June 17 Board meeting report

This is our last Board of Directors meeting report until September, and Dan Brown’s last president’s report. We’ll continue posting here and emailing members over the summer about policy development and other issues as they evolve.

President’s report

-dan brown

This will be my last report as FAUW president, and this board meeting will be the last for FAUW’s vice-president Johanna Wandel, treasurer Brent Matheson, at-large representatives Narveen Jandu and Dina Dawoud, and Engineering representative Alfred Yu. I’m extremely grateful to all of these colleagues for their service! I’m also looking forward to seeing what the new board makes happen, with Lori Curtis moving into the president’s role. 

The news from the past two weeks has been especially grim, with the discovery of a mass grave at a residential school in Kamloops, BC, and with the murder of a Muslim family living in London, Ontario that has been declared a hate crime. At times, it’s overwhelming to me just how much work on reconciliation, dialogue, and changing our society must happen; at other times, I’m excited by just how much better our society can become.

This week is Convocation. Normally, it’s one of my favourite events of the year, and it’s hard to believe we have had two years of these being done online. I hope that we can return to hooding our graduates soon, and sending them off into their careers. It’s also the last week of Convocations with President Hamdullahpur as one of the presiding officers.

We heard some updates about teaching plans for fall at the town hall on Tuesday. I’m hopeful that COVID cases become less prevalent as vaccination starts to take effect here in Waterloo Region. Our colleague Mario Ioannidis continues to meet with relevant people from HR and other offices across campus as part of a taskforce on returning to campus.

What else we talked about

The Board received a draft of Policy 57 – Employee Accommodations for a preliminary review. Faculty Relations Committee will discuss the draft this week, and once it receives support in principle there, it will go out for wider consultation. Our representatives on the Policy 57 Drafting Committee are Jay Dolmage and Lori Curtis.

Vershawn Young updated the Board about the development of a Black Studies program at Waterloo. The Black Studies Implementation Team submitted two new diplomas to the Arts Undergraduate Affairs Group on June 3: General Black Studies diploma and Fundamentals of Anti-Racist Communication. Since then, they submitted a fulsome report and recommendations to senior University administrators. Young suggested FAUW could support four of the Implementation Team’s recommendations in particular:

  • Implement an advising system to keep track of students enrolling in and matriculating through the two Black Studies diplomas.
  • Establish and task a team to develop and implement the Black Cultural Centre.
  • Transfer the Lecturer lines of current Black Faculty into tenured and/or tenure-track lines.
  • Appoint Black Studies Programme Director and Advisory Board to Participate in University Black Cluster Hires.

We approved new members of FAUW standing committees, starting July 1:

  • Equity Committee: Jay Dolmage will continue for another year as chair. Mario Boido, Barbara Schmenk, Elizabeth Meiering, and Antonio Muñoz Gómez (LAAUW) are joining the committee.
  • Lecturers Committee: Su-Yin Tan has been re-elected for another two-year term as chair. Sarah Ruffel (SCI)l, Laila Rohani (ARTS), Elena Neiterman (HEALTH), Jenny Howcroft (ENG), and Rania Al-Hammoud (ENG) will join the committee.
  • The Executive Committee (and Faculty Relations Committee representatives) for the next year will be Lori Curtis (President), Kate Lawson, (Vice President), Heidi Engelhardt (Treasurer), Trevor Charles, and Mario Ioannidis.
Continue reading “June 17 Board meeting report”

June 3 report from the Board

Here are the updates from the June 3, 2021, FAUW Board of Directors meeting.

Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) change

On June 1, the University Board of Governors approved an update to Policy 76 that changes the threshold for which appointments need to go through UARC—it will now review appointments “longer than two years,” rather than “two years or longer.” As we reported last time, this will remove the primary reason for two-years-minus-one-day appointments. We asked the deans to add an extra day to all two-years-minus-one-day appointments and have heard from three that they are doing so. Two faculties don’t have any such appointments, and the sixth is discussing the issue further but we expect that to be resolved soon.

This extra day comes with significantly improved benefits, including dental coverage, better sick leave, long-term disability coverage, access to the Employee & Family Assistance Program, eligibility for the new pregnancy and parental leave policy, and tuition benefits under Policy 4 (for employees) and Policy 24 (for employees’ children). It can also have implications for retirement benefits eligibility.

Other work on Policy 76/77 will continue through the summer.

Equity data survey

We’re excited that the University equity survey will be going out soon. We encourage you to participate in it. This survey is what will provide the Salary Anomaly Working Group with the data needed to run the race-based salary anomaly review that we negotiated in our latest salary settlement. There is a lot of information about the survey and how the data will be used on the Equity Office website.

Response to FAUW position on fall 2021

Mario Ioannidis is representing FAUW on the new return-to-campus working group. This group has representatives from the Staff Association, Occupational Health, the Safety Office, Human Resources, and Plant Operations, among other units, and meets every other week. They are informing institutional guidelines (e.g. classroom capacity) for a staged return from now through January 2022, and applying a change management framework to this return. The group recognizes that returning to campus significantly affects faculty members.

Mario and Johanna Wandel met with Plant Operations. Plant Ops started upgrading HVAC systems (of which there are more than 300) as soon as campus emptied out last year. They are using MERV 13 standard air filters throughout campus and we’re working with them on getting detailed data to members about the rooms they use.

Tenure and promotion 2021

We are asking the University to ensure that departmental and faculty tenure & promotion committees (and external referees) take the effects of the pandemic on teaching and research into account when reviewing tenure and promotion files this year.

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Hot topics from the May 20 FAUW Board of Directors meeting

Pandemic issues

The FAUW Board has issued a statement on fall 2021 decision making relating to teaching and faculty working conditions.

We briefly discussed some potential approaches to 2021 performance reviews, including re-weighting (e.g., to reduce the impact of your research score). We know there is also a continued need for pandemic considerations for tenure and promotion and will be returning to that topic with the administration soon.

Faculty members who need accommodations for fall (or any) teaching should contact our Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee for advice and referrals.

One small change for P76, one giant leap for lecturer benefits

From Dan Brown’s president’s report: This month at Senate we approved the first small step in the Policy 76/77 revisions, a surgical change to the mandate of the University Appointments Review Committee (UARC), so that it will now no longer be required to consider appointments of exactly two years (it will now review appointments longer than two years). This seemingly tiny change will matter, as it will remove the primary argument for deans to make two-years-minus-one-day appointments, which unfortunately come with fewer benefits than appointments just one day longer. [Editor’s note: This change was approved by the Board of Governors on June 1, making it official. We are asking deans to consider extending relevant appointments by one day.] The P76/77 Policy Drafting Committee will continue their work through the end of the summer, aiming for the August 31 deadline approved by Senate in March.

New travel and expenses policy

From Dan’s president’s report: The university’s president approved a substantial rewrite of Policy 31, the Travel policy, which has been renamed to University Expenses; this results in substantial improvements to reimbursement rates and also (hopefully!) a reduction in documentation required of travellers. It also details how research expenses like working lunches and hospitality will work. UW Finance consulted with FAUW (via Faculty Relations Committee) as part of their discussions of this policy.

Indigenous student scholarships

We have been looking into establishing a scholarship for students from Six Nations of the Grand River, on whose land the Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge campuses are situated. At this meeting, we got into some details about what the award(s) could look like in practice to inform conversations with the Grand River Post Secondary Education Office and the university’s Student Awards & Financial Aid office.

Benefits eligibility grievance outcomes

Adapted from Ken Vetzal’s Pension & Benefits report: In response to grievances filed by FAUW, a subcommittee of the Pension and Benefits Committee (including the P&B liaison to the FAUW Board, Ken Vetzal) was formed last fall with a mandate to provide precise definitions of “continuous University of Waterloo service” (Policy 23 – Eligibility for Pension and Insured Benefits) and “uninterrupted regular full-time service” (Policy 59 – Reduced Workload to Retirement).

Continue reading “Hot topics from the May 20 FAUW Board of Directors meeting”

FAUW statement on decision making about fall 2021 teaching

We recognize that decisions about fall teaching are being made in an environment of uncertainty. We also recognize the need to balance instructor preferences with student experience. It is our understanding that decisions about fall instruction have largely been made at the faculty level, using a variety of decision-making models. While FAUW supports a de-centralized approach given the varying needs across campus, we ask for earlier and more effective communication and consultation with fall term instructors—and with FAUW—as decisions affecting faculty working conditions are made, to respect the collegial governance model of the university.

We appreciate that most* FAUW members have been given a fair degree of choice as to how they deliver their courses this fall, but faculty were asked to make these decisions without access to essential information, including:

  • Anticipated safety protocols (e.g., information on ventilation, social distancing, how classroom changes are handled in buildings with constrained hallways, the availability of asymptomatic rapid testing responsibility for disinfection, and responsibility for compliance enforcement).
  • Expected decision rules which will trigger a shift from in-person to online (e.g., infection and vaccination rates, whether classes might shift from in person to online and back to in person).
  • Anticipated support for various models (e.g., the availability of classroom technology to enable streaming, registrar and AccessAbility support for testing and exams, the availability of technical support for hybrid models).
  • Consideration of faculty workload for hybrid models which will accommodate both remote and in-person students simultaneously, in the same section (e.g., extra teaching credit, overload pay, or temporary reweighting to accommodate extra work).

We heard updates on some of these items at the virtual town hall on May 11, but course delivery decisions were due on May 7, and many aspects of our fall working conditions are still unclear.

FAUW asks for transparent communication and updates on Waterloo’s position regarding access to vaccinations for faculty, staff, teaching assistants, and students, as well as availability and protocols surrounding regular asymptomatic rapid testing. While we recognize that best practices continue to evolve and may change over time, we are aware of multiple initiatives at other institutions regarding testing and vaccine protocols, and infrastructure and teaching support, and ask to be kept informed of Waterloo’s evolving stance on these items.

We suggest that one way of achieving meaningful communication is by giving a member of the FAUW Executive Committee membership in key decision-making groups such as the newly announced Workforce Planning Task Force. We look forward to being more involved and better able to support and inform our members as we prepare to have more activity on campus.


*We have heard reports of some members, particularly lecturers, being pressured or forced to commit to in-person instruction for fall against their wishes, which is very concerning.

April 29 FAUW Board meeting recap

Here’s what happened at our latest Board of Directors meeting:

  1. Our newly elected directors start their terms July 1 but we’ve invited them to start attending meetings now to get familiar with the issues and how things work. In a round of introductions, both new and current directors expressed a lot of interest in equity and diversity issues, lecturer working conditions, and exploring how we can improve our relationship with the University administration.
  2. We noted a few developments related to the discussion at our spring general meeting about fall term. Senate had a long and thorough discussion about fall planning last week, which is reassuring. We’re glad to see some shifting from the administration assuming the best-case scenario to more fulsome planning for a range of scenarios. The University has scheduled a town hall for May 11 and we encourage you to attend that and ask your questions! We’ve established our own working group to explore issues related to the pandemic and planning for fall term. It will start meeting next week and involves many of the people who raised concerns and offered to help with this at the general meeting, so thank you to those members for participating!
  3. CAUT has censured the administration of the University of Toronto, on the basis that the university violated academic freedom when they rescinded a job offer in 2020. Censure is a very rare action for CAUT to take (the last two times this occurred were in 2008 and 1979). Censuring the University of Toronto administration means that, until the situation is satisfactorily resolved, members are asked:
    • not to accept appointments at the University;
    • not to accept invitations to speak or participate in academic conferences held or hosted by the University; and,
    • not to accept any distinction or honour that may be offered by the University.
  4. In his president’s report, Dan Brown noted that the University announced a plan for cluster hires of 10 Indigenous faculty and 10 Black faculty at a recent town hall on antiracism projects on campus. Some of our members present at the town hall commented, rightly so, that hiring is only a first step to making the University more inclusive and equitable, and that attention also needs to be paid to retention, promotion, and leadership development. These hires will bring the University’s faculty complement up to 2% Black faculty and not quite 2% Indigenous faculty.
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The anatomy of a FAUW general meeting: A recap of our 2021 Spring GM

In which we summarize the proceedings of our 2021 Spring General Meeting and explain how our general meetings work at the same time.

The logistics

General meetings are meetings of the voting membership of FAUW, at which members receive updates on FAUW’s work and vote on important issues such as our budget, constitutional amendments, or changes to the Memorandum of Agreement. General meetings are held in December and April each year.

Quorum for a general meeting is 30 members. Our in-person meetings typically drew about 60-80 members in recent years, but both the fall 2020 and spring 2021 meetings had over 130 members attend online. We’re investing in equipment to be able to livestream our general meetings once we’re back to in-person events so we can continue being accessible to more members, especially those working at satellite campuses.

The meeting chair changes frequently, and must be someone other than a member of the Board of Directors. (If you’re really good at chairing meetings, let us know!)

The consent agenda: Committee and officer reports

Our general meetings have always had an asynchronous component: written reports from our committees and, in recent years, from our representatives on University committees. All voting members receive these reports by email in advance of the meeting. Other members can request the reports.

Some reports are delivered during the meeting itself, particularly those from FAUW executive officers.

The president’s report

At this meeting, Dan Brown’s president’s report started with a few recent success stories:

  • Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental Leave, including Adoption, and the Return to Work) has been approved by the Board of Governors and is now in effect for all eligible employees who start(ed) a pregnancy or parental leave after April 6 of this year. We tried to have it applied to employees already on leave, but the University hasn’t budged on that. [See all blog posts about Policy 14.]
  • Our negotiating team achieved a good salary settlement covering the next three years, including the statutory maximum for salary increases under current provincial law.
  • The 2020 salary anomaly review has completed its work and informed individuals who will receive adjustments. Co-chair Marios Ioannidis noted later in the meeting that no solely gender-based anomaly was found this time around, and that there are a number of possible anomalies that require further investigation by the deans because the statistical model may not be robust to properly predict salaries of early-career members or those with salaries above the thresholds in our salary structure.
  • A new committee has been set up to focus specifically on updating the policies on faculty appointments and tenure & promotion to improve conditions for teaching faculty. The FAUW reps are Kate Lawson and Su-Yin Tan. Visit uwaterloo.ca/fauw/p76 for the latest information.

Dan also talked about ongoing and forthcoming issues, including the current state of planning for fall 2021. Decisions are mostly being made at the faculty or department/program level, which means members have more of a say than the FAUW Board does at this point. Some faculties/units are doing this with more detail and consultation than others. We are advocating for individual faculty to be primarily responsible for choosing the mode of teaching for your courses and for fall planning in general to be discussed more publicly and openly. We are actively collecting information, so if there are interesting/challenging/problematic/great things happening in your unit, please let us know. Individuals who need help with accommodations for the fall, please see our AF&T team for help.

Some other ongoing items on FAUW’s agenda include a few more policy committees underway or beginning soon and recruitment for FAUW committees—you can put your name forward via our website. We’re hosting a lunch & learn with Laura Mae Lindo on May 19 about how faculty can counteract anti-Black racism at universities, and last fall’s cancelled Hagey Lecture is being rescheduled for fall 2021—stay tuned for an announcement soon.

Continue reading “The anatomy of a FAUW general meeting: A recap of our 2021 Spring GM”

This April 1 Board meeting report is no joke

Here’s the latest from the FAUW president and Board of Directors, based on our April 1 meeting, which did not involve any April Fools pranks, but did feature a brief birthday celebration!

President’s report to FAUW board 

-dan brown, March 29, 2021

I am somewhat hopeful that we’re entering a somewhat smoother time in the next few weeks than we had in what has to be one of the longest winter terms in history. Whatever your spring activity is, whether it’s gardening or cycling or just sitting outside watching the sun set, I hope you’ll get a chance to enjoy it in April.

FAUW board elections are under way! At the AGM on April 16, we’ll find out which four candidates have won election to the At-Large seats, and which one candidate has won election to the Lecturer seat on our board. I’m delighted to see the large slate of excellent candidates that have come forward, and look forward to working with all of them, either on our board or in other FAUW service. My thanks to the FAUW Elections Committee (Peter Johnson, Heidi Engelhardt, Amanda Garcia, Nomair Naeem, Laura McDonald) for their excellent work in recruiting candidates!

FAUW’s Lecturers Committee hosts a town hall on March 30 (I’m writing this on March 29). I’m expecting in particular to hear a lot about Lecturers’ concerns regarding Policy 76 and Policy 77, which will be useful for the members of the committee developing the changes to that policy.

The issue of the day continues to be planning for fall term. I encourage FAUW members who will need accommodations for that term (including because their health conditions might require them to avoid in-person teaching) to contact our AF+T committee and work with them to get those accommodations put in place. The administration has said some good things about ensuring a safe workplace for all employees for that term, but there are few details. That said, the whole situation around the end of the pandemic is deeply complicated, and is not helped by there still being shortages of the vaccines needed.

Of course, spring term instructors are just as exercised by planning for that term as well, and I hope you’ll at least have some of a gap before spring term starts. 

LAAUW, the Librarians and Archivists Association of UW, held a vote in March to identify whether its members wanted to join FAUW. Their members decided that they prefer their current status [as staff members]. FAUW will continue to liaise with LAAUW on matters of shared interest (academic freedom, scholarly publishing and open access, research metrics, to name a few). I’m delighted to know that they’ve made a decision about their preferred futures. As I said back in the fall when Erin Windibank and I met with them, time with librarians is always time well spent.

Highlights from the Board discussion

Here’s what we talked about during the meeting:

Continue reading “This April 1 Board meeting report is no joke”

March 18 Update from the FAUW Board

President’s report to FAUW board

– dan brown, March 16, 2021 [updated March 22]

This was our last meeting in winter; the equinox on March 20 marked the beginning of spring. I hope you’re appreciating the longer days.

I am very pleased that the President announced his support for Policy 14 at the March Senate meeting. The only remaining step is the policy’s approval at April’s Board of Governors meeting. This policy marks a milestone in moving Waterloo into being a better employer of parents of small children. When combined with the bereavement and compassionate leave improvements announced as part of our salary settlement last month, we will have a proper suite of such benefits for our members. Thank you to the drafting committee for their steadfast work on this project.

Jay Dolmage (chair of FAUW’s Equity Committee), Laura McDonald (FAUW’s Communications Officer) and I met with the team of external reviewers of the Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion office. The review team will be working on this project for the next couple of months, and my expectation is that their eventual report will primarily be advisory to Waterloo’s new president. With equity and inclusion being so much a focus of FAUW’s work right now, we’ll be watching very closely to see what comes from this review.

FAUW elections are going to begin soon! I’m so excited to see who will run and be elected to our board. The Elections Committee hosted a well-attended volunteer recruiting event on March 9. We will also have openings on all of our working groups and committees this spring as well.

This is the first FAUW board meeting in seven years without Bryan Tolson on our board; he’s stepped down as Past President after so many years of service as President, Past President, Vice President, Chief Negotiator, FRC member, and board member. Bryan has led FAUW through a tumultuous time, with humour, grace, and excellent strategy, and I’m going to miss him very much. In particular, I’m grateful for his work on both Policy 14 and as Chief Negotiator, and I wish it had not turned out that both of those issues had come to a peak of work at the same time.

This isn’t really FAUW-related, per se, but I was recently interviewed on Instagram Live by The Glow Centre, Waterloo’s LGBTQ student centre, about what it’s like to be an older (oh, dear) LGBTQ professional. I enjoyed everything about spending time with the students, but it especially reminded me just how much I learn from students whenever I spend time with them. Even with the challenge of this (endless!) pandemic, I hope you’re all getting reminded of just how lovely, and thought provoking, our students all are.

Notes from the Board discussion

  1. Fall term planning. We talked about what we know so far about how each Faculty is approaching the fall and returning to more in-person teaching. We’ll be getting into this more at the next meeting, so now is a good time to talk to a Board member about this! So far, most of the discussions about fall term are happening either in the Faculties or at Dean’s Council, neither of which we participate in. We’ve asked for the committee on timetabling, which we do participate in, to be restarted.

    Some best practices you could consider taking back to your unit that would ease the burden on everyone this fall include not assigning new course preps, and not demanding that instructors with a heavy teaching load teach a mix of in-person and online courses.

    It is our understanding that the usual accommodation process will apply, so if you anticipate needing an accommodation related to teaching in person, we recommend talking to your health-care provider about documentation soon. Accommodations do not have to be limited to having no teaching.  
Continue reading “March 18 Update from the FAUW Board”

March updates from the FAUW president and Board

Here’s the news from the March 4 Board meeting, starting with the pre-meeting president’s report and then an overview of the discussion at the meeting.

President’s report to FAUW board, March 2, 2021

– dan brown

There is so much to talk about from the past few weeks!

Our negotiating team has achieved a settlement with the university administration, including the 1% scale raises that are the maximum possible under Bill 124, an eye exam benefit, an expansion of bereavement leave and establishment of paid compassionate care leave, and more. One particular advance is that the administration has committed to using equity group membership data to assess whether there is a structural inequity in salaries for racialized and Indigenous faculty, and if so, correct it. I’m very grateful to our negotiating team: Bryan Tolson (chief negotiator), Mary Hardy, and Linda Robinson, for their steadfast efforts.

At February Senate, the make-up of the new committee to redraft Policies 76 and 77 to focus on teaching-stream faculty was approved. The committee will take advantage of the many years of work of the previous Policy 76 committee, while specifically examining working conditions, advancement, and hiring of teaching-stream faculty. FAUW’s representatives on that committee will be Su-Yin Tan and Kate Lawson.

We continue to work hard on the approval of Policy 14, the policy on parental and pregnancy leaves. We are still looking forward to it being presented for information at the March Senate meeting, and finally approved at the April Board of Governors meeting.

FAUW elections are underway! We are electing four at-large board members and one board position for a Lecturer. I’m hopeful we’ll have a diverse and competitive slate of candidates. The FAUW elections committee consists of Peter Johnson (chair), Heidi Engelhardt, Amanda Garcia, Laura McDonald, and Nomair Naeem. If you’d like more information about FAUW service opportunities, please contact one of them.

The UW issue over which I am most concerned these days is how fall 2021 teaching will work. Between concerns about the pace of vaccination for COVID-19 and worries about how many international students will be able to make it to Canada in September, I worry that we will have both a lot of on-campus teaching and a lot of remote teaching, in what will be the sixth term in a row disrupted by COVID-19. As I look toward the rest of 2021, I hope we can help build a compassionate workplace for our employees and a caring university for our students, but I am troubled by the degree to which we just don’t know what will happen. Obviously, most of the worst parts of this are outside the administration’s control!

Outside UW, I have been alarmed by the insolvency filing of Laurentian University on February 1. After years of what appear to have been remarkable financial mismanagement, that university filed for creditor protection. FAUW (in concert with OCUFA) has been lobbying provincial officials to pull Laurentian out of insolvency, or pull the provincial government into the proceedings. Several of us from FAUW, Renison and WLU met last week with MPPs from all parties to try to stress that this filing can’t be the first step in widespread bankruptcies of public institutions. I can’t predict whether that message is heard and acted upon, unfortunately.

What we discussed at the meeting

Continue reading “March updates from the FAUW president and Board”

So far in 2021

With only two Board meetings so far this year, both largely focused on confidential negotiations, and no president’s report due to Dan Brown having been on leave, we haven’t had a whole lot to report on yet. But here’s a quick summary of what’s been happening so far this year:

  1. The drafting committee is working on minor edits to the updated Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental Leaves), directed by FRC and SRC. Once those have final approval, it will go to the University president for approval, Senate for information, and Board of Governors for approval. We anticipate that it will be on the agenda of the April Board of Governors meeting. Once passed by the Board, it is effective immediately.
  2. We have new terms of reference for a new committee to look specifically at teaching stream appointments and draft the necessary changes in policies 76 (Faculty Appointments) and 77 (Tenure and Promotion). The committee will be given a clear timeline and priorities. These terms of reference will be on the consent agenda at Senate this month and we expect to announce the members of this committee next week.
  3. We are updating our elections procedures, to support efforts to diversify the Board of Directors. In addition to changes at FAUW, we’re also talking about the need for increased representation of equity-seeking groups among faculty in general, in order to make increased representation within FAUW more realistic and sustainable. Nominations will open in March for five seats on the FAUW Board of Directors: four at-large positions, for which any voting member can run, and one seat reserved for a member with a lecturer appointment. If you are interested in running, or know someone who would make a great Board member, please contact Laura McDonald at laura.mcdonald@uwaterloo.ca or Peter Johnson (Elections Committee chair) at peter.johnson@uwaterloo.ca.
Continue reading “So far in 2021”