Standing for academic freedom, equity, and collegial governance since 1957.
FAUW is the official representative of faculty members at the University of Waterloo. We negotiate compensation and terms of employment, help develop university policies, advocate for collective rights and academic freedom, support individual members, and foster collegiality across the campus community.
As you may recall, FAUW was invited to provide feedback on the draft of the new Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) education standard in October 2021. The draft outlined 179 recommendations proposed to inform accessibility standards for education across Ontario under the AODA.
The Final Recommendations Report was released on April 22, 2022 and is comprised of 183 recommendations for government, educational governing bodies, and post-secondary education institutions. The standard is extensive and will have direct and significant implications for the University’s current governance and infrastructure, teaching and learning practices, research and funding principles, and student experience operations. While the standard is not yet enacted into legislation, it is expected that it will be within the next year.
Waterloo’s workplace accessibility specialist, Joyce Barlow, has created a summary of the final recommendations, “Upcoming to Changes to Accessibility for the AODA.” You can download a copy of the summary here (PDF).
There is currently no formal plan for gathering feedback from individual stakeholders (e.g., faculty members) as the standard is being discussed at administrative levels. We will share further updates as we have them. If you have questions or feedback to share in the meantime, please contact me: email@example.com
Zara Rafferty is a continuing lecturer in Recreation and Leisure Studies, and the faculty representative on the UW Accessibility Committee.
A post from the FAUW Lecturers Committee and FAUW Equity Committee.
The University of Waterloo made an important commitment to make progress towards gender equity by joining the HeForShe initiative in 2014 and meeting its faculty HeForShe commitments in 2018. Of particular note for this blog post is the goal of 30% female faculty representation. Efforts towards gender parity, particularly in faculty positions, need to be long-term and sustained to ensure that equity considerations in the hiring process, promotion process, and general work culture become and persist as the norm. What is more, equity needs to occur at the micro level (i.e., faculties and departments) in addition to the macro level (i.e., university-wide). When looking at gender parity in our faculty members since 2009, university-wide, the impact of the HeForShe campaign and other equity initiatives is clear. Faculty-wide female representation has increased steadily from 25% in 2009 to almost 31% in 2021. While this is indeed progress, there are some areas for improvement. In this post, we would like to track UW’s gender parity, but it is important to note that the data we draw from is limited in that it retains cis-gender binary distinctions.
Looking at specific faculty roles, it is clear there is a need for sustained long-term equity efforts. First, female representation at the full professor level is much lower compared to other faculty roles. While there was a fairly steady rate of female representation at the associate professor level (~31.6%), there was a decline in female representation in assistant professors and continuing lecturers from 2018 to 2021. These could be early warning signs that we are taking our foot off the metaphorical equity gas pedal. The decline in assistant professor female representation is particularly worrisome, given that this is the beginning of the current professorial ranks (i.e., assistant, associate, and full professor) and declines in female representation at this rank will make it impossible to achieve the long-term change needed at the full professor rank. We all need to keep our foot on the gas pedal to ensure that equity gains are sustained in the long-term across all faculty ranks.
What one professor learned while applying for promotion with an emphasis on teaching.
—James Skidmore, Professor and Director, Waterloo Centre for German Studies
I recently applied for and received promotion to full professor. People have asked why I didn’t do this earlier, and I usually gave one of two responses. I would either say that I was under the impression that at UW, you first had to win the Nobel Prize in Physics to be promoted, or I would point out that I’ve been full of myself for years and didn’t think I needed a letter from the President of the University to tell me something I already knew.
The thing is, I’ve always been more interested in my work than in my career; fixating on “rank” was a distraction I’ve tried hard to avoid. Besides, I assumed my somewhat nonconformist academic path might prevent committees from supporting the submission. My work at universities shows a stronger-than-usual commitment to teaching and service than is the norm, and I wondered if that wouldn’t prove to be a dealbreaker.
After attending the FAUW workshop on applying for promotion, and then seeking out the advice and guidance of Lori Curtis (at the time chair of the Academic Freedom and Tenure committee) and Katie Damphouse (the AF&T and Policy officer), I was able to confirm that putting forward a promotion dossier where the emphasis would be on teaching was actually possible under Policy 77. But it’s certainly not the conventional approach, and it required some careful handling.
Thankfully, it seems to have worked. The application went through without a hitch. There were no requests for further information, no off-the-record discussions about holding off on applying, no security personnel arriving at my office to escort me off campus (though I’ve been working from home since the pandemic started, so perhaps they did come by but couldn’t find me). And since I kind of had to figure this out on my own—I didn’t know anyone who had emphasized teaching when applying for promotion—I’d like to share what I learned about the process and how I went about it. Perhaps it will prove useful to you if your situation is similar to mine, but also to anyone putting together a promotion dossier.
We have heard concerns from some current lecturers about what we are calling “Pedagogical and Professional Development activities,” or “PPD.” They are worried that, in the Policy 76/77 revision process, FAUW is pushing for research to be a required part of the job for lecturers who move into the new professorial teaching-stream ranks.
This is not the case.
What are Pedagogical and Professional Development activities?
FAUW and the administration have not agreed to specific lists of activities yet. Here is just a sample of some activities that FAUW believes should count as PPD:*
Pedagogical development activities:
Exploring, developing, and/or implementing new teaching practices;
Designing or redesigning a course;
Participating in curriculum development or review;
Participating in teaching initiatives in your department or faculty; at the university; or at other universities;
Attending or participating in workshops and conferences on pedagogy;
Taking on internal or external educational leadership roles (e.g. teaching fellowships or invited teaching at other universities);
Performing disciplinary or pedagogical research/scholarly work (see “Where traditional research fits in” below).
Professional development activities:
If applicable, maintaining professional licences or accreditations (e.g. in engineering, pharmacy, accounting);
Other activities required to maintain professional standing in a field.
Where traditional research fits in
Policy 77currently states about both professors and lecturers:
University teaching is informed and enriched by the research and scholarship of the professoriate. The University expects its regular faculty members to be active participants in the evolution of their disciplines and professions, to keep academic programs and courses current with developments in their fields, and to communicate both their discoveries and their commitment to scholarship and research.
FAUW believes that, to be “active participants in the evolution” of their fields, teaching-stream faculty should be encouraged to, for example, attend disciplinary conferences. And, if teaching-stream faculty want to engage in traditional forms of dissemination of research/scholarly work—either in their discipline or in the scholarship of teaching and learning—it too should “count” as pedagogical development.
But, to be clear, FAUW is not advocating that teaching-stream faculty must do research.
Here’s the non-confidential stuff from the last couple of Board meetings:
The Board formally signed off on a new Equity Committee member. Committee appointments are typically approved all at once in the spring, at the recommendation of the committees, but Clive Forrester joined the committee recently to fill a gap.
The Board also appointed its first Parliamentarian (Katy Fulfer), a chair for the 2022 Spring General Meeting (Moira Glerum), three new members of the Nominating and Elections Committee (Mary Hardy, Narveen Jandu, and Dorothy Hadfield), and Ada Hurst as this year’s FAUW rep on the Online Teaching Awards Evaluation Committee. We received a lot of interest in that last one in particular and it’s very exciting to see so many people eager to offer their expertise in service of FAUW members.
Resources for instructors
WUSA wants to know what investments/resources would be necessary for instructors to be positioned to better accommodate students and disincentivize those who are sick from attending in-person classes, both in the current situation and in the future. If you have any suggestions, please comment below or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FRC is not making as much progress as we expected this term and we will have a more fulsome update about that (hopefully very) soon.
The Board approved updated election procedures, which you can find on the FAUW website. There were only minor changes this year to clarify a few things and better account for submitting nominations online. The Board voted to prioritize Black faculty, Indigenous faculty, and faculty with disabilities in the tie-breaking procedure until such time as it is appropriate to revisit those priorities.
Join the FAUW Climate Justice Working Group on the National Day of Action for a Just Transition towards a sustainable future (Huron Natural Area, March 12, 2-4 pm)
—Altay Coskun for the Climate Justice Working Group
More than two years into the pandemic and two weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is difficult for climate action to make top headlines. But thanks to the heroism of the Ukrainian botanist Yakiv Didukh, the latest conference of the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) aroused unexpected attention. He attended remotely from Kyiv and thus dropped out when required to retreat into the bomb shelters during Russian attacks, but returned to finalize his task on the final report. The Ukrainian delegation is quoted (by Reuters) to have “expressed how upset they are that this will distract from the importance of our report.” But perhaps it is rather the other way round: their courageous action will expose how shallow our own commitment to a swift and just transition has been all along. We can do better; we must do better. In Canada, we are blessed that we can explore adequate climate action and the facets of climate justice in a peaceful environment. This also means we have fewer excuses.
On February 28, 2022, the IPCC reported on “Impact, Adaptation and Vulnerability” (Sixth Assessment Cycle Report II) to the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres. The report is available in multiple formats, to allow for differing levels of understanding (I recommend the FAQs version for non-specialists such as myself). The scientific evidence for human-made climate change and the devastating effects on our planet have never been presented with more accuracy or with a higher level of urgency. The current commitments by nearly all states fail to meet the challenge described in previous IPCC reports. Even worse, those earlier reports were built on assumptions about the pace of climate change that, so we are now told, were much too optimistic.
One may doubt, however, that more scientific data will be the game changer. Most of us do not have a deficit of understanding, but one of justice and courage. Indeed, the notion of justice is ever more often evoked in political and scientific declarations relating to climate change. It played a significant role in the 2015 Paris Agreement. In the run-up to the federal elections of 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to pass a Just Transition Act, for which we are still waiting.
Here’s some of what we talked about at the last FAUW Board of Directors meeting:
Teaching assessment. The new student course perception (SCP) survey tool is launching this term, and FAUW (still) has concerns about implementing the new survey tool. In particular, we’re concerned that it’s being rolled out without training on how results will affect APR scores and before complementary teaching assessment methods are in place.
There is a large body of research that demonstrates unavoidable bias in SCPs and consequently argues they should never be used for summative assessment. The Renison Association of Academic Staff has reached agreement in its Collective Agreement that course evaluations will not be a required part of annual reviews nor tenure and promotion processes. In 2018, the arbitrator in a case at Ryerson ruled that student evaluations of teaching can’t be used to measure teaching effectiveness for promotion or tenure, based on expert opinions that student evaluations cannot be used to assess teaching effectiveness.
FAUW staff. Katie Damphouse is back from leave and is once again your go-to person for help with navigating workplace policies and procedures! Hiring for the Executive Manager position is under way. We ask for your continued patience as Katie ramps up to full time and we complete the hiring process for the Executive Manager.
The UW Staff Association has called out recent University communications for “a lack of clarity and compassion for employees.” This comment is a symptom of deeper issues about valuing employee wellbeing and maintaining a long tradition of collegial consultation. The results of the University’s recent survey about how employees felt about returning to on-campus work make clear that this sentiment is widespread. President Vivek Goel acknowledged in the February 2 President’s Forum the administration has work to do on ensuring that employees feel heard.
One way the administration could improve on this front is to consult with employee groups the way that it is supposed to. We wonder, for instance, if UW might have ordered sufficient Rapid Antigen Tests and N95 masks, as some other universities did, if real employee consultation had been in place for the last twelve months.
Communication is not consultation
In response to our request for meaningful consultation with faculty on return-to-campus decision making, the administration said: “Timelines and procedures for normal long-term planning – where we can consult very broadly in open forum discussion and where planning decisions can be widely known before coming effective – are not well suited to decision-making in this environment.”
If “normal long-term-planning” procedures cannot be respected because of “this environment,” it makes one wonder why other norms—teaching loads, class sizes, performance reviews, student course surveys—proceed as usual. Does “this environment” refer to the pandemic that has been ongoing for almost two years? Faculty members have been compelled to find ways to make their instruction as “well suited” as possible to these changed and changing circumstances. At what point will decisions related to teaching again be the result of authentic consultation with faculty members?
Here’s what the FAUW Board of Directors talked about at its last meeting.
The Nominating and Elections Committee. This committee is officially up and running! The committee will collect submissions from people interested in representing faculty on UW and joint committees to help the Board and President make selections, with the aim of casting a wider net from now on. The committee will also continue the work of the Elections Committee, overseeing and recruiting members to run in Board elections. If you’d like to join this committee, or get involved in any way, get in touch!
The FAUW Parliamentarian role. The description for this position is now finalized and we are looking for someone to fill it! A Parliamentarian advises meeting chairs, committees, and members on matters of meeting procedure and helps to ensure that meetings are conducted in a manner that abides by the rules of the organization while enabling members to participate equitably in deliberations. The parliamentarian will need to be, or become, familiar with Roberts Rules of Order and the FAUW constitution. You can learn more about this role on the FAUW website, and get instructions for how you can put your name forward or suggest someone you think would make a good parliamentarian!
Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour). A new draft of this policy went out for consultation a couple of years ago and the Staff and Faculty Relations Committees (SRC and FRC) directed the policy drafting committee to make changes based on the comments received at that time. Since then, it has gone out for further consultation to the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce. FAUW is bringing its final questions and concerns to a special meeting of FRC and SRC on January 31. The Equity Committee chair noted at Thursday’s Board meeting that concerns the committee had in 2019 have not been addressed.