Report from the November 26 Board meeting

Here’s what we discussed:

  1. Salary negotiations. We held a confidential session on our priorities, which include some of the typical items around salary and benefits, a couple of key equity-oriented items, and a few things that we believe will make life easier for our members and your families, particularly during difficult times. The negotiating team is optimistic and assures us they will be “tough and fair” as they head into bargaining next week. We will report back when we have news we can share, probably in the new year. Good luck, team!
  2. Redistribution of unspent professional expense (FPER) funds. Members will receive two-thirds of this money on December 4 and can use it as part of this year’s FPER; the remaining third will be added to the 2021-2022 FPER amount. There is also a new chart from Finance that explains which work-from-home expenses are eligible for FPER, a tax deduction, or both. 
  3. Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental Leaves). The Policy 14 consultation website is now live. Please share your feedback, both positive and negative. We’re very excited about the changes in this policy and need your help to make sure it’s approved. 
  4. Our 2020-21 budget. We passed a ‘business as usual’ budget at our April general meeting and business has not proceeded as usual. Some of our committees have submitted proposals to repurpose some of their funds in light of not having in-person events. We also have a couple of new, unexpected expenses, and a lot of event money that isn’t going to be used this year. We’ll have a more detailed update for voting members at our general meeting on December 8. 
  5. framework for teaching statements for 2020 performance reviews. Ian VanderBurgh created a document to help members contextualize and describe what their teaching has looked like over the last year. Teaching statements aren’t required; good ones take substantial time to write, and you can opt out of being evaluated on your teaching for 2020 altogether, but we think this is a useful guide for those who do choose to submit a statement. 
  6. Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments). We discussed candidate key changes that we want to see in this policy with regard to teaching faculty. This is essentially a list of bargaining priorities, so we won’t be sharing it publicly. We also discussed a tentative plan for moving forward with the policy 76 revision process, and we hope to have an announcement about this at the general meeting.  
  7. Winter and spring term dates. We haven’t heard anything about spring term starting late or having a reading week, but for the record, we aren’t in support of any such changes to spring term dates. Among other things, pushing back the end of spring term would limit the time available for faculty teaching in both spring and fall (let along all three terms) to take any time off next year. We have heard that the deadline for submitting your winter term grades is not changing. More on the changes to winter term in Dan’s president’s report below.

President’s report 

dan brown, 23 nov 2020 

As I’m writing this, I look out the window of my home office and see quite a lot of snow falling. I don’t miss commuting in snow, though I do miss seeing people at the office. Really, I miss a lot. I hope you’re all doing as well as possible. 

COVID-19 has become more prevalent in Waterloo Region, and there have been lots of outbreaks in a variety of places, including an outbreak in a UW residence which has been declared to be over. The University announced a couple weeks ago that the COVID testing site on campus will be available for immediate family of employees, which is good news. Also good news is that the flu shot is available via Health Services. I’m getting my flu shot this week and recommend it to you as well. 

Last week, the University announced its new president. Dr. Vivek Goel, who has been both Provost and VP Research and Innovation at the University of Toronto, will be Waterloo’s seventh president, starting next July. Many FAUW-affiliated people were part of the nominating committee, and I’m glad to know that even in the midst of a pandemic, being president of Waterloo is a big draw. Dr Goel is a physician-scientist, with particular focus on evidence-based medical decision making. Kathy Becker (the UWSA president) and I met briefly with him the day after his appointment was announced, and he sounds eager to get started. 

At Senate last week, we approved a motion from the Provost that we delay the start of Winter term to January 11. The motion also included two “pause” days in March, which will be treated like the non-teaching days in Fall and Winter break. The extra instruction days to make up the days in January and May will come in the April, with the bulk of the days made up by shrinking the exam period (since fewer classes are having long exams due to the pandemic).  All in all, it’s a reassuring outcome, and I’m hopeful that our members can actually take some time for themselves during the December holidays and in the winter term. 

We had begun the work to represent research professors back in 2019 but shelved it when the pandemic began because too many other things were happening. We have capacity now and are bringing the file back for discussion. 

I hope you all keep safe and healthy as teaching comes to a close for this term. With three vaccine candidates showing great promise for controlling the pandemic, perhaps we’ll be able to see each other in the same room soon. 

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