Highlights: OCUFA 141st Board of Directors Meeting

David Porreca, FAUW President

The OCUFA Board of Directors, with representation from 27 member faculty associations, meets three times a year in September, February, and May. The September meeting includes association presidents, as well as OCUFA directors. FAUW’s OCUFA director, Jasmin Habib, attended the meeting with David Porreca.

This blog post will provide the main headlines from this past weekend’s OCUFA Board meeting, with more ample elaborations to follow later in the week.

  • University of Ottawa has recently concluded their collective bargaining session to obtain a new contract spanning the period from 1 May 2012 to 30 April 2016 with a 2% across-the-board increase in each year of the agreement. In addition, in years three and four, there is a 1.5% catch-up increase. Increases to pension contributions will also occur in years three and four, with a blended increase rate of 0.8%.  New vision exam and care coverage was also negotiated.
  • [Corrected] Our colleagues at St. Jerome’s University are currently in conciliation in relation to their contract negotiations and have filed for a no-board report. The next meeting with the Employer is scheduled for October 18th. The Association hopes to reach a negotiated settlement at that time. Stay tuned!!
  • In related news, two faculty associations currently are negotiating their first contracts with their administrations (Brescia and UOIT Teaching faculty), while 17 other Ontario associations will be negotiating over the course of this academic year. This means there will be lots of recent, local precedent to follow when FAUW enters negotiations in 2014-15.
  • 22 October is Ontario MPP Lobby Day for Ontario Faculty Associations. I will be attending.
  • The Ontario government has established a technical working group to advise on the design, governance and transition issues associated with the implementation of a new pooled asset management entity for Ontario’s broader public-sector pension funds, as recommended in the Morneau report. This group is still only in the preliminary deliberations stage of its activities, which both OCUFA and FAUW will be monitoring with all due care.
  • The “draft discussion paper” of Ontario’s Proposed Differentiation Policy Framework was discussed. More on this soon.
  • A motion was passed at the instigation of the Waterloo delegation to have OCUFA send a message opposing the attempts to curtail the civil liberties of people involved in the broader public sector in Québec in relation to the freedom of religious expression. Consultation with stakeholders in that province to assess the state of the matter will be done before any formal message is sent.
  • A motion was also passed unanimously to have the OCUFA Executive send a strong message to PM Stephen Harper asking him to secure the release of two Canadian academics arbitrarily arrested in Egypt: Tarek Loubani (Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Western University) and John Greyson (Professor, Film Studies, York University). They are on an ongoing hunger strike. There’s more information on this at http://tarekandjohn.com. View their latest statement here, or this update on their situation from the Toronto Star.
    [As of this morning Prime Minister Harper has called for the release of Tarek Loubani and John Greyson.]
  • Re: Bill C-377: The principal concern about this private member’s bill is that the financial disclosure provisions contained in it would allow any forensic accountant to deduce the strike fund of any/all collective bargaining units in Canada, a self-evidently punitive union-busting measure that would not serve the Canadian citizenry well.  This bill was sent back to Parliament from Senate with major revisions that would have enabled the transparency the bill seeks while excising its most egregiously harmful portions. OCUFA Directors heard that the Harper government is now sending the bill back to Senate in its original form, without any changes, to be voted upon. Faculty members are encouraged to write to Canadian Senators to urge that they not support this bill.  Even the Conservative government of New Brunswick has expressed its explicit support of unions’ efforts in that province to oppose this piece of legislation.

Shining the Spotlight on Gender Equity at UW

Diana Parry, Associate Professor and Special Advisor to the President on Women’s and Gender Issues at UW

Professor Diana Parry, Special Advisor to the President on Women's and Gender Issues at UW
Credit: Mathew McCarthy, Record staff

Thank you to FAUW for inviting me to write a guest blog post about my new position as Special Advisor to the President on Women’s and Gender Issues at UW, which I started in July. The ultimate goal of my work is to engage our campus community to move gender equity forward for the benefit of everyone. In this post, I tell you a little bit about me and my research by way of answering a couple of questions: Why have I been asked to take on this role? And, what do I hope to do while in this position? I also want to provide you with more information about how you can take part in the process and have your voice heard.

Why have I been asked to take on this role?

I have been a faculty member at UW for ten years now and am currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies. My research explores the personal and political links between women’s leisure and health, broadly defined. Using a feminist lens, my research privileges women’s standpoints and aims to advance social justice by challenging the medical model of scholarship. In addition to my research focus, I am an active member of the university community, previously as the chair of FAUW’s Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC), and currently as a member of the Women’s Studies Board at UW, a member of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations’ Status of Women Committee and a contributor to Senate at UW. Taken together, my research and committee experiences place me in a good position to advance the goals of my current position.

What do I hope to achieve while in this role?

The mandate of the position calls on me to work collaboratively with senior administrators, faculty, and the new Director of Equity to advise on policy and structural level gender equity issues, which will help shape the development of a long-range plan for the university with clear and actionable goals. The purpose of the long-range plan is to foster a supportive and nurturing university environment in which female faculty can maximize their career opportunities.

To make these recommendations “actionable”, the faculty of the university at large must be involved in shaping the plan and strategies that follow. To this end, I have begun two initiatives. First, I am developing a case that considers why diversity matters at UW. The case aims to act as a catalyst that sparks conversations about gender equity issues on campus and promotes the development of strategies to address these issues. Second, I am creating a Women’s and Gender Issues Advisory Council, a group of various stakeholders (students, staff, and faculty) across campus committed to addressing gender equity issues that will provide input and guidance in the development of the long-range plan.

Finally, to keep the campus community informed, I have begun work on a communications strategy to disseminate information and knowledge gained as I move forward in my role as Special Advisor. To build this knowledge base, I am reaching out to stakeholders across campus to collect their questions, concerns, thoughts, and ideas related to gender issues on campus. If you have something to share, please get in touch with me. I can be reached by phone at 519-888-4567 ext. 33468, email at dcparry@uwaterloo.ca, or if you prefer, drop by my office to chat (BMH 2114). I would love to hear from you. Working together, we can shine the spotlight on gender issues at UW and enact change to better our campus community for all faculty members.

More FAUW Burning Issue Updates

David Porreca, FAUW President

In this week’s blog post, I provide an update on some of the principal issues raised in last week’s post, with a particular emphasis on scheduling.


2013 Hagey Lecture Poster

First, a reminder to attend CAUT’s “Get Science Right” inaugural town hall meeting at the Waterloo Public Library on Tuesday 17 September, 15:00-17:00.  Our own Melanie Campbell (Physics) and David DeVidi (Philosophy) are among the contributors to the discussion panel.  The main theme of the event – the first among many that will happen across the country – is the Federal Government’s excessive and ideologically-driven involvement in how science is funded, conducted and published in Canada.  Any faculty member who applies for federal funding for her or his research is affected by the changes that have been imposed upon the Tri-Council agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC), so this event is a crucial one for the future of primary research in our country.  Come join the discussion.

Second, a reminder to attend this Thursday’s Hagey Lecture, where Professor Margaret MacMillan (History, Oxford) will deliver a lecture entitled “Choice or Accident? The Outbreak of World War One”.  This free event is held in the Humanities Theatre in Hagey Hall20:00 on 19 September.

Online Expense Claims Colloquium

Planning is afoot for the fact-finding colloquium on financial data security in non-Canadian cloud-based servers.  The intent of this event – to be co-sponsored by FAUW, the Secretariat and the Dean of Mathematics – is to inform the University’s decision in purchasing an online expense claims system to replace the now bygone policy on per diems.  The target dates for this event will be 4 or 5 December.

Changeover in Administration & more general thoughts

In addition to the list of administrative positions that UW is seeking to fill that were mentioned in last week’s blog post, the Director of the Office of Student Success is also an important position that remains empty.  FAUW is alert to the impact that new people in positions of authority can have, and we are making sure that faculty interests are protected by having proper representation on all of the relevant hiring committees.

In fact, from the reports I hear at various OCUFA and CAUT meetings, it becomes clear that having good people on hiring committees is one of the most effective means faculty members have at their disposal to ensure that university operations function as they should.  By this I mean that the function of the university is to promote scholarship broadly construed, i.e., the dynamic interplay between research and teaching, faculty and students.  Basic job competency notwithstanding, those candidates for upper-level positions who can stand by that vision of a university are generally less likely to make decisions that are harmful to the academe.

New Scheduling System

As a result of discussions over the past week, I am pleased to report that the Registrar’s Office is planning to follow FAUW’s suggestion and supply faculty members with two alternative schedules using real-time data: one as the schedule currently exists using the old methodology, and a second one using the new Infosilem scheduling software.  The gathering of faculty members’ preferences between these two options will be coordinated through departmental scheduling representatives and funneled upward to the Registrar’s Office from there.  FAUW plans to make sure that the rationale behind faculty members’ expressed preferences also be taken into account.

The above good news notwithstanding, FAUW still faces a problem of perception when dealing with the implementation of this scheduling system.  Indeed, in our efforts to make sure that the old scheduling system does not get replaced with one that is worse than the system we currently have, FAUW has been perceived as being an obstructionist force.  FAUW’s consistent message has been that we want the new system to be better than what we currently have for all stakeholders and interests (students, administrative staff, faculty members and room allocation), and that it should not be allowed to go ahead until such time as it is demonstrated to all stakeholders’ satisfaction that it is in fact better.

Time allocation is every faculty member’s most critical zero-sum game, so this new scheduling system has the potential to be very disruptive to our work environment if it is not done right.  Having a scheduling system that is known to be disadvantageous to faculty members is a very effective anti-recruitment and anti-retention tool for top professorial talent (as was the lack of adequate daycare facilities, an issue that is about to be resolved in no small part thanks to FAUW’s intervention).  If UW is to live up to its claimed reputation as a top-notch research institution, it would behoove it to make sure it has a scheduling system to match.

CAUT Gets Science Right, and Other FAUW News

David Porreca, FAUW President

Welcome back!  In this inaugural FAUW blog post for the 2013-14 academic year, I would like first to send out a keen welcome to all 70+ new faculty members who have joined UW over the last hiring cycle.  FAUW now represents ~1,150 faculty members.  I also plan to bring this blog’s readership up to date on the wide assortment of issues both new and ongoing from last year.

CAUT: “Get Science Right”

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is holding its inaugural Town Hall meeting that is part of its “Get Science Right” campaign, 17 September 3-5pm at the Waterloo Public Library.  This cross-country series of gatherings are intended to alert the Canadian citizenry about the federal government’s attitudes and policies toward a number of imbricated issues: the importance of primary, curiosity-driven research in general; the funding formulae for the Tri-Agencies; the muzzling of government-funded Canadian scientists; and the active discouragement and closure of scientific research when its results prove politically inconvenient.  The CBC will be filming an episode of The Fifth Estate at this event, and all faculty members who do research are encouraged in the strongest possible terms to attend.

Upcoming Hagey Lecture

The 2013 Hagey Lecture will be presented by historian Margaret MacMillan on Thursday, 19 September at 8pm in the Humanities Theatre, Hagey Hall. Admission is free. The topic of the lecture will be “Choice or Accident: The Outbreak of World War One”. Margaret MacMillan is regarded as a leading historian of the British Empire at the turn of the 20th century. She is an officer of the Order of Canada, a member of the Royal Society of Literature, and a professor of history at Oxford University.

Bright Starts Daycare

Good news: the construction of the Bright Starts amalgamated daycare building (between the train tracks and the Optometry building on Columbia) is still on schedule, to be ready for occupancy in mid-November. Barring unforeseen impediments, only delays in provincial inspection and licensing will keep this new facility from beginning its operations on schedule in January 2014.

Replacing Per Diems: Online Expense Claims?

UW is considering the purchase of an automated online expense claims system intended to replace the now-abandoned system of per diem expense claims. This process has raised a number of concerns regarding the security of faculty members’ private financial transactions if a non-Canadian cloud-based provider is selected to supply the software package. Consequently, in collaboration with the Secretariat and the Dean of Mathematics, FAUW is helping to organize a half-day colloquium on electronic security issues so as to inform the university’s decision when it comes to this critical software purchase. Stay tuned to this space for more information about this important event!

Changeover in Administration

UW is undergoing a massive changeover in the individuals occupying the upper levels of administration.  The following high-profile positions are currently awaiting permanent occupants:

  • University Registrar
  • Vice-President Academic and Provost
  • Associate Provost, Human Resources
  • Equity Officer (brand-new position created to address ongoing concerns about equity in hiring at UW, among other things)
  • Director of Institutional Analysis and Planning (Allan Starr has recently been hired into this position)


FAUW will be watching very carefully the progress of the testing being done on the proposed new scheduling system this fall.  FAUW is holding firm to its position that the new scheduling system will not be allowed to go live until it is shown to be better than the current system for all constituents (i.e., faculty members, students, administrative staff) and for room allocation.

With respect to faculty members, FAUW aims to have each colleague receive two schedules: one hypothetical created using the new system, and the real one arrived at using the current scheme and that is actually the live schedule for the term. FAUW is volunteering to coordinate the compilation of faculty members’ preferences for one schedule or the other.  Stay tuned!

No Faculty/Staff Change Room in PAC?

Over the summer, it has come to FAUW’s attention that the separate, dedicated change room for faculty and staff has been closed without a replacement planned until further notice.  Faculty members and staff are now meant to share change rooms and shower space with students.  This is an unacceptable situation for a number of very good reasons – the ease of use of camera phones and the potential for sexual harassment lawsuits come to mind.  An informal survey conducted by FAUW over the summer showed that the overwhelming majority of faculty members responding (38 of 40) were upset at the change in PAC facilities. This change also affects UW staff, and I am pleased to report that both FAUW and the Staff Association will be encouraging a return to the status quo ante (or some acceptable alternative) in the strongest possible terms.

Secure, Covered Bike Parking

Thanks to FAUW’s suggestion, four spots for covered, secure bike parking have been installed outside of Rod Coutts Hall with a view to assessing how much demand for these there actually is. While this is a commendable start, it is FAUW’s view that such secure facilities fall under the category of “build it, and they will come.” The cost-to-benefit ratio for this initiative should make its spread across campus both inevitable and a no-brainer. Further deployment of these facilities is a priority for FAUW, and we will continue to encourage the university administration to see its merits and virtues for the entire community – students, faculty and staff (e.g., greater fitness and work-life balance; improving security of UW community transportation infrastructure; stemming the flow of incessant reports of bicycle thefts to UW Police; encouraging the reduction in fossil fuel use).

Short-Term / Long-Term Disability Claims

The concerns that FAUW had raised in the summer of 2012 about the improper collection and transfer of information between Short-Term and Long-Term disability claims between UW and its insurance provider, Great-West Life, have largely been resolved to FAUW’s satisfaction.  Many thanks to all those who contributed to its eventual resolution, both from within FAUW and from UW’s staff in Human Resources.

Et Cetera

Other items on FAUW’s to-do list for this year:

  • The prioritization of the implementation of the Work-Life Balance Report’s recommendations, as well a
    s those contained in the Status of Women and Equity Committee’s Compassionate Care and Bereavement Leave Report.
  • Defining the relationship between FUAC faculty members and their main-campus departmental counterparts.
  • Discussions surrounding the definition of ADDS status are ongoing, and the working group in charge of revisiting this set of regulations aims to report to Faculty Relations Committee and the Graduate Relations Committee this term.