Board meeting report: September 15, 2022

The FAUW Board of Directors met for the first time in the 2022–23 academic year on September 15. For those new to the blog, we (try to) provide updates after (most) board meetings, to keep members up to date on what we’re working on.

At this meeting:

The board welcomed new directors and FAUW’s new executive manager, Matthew Root. If you missed it in our latest newsletter, Matt’s background is in labour relations, specifically in the broader public sector and post-secondary education fields, and he started in August. New directors this year are Nancy Worth (Geography), Shannon Majowicz (School of Public Health Sciences), and Paul Wehr (Psychology). See the full list of directors here.

Parliamentarian Katy Fulfer gave a refresher on what a parliamentarian is:

A parliamentarian is an advisor to an organization, including but not limited to the president, a meeting chair, officers, committees, and members, on rules of order (47:46). Their advice is non-binding. The president or (in a meeting) the meeting chair gets to make the final decision about procedure.

I imagine the parliamentarian like an angel on your shoulder, whispering advice. In the lingo of the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, this angel is lawful neutral. The lawful part is probably obvious. The neutrality speaks to the parliamentarian’s role as a consultant. They do not participate in debate, and Robert’s Rules of Order goes as far to say they should abstain from voting unless ballots are used, where their vote will not be seen by members (47.55). 

Policy updates

FAUW President Lori Curtis expanded on some updates delivered at the August general meeting about the status of some policy issues. While we hear a lot about Policy 76/77, Policy 57 (Accommodations), Policy 12 (Compassionate Care Leave), and Policy 33 (Ethical behaviour) also remain incomplete. Our FAUW reps are pushing for movement on P57 and P12 at their PDCs. It is our understanding that Policy 33 is with the Secretariat. Lori also noted that FAUW brought up the Salary Anomaly Review again at the last Faculty Relations Committee meeting. While administration states they are fully supportive of the process beginning, we will keep pushing for this to actually move it forward. We also reminded the administration about the letters from the Equity and Lecturers committees with recommendations for improving the review process.

COVID and masks on campus

The Board also, of course, talked about COVID and what the University is (or isn’t) doing to reduce the risk of transmission on campus. FAUW representatives raised concerns with the administration about the University’s posters about masking on campus, namely that they undermine the University’s position about ‘strongly encouraging’ everyone to wear a mask. The administration agreed, and we’ve since been told that new posters are in the works.

FAUW’s position earlier this year was in favour of continuing a mask requirement on campus. The Board revisited this issue in light of the current status of the pandemic. We’re very happy to have Board members with relevant expertise in microbiology and epidemiology, who are going to consult with colleagues and bring more information back for further discussion at the next meeting. In the meantime, the Board voted in favour of running a campaign promoting the University’s own language of “strongly recommending” masks, though the more recent news about the University’s posters may change these plans.

Policies 76/77

Finally, the board discussed, as usual, the status of policies 76 (Faculty Appointments) and 77 (Tenure and Promotion of Faculty Members).

Following some discussion about the current “path forward” being worked out with administration, the board supported the latest draft path forward and agreed to take the path forward to the membership at a general meeting this fall, followed by a poll of lecturers, as per the motion passed at the August general meeting.

The board noted an important clarification about the path forward: while the “steps”—policy drafting committee meetings, mediation, arbitration—are numbered in the drafts of the path forward that have been shared so far, they are not actually separate—or separable—parts of the process. The path forward is all one process that automatically proceeds to each stage, triggered by the failure of the previous stage.

This is necessary in part because, as we’ve been advised, a mediator is not likely to agree to a mediation/arbitration process if either side can opt out of said process before arbitration. It is also not at all in our best interests—and indeed the process breaks down—if either side can say “well, we probably won’t win at arbitration, so we’ll just stop now,” because then there’s no incentive to negotiate earnestly. The administration could simply stonewall us and then back out before arbitration. And we don’t imagine that the administration would agree to give us an “out” without them getting one as well.

Importantly, the board also agreed with President Lori Curtis’s plan that the majority of FAUW appointees to the policy drafting committee (and therefore any potential mediation/arbitration) will be lecturers.

Fact Check: How to Fix Policy 76 in 19 minutes

—FAUW Lecturers Committee, August 19, 2022

A recent guest post on this blog outlined, in a video, a potential solution to Policy 76. Using the 2021 Lecturers Survey, the FAUW Lecturers Committee would like to add data points that are relevant to this discussion. The survey achieved an 80% response rate (192/240) lecturers.

Assumptions in the video

The proposed solution in the guest blog was based on several key assumptions:

Assumption 1:  A “common rule of thumb” that one teaching task = 10% of workload.

Response: Such a rule of thumb is not written in any policy or document that we are aware of. A clear definition of a “teaching task” does not currently exist for either Lecturers or tenure-track faculty. Such a definition would fall under the purview of a workload policy, which UW does not have. Other institutions, such as the University of Toronto have workload policies.

Assumption 2:  The majority of Lecturers have an 80% teaching, 20% service load.

Response: Based on the 2021 Lecturers Survey results only 43% of respondents actually have an 80% teaching/20% service load. Although 80/20 is the most popular type of lecturer contract, it does not apply to the majority of lecturers. The table below shows which contract types exist among survey respondents and how many lecturers fall into each contract type:

Continue reading Fact Check: How to Fix Policy 76 in 19 minutes

Update on the AODA Education Standard

As you may recall, FAUW was invited to provide feedback on the draft of the new Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) education standard in October 2021. The draft outlined 179 recommendations proposed to inform accessibility standards for education across Ontario under the AODA.

The Final Recommendations Report was released on April 22, 2022 and is comprised of 183 recommendations for government, educational governing bodies, and post-secondary education institutions. The standard is extensive and will have direct and significant implications for the University’s current governance and infrastructure, teaching and learning practices, research and funding principles, and student experience operations. While the standard is not yet enacted into legislation, it is expected that it will be within the next year.

Waterloo’s workplace accessibility specialist, Joyce Barlow, has created a summary of the final recommendations, “Upcoming to Changes to Accessibility for the AODA.” You can download a copy of the summary here (PDF).

There is currently no formal plan for gathering feedback from individual stakeholders (e.g., faculty members) as the standard is being discussed at administrative levels. We will share further updates as we have them. If you have questions or feedback to share in the meantime, please contact me: zara.rafferty@uwaterloo.ca 


Zara Rafferty is a continuing lecturer in Recreation and Leisure Studies, and the faculty representative on the UW Accessibility Committee.

How to Fix Policy 76 in 19 minutes

This is a guest post from Dave Tompkins, a continuing lecturer in the School of Computer Science.


In July, FAUW’s status update regarding policy 76/77 revisions mentioned the possibility of mediation, and arbitration if necessary.

As an exercise, I sat down and thought about what solution I would come up with if I was an arbitrator, and I created a video that describes my solution:

My intent was to help shape the conversation around policy 76/77 and nudge negotiations forward so that mediation/arbitration won’t be necessary.

I want to be clear that I am doing this solely as an individual, and not on behalf of FAUW, the Lecturers Committee, the Faculty of Mathematics or any other group.

I am also now updating an FAQ to respond to any questions you may have.

Keeping Our Foot on the Equity Gas Pedal

A post from the FAUW Lecturers Committee and FAUW Equity Committee.

The University of Waterloo made an important commitment to make progress towards gender equity by joining the HeForShe initiative in 2014 and meeting its faculty HeForShe commitments in 2018. Of particular note for this blog post is the goal of 30% female faculty representation. Efforts towards gender parity, particularly in faculty positions, need to be long-term and sustained to ensure that equity considerations in the hiring process, promotion process, and general work culture become and persist as the norm. What is more, equity needs to occur at the micro level (i.e., faculties and departments) in addition to the macro level (i.e., university-wide). When looking at gender parity in our faculty members since 2009, university-wide, the impact of the HeForShe campaign and other equity initiatives is clear. Faculty-wide female representation has increased steadily from 25% in 2009 to almost 31% in 2021. While this is indeed progress, there are some areas for improvement. In this post, we would like to track UW’s gender parity, but it is important to note that the data we draw from is limited in that it retains cis-gender binary distinctions. 

Looking at specific faculty roles, it is clear there is a need for sustained long-term equity efforts. First, female representation at the full professor level is much lower compared to other faculty roles. While there was a fairly steady rate of female representation at the associate professor level (~31.6%), there was a decline in female representation in assistant professors and continuing lecturers from 2018 to 2021. These could be early warning signs that we are taking our foot off the metaphorical equity gas pedal. The decline in assistant professor female representation is particularly worrisome, given that this is the beginning of the current professorial ranks (i.e., assistant, associate, and full professor) and declines in female representation at this rank will make it impossible to achieve the long-term change needed at the full professor rank. We all need to keep our foot on the gas pedal to ensure that equity gains are sustained in the long-term across all faculty ranks.

Graph depicting female representation in different faculty types in 2009, 2014, 2018, and 2021. For all faculty, female representation was 25% in 2009, 29% in 2014, 30% in 2018, and 31% in 2021. For full professors, female representation was 14% in 2009, 18% in 2014, 21% in 2018, and 23% in 2021. For associate professors, female representation was 27% in 2009, 32% in 2014, 32% in 2018, and 32% in 2021. For assistant professors, female representation was 34% in 2009, 40% in 2014, 41% in 2018, and 38% in 2021. For continuing lecturers, female representation was 41% in 2009, 28% in 2014, 38% in 2018, and 33% in 2021. For all lecturers, female representation was 35% in 2009, 42% in 2014, 37% in 2018, and 45% in 2021.
Figure 1. University Level Gender Parity Across Faculty Types 2009 – 2021. Data Source: Statistics Canada University and College Academic Staff System (UCASS)
Continue reading “Keeping Our Foot on the Equity Gas Pedal”

The Full Promotion of Teaching

What one professor learned while applying for promotion with an emphasis on teaching.

—James Skidmore, Professor and Director, Waterloo Centre for German Studies

I recently applied for and received promotion to full professor. People have asked why I didn’t do this earlier, and I usually gave one of two responses. I would either say that I was under the impression that at UW, you first had to win the Nobel Prize in Physics to be promoted, or I would point out that I’ve been full of myself for years and didn’t think I needed a letter from the President of the University to tell me something I already knew.

The thing is, I’ve always been more interested in my work than in my career; fixating on “rank” was a distraction I’ve tried hard to avoid. Besides, I assumed my somewhat nonconformist academic path might prevent committees from supporting the submission. My work at universities shows a stronger-than-usual commitment to teaching and service than is the norm, and I wondered if that wouldn’t prove to be a dealbreaker.

After attending the FAUW workshop on applying for promotion, and then seeking out the advice and guidance of Lori Curtis (at the time chair of the Academic Freedom and Tenure committee) and Katie Damphouse (the AF&T and Policy officer), I was able to confirm that putting forward a promotion dossier where the emphasis would be on teaching was actually possible under Policy 77. But it’s certainly not the conventional approach, and it required some careful handling.

Thankfully, it seems to have worked. The application went through without a hitch. There were no requests for further information, no off-the-record discussions about holding off on applying, no security personnel arriving at my office to escort me off campus (though I’ve been working from home since the pandemic started, so perhaps they did come by but couldn’t find me). And since I kind of had to figure this out on my own—I didn’t know anyone who had emphasized teaching when applying for promotion—I’d like to share what I learned about the process and how I went about it. Perhaps it will prove useful to you if your situation is similar to mine, but also to anyone putting together a promotion dossier.

Continue reading “The Full Promotion of Teaching”

What are Pedagogical and Professional Development activities?

We have heard concerns from some current lecturers about what we are calling “Pedagogical and Professional Development activities,” or “PPD.” They are worried that, in the Policy 76/77 revision process, FAUW is pushing for research to be a required part of the job for lecturers who move into the new professorial teaching-stream ranks.

This is not the case.

What are Pedagogical and Professional Development activities?

FAUW and the administration have not agreed to specific lists of activities yet. Here is just a sample of some activities that FAUW believes should count as PPD:*

Pedagogical development activities:

  • Exploring, developing, and/or implementing new teaching practices;
  • Designing or redesigning a course;
  • Participating in curriculum development or review;
  • Participating in teaching initiatives in your department or faculty; at the university; or at other universities;
  • Attending or participating in workshops and conferences on pedagogy;
  • Taking on internal or external educational leadership roles (e.g. teaching fellowships or invited teaching at other universities);
  • Performing disciplinary or pedagogical research/scholarly work (see “Where traditional research fits in” below).

Professional development activities:

  • If applicable, maintaining professional licences or accreditations (e.g. in engineering, pharmacy, accounting);
  • Other activities required to maintain professional standing in a field.

Where traditional research fits in

Policy 77 currently states about both professors and lecturers:

University teaching is informed and enriched by the research and scholarship of the professoriate. The University expects its regular faculty members to be active participants in the evolution of their disciplines and professions, to keep academic programs and courses current with developments in their fields, and to communicate both their discoveries and their commitment to scholarship and research.

FAUW believes that, to be “active participants in the evolution” of their fields, teaching-stream faculty should be encouraged to, for example, attend disciplinary conferences. And, if teaching-stream faculty want to engage in traditional forms of dissemination of research/scholarly work—either in their discipline or in the scholarship of teaching and learning—it too should “count” as pedagogical development.

But, to be clear, FAUW is not advocating that teaching-stream faculty must do research.

Continue reading “What are Pedagogical and Professional Development activities?”

Board meeting report: February 17 & March 3, 2022

Here’s the non-confidential stuff from the last couple of Board meetings:

Appointments

The Board formally signed off on a new Equity Committee member. Committee appointments are typically approved all at once in the spring, at the recommendation of the committees, but Clive Forrester joined the committee recently to fill a gap.

The Board also appointed its first Parliamentarian (Katy Fulfer), a chair for the 2022 Spring General Meeting (Moira Glerum), three new members of the Nominating and Elections Committee (Mary Hardy, Narveen Jandu, and Dorothy Hadfield), and Ada Hurst as this year’s FAUW rep on the Online Teaching Awards Evaluation Committee. We received a lot of interest in that last one in particular and it’s very exciting to see so many people eager to offer their expertise in service of FAUW members.

Resources for instructors

WUSA wants to know what investments/resources would be necessary for instructors to be positioned to better accommodate students and disincentivize those who are sick from attending in-person classes, both in the current situation and in the future. If you have any suggestions, please comment below or send them to fauw@uwaterloo.ca.

Policy 76/77

FRC is not making as much progress as we expected this term and we will have a more fulsome update about that (hopefully very) soon.

Election procedures

The Board approved updated election procedures, which you can find on the FAUW website. There were only minor changes this year to clarify a few things and better account for submitting nominations online. The Board voted to prioritize Black faculty, Indigenous faculty, and faculty with disabilities in the tie-breaking procedure until such time as it is appropriate to revisit those priorities.

Action, justice, and heroism for our climate

Join the FAUW Climate Justice Working Group on the National Day of Action for a Just Transition towards a sustainable future (Huron Natural Area, March 12, 2-4 pm)

Altay Coskun for the Climate Justice Working Group

More than two years into the pandemic and two weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is difficult for climate action to make top headlines. But thanks to the heroism of the Ukrainian botanist Yakiv Didukh, the latest conference of the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) aroused unexpected attention. He attended remotely from Kyiv and thus dropped out when required to retreat into the bomb shelters during Russian attacks, but returned to finalize his task on the final report. The Ukrainian delegation is quoted (by Reuters) to have “expressed how upset they are that this will distract from the importance of our report.” But perhaps it is rather the other way round: their courageous action will expose how shallow our own commitment to a swift and just transition has been all along. We can do better; we must do better. In Canada, we are blessed that we can explore adequate climate action and the facets of climate justice in a peaceful environment. This also means we have fewer excuses.

Most of us do not have a deficit of understanding, but one of justice and courage.

On February 28, 2022, the IPCC reported on “Impact, Adaptation and Vulnerability” (Sixth Assessment Cycle Report II) to the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres. The report is available in multiple formats, to allow for differing levels of understanding (I recommend the FAQs version for non-specialists such as myself). The scientific evidence for human-made climate change and the devastating effects on our planet have never been presented with more accuracy or with a higher level of urgency. The current commitments by nearly all states fail to meet the challenge described in previous IPCC reports. Even worse, those earlier reports were built on assumptions about the pace of climate change that, so we are now told, were much too optimistic.

One may doubt, however, that more scientific data will be the game changer. Most of us do not have a deficit of understanding, but one of justice and courage. Indeed, the notion of justice is ever more often evoked in political and scientific declarations relating to climate change. It played a significant role in the 2015 Paris Agreement. In the run-up to the federal elections of 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to pass a Just Transition Act, for which we are still waiting.

Continue reading “Action, justice, and heroism for our climate”

Board meeting report: February 3, 2022

Here’s some of what we talked about at the last FAUW Board of Directors meeting:

Teaching assessment. The new student course perception (SCP) survey tool is launching this term, and FAUW (still) has concerns about implementing the new survey tool. In particular, we’re concerned that it’s being rolled out without training on how results will affect APR scores and before complementary teaching assessment methods are in place.

There is a large body of research that demonstrates unavoidable bias in SCPs and consequently argues they should never be used for summative assessment. The Renison Association of Academic Staff has reached agreement in its Collective Agreement that course evaluations will not be a required part of annual reviews nor tenure and promotion processes. In 2018, the arbitrator in a case at Ryerson ruled that student evaluations of teaching can’t be used to measure teaching effectiveness for promotion or tenure, based on expert opinions that student evaluations cannot be used to assess teaching effectiveness.

Return to campus. The Board discussed the administration’s response to our list of demands for a safe return and better consultation with employees, and debriefed the January 31 FAUW town hall meeting, which more than 320 faculty members attended. You can find answers to many questions on our updated COVID-19 page, along with new questions we’ve posed to the administration following the town hall. We also noted OCUFA’s recent news release, “Faculty and academic librarian voices ignored as universities rush return to in-person learning.”

FAUW staff. Katie Damphouse is back from leave and is once again your go-to person for help with navigating workplace policies and procedures! Hiring for the Executive Manager position is under way. We ask for your continued patience as Katie ramps up to full time and we complete the hiring process for the Executive Manager.

Council of Representatives. We set the agenda for the February 14 Council of Reps meeting, focusing on the return to campus, the state of collegial governance at UW, and the vacancies our Nominating and Elections Committee is currently working to fill. Talk to your Council member for more details!