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.
Casey Kite is an Executive Assistant in the Office of the Provost. She supports Kate Willink the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, as well as the Sr. Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Education, Corinne Lengsfeld, the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Jennifer Karas, and the Vice Provost for University Budget and Administration, Linda Kosten. Casey is a Texas native, and completed both her B.A. in Political Science and her M.A. in Public Administration and Finance at Texas State University in San Marcos. She enjoys traveling to the National Parks with her wife, cooking, and spending time with her senior dogs Jack-Jack and Lady.
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.
Graduate Research Assistant
Peyton Coder is pursuing a master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration on Mental Health. Peyton graduated with his B.A. in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality studies and certificate in Human Rights from the University of Iowa. During his last year at the University of Iowa, Peyton completed a senior thesis on queer mental health which was selected by the university to be shown to incoming students on campus. Peyton worked for AmeriCorps in the Educate and Elevate program, focusing on education reform for men who are in correctional facilities. Additionally, Peyton worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant for three classes within the Department of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies.
Peyton assists with the VPFA HERS and Prospective Faculty website pages, as well as helps manage the You Rock! Awards. Reach out to him if you have any questions about the HERS program, Prospective Faculty resources, or the You Rock! Awards process.
Graduate Research Assistant
Padraic Fitzgerald is a Ph.D. candidate pursuing a doctorate in religious studies, where he specializes in contemporary European Pagan Spiritualties with a concentration in Nordic Spiritual Practices. Padraic received his B.A. in Anthropology from Eckerd College and his M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Denver. For his master’s project, he completed an analysis of Vajrayana Buddhist ritual practice through a biopolitical and political theological lens which was subsequently published in the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory. Padraic also completed a term as an AmeriCorps service member at the Inner Harbour campus of Youth Villages in Douglasville, Georgia where he provided classroom assistance and one-on-one tutoring. Additionally, he helped execute weekly and annual service projects in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Graduate Research Assistant
Rediet Geremew is pursuing a master’s degree in International Development with a specialization in Humanitarian Assistance. Prior to COVID-19 Rediet was volunteering with the Peace Corps as a High School Biology and Math teacher in rural Tanzania. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego with her B.S. in General Biology and a minor in Business. After completing her undergraduate degree, she worked for a marketing firm as a Human Resource Manager where she was responsible for recruiting and business development. Rediet’s passions include traveling, hiking, and volunteering in underserved communities.
Rediet is working on building web resources for faculty approaching retirement.
Graduate Communications Specialist
Justine May is pursuing a master’s degree in Global Finance, Trade, and Economic Integration with specializations in Forced Labor and Human Trafficking, International Human Rights Policy, and Corporate Social Responsibility. Justine graduated with her B.S. in Sociology from Western Washington University. After completing her undergraduate degree, she moved to Seoul, South Korea, where she had conducted research for her senior thesis the year before, for intensive language study. Upon returning to the United States, Justine worked for the Colorado Department of Local Affairs where she served as the department’s communication specialist and, later, managed the Colorado 2020 Census Support Program.
Justine assists with communications and manages the monthly VPFA newsletters.