The hot topics at FAUW and OCUFA this month

What FAUW is talking about

  1. We’re working on identifying standard teaching workload expectations in each department so we can better advise members. We started gathering data on this at the October 29 Council of Reps meeting.
  2. Speaking of which, we are still missing Council members for: Accounting & Finance, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Physics & Astronomy, and Systems Design Engineering. If you’d like to be your unit’s rep, send us an email.
  3. The Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour) drafting committee finished its public consultation on October 18. FRC will review all the feedback and give direction to the drafting committee about changes to make by November 11. We expect a final version back to FRC for approval on December 19. In particular, FAUW heard impassioned feedback about the policy’s silence on student-supervisor relationships. This was instead covered in draft guidelines. The Board voted on October 24 to ask that this be included in the policy itself.
  4. The Lecturers Committee had an insightful meeting with David Rose, new chair of the Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) drafting committee and Benoit Charbonneau (chief negotiator for FAUW) about policy 76 and implications for lecturer salary equity.
  5. FAUW President Bryan Tolson met with the faculty reps on the joint health and safety committees about how those committees can advocate more explicitly for faculty safety issues.
  6. Ranjini Jha was appointed to the Pension Investment Committee.
  7. We’re starting to plan events for next term. Some topics we’re looking at include preparing for retirement, definite term contracts, the teaching scheduling process, and meet-ups for early-career faculty and out-of-town and bike commuters.
  8. The University is currently negotiating its third Strategic Mandate Agreement with the province. Currently, 92% of UW’s operating funding is based on enrolment, but the new performance-based funding model will bring this number down to about 33%, with the rest dictated by to-be-determined performance indicators. FAUW is more concerned with rejecting this funding model as a whole than getting into the details about which indicators UW should be using. If you want to learn more about how the model works, here’s a presentation from OCUFA (PDF) that breaks it down.

What OCUFA is talking about

OCUFA = Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations

  1. Now that the provincial legislature has reconvened, Bill 124 (the one that will cap salary increases at 1%) will likely pass in November, and then there likely will be a court challenge, likely by CUPE (the Canadian Union of Public Employees). It’s still unclear if the legislation will apply to anything outside of base salary (e.g. benefits spending, merit increases).
  2. Bill 100 (the one that allows the government to reduce/eliminate the salary of faculty members collecting a pension) is already law; we’re just waiting to see if they will use it. OCUFA will file a charter challenge if needed.

OCUFA’s advocacy day at Queen’s Park is coming up on November 6. We can’t make it this year, but you can follow along on their Twitter account when the time comes.

Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: “The Four R’s – Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility”

The FAUW Indigenization Reading Circle meets monthly to discuss readings relating to Indigenization and reconciliation in the university context.

At the October 4, 2019, session of our Indigenization Reading Circle, we asked what we can learn about universities by shifting our focus toward the experience of Indigenous students as they attend universities in Canada (or the United States). In “First Nations and Higher Education: The Four R’s – Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility,” Verna Kirkness and Ray Barnhardt argue that the underrepresentation of Indigenous students in universities and their comparably lower completion rates reflect the systemic tension between universities and the lives of Indigenous peoples. The authors’ programme for reforming universities is built around ‘The Four R’s’.

Showing respect for Indigenous students will require an examination of what kinds of knowledge count. Ensuring universities are relevant to Indigenous communities will necessitate ongoing conversations around how education fits into their life-worlds. For the relationships within universities to be reciprocal, the roles of teachers and learners must be reconsidered. As with other transformations in inter-nation relationships (governance, public welfare and justice, resource management), sharing control of universities with Indigenous communities is key to Indigenous communities being responsible participants.

Continue reading “Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: “The Four R’s – Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility””

Meet the Faculty: Nada Basir

Our “Meet the Faculty” interviews provide a window into the work lives of faculty across the University of Waterloo. Faculty members talk about the day-to-day joys and struggles, and share tips for getting the work done and staying mentally and physically healthy in academia.

Nada Basir is an assistant professor at the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business.

What do you teach and research?

My PhD is in strategic management, but a lot of my research looks at entrepreneurship as a vehicle for social impact and change. I tend to make these worlds collide when I teach. I teach social entrepreneurship in our Master of Business Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program, where I focus on building innovative, financially sustainable businesses to tackle pressing social problems. My entrepreneurial strategy undergraduate course is very much focused on business strategy but there is definitely an element of leveraging businesses for social good in there.

What else do you do on campus?

There are many exciting entrepreneurship initiatives happening at the University, and I think it’s important for someone like me, a female visible minority, to be present and involved in as many as I can. The start-up space has a diversity problem, especially when it comes to female representation. Things are starting to get better, but we are not there yet. I help judge some of the campus competitions, such as the Norman Esch Awards and the World’s Challenge Challenge, and I speak on panels and act as a mentor for some student-led entrepreneurship clubs. I see and hear first-hand some of the challenges the female entrepreneurial students face and this has shaped my research and community involvement. For example, a few years ago, I was involved in organizing the Waterloo Women: Ideas, Makers, and Innovators event.

I’ve been working on building a network for faculty across campus who research innovation and entrepreneurship. Since UW doesn’t have a business school, this incredibly interesting research is happening across campus, with few connections between projects and people working on very similar problems. We’ve been playing around with a few models of how we can build better connections between all of us.

What is it about your work that you’re really passionate or excited about?

The more I learn, the more excited and passionate I become about leveraging ‘business’ for social good. Whether you are a Walmart or a social enterprise developing an affordable infant incubator for rural India, there are diverse and creative ways to make a positive impact in this world. Capitalism is an incredible force—let’s unlock that force for good. My teaching revolves around this, and much of my research does too. I feel very lucky and privileged to be able to come to work and spend my days asking questions that really excite me and working with students who are exploring how to make all of this happen.

Continue reading “Meet the Faculty: Nada Basir”

Meet the Faculty: Kelly Anthony

Our “Meet the Faculty” interviews provide a window into the work lives of faculty across the University of Waterloo. Faculty members talk about the day-to-day joys and struggles, and share tips for getting the work done and staying mentally and physically healthy in academia.

Kelly Anthony is a continuing lecturer in the School of Public Health and Health Systems.

What do you teach and research?

The influence of poverty and inequity on people’s health. Health Sciences students tend to expect that there are biomedical explanations for health outcomes; I show them how social factors are involved in why some people are more likely to develop certain conditions than others. I don’t push any specific political belief system, but the conversation gets political very quickly! Students should leave my classroom angry and wanting to change stuff.

What else do you do on campus or in the community?

I’m fortunate that my director understands the significance of service in the community. I do more external service than internal. I’ve been on the board of the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council for the last four years; I’m currently on the executive and also two subcommittees, one on high risk youth, the other on cannabis legislation. These committees include representation from all kinds of sectors; we’re trying to ensure that people don’t end up in the criminal justice system.

What is it about your work that you’re really passionate about?

I try to bring the community into the classroom, and send my students into the community. Even something as simple as suggesting that they go into an emergency room and really look at the demographics of who’s there—who doesn’t have access to a regular family doctor or other health care options. They come back with a whole new understanding of the issues. I feel incredibly privileged to be doing what I’m doing, in a situation where I can be both angry and effective. The second I think my students aren’t leaving my class angry enough to change things, I’ll leave here.

Continue reading “Meet the Faculty: Kelly Anthony”

Meet the Faculty: Judith Koeller

Judith Koeller from the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing

Our “Meet the Faculty” interviews provide a window into the work lives of faculty across the University of Waterloo. Faculty members talk about the day-to-day joys and struggles, and share tips for getting the work done and staying mentally and physically healthy in academia.

Judith Koeller is a lecturer with the Dean of Math office and the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing.

What do you teach?

I teach Classical Algebra and Linear Algebra for math majors. I also teach online in the Masters for Math Teachers program. And I’m working on a course with Peace and Conflict Studies on the peace implications of math. A lot of professions have some kind of ethical training—there are things that have to be reported and protection for whistleblowers. Some fields in math, like CPAs, have professional associations. But for many math and CS graduates, but there are a lot of social implications to their work without much clarity around ethics and whistleblowing. This course will get students thinking about what kind of ethical issues they might face in their careers.

What else do you do on campus?

I do a lot of service through the Centre for Education in Math and Computing. We create math contests for grades 7-12 that are written around the world, and visit a lot of schools to get students thinking about what they can do with math. I’ve visited schools in five or six countries as well as across Canada.

I’ve also served on the FAUW Equity Committee, responding and advocating for policies on campus for equity seeking groups. Through that I’ve become a facilitator for the University’s Making Spaces workshops, which specifically advocate for LGBTQ+ people.

What is it about your work that you’re really passionate or excited about?

When I connect with a young kid who really has an interest in mathematics and a lightbulb goes on that maybe they could pursue that in more depth than they realized. Sometimes it’s a kid who doesn’t think about themselves as being strong in math, but maybe there’s a particular problem that they do really well at and they see themselves in a different way. That’s really exciting.

Continue reading “Meet the Faculty: Judith Koeller”

How to keep up with campus news

There’s a lot happening on campus. Here are a few ways to make sure you don’t miss anything.

1. Read the Daily Bulletin and listen to Beyond the Bulletin.

You can have this campus-wide update sent directly to your email every morning, and the accompanying podcast delivered directly to your podcast app every Friday. Beyond the Bulletin is available via RSS, Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, and probably any other way you listen to your podcasts.

2. Follow newsletters.

Here are a few that we know of. Please link to any we missed in the comments!

Tip: Like newsletters but don’t want to add more to your inbox? Try using to collect all your newsletters into one email every day. Hint: don’t include emails from people, offices (or, say, faculty associations) that send you time-sensitive or important emails, because you won’t get those emails right away.

3. Follow RSS feeds

Every UWaterloo website has an RSS feed for its News, Events, and Blog sections. You can find the RSS link at the top of each of those pages.

4. Add events directly to your calendar

The “add to calendar” button

When you find an event you’re interested in, add it to your calendar with just a couple of clicks—no typing required! Look for the little calendar icon with a plus sign at the top of any event listing on any UWaterloo website. Click it to download an “.ics” file, which you can open with any calendar app. (Here are the instructions for Google Calendar.)

Want to add all of the events from a website to your calendar at once? Use the “Export” button at the top of the Events page of that site.

5. Subscribe to this blog!

If you haven’t yet, hit “subscribe” to get these posts in your inbox as they’re published.

Why I participate in extra-curricular activities with students

Diana Skrzydlo explains how she benefits from joining student organizations.

It’s easy to forget what it’s like to be a student. I’m not talking about late night assignments, last minute study sessions, and cramped living spaces; I’m talking about forming communities of common interest, developing lifelong friendships, and exploring your passions.

In my 12 years as a faculty member, I have been involved in FASS (the Faculty, Alumni, Staff, and Students theatre company), the Chamber and University choirs, and the AcaBellas. They’re not just student groups; they’re university community groups—most clubs are open to any UW community members, including faculty. I’ve been behind the scenes and I’ve performed on stage, and through it all, it has been a delight to share the experience with a variety of other members of the campus community.

The pursuit of a shared passion will build real empathy, and empathy for your students will make you a better educator.

Here are some of the benefits of participating in student organizations:

Continue reading “Why I participate in extra-curricular activities with students”

Ethical Behaviour policy consultation + more from the September 26 Board meeting

A draft of Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour) is out for consultation. Since this is the first policy that’s made its way to Faculty Relations Committee (FRC) for approval in a while, let’s review how this will work:

  1. Policy 33 is an “FS” policy, meaning that it affects both faculty and staff working conditions. FRC (that’s the group of FAUW Board members and admin that meets every two weeks to hash out working conditions, fix problems, and approve policies) and the Staff Relations Committee (SRC) jointly strike drafting committees for and then approve FS policies. 
  2. FRC and SRC will send the draft policy out for consultation to other groups. They will review all the feedback and tell the drafting committee what changes to make. 
  3. The updated draft policy then goes back to FRC and SRC for approval. Approval at FRC requires a double majority, which means both FAUW and admin have a veto.
  4. After FRC and SRC approve the policy, it goes on to be approved by the Board of Governors.

In the case of Policy 33, faculty and staff members will get a draft of the policy soon. We encourage you to provide feedback through the soon-to-be-announced process set up by the Secretariat. If necessary, we will also collect anonymous input through our FRC reps and Lori Curtis, AF&T Committee chair.

What else is going on right now?

  1. The Holistic Benefits Review is moving along—you’ll get a survey soon, asking for your input about University employee benefits.
  2. As we reported last time, Finance (incorrectly) used a new Consumer Price Index (CPI) source for indexing the 2018-2019 Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement (FPER) amount, which led to each member getting $8.00 less than you should have last year. We’ve worked collegially with Finance to find a solution: reverting back to the previous CPI source moving forward and also making a one-time addition of $8.00 to your 2019-2020 FPER. This was the Board’s preferred solution. Special thanks to the member who investigated this thoroughly and brought it to our attention!
  3. We gave feedback on draft conflict of interest guidelines that FRC is working on. These apply to faculty hiring, performance review, tenure and promotion, and chair search committees. You can expect to see those later this term.
  4. We had a quick debrief about the New Faculty and Family Dinner that we co-hosted with the University on September 20. (The gist: it was great; everyone had fun; we’re looking forward to next year.)
  5. The Lecturers Committee held its first meeting of the year and is working on setting goals for the next few months. Let them know if you have suggestions.
  6. The Board approved FAUW’s audited financial statements for the fiscal year 2018–19. 

We’ll be talking about the progress made so far by the Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team (CTAPT) (see the “Documents” sidebar) at an upcoming Board meeting. If you have input you’d like us to consider, let us know!