FAUW Board thankful for UW president’s support for faculty as fall term approaches

Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur held a Virtual Town Hall earlier this week, on May 20. It was well attended by the University of Waterloo community and the president fielded many important questions in addition to providing an update on the current state of the University.

One topic of particular importance to both faculty and students as we move into the Fall term is how courses will be delivered. The President stated that small courses will happen via on-campus delivery only if many considerations align, including whether instructors are willing to hold classes in person. 

There are a number of reasons a faculty member might not wish to hold in-person classes, including personal health concerns or health concerns of others in their household. The FAUW Board thanks President Hamdullahpur for showing such support for the wellbeing of our members and larger community during this trying time.    

Highlights from the May 7 Board meeting

  1. We welcomed some new board members who officially start July 1 but are attending as guests to learn the ropes. We also noted two committee appointments: Ranjini Jha has agreed to continue her role on the Pension & Benefits Committee for another term, and Dorothy Hadfield is interim chair of the Lecturers Committee
  2. Reports from the Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team and Course Evaluation Project Team are going to Senate on May 19. You can read them in the Senate agenda as soon as they’re posted (they should be up any minute now).. The first part of the Senate meeting is open to the public, but since guests can’t speak during the meeting, we encourage you to make sure our faculty senators know how you feel about the recommendations in these reports. 
  3. We got a preview of some of the options for health benefits plan changes that are being considered by the Holistic Benefits Working Group. The proposed options will eventually be public in a Pension & Benefits Committee agenda, at which point members can read and send feedback to FAUW and/or the faculty representatives on the Pension & Benefits Committee. 
  4. We are finishing assembling our negotiating team. We will be polling all our members about negotiation priorities over the next term, so start thinking about what you’d like to see. Section 10 of the Memorandum of Agreement has all the details about negotiations.
  5. We heard that administrators are starting to reach out to members regarding reduced workload to retirement, early retirement, and unpaid leaves of absence. If you are considering any of these options, we strongly encourage you to talk to our AF&T team first so they can help you identify the most appropriate solution for your situation (which could be an alternate to those being offered). This way, you can be as informed as possible when you speak to your Chair/Dean. 
Continue reading “Highlights from the May 7 Board meeting”

Notes from our April 23 Board meeting + takeaways from CAUT COVID-19 town halls

Here are the highlights from last week’s FAUW Board meeting. Feel free to reach out to a Board member or comment below if you have questions! This post also includes some takeaways from the two CAUT town hall meetings on COVID-19 and the Academic Job that have happened so far.

Non-COVID-19 related items

  1. The Federal Court of Appeal released their decision on the York Access Copyright case. Overturning the decision of the previous court, the decision protects universities’ ability to opt out of the Access Copyright licence; however, it also suggests that our current interpretation of “fair dealing” may be too liberal. 
  2. We filed an association grievance last week about access to post-retirement benefits, mostly affecting lecturers. If this grievance can’t be resolved internally, the next stage in the process is to go to an external Arbitrator. 
  3. We reviewed an update to the University’s employee accommodation guidelines. We have some concerns about both the process leading to this update and the content we saw and will discuss this at the next Faculty Relations Committee meeting. 
  4. Something we missed in our last update: We passed a rather normal-looking FAUW budget at the general meeting on April 7. The budget accounts for both normal functioning come fall and some work-from-home expenditures for staff and executive members so that we’ve got our bases covered. 
Continue reading “Notes from our April 23 Board meeting + takeaways from CAUT COVID-19 town halls”

An update about things that aren’t COVID-19

—Bryan Tolson, FAUW president

Our regular updates about FAUW Board activities have been supplanted by our COVID-19 messages recently, but now that those have slowed, here’s an overdue update on some other things we’ve been working on (and also more pandemic developments). I hope you can all find a few minutes to read this and get up to date on FAUW’s activities and efforts on your behalf.

Thank you to everyone who attended our Spring General Meeting on April 7 and to those who asked questions. I think it went well under the circumstances and attendance was great, with over 100 people tuning in. Much of the content of this post is from my president’s report at that meeting, but there are a few new points as well.

New FAUW Board members

We welcomed some new Board members this term. Jordan Hale replaced Sarah Brown as our liaison from the Librarians and Archivists Association, and we have two short-term replacements for members on leave: Brian Kendall (taking Vivian Choh’s Science seat) and Alfred Yu (replacing Pat Lam as a director-at-large). 

Congratulations to our newly elected Board members starting their term on July 1: Joel Dubin (AHS), Kate Lawson (Arts), Alfred Yu (Engineering), Peter Johnson (Environment), Nomair Naeem (Math), Heidi Engelhardt (Science), and Narveen Jandu (at-large). We were pleased to see high voter turnout this year: up to 65% of eligible members voted for these positions. Thanks again to everyone who ran in this election.

Policy drafting

Policy drafting committees have had no support from the Secretariat since March 12 (their office, like most, has had to triage). FAUW’s position is that if a drafting committee deems it appropriate to continue their work, then they should do so. Some committees have been working and it seems support from the Secretariat is now starting to come back.

Continue reading “An update about things that aren’t COVID-19”

February at FAUW

Maybe it was the Valentine’s Day candy, or maybe it was the coming long weekend, but we got through the February 13 Board meeting in good time. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. We debriefed the recent Council of Representatives meeting. One topic at that meeting was the importance of Faculty Performance Evaluation Guidelines and departmental addenda. These documents are the place to look for information about what’s a “normal” workload in your department, how service is evaluated, or what counts as teaching. Right now is a good time to start working on updating those documents if they need it (new versions must be approved by October 15). Talk to your Council member for more information. Here are some suggestions for things to include:
    • An explicitly defined normal teaching load
    • The expected/normal supervision load
    • A statement acknowledging different types of teaching and teaching responsibilities
    • The ability to submit peer reviews of teaching and solicited comments or letters
    • That participation in CTE and other workshops counts toward teaching
    • The ability to use evidence not just from the classroom and qualitative evidence
    • Direction that student surveys should be considered with caution
  1. We noted some confusion among members about how benefits plan decisions are made. The Pension & Benefits Committee decides what’s covered in our health and dental plans, and that committee is made up of members from all the represented employee groups (FAUW, the Staff Association, and CUPE) and the Retirees Association, plus representatives from the University administration and Board of Governors. FAUW has three out of 13 votes on the committee.
  2. We heard updates from our rep on the Copyright Advisory Committee. If you have questions about copyright in your classes or your own work, read this interview with Lauren Byl, Copyright and Licensing Librarian, to find out how to get answers!
  3. We cleared up an issue about travel to Cuba. University Finance sent a memo last July stating that “international financial sanctions prevent the University from making or receiving payment for products or services related, either directly or indirectly” to certain countries including Cuba and Iran. We had serious concerns about how this might limit opportunities for research collaboration and questions about why the University was implementing American sanctions (Canada doesn’t have sanctions against Cuba). 
    We now have confirmation that the University can “reimburse an employee for travel expenses related to countries subject to sanctions, provided that the employee’s travel reimbursement is to a Canadian bank account and assuming that the travel to that particular country has not otherwise been prohibited under University of Waterloo Policy.” If you encounter any difficulties with claims for travel to countries subject to sanctions, let a FAUW Board or staff member so that we can follow up.”
  4. After hearing that definite term lecturers did not receive an email about nominations for University Senate, we reaffirmed, again, that, lecturers are regular faculty (and eligible to sit on Senate). “Regular faculty” almost exactly overlaps with “faculty represented by FAUW.” Here’s the short version: Regular faculty = lecturers and professors hired for at least one year, except research profs and adjuncts.
    • The slightly more complicated version, as defined in Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) is that regular faculty means all lecturer and professorial rank faculty with appointments one year or longer, including clinical faculty (e.g. a clinical lecturer or clinical associate professor), but not including any faculty who have some other qualifier in their title to designate a non-regular appointment, such as “research,” “adjunct,” “visiting,” or “special.” (Sessional instructors are not regular faculty; they aren’t defined anywhere, but they all have special or adjunct appointments and are hired on contracts shorter than one year.) We’ll have more on this in a blog post from the Lecturers Committee soon.
  5. As we reported in the fall, the Media Resources office and preview room closed when the person staffing the office retired. The resources are now available through the IST Service Desk located in the Davis Centre Library. We brought concerns about this to the University, and have now heard that things are staying essentially the same. There is a new viewing room available at the DC library. To request new materials, email media.loans@uwaterloo.ca. The Associate Vice President, Academic has promised to keep an eye on this, and we will too. Let us know if the office closure creates problems for you.

Highlights from the January 30 FAUW Board meeting

Every two weeks or so, we give you a run-down of the major non-confidential topics discussed at our Board of Directors meetings. Here are the latest items:

  1. A new Board member. Patrick Lam (Electrical and Computer Engineering/Computer Science, Director-at-large elected in 2019) has stepped down and gone on sabbatical. Alfred Yu (also ECE) is stepping in until June 30. Nominations for this seat and the six Faculty-specific seats on the Board are open now and due in March.
  2. Climate Justice Working Group. The Board approved a proposal from members to form a FAUW Climate Justice Working Group. Its objectives include building climate justice awareness on campus, creating a community of practice for faculty, and sharing climate justice research with the regional community. You’ll hear more about this new group soon!
  3. Graduate Students Association unionization vote. The GSA Council (similar to our Council of Reps) has voted in favour of “the formation of a union of graduate TAs, RAs, and sessional instructors.” This is a green light for the GSA to explore the option of unionization. There is a detailed explanation on the GSA website. The Imprint has also published a statement from GSA VP David Billedeau.
  4. Our teaching workload project. We’ve collected some information about teaching workload norms and practices from our Council of Representatives. Unsurprisingly, we found wide variation across campus. This is back on the agenda at the Council of Reps meeting on February 5 as we work on narrowing our focus and filling in gaps in the data.
  5. Departmental addenda. Every Faculty has guidelines for performance reviews. Every department has (or is supposed to have) departmental addenda to those guidelines with department-specific criteria (teaching workload norms, for example). These are mandated by the Memorandum of Agreement and they’re important because they set out what the expectations are for your evaluation. We’ll be talking about what to include in these addenda—and why now is the time to update them—at the Council meeting on Wednesday.
  6. Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour. A subcommittee of the Faculty Relations and Staff Relations committees is reviewing the feedback from the Policy 33 consultations.

What’s on our agenda for 2020

Happy new year! Our big priority for this term is to keep moving forward on policy development and research professor representation. Here are some of the smaller (and not-so-small) things we talked about at the January 16 board meeting:

  1. OCUFA’s court challenge. OCUFA has voted to join ten unions representing more than 250,000 Ontario workers to launch a coordinated Charter challenge against the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act—formerly Bill 124—this is the legislation that forces our pay raises to be small for three years.
  2. The FAUW Appreciation Award. We’re starting to consider suggestions for this year’s recipient(s) of the FAUW Appreciation Award, which recognizes people from across the University who have gone above and beyond to improve the lives of faculty members.
  3. Professional licensing fees. We’re doing an environmental scan about how professional licenses are handled across campus. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of variation in terms of who needs to be licensed, how many people in a unit need to maintain their license, and who pays for it. For anyone who doesn’t know what we’re talking about, professional programs (e.g. planning, optometry, engineering) typically need a minimum number of faculty members to hold professional licenses in order to maintain the accreditation for their school/department/program.
  4. The switch from Scantron to Akindi. You have at least three options for digital grading solutions, including Akindi, UW’s new go-to “multiple-choice exam processing service.” One of our board members recommends Crowdmark as a way to reduce your workload. We’re exploring the possibility of hosting a lunch & learn on digital grading systems—let us know in the comments if you’d be interested. Learn more and register for Akindi training on the IST website.
Continue reading “What’s on our agenda for 2020”

Fall 2019 end-of-term round-up of FAUW activities

Before everyone disappears for the holidays (who are we kidding, most of you won’t see this until January), here’s a quick re-cap of what we’ve been doing this term, including an update on our priorities for 2019–20.

How we’re doing on our 2019–20 goals so far

  • Policy development: We are in the midst of some big discussions about how to improve our policy development process as a whole. Policy 33 (ethical behaviour) is moving along—FRC is processing 100 pages of feedback from the University community and will give direction on changes in the new year. Bryan is still hoping to get this approved before his term is up! Policies 14 (parental leave), 57 (accommodations), and 76 (faculty appointments) are still in progress.
  • Conflict of interest guidelines: Faculty Relations Committee is finalizing these.
  • Workload: We distributed a questionnaire to our Council of Representatives and are finishing up gathering the last of those and starting to analyze the information. We will share the results with our members next term.
  • Representation: Both research professors and our membership voted to support our position statement on representing research professors. This is at the Faculty Relations Committee now.

11 other things that happened this term

Continue reading “Fall 2019 end-of-term round-up of FAUW activities”

The hot topics at FAUW and OCUFA this month

What FAUW is talking about

  1. We’re working on identifying standard teaching workload expectations in each department so we can better advise members. We started gathering data on this at the October 29 Council of Reps meeting.
  2. Speaking of which, we are still missing Council members for: Accounting & Finance, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Physics & Astronomy, and Systems Design Engineering. If you’d like to be your unit’s rep, send us an email.
  3. The Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour) drafting committee finished its public consultation on October 18. FRC will review all the feedback and give direction to the drafting committee about changes to make by November 11. We expect a final version back to FRC for approval on December 19. In particular, FAUW heard impassioned feedback about the policy’s silence on student-supervisor relationships. This was instead covered in draft guidelines. The Board voted on October 24 to ask that this be included in the policy itself.
  4. The Lecturers Committee had an insightful meeting with David Rose, new chair of the Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) drafting committee and Benoit Charbonneau (chief negotiator for FAUW) about policy 76 and implications for lecturer salary equity.
  5. FAUW President Bryan Tolson met with the faculty reps on the joint health and safety committees about how those committees can advocate more explicitly for faculty safety issues.
  6. Ranjini Jha was appointed to the Pension Investment Committee.
  7. We’re starting to plan events for next term. Some topics we’re looking at include preparing for retirement, definite term contracts, the teaching scheduling process, and meet-ups for early-career faculty and out-of-town and bike commuters.
  8. The University is currently negotiating its third Strategic Mandate Agreement with the province. Currently, 92% of UW’s operating funding is based on enrolment, but the new performance-based funding model will bring this number down to about 33%, with the rest dictated by to-be-determined performance indicators. FAUW is more concerned with rejecting this funding model as a whole than getting into the details about which indicators UW should be using. If you want to learn more about how the model works, here’s a presentation from OCUFA (PDF) that breaks it down.

What OCUFA is talking about

OCUFA = Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations

  1. Now that the provincial legislature has reconvened, Bill 124 (the one that will cap salary increases at 1%) will likely pass in November, and then there likely will be a court challenge, likely by CUPE (the Canadian Union of Public Employees). It’s still unclear if the legislation will apply to anything outside of base salary (e.g. benefits spending, merit increases).
  2. Bill 100 (the one that allows the government to reduce/eliminate the salary of faculty members collecting a pension) is already law; we’re just waiting to see if they will use it. OCUFA will file a charter challenge if needed.

OCUFA’s advocacy day at Queen’s Park is coming up on November 6. We can’t make it this year, but you can follow along on their Twitter account when the time comes.

Ethical Behaviour policy consultation + more from the September 26 Board meeting

A draft of Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour) is out for consultation. Since this is the first policy that’s made its way to Faculty Relations Committee (FRC) for approval in a while, let’s review how this will work:

  1. Policy 33 is an “FS” policy, meaning that it affects both faculty and staff working conditions. FRC (that’s the group of FAUW Board members and admin that meets every two weeks to hash out working conditions, fix problems, and approve policies) and the Staff Relations Committee (SRC) jointly strike drafting committees for and then approve FS policies. 
  2. FRC and SRC will send the draft policy out for consultation to other groups. They will review all the feedback and tell the drafting committee what changes to make. 
  3. The updated draft policy then goes back to FRC and SRC for approval. Approval at FRC requires a double majority, which means both FAUW and admin have a veto.
  4. After FRC and SRC approve the policy, it goes on to be approved by the Board of Governors.

In the case of Policy 33, faculty and staff members will get a draft of the policy soon. We encourage you to provide feedback through the soon-to-be-announced process set up by the Secretariat. If necessary, we will also collect anonymous input through our FRC reps and Lori Curtis, AF&T Committee chair.

What else is going on right now?

  1. The Holistic Benefits Review is moving along—you’ll get a survey soon, asking for your input about University employee benefits.
  2. As we reported last time, Finance (incorrectly) used a new Consumer Price Index (CPI) source for indexing the 2018-2019 Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement (FPER) amount, which led to each member getting $8.00 less than you should have last year. We’ve worked collegially with Finance to find a solution: reverting back to the previous CPI source moving forward and also making a one-time addition of $8.00 to your 2019-2020 FPER. This was the Board’s preferred solution. Special thanks to the member who investigated this thoroughly and brought it to our attention!
  3. We gave feedback on draft conflict of interest guidelines that FRC is working on. These apply to faculty hiring, performance review, tenure and promotion, and chair search committees. You can expect to see those later this term.
  4. We had a quick debrief about the New Faculty and Family Dinner that we co-hosted with the University on September 20. (The gist: it was great; everyone had fun; we’re looking forward to next year.)
  5. The Lecturers Committee held its first meeting of the year and is working on setting goals for the next few months. Let them know if you have suggestions.
  6. The Board approved FAUW’s audited financial statements for the fiscal year 2018–19. 

We’ll be talking about the progress made so far by the Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team (CTAPT) (see the “Documents” sidebar) at an upcoming Board meeting. If you have input you’d like us to consider, let us know!