People You Should Know: Amanda Cook, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response

Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services. 

Amanda Cook is the Director, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response at Waterloo. She supports all students, staff, and faculty on campus who have experienced, or been impacted by, sexual violence.

Why might faculty members be interested in your role?

For a couple of different reasons. If there are any faculty members who have survived sexual violence and would like to talk about resources that are available to them, any workplace accommodations that I can help facilitate, or any other way that I can support them—whatever that individual needs or wants—I am available for them.

And I also support faculty who receive disclosures. Sometimes it’s just to consult about something that they’ve become aware of, and sometimes they’re seeking to share information with or accompany a person who’s come forward to them.

What advice do you have for faculty who’ve had a student disclose an experience to them?

At the end of the day, it’s about meeting the person wherever they’re at and trying our hardest not to make it about ourselves. In an effort to be caring and compassionate, whether we’re conscious of it or not, we bring a bias about what we think a person should do, or what we would do in the same situation. The important thing is engaging in active listening and seeing what that person needs and then trying to bridge them to another support that can provide the safety or the resources they might need.

A lot of times folks minimize how much they’re impacted by caring about other people, but the stress that causes sits with you. That’s normal and there are supports for you.

What’s the most important thing you want faculty to know?

I think a lot of times folks minimize how much they’re impacted by caring about other people, but the stress that causes, trying to coordinate and figure stuff out for students, it sits with you for a while. Even if the student’s not doing anything, you as a holder of that information might have some difficulty moving forward. So just know that that’s normal and there are supports for you if you need that.

Also that there is no wrong question. I’ve had faculty just consult with me about what they could tell somebody if they come forward, hypothetically. I’m happy to work within hypotheticals.

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An opportunity to support the Wet’suwet’en people

A message from FAUW’s Indigenization Working Group:

In recent weeks, hundreds of scholars from around the world have signed on to an open letter expressing support for BC’s Wet’suwet’en people and calling on the Canadian Government and the RCMP to cease pipeline work on Unist’ot’en Territory. Read the letter here. If you so choose, you can add your voice as a scholar.

Note: the Indigenization Working Group is an ad hoc committee of FAUW. Its support of the open letter should not be construed as FAUW’s position. Visit our website to learn more about the working group and about Indigenization at Waterloo.

The FAUW Board: A great way to get started in collegial governance

Is there anything you would change at Waterloo?

It’s possible: Despite their long history, universities aren’t immune to change. Digital technologies have fundamentally altered how people relate to factual information. Being resistant to commoditization, our teaching and research costs are mostly in personnel. Increasingly, research spans disciplinary boundaries and is collaborative. Global problems, especially with the environment, are becoming local and urgent. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission charges us to better include Indigenous scholars and ways of knowing. The ever-growing body of scholarship on teaching and learning gives evidence as to how university teaching should evolve.

The university is always adapting and responding to challenges like these. Participation in the distinctive university apparatus called collegial governance affords faculty members influence in that process.

How collegial governance works at Waterloo

The University of Waterloo is organized on a bicameral model. Loosely, this means that our Board of Governors looks after the institution as a nonprofit corporation with an annual cash flow of about a billion dollars, and our Senate looks after the institution as an educational community of about 40,000 scholars (faculty, students, many staff).

It’s not a total separation of interests, however. To manage finances and risk, our Board must know the higher-education sector, its value and values, its trends, and Waterloo’s distinctive roles in it. To manage academic programs and policies, our Senate must promote academic initiatives that show an attractive cost-benefit and risk-reward tradeoff. Tensions are part of the model: autonomy versus dependence, academic freedom versus responsibility, individual versus group ambitions, etc.

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People You Should Know: Charmaine Dean, VP Research & International

Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services. 

Charmaine Dean, VP Research and International

Charmaine Dean is Waterloo’s Vice President, Research & International. She started at Waterloo in 2017 and is responsible for two distinct offices—the Office of Research and Waterloo International.

Research & International is a big portfolio—what does your role involve?

The Office of Research encompasses a number of portfolios, including commercialization, ethics, grants and prestigious awards, centres and institutes, and large research programs such as FedDev and Canada Research Chairs.

I am also responsible for several new portfolios, including interdisciplinary research, and equity, diversity and inclusion in research. In addition, I am the first point of research-related contact for external communities including the Tri-Agencies; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED); and ministers’ offices.

Half of my time is spent on internally facing initiatives and issues, while the other half is allocated to externally facing needs. I sit on 20 Boards of Directors (as Chair for six of the boards) related to research initiatives at Waterloo, as well as a number of boards, councils, committees, and advisory groups for partners and government, and some related to my research.

Waterloo International encompasses international agreements and partnerships; international experiences for faculty, staff, and students, and building a strong international profile.

Why might faculty be interested in your role?

One of the key elements of my role is to ensure that research at Waterloo is understood and supported by government and industry. Part of my mandate is to drive research forward within Canada in order to guide policy, as well as to continue building a profile for Waterloo research internationally. For faculty, I would like them to know that my door is always open to hear about their research and successes, and to help ensure their work leads to valuable impact.

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Meet the Faculty: Naila Keleta-Mae

Our “Meet the Faculty” interviews provide a window into the work lives of faculty across the University of Waterloo—and how much that work differs from person to person. We’ll talk about the day-to-day joys and struggles of academia and share tips for getting the work done and staying mentally and physically healthy in academia.

Naila Keleta-Mae from Communication Arts
Photo by Jay Parson

Naila Keleta-Mae is an assistant professor in Communication Arts who teaches courses in the theatre and performance program and the speech communication program.

What do you teach and research?

My research is focused on Black expressive culture in North America with an emphasis on Black women’s cultural production, including music, videos, performances, plays, and poetry. I teach a range of courses: from Theories of Theatre and Performance, to Gender and Performance, to Public Speaking. I also teach an Arts First course called Black and Free that is about how Black people have expressed their freedom in North America even in the midst of the violent institutionalized anti-Black racism that has plagued the continent for centuries.

What does a good day at work look like?

Teaching students a range of materials that challenge them to develop their critical self-reflexivity skills, expand their worldviews, and consider the possibilities of their agency. Having time to write and writing academic prose in a way that nods to the work of Audre Lorde in terms of its concision, accessibility, and content. I remember reading Lorde’s Sister Outsider long before I went to grad school and being aware that she was offering me other ways to think about the world, my place in it, and what I could do. I’ve aspired to do the same with my writing ever since.

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People You Should Know: Linda Brodgen, Occupational Health

Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services. 

Linda Brogden is a University of Waterloo Occupational Health Nurse. Among other things, Occupational Health helps employees manage the impact of illness on their work. We interviewed Linda to make sure faculty know about the important support available at Occupational Health.

What services does Occupational Health provide to faculty? 

Occupational Health (OH) helps faculty—and all employees—with sick leave and medical accommodations.

Any absence of five or more continuous days requires medical documentation. OH can receive that documentation so that a faculty member’s department doesn’t need to see it directly. We also help faculty set up accommodations, which are adjustments to job duties because of a medical condition (e.g., tenure extensions, reduced loads). And sometimes sick leave cases are referred to an external provider, such as absences longer than four weeks without a definite return to work date, or when the University requires external expertise to assess a case. Occupational Health can help navigate all of these processes, and act as a confidential liaison between an employee and their department if needed. (See page 6 of the Disability Management Guide (PDF) for more information.)

We also promote both physical and psychological health and safety in the workplace and can provide information about and referrals to our Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) at 1-800-663-1142. 

What is the most important thing you want faculty to know about visiting Occupational Health? 

The importance of seeking help early on in any illness. Having a chat with an OH nurse about your particular situation may help provide solutions for early intervention. We provide support to all employees with any health-related needs that may be affecting their ability to safely and successfully perform their jobs. All information provided to us, whether in writing or verbally, is maintained in strict confidence. 

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Meet the Faculty: Ian VanderBurgh

Our “Meet the Faculty” interviews provide a window into the work lives of faculty across the University of Waterloo—and how much that work differs from person to person. We’ll talk about the day-to-day joys and struggles of academia and share tips for getting the work done and staying mentally and physically healthy in academia.

Ian VanderBurgh is a lecturer and director of the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) in the Faculty of Math.

What is the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing and what do you do as director?

CEMC is the outreach arm of the Faculty of Mathematics. We do activities in elementary and secondary schools to promote mathematics and computer science to students and teachers: contests, school visits, workshops and conferences, and an online master’s program for teachers.

My role is to help other people do what they love and need to do, and to try not to get in the way. And help solve problems when they need to be solved.

What do you teach these days?

Most of my teaching comes in our Master of Mathematics for Teachers, which is an online, part-time, professional master’s program for active high school teachers—and occasionally undergrad classes.

What other roles do you have on campus or in the community?

On campus, I am the chair of the University’s Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team. We’re looking at ways of assessing teaching other than student course perception surveys. That’s been a great experience for me so far and it’s an important thing for the University to be looking at. I’m heavily involved in undergrad admissions for Math as well.

Outside of the University, I’m the pianist for the Grand Philharmonic Choir and also accompany the Wilfrid Laurier Concert Choir sometimes, too.

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