work supports faculty off the tenure track – the Teaching and Professional Faculty (TPF) – through faculty development initiatives and organizational change to institutionalize a respectful, inclusive, and collegial culture for all faculty.
Elise Rosado is the new Web Content Designer for the OTL and VPFA offices. Prior to DU, Rosado worked as a theatrical lighting and costume designer for six years, where she used visual design as a tool for narrative. Rosado received her BFA in Theater Design, Technology and Management from CU Boulder and earned a certificate in User Experience and User Interface Design from DU. Her intersectional arts and tech background allows her to take an empathetic and human-based approach in everything she does. Rosado believes that complex problems require creative solutions, and creative solutions require creative people. In this role, Rosado will be generating and maintaining web-based content for faculty educational and development resources, and tackling special projects that require creative problem solving for digital user needs. When she’s not at work, you can find her in dark theaters playing with stage lighting or spending time with her eccentric Puerto Rican family.
Graduate Research Assistant
Carson Biederman is pursuing a master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and Policy Practice. Carson graduated from Michigan State University in 2022 with a bachelors in Social Work. Her experience so far has focused on mental health advocacy and education policy/research, working towards incorporating positive mental health conversations in schools. Her current field placement is with Mental Health Colorado, continuing her work regarding mental health advocacy at the macro level. In her free time, Carson loves to hike, dance, knit/crochet, and perfect her at-home coffee recipe.
Graduate Research Assistant
Emily Brenner graduated from Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC with a B.A. in History, a minor in Religious Studies, and a certificate in Cultural Heritage Studies. During undergrad, she worked on multiple projects, including helping to recreate virtual landscapes of the local Gullah Geechee communities and helping create two museum exhibits. Currently, Emily is a first-year graduate student pursuing a Master in Library Sciences with the hope to work in archives in the future.
Graduate Communications Specialist
Alec Scott graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ with B.A.s in German Studies and Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations, and a minor in History. While an undergraduate, Alec studied at the University of Leipzig as well as at American University in student programs to prepare for a career in international diplomacy. In Germany Alec studied electoral reform as well as the role domestic politics plays on influencing international affairs. Alec has spent the last two years working with member led non-profits and youth organizations focused on education, increasing political literacy, and raising better, more engaged citizens. Currently, Alec is pursuing a master’s in International Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, and is acting as the Communication Assistant, particularly regarding VPFA communications and Newsletter management.