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 a second-year graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and Policy Practice. Peyton graduated from the University of Iowa with B.A in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality studies and a certificate in Human Rights. Peyton is completing his second-year concentration internship with Envision: You, a Colorado based non-profit focused on supporting LGBTQ+ identifying Coloradans with challenges related to mental health and substance abuse disorder. Peyton will also be serving as this year’s Secretary of the Graduate School of Social Work’s Graduate Student Association. Last year Peyton helped support VPFA with the HERS and Prospective Faculty website pages.
Peyton helps manage the You Rock! awards program, is helping create a faculty writing resource page, and helps with VPFA related events and programs. Reach out to him if you have any questions about the HERS Program, You Rock! awards, Prospective Faculty webpage, or the Faculty Writing Support webpage.
Graduate Research Assistant
Liz Spooner is pursuing a master’s degree in Higher Education with an emphasis in Public Policy. Liz graduated in 2019 from the University of Kansas where she earned degrees in Latin American Studies and Strategic Communications with a minor in Spanish. During her time at the University of Kansas, Liz worked with the Office of Admissions to support the Student Ambassador program and within various other on-campus organizations. Upon her graduation, she moved to Denver and began the pursuit of her master’s in Higher Education. Upon her graduation in the Spring of 2022, she looks forward to continuing to work in higher education to support institutional effectiveness efforts.
Graduate Research Assistant
Julia Johnson graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI with a B.A. in Psychology and a B.M. in cello performance with a minor in pedagogy. Julia was awarded grants during her undergrad to complete two internships at Merit School of Music, a community music school and conservatory in Chicago, where she worked in both the program and student services departments while gaining experience teaching. Additionally, she had the opportunity to study both cello and psychology in Vienna, Austria for a semester during her senior year. Currently, Julia is pursuing her Master of Music in cello performance in addition to a Suzuki teaching certificate at DU. While working as a graduate assistant for the VPFA, Julia also maintains a private studio and teaches at El Sistema Colorado.
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.