Board meeting report: February 16, 2023

Here’s what we talked about at the last meeting of the FAUW Board of Directors:

Reopening the 2021 salary settlement. The administration has agreed to review our last 2021 salary settlement in light of Bill 124 being defeated in court (Bill 124 was the one that limited compensation increases to 1% annually across the Ontario public sector). A recent arbitration decision made it clear that organizations should not wait for the outcome of an appeal before re-opening the negotiations that were constrained by Bill 124.

Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour. There has been no movement on this very important policy since August 2021. A joint meeting of the Faculty Relations Committee and the Staff Relations Committee was held recently to discuss the 2021 draft, to consider outstanding issues, and to press for implementation of the revised policy as soon as possible.

Policy 12 – Compassionate Care & Bereavement Leave. The Faculty Relations Committee discussed a draft version of this new policy. We want to ensure that (a) there are no unnecessarily burdensome documentation requirements, (b) the definitions of family include all those that we might consider close family, even if the connections may not be conventional, and (c) applications to extend a period of compassionate leave beyond the minimum are consistently and fairly resolved. The Staff Relations Committee is also discussing this draft, and we believe we are close to agreement on all sides.

Policy 57 – Employee Accommodations. The key features of this new policy that we are advocating for are (a) the establishment of a Central Office for processing accommodation requests, and (b) the costs of accommodations should be met from central funding, not from department or faculty budgets. We think it’s essential that the central office, not the individual’s dean, determines the appropriate accommodations for each individual, and works with the individual’s department to avoid any negative impact on their colleagues.

Governance review. The Board reviewed a project proposal from CAUT and will be issuing a call for members for an ad hoc committee soon.

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Retirement advice from your (former) colleagues

In March 2020, right before everything moved online, we invited a few recently retired or soon-to-be-retired faculty members to talk about their experience of the retirement process and share some advice. Here’s what we learned.

Coming to the decision

You have to do it sometime, and it’s going to be an adjustment no matter when. Some panelists decided rather quickly, while one described it as a “gradual series of decisions.”

Some factors in the decision and signs that might suggest you’re about ready to retire include

  • an approaching birthday (that seems obvious, but maybe this birthday feels different from previous years),
  • grants coming to an end,
  • having other things to look forward to,
  • feeling the need to slow down,
  • pressure from your spouse, and
  • wanting to travel—as one panelist warned, don’t put retirement off too long if you want to travel!
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15 highlights from our annual tenure and promotion workshops

Every year, FAUW offers a series of workshops to help members prepare for career transitions and milestones.

  1. FAUW’s Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee (AF&T) can provide a range of support, from reviewing your application, to attending meetings with you, or helping you appeal a negative decision, if it comes to that. You’re entitled to have an “academic colleague” with you at all meetings, and faculty members often bring an AF&T member. You should definitely contact AF&T if you receive a letter expressing reservations or any other negative signs or decisions. We’ve seen a lot of those and can help you figure out how to respond.
  2. You can apply for tenure either one or two years after you’re reappointed, so you’re going through the tenure process during your fifth or sixth year. (Of course, your timeline will be affected by any leaves and extensions you take.) Both options are normal; neither is “early” or “late.”
    • “Applying early” refers to applying before either of those options, and requires agreement from your dean and departmental tenure & promotion committee (and is usually arranged when you’re hired and documented in your appointment letter).
  3. Make sure you address any concerns raised in performance reviews or your reappointment letter, and that you document signs of improvement in any areas where you’re struggling.
  4. We recommend that you take your pre-tenure sabbatical. It’s likely the only time you’ll get a six-month sabbatical at full pay, and it can give you essential time to work on preparing for tenure. It will impact the length and/or timing of your sabbaticals after tenure by using up the sabbatical credits you’ve accrued so far, but your primary goal at this time is making sure you get tenure. Those credits won’t do you any good later if you’re not here!
  5. When applying for tenure, you will be assessed on what you’ve accomplished since arriving at Waterloo. External referees will look at your whole careers, but the UW committees will focus on your work at UW. Your previous work is what got you hired; now you need to show what you’ve done since and where you’re going.
  6. The emphasis for promotion is usually on scholarship, but you can get promoted based on an outstanding teaching record, with long-standing, satisfactory scholarship.
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Applying for promotion to full professor: Advice for women

Every year, FAUW offers an information session about applying for promotion to full professor. In 2020, we offered a session specifically for women. Here are some of the highlights.

Applying for promotion to full professor: Advice for women
  1. It’s understandable if it’s not clear to you why you should bother applying. Some reasons to consider applying include being a role model to other women professors, more access to administrative positions where you can change how things are done, and increased status and recognition.
  2. It takes about a week to prepare your application—less time if you keep your CV up to date and file positive reviews and citations along the way.
  3. You don’t have to be invited to apply by your chair (though you do want their support).
  4. FAUW can review your application and provide an “academic colleague” to accompany you through the process. You can also find your own academic colleague—this role is established in university policy.
  5. If you’re debating whether to apply, you’re probably ready; women tend to be less sure about their readiness than men. Put another way: Men will generally promote themselves. You need to, too.
  6. A lot of expectations are discipline-specific, but since your application will be reviewed by people outside of your discipline and department, be sure to supply all the necessary context. If impact factor isn’t applicable in your discipline, note that (if it is applicable, academic librarians can help you sort it out). If your department has few PhD students, note that. In general, explain anything that might be different from the norm.
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Board meeting report: February 2, 2023

This was a packed meeting! Here’s what we covered:

Black and Indigenous faculty mentorship. The Equity Committee is creating an informal mentorship program to support faculty hired through the Black and Indigenous Excellence initiatives. FAUW is funding one-on-one meetings to support this.

Policy development. FRC has received new drafts of two policies: Compassionate Care & Bereavement Leave (12) and Employee Accommodations (57). The Board reviewed Policy 12 at this meeting and will discuss 57 at the next. What we negotiated for compassionate care and bereavement leave is documented in our last settlement, and Policy 12 will cover at least those provisions—which are already in place! You can find out what leaves and benefits you have in our Faculty Guide.

One open question is whether requests for extension might be handled by a central office (as is proposed for accommodations under the new Policy 57), rather than by deans or other supervisors/managers (as they currently are). FAUW’s position is that this central, arms-length office is absolutely necessary for fair, equitable, and compassionate treatment of employees. Another question is whether the policy will apply to post-doctoral fellows and research faculty (which we hope it will).

Compensation negotiations. We are starting to look for compensation negotiating team members. A detailed call for members is available on our website; please get in touch with Mary Hardy if you are interested or would like to recommend someone.

Research professors. The Board got caught up on the pre-pandemic progress on representing research professors. To recap: There are significant gaps in the working conditions of research professors compared to faculty and staff groups who have formal representation, and the FAUW membership voted at its 2019 fall general meeting to move forward with representing research professors. We were very close to formal agreement at Faculty Relations Committee about the next steps by March 2020, but discussions were disrupted by the pandemic, and then by work on policies 76 and 77. The Board has agreed to resume work on this now to support this particularly precarious group of faculty.

Pay frequency survey. The Board reviewed the results from our recent poll about bimonthly vs monthly pay frequency. As with the Staff Association’s similar results, this is likely not a strong enough argument to convince the administration to change the pay schedule, but we will keep a watching brief, alongside the Staff Association.

Sessional unionization. A member raised concerns about changes that could come about as a result of the unionization of sessional instructors. We will keep a watchful eye on this issue.

Bookkeeping. The Board endorsed a plan to hire professional bookkeepers, which will come with the ability to do electronic funds transfers and save on some other costs including the cost of our audit.