11 things we talked about at the November 8 Board meeting

We think it’s important that our members know what we’re doing on your behalf. So we report on the non-confidential business from every Board meeting here on our blog.

The November 8 meeting covered the status of policy 76, the free speech policy, weekend teaching, new faculty representatives on University committees, and more. Here are 11 things you might want to know about:

  1. The University will be creating a G-class policy to meet the Ontario government’s free speech requirements. FAUW does not have a role in the development of G policies, but we will keep you posted as much as we can.
  2. The Board and administration are talking about exceptional circumstances that might warrant hiring people specifically for weekend or overseas teaching, and how we might keep tabs on such hires.
  3. Members of the Renison Association of Academic Staff are voting this week on a service agreement between RAAS and FAUW, which outlines the membership dues that RAAS will pay to FAUW and the services and supports that RAAS and its members will receive in return. If they approve it, our members will vote on it at our general meeting on December 4.
  4. The Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) has been running for two years. High usage and largely positive feedback have confirmed the need for the program. We’re also hearing that people want more long-term services within the program, which is currently designed to offer short-term solutions. The utilization rate is almost 17%, which is considerably higher than the expected 10%. We have requested information about how this might affect the cost if the contract is extended next year (which it likely will be). If you would like to share feedback about the program, please comment below or send it to Katie Damphouse.
  5. We announced in our last post that we’re looking into arranging for new faculty members to access medical services on campus. We’ll be surveying members hired in the last few years soon to help us make the case for this.

Continue reading “11 things we talked about at the November 8 Board meeting”

Your Dental Benefits are Increasing in January

The Board is pleased to announce upcoming changes to your benefits. Here’s Alan Macnaughton, Pension and Benefits Committee liaison to the FAUW Board with the details. 

The University Board of Governors has approved dental plan enhancements effective January 1, 2019.

The 2018–21 salary settlement between the University and FAUW provided funds for an approximately 15% increase in the amount the University spends on health and dental plans combined for non-retired faculty members. The negotiations for other employee groups provided for a similar increase. This was a precedent-setting negotiations outcome; we’ve never negotiated an increase in benefits funding before.

Following procedure, the University’s Pension and Benefits Committee was responsible for deciding how to spend the money. The settlement provided only that the funds should be directed to areas with “broad participation.” The Committee decided on dental plan enhancements, and on October 30, the Board of Governors ratified this decision. The new rules apply to anyone covered by the dental plan, not just faculty (UW has the same pension and benefits plan for all employees).

What’s changing

The most important component of our dental plan is the coverage of basic costs—preventative treatments such as regular oral examinations, x-rays, fillings, extractions, root canals, and periodontal scaling. Presently, the plan reimburses 80% of the cost of these expenses as set out in the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) fee guide from two years ago (to a maximum of $2,193 per covered person). With the plan enhancement, coverage will be based on 95% of the ODA’s current fee guide. This is effective for treatments starting in January 2019. Continue reading “Your Dental Benefits are Increasing in January”

News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for October 25

The start of our October 25 Board meeting was disrupted by a visit from a familiar-looking chicken farmer and their prize chicken.

(Watch the video or read the description on YouTube.)

Something was also a little off about the FAUW executive officers that day…

FAUW staff dressed as treasurer Dan Brown, president Bryan Tolson, and vice president Shannon Dea.
Is that the FAUW staff team, or executive officers Dan Brown, Bryan Tolson, and Shannon Dea? We can’t tell!*

But hey, there was candy!

Halloween-themed cellophane bags of candy, and chocolate brownies with green gummy bears on top.

The actual meeting

Reports from visitors

After this bizarre delay, the meeting began with an update from Fatma Gzara on the progress of the the Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team (CTAPT). CTAPT was tasked with “researching and developing methods of assessing teaching and learning complementary to Student Course Perception surveys.” Fatma told us that CTAPT has hired a researcher to review the literature and how teaching is assessed at other universities, the U15 in particular.

Referendum results

The results of our two referenda came back this week, one on FAUW’s dues structure and another on some relatively minor changes to the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). Both passed, with large majorities of FAUW’s membership in agreement (86% of voters were in favour of the dues change and 94% for the MoA changes). If you missed the votes or want to learn more about them, read more about why our dues structure is changing and the changes to the MoA. Continue reading “News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for October 25”

News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for September 27

We had two visitors to start this meeting. First, Jasmin Habib provided an update on the Course Evaluation Project Team’s implementation phase (CEPT2), in light of the recent Ryerson decision on the use of student evaluations in tenure and promotion decisions. Given that there is another project team exploring other ways of measuring teaching quality and performance (e.g., peer evaluation), CEPT2’s position, as reported at Senate on September 17, is that Waterloo is ahead of the curve and is already working to ameliorate some of the concerns raised by the decision at Ryerson. The issue of addressing bias remains contentiousThe group has nearly completed a prototype and are preparing to test it. FAUW will keep an eye on the test process to ensure it doesn’t disadvantage any vulnerable faculty.

Sebastian Siebel-Achenbach then joined us to give an update from the OCUFA (Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations) Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee. He wants to raise some awareness and support for CAUT’s upcoming Fair Employment Week and OCUFA’s Fairness for Contract Faculty campaign, in light of the growing informalization of teaching and other kinds of professorial work in Canada. So check those links out.

We had a short discussion about the timeline and communication around proposed changes to our dues structure. These changes, if adopted by the membership, will bring FAUW in line with the conventions of other faculty associations, and alleviate some of the existing inequalities in the existing structure. More information about the proposal is available on our website. Voting members will receive an email with the details next week and a link to the online ballot on October 15. Voting will be open from October 15 to 19.

We spent some time reviewing responses from our members to the Faith Goldy event that did not go ahead earlier this year, in light of the Ontario government’s recent mandate that universities issue a free speech policy. Most responses supported our position on the event, which was issued on April 23rd and emphasized the association’s support of immigrant and non-Canadian members.

The Board appointed Mathieu Doucet as the new FAUW representative on the University Advisory Committee on Traffic Violations and Parking. We would like to see the committee expand its mandate to include active transportation and are confident that Mathieu will be a passionate advocate for this.

We ended, as always, with a review of upcoming events, including the campus tour on Thursday, the Council of Representatives meeting on October 17,  a workshop on university governance November 9, and a talk by Mary Hardy on November 16 about the joint university pension plan being developed for University of Toronto, University of Guelph, and Queen’s University employees.

Did you know that UW has a faculty writing support group?

Just because you do a lot of it doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Whether you want to improve your writing skills or habits, need some direction, or could use a push to get the work done, you might benefit from the Writing and Communication Centre’s Faculty Writing Group. We’ve heard great things from our members about this and want to make sure you’ve heard about it before registration closes on October 1.

Here’s what the Centre says about the group:

The writing group will take place every Wednesday from 4:30pm to 5:30pm for eight weeks: October 17th to December 5th, 2018. During this hour faculty will set and share writing goals, report on their progress, give and receive feedback on excerpts of group members’ works-in-progress, and learn about and discuss new writing strategies.

All faculty are also welcome to attend the weekly drop-in Faculty Writing Cafe, which takes place every Wednesday from 2:00pm to 4:30pm in SCH 228F. The Writing and Communication Centre also offers free 50-minute consultations with their Faculty Support Specialist.

Learn more about all of these programs on the WCC website.

Want more professional development opportunities? Check out the professional development page of our Faculty Guide.

News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for September 13, 2018

Daniel Cockayne (Geography and Environmental Management) and Brent Matheson (Math/Business and Accounting) are taking over the Board meeting recaps this year. Here’s Daniel’s first go: 

The first FAUW Board meeting of the 2018/2019 academic year (meet your new Board members here!) began with a summary of FAUW’s finances by Michelle Adams from the accountancy firm RLB, which audits FAUW’s finances annually. You’ll be glad to hear that she confirmed that FAUW’s financial situation is sound!

Long in the works, there is to be a new policy that will establish a clear process for dealing with accommodations for faculty and staff. As an FS-class policy, it will need to be approved by the faculty and staff relations committees (FRC and SRC). The terms of reference for the policy have been drafted, and a committee will be appointed soon.

We discussed the final details of the agreement between FAUW and the Renison Association of Academic Staff (RAAS). Pending adoption by both the RAAS and FAUW memberships, this agreement will make RAAS members affiliate members of FAUW. They will pay FAUW dues in exchange for access to specific services and resources. We expect to bring this to the membership at the Fall General Meeting on December 4.

The Board approved new election procedures, now posted on our website, which mostly just document existing practices and will be reflected in the next call for nominations for FAUW President this fall.

We discussed the current re-development of student perception surveys at Waterloo in light of the arbitration decision at Ryerson University, which ruled against the use of student surveys in tenure and promotion decisions. This has established an important precedent for faculty associations and universities across Canada. It is important to emphasize that this decision does not dismiss the value of student surveys wholesale, just their use for summative decisions pertaining to merit, tenure, and promotion. FAUW discussed how this decision affects (or should affect) Waterloo’s current Course Evaluation Project Team 2 (CEPT2) and Complimentary Teaching Assessment Project Team (CTAPT). (See also: Jay Michela’s recent analysis of this issue and all our blog posts about student surveys.)

Another point of discussion was FAUW’s response to the recent announcement from the Office of the Premiere that publicly-assisted universities and colleges must post a policy on free speech by January 1, 2019. There were questions around precisely how formalized such a policy needs to be and the kinds of protections for free speech that the University of Waterloo already has in place. There will certainly be more to come on this topic. Stay tuned.

FAUW’s Priorities for 2018-19

—FAUW President Bryan Tolson with an update on what we’re working on right now and what’s coming up this year.

Welcome to a new academic year! I hope you all took some time off this summer. FAUW is gearing up for a new academic year and I want to quickly fill you in on the array of things we are working on—and to highlight two items that are timely for you to consider putting some thought into.

Performance evaluation addenda

First off, we are quickly approaching the deadline (October 15) for each department and school to update its Addendum to their Faculty Performance Evaluation Guidelines. One quick example of why this might be useful: FAUW thinks this is a reasonable place for departments to specify how teaching tasks are counted and/or what the normal teaching loads are for both tenured/ tenure-track faculty and lecturers in your department.

While you’re at it, make sure to change any reference to “course/teaching evaluations” to read “student course perception surveys” as per the decision of University Senate. Continue reading “FAUW’s Priorities for 2018-19”