Burnout is a significant, ongoing challenge in higher education that affects the entire educational community. Faculty in particular are managing the increased demands associated with teaching in multiple formats and meeting the evolving needs of today’s learners. In a partnership between Alchemy (formerly O’Donnell Learn) and the Online Learning Consortium, this collaborative Foundry Day event will bring together institutional leaders for a series of informative sessions and constructive dialogues to consider strategies to mitigate burnout. Questions we will explore include:

  • What are institutions currently doing to address burnout?
  • How do we create institutional cultures that minimize burnout?
  • How do we break the cycle of increased workload and expectations that lead to burnout?

This event will lay the foundation for the development of an open framework for creating a culture that minimizes burnout in higher education. Participants will leave this session with actionable strategies that can be immediately implemented on their campus and will contribute to the development of an important and actionable resource for leaders across higher education. Please join us!

September 27, 2023

All times are listed in Eastern Time Zone (ET)



Join OLC and Alchemy leadership as they open the event. In this session, they’ll review the goals of this Foundry Day event and the importance of centering discussions around solutions for addressing burnout.

11:10am – 11:55am

Burnout 101 for Leaders: Identifying, Understanding, and Addressing Burnout in Higher Ed

Presenter: Rebecca Pope-Ruarke, author of “Unraveling Burnout”

Dive into Burnout 101 and learn to pinpoint, comprehend, and combat burnout within higher education. Gauge your burnout spectrum placement in an interactive introduction. Grasp burnout’s essence and traits, dissecting its manifestations in your institution during breakout discussions. Unearth the six catalysts of burnout and a culture steeped in it. Collaboratively brainstorm solutions in factor-specific breakouts. Delve into the four keystones of burnout resilience. Explore their integration into strategic objectives and cultural transformation. Equip yourself to lead with empathy and revitalized institutional vigor. Ignite change and safeguard well-being in academia. Join us in unraveling burnout’s intricacies and fostering resilience.

11:55am – 12:05pm


12:05pm – 12:50pm

Anchoring Our Change Efforts in Research

Presenters: Carrie O’Donnell and Brett Christie

Alchemy will provide a review of recent (2022) research related to the faculty experience and significant burnout factors. This session will better position leaders to make data-informed decisions through a discussion of these findings and innovative solutions. This research will help us anchor our collaborative work to meet the culminating goal of this event: to gather the perspectives, experiences, and needs of our community to collectively move into action.

12:50pm – 1:30pm

Disentangling Core Burnout Challenges and Designing Solutions

Presenter: Online Learning Consortium & Alchemy Teams

This session will begin with thought-provoking context from a community expert. We will then dedicate 30 minutes in groups collaborating around the lesser discussed aspects of burnout. Our goal in this session is to develop a more comprehensive approach to designing solutions for a more sustainable and healthier future.

1:30pm – 2:00pm

Lunch Break

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Spotlighting Current Institutional Approaches to Addressing Burnout

Presenter: Online Learning Consortium & Alchemy Teams

How is your institution addressing burnout? We will use this time to amplify the work, strategies, and resources currently being leveraged to provide diverse models for supporting today’s workforce and implementing institutional change work around burnout. The session will start with a brief story from an institutional leader working through the challenge of burnout within their own context. We will then invite you to share your own use-cases and experiences. In the back half of the session, we will leverage our Burnout Action Plan template to support your work in moving from planning into action within and across your working environments.

3:00pm – 3:15pm


3:15pm – 4:00pm

Creating a Culture of Care

Presenters: Elizabeth (Liz) Lehfeldt

Amidst fractures in higher education, exacerbated by economic shifts, funding cuts, and societal pressures, a pressing crisis of well-being grips academia. The transformative Care in the Academy project funded by the Mellon Foundation advocates a shift from scarcity to compassion. By nurturing empathetic leadership across diverse education sectors, it aims to extend care beyond classrooms. This initiative envisions concrete changes, fostering emotional, physical, and intellectual well-being within campus communities. As academia evolves, a compassionate approach becomes the foundation for healing divisions and revitalizing the pursuit of knowledge.

4:00pm – 4:45pm

Lightning Talks: A Dive into Unique Institutional Cases

Presenters: Andrew Dell’Antonio, Distinguished Teaching Professor in, and Head of, the Musicology/Ethnomusicology Division of the Butler School of Music in the College of Fine Arts at UT Austin | Emily Beitiks, Interim Director, Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University | Laura Westhoff, Professor and chair of the History Department at the University of Missouri-St. Louis

Learning through the experiences of others is always helpful. Run as a series of back-to-back lightning talks, this session affords us the space for a deep dive as a community into institutional examples.

4:45pm – 5:20pm

Ideating the Future: Designing an Action-Oriented Framework for Addressing Burnout

Presenters: Online Learning Consortium & Alchemy teams

How do we break the cycle of increased workload and expectations that lead to burnout? Burnout is a systemic issue that has impact both locally and globally, at the individual and institutional level, and which will continue to persevere unless we commit to concerted change efforts. In this session, we will spend time in small working groups using the Burnout Action Plan template. Anchored around what we’ve collectively learned throughout the event thus far as well as our own lived experiences, we aim to identify and advance strategies that help us genuinely move towards cultures that minimize burnout.

5:20pm – 5:30pm

Close & Call-to-Action

Presenters: Online Learning Consortium & Alchemy teams

As we close out the day, join us for a brief discussion on what’s next, including how to get involved in future research endeavors and ways to join a working group tasked with creating a community framework for addressing burnout.


Introducing Alchemy

Alchemy is a strategic partner in designing and delivering engaging and inclusive learning experiences that meet the needs of today’s learners. Through our purpose-built technology and on-demand services, we empower educators to be at their best. Our practical tools, curated resources, and expert support optimize the educator experience by saving time and increasing engagement with the learning community. Alchemy is part of the Nectar.inc family.