Another professorial teaching stream model: McMaster University

The other day, we told you about the “teaching stream” professoriate at the University of Toronto. Today, we want to let you know about “teaching-track faculty” at McMaster University. Both universities provide models that are helping to guide ongoing discussions about the future of teaching faculty here at the University of Waterloo.

Here are some details from the 2012 McMaster University policy on “Academic appointment, tenure and promotion” (PDF).

  • At McMaster, teaching-track faculty are expected to be “excellent teachers” and “to keep abreast of developments in the discipline in which they teach.”
  • McMaster’s policy notes that teaching and scholarship are complementary activities in a “research-intensive institution.” 
  • Scholarship in the teaching track is to have a special focus on teaching and pedagogy, so that these faculty members are especially encouraged to engage in activities such as curriculum development and evaluation; mentoring; and research into the efficacy of different pedagogical approaches.
  • In the fifth year of their appointment, Teaching-track Assistant Professors are evaluated for permanence, and they may apply for promotion to Teaching-track Associate Professor and, eventually, to Teaching-track Professor.
  • For promotion to Associate Professor in the teaching track, candidates must demonstrate “significant external recognition” in such areas as: continuing excellence in teaching practice; having teaching innovations adopted by others; assisting or leading curriculum development; presentations and scholarship on teaching or pedagogy; mentoring of other teachers; research on pedagogical and related issues; and/or leadership in experiential learning beyond the classroom.
  • Promotion to Professor in the teaching track requires that candidates demonstrate “a national or international reputation” for specific teaching and teaching related contributions.

Here at Waterloo, the policies on faculty appointments (#76) and tenure and promotion (#77) are both being updated. For FAUW, the aim of this process is to create a career path and clear expectations for teaching faculty members at Waterloo.

McMaster’s and Toronto’s well established policies are helpful to the policy drafting committee since each recognises and rewards the contributions of teaching-track faculty members, while providing models for fair and rigorous evaluation processes.

FAUW appalled by job terminations, program closures at Laurentian

Yesterday, Laurentian University announced that as a result of on-going insolvency processes, 58 undergraduate programs and 11 graduate programs will be closed. As part of these closures, approximately 100 Laurentian professors were dismissed from their jobs, effective May 15. Additionally, on April 1, Laurentian unilaterally cancelled its federation agreements with Thorneloe University, Huntington University, and the University of Sudbury, placing those institutions in financial doubt, as they cannot issue degrees.

This terrible outcome for our colleagues at Laurentian, who are represented by the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA/APPUL), was caused by a panoply of catastrophic errors, but chief among them are an unwillingness by the government of Ontario to properly fund universities and to backstop Laurentian during this crisis; the refusal of the Laurentian administration to take advantage of the financial exigency clause in the LUFA/APPUL collective agreement (which the faculty association urged them to use as early as 2017); and the financial sloppiness of a university that consistently proposed balanced budgets while in fact reporting annual losses for the bulk of the last decade.

FAUW stands in solidarity with our colleagues at Laurentian University and its federated institutions. We will continue to advocate for the provincial government to restore Laurentian to financial health and to establish a stable funding base for it and other Ontario universities. We call on universities, including our own, to confirm their support for their federated university colleges. We deplore the total inaction of the provincial government, particularly its Minister of Colleges, Training and Universities, Ross Romano, who has dodged his responsibility to manage this crisis since February.

We will discuss the Laurentian situation further at our general meeting on Friday, and consider a motion of solidarity with LUFA/APPUL at that meeting.

University of Toronto’s teaching stream professoriate

Did you know that the University of Toronto has teaching-stream Professors? This is unlike the University of Waterloo, where faculty members primarily engaged in teaching are appointed as Lecturers.

Here are some key facts about the teaching-stream professoriate at the University of Toronto (described in Toronto’s 2015 “Policy and Procedures on Academic Appointments” document):

  • Faculty members in the teaching stream bring “a dimension of teaching excellence and educational innovation that enhances undergraduate or graduate education and adds significantly to the quality of the student experience.”
  • The principal duties of faculty members in the teaching stream are teaching, “scholarship as evidenced in teaching and related pedagogical/professional activities,” and service.
  • Assistant Professors, Teaching Stream, are evaluated for reappointment in the third year of their appointment and for continuing status in the sixth year. They may apply for promotion to Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, and (eventually) to Professor, Teaching Stream.
  • The rank of Professor, Teaching Stream, is a recognition of “excellent teaching, educational leadership and/or achievement, and ongoing pedagogical/professional development, sustained over many years.”
  • Promotion decisions are as serious in the teaching stream as in the regular professorial stream: “The awarding by the University of a given rank confers a status which, in a general way, is acknowledged and respected both inside and outside the academic community.”

Here at Waterloo, the policies on faculty appointments (#76) and tenure and promotion (#77) are both being updated. For FAUW, the aim of this process is to create a career path and clear expectations for teaching faculty members.

The University of Toronto’s policies recognise and reward the contributions of teaching-stream faculty. Its appointment structure and rigorous evaluation processes provide a model that is helping inform the Policy 76/77 updating process.

This April 1 Board meeting report is no joke

Here’s the latest from the FAUW president and Board of Directors, based on our April 1 meeting, which did not involve any April Fools pranks, but did feature a brief birthday celebration!

President’s report to FAUW board 

-dan brown, March 29, 2021

I am somewhat hopeful that we’re entering a somewhat smoother time in the next few weeks than we had in what has to be one of the longest winter terms in history. Whatever your spring activity is, whether it’s gardening or cycling or just sitting outside watching the sun set, I hope you’ll get a chance to enjoy it in April.

FAUW board elections are under way! At the AGM on April 16, we’ll find out which four candidates have won election to the At-Large seats, and which one candidate has won election to the Lecturer seat on our board. I’m delighted to see the large slate of excellent candidates that have come forward, and look forward to working with all of them, either on our board or in other FAUW service. My thanks to the FAUW Elections Committee (Peter Johnson, Heidi Engelhardt, Amanda Garcia, Nomair Naeem, Laura McDonald) for their excellent work in recruiting candidates!

FAUW’s Lecturers Committee hosts a town hall on March 30 (I’m writing this on March 29). I’m expecting in particular to hear a lot about Lecturers’ concerns regarding Policy 76 and Policy 77, which will be useful for the members of the committee developing the changes to that policy.

The issue of the day continues to be planning for fall term. I encourage FAUW members who will need accommodations for that term (including because their health conditions might require them to avoid in-person teaching) to contact our AF+T committee and work with them to get those accommodations put in place. The administration has said some good things about ensuring a safe workplace for all employees for that term, but there are few details. That said, the whole situation around the end of the pandemic is deeply complicated, and is not helped by there still being shortages of the vaccines needed.

Of course, spring term instructors are just as exercised by planning for that term as well, and I hope you’ll at least have some of a gap before spring term starts. 

LAAUW, the Librarians and Archivists Association of UW, held a vote in March to identify whether its members wanted to join FAUW. Their members decided that they prefer their current status [as staff members]. FAUW will continue to liaise with LAAUW on matters of shared interest (academic freedom, scholarly publishing and open access, research metrics, to name a few). I’m delighted to know that they’ve made a decision about their preferred futures. As I said back in the fall when Erin Windibank and I met with them, time with librarians is always time well spent.

Highlights from the Board discussion

Here’s what we talked about during the meeting:

Continue reading “This April 1 Board meeting report is no joke”

Why Waterloo is not at risk of insolvency

In light of the devastating announcement about Laurentian University, members have been asking FAUW whether there is a need for concern about the University of Waterloo’s financial situation. We’ve asked Linda Robinson, fresh from a deep dive into UW’s finances as a member of our negotiating team, to answer this question. We hope this post from Linda will put your mind at ease by explaining that UW is in a healthy financial condition.

First, be aware that I have no inside knowledge about the University’s financial situation, but I did extensive analysis of the publicly available information as part of the recent salary negotiations. Unlike public corporations, who report their results quarterly, the University only reports annually through the release of their audited financial statements. With an April 30 year-end, we won’t see the full impact of the pandemic until the April 30, 2021 statements are released in the fall of 2021. What we do know is how the University fared as of April 30, 2020, and although this was only six weeks into the shutdown, it does reflect the impact of the ten percent tuition reduction for 2019/2020 and the provincial government’s funding freeze.

There are many financial metrics we could consider when analyzing the University’s finances, and I will comment on a few. Perhaps the most important consideration is that the University of Waterloo has no debt, nor have we since it was paid off in 2018.

Continue reading “Why Waterloo is not at risk of insolvency”

March 18 Update from the FAUW Board

President’s report to FAUW board

– dan brown, March 16, 2021 [updated March 22]

This was our last meeting in winter; the equinox on March 20 marked the beginning of spring. I hope you’re appreciating the longer days.

I am very pleased that the President announced his support for Policy 14 at the March Senate meeting. The only remaining step is the policy’s approval at April’s Board of Governors meeting. This policy marks a milestone in moving Waterloo into being a better employer of parents of small children. When combined with the bereavement and compassionate leave improvements announced as part of our salary settlement last month, we will have a proper suite of such benefits for our members. Thank you to the drafting committee for their steadfast work on this project.

Jay Dolmage (chair of FAUW’s Equity Committee), Laura McDonald (FAUW’s Communications Officer) and I met with the team of external reviewers of the Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion office. The review team will be working on this project for the next couple of months, and my expectation is that their eventual report will primarily be advisory to Waterloo’s new president. With equity and inclusion being so much a focus of FAUW’s work right now, we’ll be watching very closely to see what comes from this review.

FAUW elections are going to begin soon! I’m so excited to see who will run and be elected to our board. The Elections Committee hosted a well-attended volunteer recruiting event on March 9. We will also have openings on all of our working groups and committees this spring as well.

This is the first FAUW board meeting in seven years without Bryan Tolson on our board; he’s stepped down as Past President after so many years of service as President, Past President, Vice President, Chief Negotiator, FRC member, and board member. Bryan has led FAUW through a tumultuous time, with humour, grace, and excellent strategy, and I’m going to miss him very much. In particular, I’m grateful for his work on both Policy 14 and as Chief Negotiator, and I wish it had not turned out that both of those issues had come to a peak of work at the same time.

This isn’t really FAUW-related, per se, but I was recently interviewed on Instagram Live by The Glow Centre, Waterloo’s LGBTQ student centre, about what it’s like to be an older (oh, dear) LGBTQ professional. I enjoyed everything about spending time with the students, but it especially reminded me just how much I learn from students whenever I spend time with them. Even with the challenge of this (endless!) pandemic, I hope you’re all getting reminded of just how lovely, and thought provoking, our students all are.

Notes from the Board discussion

  1. Fall term planning. We talked about what we know so far about how each Faculty is approaching the fall and returning to more in-person teaching. We’ll be getting into this more at the next meeting, so now is a good time to talk to a Board member about this! So far, most of the discussions about fall term are happening either in the Faculties or at Dean’s Council, neither of which we participate in. We’ve asked for the committee on timetabling, which we do participate in, to be restarted.

    Some best practices you could consider taking back to your unit that would ease the burden on everyone this fall include not assigning new course preps, and not demanding that instructors with a heavy teaching load teach a mix of in-person and online courses.

    It is our understanding that the usual accommodation process will apply, so if you anticipate needing an accommodation related to teaching in person, we recommend talking to your health-care provider about documentation soon. Accommodations do not have to be limited to having no teaching.  
Continue reading “March 18 Update from the FAUW Board”

Policy 14: A note about eligibility

Our final (we hope) pre-approval Policy 14 blog post is from FAUW President Dan Brown.

One structural element of the new Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental Leave) is that it describes different eligibility categories based on the estimated time that an employee will be employed at Waterloo. In particular, staff whose contracts do not have an end date, and faculty who are tenured, tenure-track, or continuing, are immediately eligible for top-ups to parental leaves, while all other employees are not: they must work one year at Waterloo before they are eligible, and their length of leave depends on the total number of years for which they have a contract to work at UW. This one-year up-front obligation is a revision to the existing policy, which required that the employee have worked for six months before taking the leave and have six months remaining on their contract after returning from the leave.

This latter group of contract employees includes definite-term lecturers and research professors, both of whom may not be eligible for top-ups to their leave during their first contracts, depending on the lengths of those contracts. It also includes a quite large number of contract staff members.

FAUW’s Equity Committee and Lecturers Committee raised a concern over the difference in eligibility timing and length of paid leave that early-career tenure-stream and definite-term faculty would face under this new policy, arguing that it formed an important inequity to address, and the FAUW board held a vigorous discussion of this issue at a meeting in January. The eventual board decision was that we would advocate for the current draft to be approved; a key concern was that Policy 14 be enacted before the end of this fiscal year, because of the strictures of Bill 124 on benefit expansion. We also noted at this meeting that the new policy does offer significantly higher overall benefits for definite-term lecturers, these differences notwithstanding.

One aspect of this issue is that it highlights the need for good revisions to Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments): Teaching-stream faculty identified as “tenure-track” after these revisions are completed would be immediately eligible for Policy 14 leaves upon employment, for example. (Or, if “tenure-track” is not language in the new Policy 76, a corresponding small revision to Policy 14 could be made.)

We are advocating for expansion of benefits for lecturer members on a number of fronts currently: trying to get rid of two-year-less-a-day contracts; arguing that, as “regular faculty” under Policy 76, all lecturers are “regular employees” so time spent in lecturer positions (including definite term) counts towards eligibility for policies 23 and 59; and through the Policy 76/77 revisions. It’s also worth noting that all FAUW members will be equally eligible for the expansion in bereavement and compassionate-care leave negotiated in the 2021 salary settlement.

One last comment about Policy 14 eligibility: At Senate yesterday, I urged President Hamdullahpur to make the new, extended Policy 14 leaves available to all eligible employees who are already on a P14 leave as of April 6, when the policy is approved. This seems the only logical and fair way to implement this policy: as employees eligible for these benefits, they should receive them. The president responded by saying that he’d follow up with HR, but that since policies are enacted upon approval, he doesn’t expect to see this extension of leaves.

As Policy 14 finishes its approval, FAUW will be building materials about the effects of the changes, focusing on changes for both lecturers and professors; also, our Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee will be prepared to assist individual members with their individual circumstances.

March updates from the FAUW president and Board

Here’s the news from the March 4 Board meeting, starting with the pre-meeting president’s report and then an overview of the discussion at the meeting.

President’s report to FAUW board, March 2, 2021

– dan brown

There is so much to talk about from the past few weeks!

Our negotiating team has achieved a settlement with the university administration, including the 1% scale raises that are the maximum possible under Bill 124, an eye exam benefit, an expansion of bereavement leave and establishment of paid compassionate care leave, and more. One particular advance is that the administration has committed to using equity group membership data to assess whether there is a structural inequity in salaries for racialized and Indigenous faculty, and if so, correct it. I’m very grateful to our negotiating team: Bryan Tolson (chief negotiator), Mary Hardy, and Linda Robinson, for their steadfast efforts.

At February Senate, the make-up of the new committee to redraft Policies 76 and 77 to focus on teaching-stream faculty was approved. The committee will take advantage of the many years of work of the previous Policy 76 committee, while specifically examining working conditions, advancement, and hiring of teaching-stream faculty. FAUW’s representatives on that committee will be Su-Yin Tan and Kate Lawson.

We continue to work hard on the approval of Policy 14, the policy on parental and pregnancy leaves. We are still looking forward to it being presented for information at the March Senate meeting, and finally approved at the April Board of Governors meeting.

FAUW elections are underway! We are electing four at-large board members and one board position for a Lecturer. I’m hopeful we’ll have a diverse and competitive slate of candidates. The FAUW elections committee consists of Peter Johnson (chair), Heidi Engelhardt, Amanda Garcia, Laura McDonald, and Nomair Naeem. If you’d like more information about FAUW service opportunities, please contact one of them.

The UW issue over which I am most concerned these days is how fall 2021 teaching will work. Between concerns about the pace of vaccination for COVID-19 and worries about how many international students will be able to make it to Canada in September, I worry that we will have both a lot of on-campus teaching and a lot of remote teaching, in what will be the sixth term in a row disrupted by COVID-19. As I look toward the rest of 2021, I hope we can help build a compassionate workplace for our employees and a caring university for our students, but I am troubled by the degree to which we just don’t know what will happen. Obviously, most of the worst parts of this are outside the administration’s control!

Outside UW, I have been alarmed by the insolvency filing of Laurentian University on February 1. After years of what appear to have been remarkable financial mismanagement, that university filed for creditor protection. FAUW (in concert with OCUFA) has been lobbying provincial officials to pull Laurentian out of insolvency, or pull the provincial government into the proceedings. Several of us from FAUW, Renison and WLU met last week with MPPs from all parties to try to stress that this filing can’t be the first step in widespread bankruptcies of public institutions. I can’t predict whether that message is heard and acted upon, unfortunately.

What we discussed at the meeting

Continue reading “March updates from the FAUW president and Board”

Policy 14: The unbelievably long history of revising our pregnancy and parental leave policy

This is the second in a series of posts by Bryan Tolson about the revised pregnancy and parental leave policy (P14). Bryan was a FAUW representative on the drafting committee for P14 and is FAUW’s Past President.

In Friday’s post, I made the business case for the revised Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental Leave).

Today I want to make a more fundamental point about policies and policy revision here at the University of Waterloo and ask: Can it work?

Waterloo, like McMaster and (to a lesser degree) Toronto,1 uses policy to govern many of the terms and conditions of our employment: appointments, tenure, promotion, ethical behaviour, intellectual property, etc. Some policies relate to faculty only (F policies); some apply to faculty and staff (FS); some apply to everyone (G). FAUW only has a formal role in F and FS policy revision—even though faculty might have a special interest in the application of some G policies (e.g. Policy 73 Intellectual Property Rights).

How this policy development structure works in practice

The bad news is that Waterloo has failed to successfully revise any F or FS Policy (there are 21 such Policies) since 2012. Delay—unconscionable delay—has made policy development grind to a halt for many years now. 

I’m going to tell you my story of revising Policy 14, Pregnancy and Parental Leave. I call it my story because I have dedicated almost 1000 hours to Policy 14 improvements from as far back as 2013 with FAUW (and even in 2007 & 2008 as Co-Chair of the Women in Engineering Committee), and because I’m writing from my own perspective as a participant in the process (as FRC member and Policy Drafting Committee member).

Continue reading “Policy 14: The unbelievably long history of revising our pregnancy and parental leave policy”

Policy 14: The business case for a new pregnancy and parental leave policy

This is the first in a series of posts by Bryan Tolson about the revised pregnancy and parental leave policy (P14). Bryan was a FAUW representative on the drafting committee for P14 and is FAUW’s Past President.

After years of work, the Policy 14 Drafting Committee has delivered a revised policy that substantially improves pregnancy and parental leave benefits for UW employees. FAUW expects that the President will bring it for information to Senate on March 22 and for approval to the Board of Governors on April 6. Once approved, it will be in effect immediately.

The business case for improved pregnancy and parental leave is clear

On Monday, I will make the policy case for the new Policy 14. Today, I want to make the business case.

The revised Policy 14 can help the University of Waterloo with the huge challenge that it faces in recruiting and retaining female faculty members in general and female Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) in particular.

  • Waterloo has the lowest percentage of faculty who identify as female in the U15 universities (based on 2019 data)—31.3% (see Figure 1 below). The next lowest university is almost 5% higher than UW. We are also last among all Ontario universities.
  • This dismal showing is in spite of UW’s recent efforts, such as He4She, to increase female faculty representation. For example, in 2014, UW’s percentage was 29.4%—that’s a very small increase over five years.
  • In only eight years, by 2029, the federal government has mandated that UW must have 51% female representation in both Tier 1 and Tier 2 CRCs. We are currently at 27%. That is a huge gap to fill.
Continue reading “Policy 14: The business case for a new pregnancy and parental leave policy”