Board meeting report for October 28, 2021

Here’s what was on the latest Board meeting agenda:

  1. Nominating Committee. We are still looking for people to help create this committee! Read about what the Nominating Committee will do and how to get involved on our website.
  2. Audited financial statements. Our auditor went over the draft audited financial statements for the year ending April 30, 2021, noting that we were under budget on a number of items, mostly due to cancelled events and travel. The Board approved the statements, which will be presented for approval by the membership at the Fall General Meeting on December 8.
  3. Policy 76/77 progress. At Faculty Relations Committee, we and the administration representatives shared our respective visions for teaching-intensive faculty, to see if they are close enough to continue discussions. Based on these statements, the Board has supported continuing discussions at FRC with an update expected at the next Board meeting. Two essential items for us are creating teaching-stream professorial ranks with defined progression through these ranks, and time to do the work required to progress through these ranks, in a pedagogical/professional development (PPD) term, one in every six terms. Importantly, this PPD time cannot be achieved by redistributing courses and causing overload teaching in other terms, as this would result in an overall higher workload than lecturers currently have. A PPD term must be achieved through a commensurate reduction in teaching load and/or service duties. Let us know if you agree in the comments below!
  4. Council of Representatives. We had great turnout at the October 18 Council meeting, where we talked about the AODA Education Standard recommendations, returning to campus, how the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee works. At this Board meeting, we discussed ways to increase communication between the Board and Council, and between Council and other members. Let us know if you have suggestions about the Council of Representatives!

And here are some highlights from the written reports:

  • Equity Committee activities. The Equity Committee (EC) is planning to run a workshop on unconscious bias in recommendation letter writing in November and host a town hall to understand faculty concerns about equity in January 2022. Aimee Morrison attended the feedback session hosted by OCUFA on the provincial government guidelines on accessibility on October 20. Interested members can reach out to her directly for her report. The EC hosted soup lunch at Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre on October 28. Members of colour on the EC and beyond participated in offering feedback to facilitators Aimee Morrison and Frankie Condon to the HREI Equity Faculty Recruitment and Retention Workshop on October 22, in preparation for November workshops for the Black and Indigenous cluster hiring committees.
  • Compassionate Care and Bereavement Leave policy. Aimée Morrison and Lori Curtis will be the FAUW reps on the drafting committee for the new policy on compassionate care and bereavement leave benefits. Don’t worry: we won’t be waiting years for these. The minimum benefits are already guaranteed in our latest salary settlement and will be effective May 1, 2022, no matter what. The committee could write a policy that further clarifies and/or adds to those benefits.
  • Pension & Benefits committee. Most meetings of the Pension and Benefits Committee are open to the public and we encourage members to attend, especially when major (read: contentious) decisions are being made. We’ll keep you updated about when those are happening.

12 thoughts on “Board meeting report for October 28, 2021

  1. Three thoughts:

    1. I fully agree agree with your statement about what PPD is, and that it has to be a #1 priority.

    2. A #2 priority though, on my opinion, should be a clear path from lecturer to continuing lecturer, while professorial ranks themselves should be priority #3 (though I can see how the two are interrelated). Establishing #1 and #2 is the bare minimum.

    3. In order to get any progress on this issue, on the other side of the table lecturers should see at least one research professor who does not view their teaching as a task inferior to research activities, who attend actual teaching conferences, and who knows what scholarly teaching-related research entails. People may be biassed, and if the system benefits them, they will not see any motivation for change.

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  2. RE: PPD term through a reduction, this is absolutely fundamental. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. We cannot do our regular teaching and service and have added PPD work. This is a net increase in our workload which is unacceptable. We are already overworked.

    I also have concerns about the procedure here. Why are we working from these “visions” when the policy revision committee has been discussing the terms of P76 for the last 6+ months? Did the administration go into the policy drafting process without a vision? What is their vision?

    This also appears to be happening outside of the regular policy revision process. I don’t think FAUW should set the incredibly dangerous precedent of hashing out major policy changes at FRC alone. We are teaching admin that they can bypass the usual process by holding out long enough at the PDC. Why is this acceptable to the Board?

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  3. “At Faculty Relations Committee, we and the administration representatives shared our respective visions for teaching-intensive faculty, to see if they are close enough to continue discussions.”

    This statement is a *far cry* from the email from the Provost on September 22 about the PDC “seeking guidance”. Has the PDC even met this term?

    Beyond that, it seems to some degree appalling that “visions” are being shared at this time and not in, say, March or April, shortly after the PDC would have begun this work. We can see the vision that FAUW, and the lecturers in particular, had for the future of teaching-intensive faculty with that list of 10 points on the “Lost Opportunity” blog. I have the same question as a prior commenter: did the administration not have a vision of what they wanted going into this?

    The Strategic Plan was supposed to provide the university’s macroscopic-scale vision of what it wants. As the Provost cited in that email, part of that vision is “to promote quality in teaching, learning and support infrastructure, policy and practice that remove systemic barriers”. That doesn’t happen for free; that takes time, and time takes money to provide. Given the latest numbers, money is in good supply after the lecturers worked overtime and burned out en masse to support the university through the pandemic. I’d encourage everyone to search for “University of Waterloo audited statement” (not sure if I can include the link here), find the 2020-21 statement, and look at Page 7, which demonstrates the university’s “Excess of revenue over expenses for the year” DOUBLED from Fiscal Year ’19-’20 to Fiscal Year ’20-’21.

    It would be nice to see the administration put its money where its mouth is. There’s no lack of cash to do so, so it’s a matter of willingness and respect. If this is where we are a month and a half after the “Lost Opportunity” blog, I’m feeling pessimistic about this.

    And to respond to the question in the blog post: YES a PPD term must be achieved through a commensurate reduction in teaching load and/or service. That term would also help the university live up to its obligations to allow lecturers to take vacation, which it currently does a poor job of. In my unit, we were told that several people were “not very good” at taking vacation even prior to the onset of the pandemic. See the “Help Dr. X. take their vacation!” blog post from May 26 as to why that wasn’t as easy for people as it should have been.

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  4. I disagree that extra PPD time is the most critical negotiating point. Teaching 6 courses a year does mean that there is less time for PPD than tenure-stream faculty (who teach 4), but the expectations are also reduced. Let’s break this down: if you teach 6 courses a year, that is 2 courses a term. While the first year of two of teaching two courses a term may be a full-time commitment, in my experience (which may not be the same as my colleagues), it becomes less so in future years. And if you teach 3 courses a term, then one semester a year is course free in any case. It should be ample time for PPD.

    By giving 1 semester every two years as course reduced, essentially the teaching load has been reduced to 5 courses/year from 6, which is only marginally more than called tenure stream. That seems odd, and if I was in admin (I’m not, BTW, I am a lecturer), I’d also balk at this proposal. It’s unlikely to gain traction.

    If the argument is about how someone can progress in their career while teaching 6 courses a year, the answer could be about how the criteria for progression are defined. Certainly, the criteria cannot be the same as for tenured faculty because the intent shouldn’t be to created a research-light stream, but to create a true teaching stream.

    From my perspective, the bigger limitation to professional development is the lack of access to funding for activities such as going to conferences. We get the same annual allowance as tenured faculty but don’t have grants to attend conferences. If Lecturers were to push for anything else, I’d want that money increased to something that does help us do PPD. For example, what if we had $5,000/yr instead of $2,000/yr? That would pay for a conference plus the ability to spend on new edtech and other opportunities.

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  5. I can’t speak for the board, of course. And there can be different strategic approaches to policy change.

    But I note that PDCs have worked P76/77 for more than 6 years with no result. So the “usual process” is arguably problematic.

    And I also note that policy 1 states, in part: “If the policy is returned at any stage, the FRC will review the reasons given for its return, make any revisions that it deems necessary, and return the (amended) policy for approval so long as it continues to have majority support from members appointed by each of the Administration and Faculty Association.”

    I can’t defend policy 1, but I don’t believe the current process is violating its terms.

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    1. RE: Policy 1 wording I believe the key words are “If the *policy*…” Unless I am mistaken, no such thing was produced by the PDC which makes this argument moot. Please correct me if I am wrong and a policy draft was indeed written up.

      The policy revision process assumes that a draft will be produced by the PDC and goes from there. There is nothing that accounts for the situation in which a PDC does not generate a draft; therefore we are outside of the regular process. Policy 1 is clear that minor changes to policy are to be handled at FRC alone, while major changes are undertaken by a PDC. The changes (maybe) coming to P76 are major; P1 seems to implicitly rule out such changes happening directly at FRC. So I ask again: why is the Board allowing major changes to happen at FRC?

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      1. Hi, I’ll send this question to the Board this week! I can clarify that FRC is not drafting policy, it is setting clearer terms for policy drafting, in an attempt to prevent the same problem happening for a third time.

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      2. Sure. You could argue that the current process is not countenanced by Policy 1. I don’t agree, but one could argue that. And if so, then what? Send it back to the PDC I assume is what you think is right.

        To which I would say, it has been at a PDC for the past 6+ years. Are you really that optimistic that things will change this time around?

        The current policy development system is clearly flawed. Given the tremendous amount of time spent already, the FAUW executive team is hoping that this different approach at this stage may lead to a better outcome. There is still a long way to go before anyone –FRC or PDC — produces finished policies.

        But reasonable people can disagree.

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      3. I think we can agree to disagree on whether the current process is truly in line with Policy 1.

        We certainly agree that the current system is flawed.

        I must admit that I’m now a little confused as “fauwaterloo” explained that FRC is *not* drafting policy, while your response suggests that FRC might do so. I might be misunderstanding, but it seems like going back to a PDC is not the preferred avenue for the executive team. Is this “different approach” having FRC draft the policy or am I missing something?

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      4. Now I am even more confused. Kate Lawson’s answer from November 23rd says that a policy drafting committee is *not* the preferred route of the executive team.

        In today’s FAQ from the FRC delegates (which include Prof. Lawson) we have

        Q: Who will be writing the actual policy?
        A: As per Policy 1, a policy drafting committee will write the policy language.

        Why has there been a u-turn on this in the span of under two weeks?

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      5. FAUW’s approach has not changed. FAUW has not expressed a preference for not having a policy drafting committee, but for strengthening the terms of reference first, rather than the PDC resuming its work without doing that.

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