Lynx Together Task Force

The Lynx Together Task Force, composed of a central coordinating team and multiple support teams, will play a critical role in planning for safe and effective on-campus activities in the fall 2021 semester.

Lynx Together Task Force Charge from Chancellor Michelle Marks

The Lynx Together Task Force should prepare for and coordinate a full fall reopening, as the best-case scenario. This means planning for:

On Feb. 25, we announced that CU Denver, as well as MSU Denver and the Community College of Denver, are committed to starting the fall semester on campus with full operations to the extent possible in an effort to maximize the student experience and our students’ success while remaining safe. Guided by science and a commitment to equity, we are optimistic this can happen for the following reasons:

  • The governor’s recent announcement that student-facing higher education faculty and staff will receive priority status for vaccination before the general public
  • A high level of confidence that increasing vaccine supply will enable all of our students, faculty and staff to have the opportunity to be vaccinated in advance of August
  • Our understanding and use of extensive mitigation strategies that have proven effective
  • The creativity and resolve of our community

While we continue to provide high-quality education, we know that many of our students, faculty, and staff want to be on campus, that certain disciplines are more effectively practiced in person, that isolation continues to challenge the mental health of our community, and that the pandemic has disproportionately challenged low-income and underrepresented students. Embracing an in-person experience is especially important for CU Denver because across the country many BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students, who make up the majority of our undergraduate population, are not signing up for college. We risk losing these students permanently if we don’t find ways to engage them. Almost half of CU Denver undergraduate students are Pell Grant-eligible, and we know that many do not have access to high-speed internet, quiet/safe spaces, and their own computers. Providing a full return to service is critical to CU Denver’s students.

Preparing for a full fall return when our students, faculty, and staff have been working mostly remote for the last year and the public health landscape continues to change is no easy task. We announced our intention for fall early, giving us time to carefully plan for our reopening. I am charging the Lynx Together Task Force to steer our efforts and lead our campus-wide planning.

The Charge

The Lynx Together Task Force should prepare for and coordinate a full fall reopening, as the best-case scenario. This means planning for:

  • Classes with no classroom capacity restrictions;
  • A full set of on-campus activities and student services;
  • Student housing and dining at full capacity, including the opening of City Heights and the impact of 600 first year students housed in the middle of campus;
  • Full service campus operations; and
  • Full resumption of on campus research and creative activities.

Our full fall reopening is based on the following assumptions: Public health guidance will loosen with certain activities continuing (i.e. mask wearing); and students, faculty and staff will have access to vaccines and testing and will be encouraged to be vaccinated prior to the start of the Fall 2021 semester.

In addition to our preferred scenario with no classroom capacity restrictions, the Task Force should plan and prepare for other alternate scenarios, including limited classroom capacity and more limited on-campus services, in case conditions and public health guidance do not allow for a fuller fall reopening.

The Task Force should develop plans to support students, staff, and faculty as many return to campus and the classroom for the first time in a year. Our incoming first year students may need additional support after a disrupted senior year of high school, and our returning sophomores may never have been on campus. Your preparations may include expanded social and mental health supports, support for faculty returning to the classroom, and consideration of what we’ve learned about flexible working arrangements for our returning staff.

There have been many innovations that have occurred at CU Denver over the past year. For example, faculty and staff have redesigned curriculum, learned new technologies, and improved delivery and access to student services. The Task Force should include consideration of the positive disruptive activities that need to continue as we imagine our “next normal” at CU Denver.

Our Principles

In making plans and preparing recommendations for leadership, the Task Force should consider and emphasize the following principles:

  1. CU Denver’s No. 1 priority is the safety and well-being of our community. We believe in science and will follow public health guidance. Access to safe and effective vaccines are critical for having more people on campus.  

  2. CU Denver is resilient and ready for the future. We recognize that COVID-19 continues to come with many uncertainties, and we must remain agile as conditions and guidance evolve. We will bring renewed creativity and new thinking as we move forward and integrate positive disruptions that have emerged from the pandemic. These positive disruptions should be collected, evaluated, and shared throughout CU Denver.   

  3. CU Denver should plan for the next normal for students, which will include a fuller set of in-person, online, and hybrid options that serve our student body.  

  4. CU Denver is the home for students who want real life experiences at a research institution in the city, and this student-centered mission must be at the core of any plan for Fall 2021. CU Denver is committed to furthering equity and inclusiveness in all it does.       

  5. CU Denver strives to be an employer of choice that adopts streamlined policies and practices for flexible work environments that support employees to work effectively, innovatively, and in service of our students.    

Who Will Lead the Task Force

The Lynx Together Task Force will be chaired by Pamela Jansma, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Chris Puckett, University Counsel and Special Assistant to the Chancellor for COVID-19. The Task Force will consist of a number of Lynx Together teams, focused on the topics below, and will be led by a coordinating committee made up of the chairs from each of the Lynx Together Teams. The Task Force will meet on a weekly/bi-weekly basis continuing into the fall.

Lynx Together Teams


  • Student Life Team – The SL Team will focus on developing plans for students returning to campus and the grand opening of City Heights.
  • Teaching & Learning Team – The T&L Team will evaluate the outcomes for our current students, identify ways to support our current and incoming students, and create plans to support faculty in their need to be flexible and nimble in Fall 2021.
  • Research and Creative Activities Team – The RCA team will focus on reigniting campus activities and opportunities for safe engagement for undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Staff Return aka Flexible Workplace Team – The Staff Return Team will develop plans for supervisors and units to implement a streamlined flexible workplace policy and for the return of a critical mass of employees to campus.
  • Faculty Return Team – The FR Team will focus on faculty issues regarding evaluation/tenure/promotion, kickstarting research and creative activities, and identifying ways to support all faculty.
  • Space Force – The Space Force will focus on creating alternative scenarios for social distancing requirements, outdoor/alternative course locations, and recommendations for units opening for full service.
  • Communications Team – The Comms Team will communicate the overall progress of the Task Force, develop a regular cadence for communication, and support the Teams in their communication activities. The team will ensure transparency with and engagement of the CU Denver community as plans progress.