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!
Every year, FAUW offers a series of workshops to help members prepare for career transitions and milestones.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
You don’t have to be invited to apply by your chair (though you do want their support).
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.
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.
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.
The New Faculty Orientation LEARN site launches this week, and it features a new video from FAUW that explains who we are and what we do.
If you’ve joined Waterloo in the last year and you haven’t received your invitation (from the Provost’s Office) to the LEARN site and New Faculty Orientation by Tuesday, please let us know!
dan brown, FAUW President / School of Computer Science: Hello! Welcome to Waterloo. I’m the president of FAUW, the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo, which is the official representative of members of the Waterloo faculty. I’m here with a bunch of our committee chairs and Board members to tell you a little bit about what FAUW does for its members.
Bryan Tolson, FAUW’s Past President / Civil and Environmental Engineering: FAUW is not a union, but we do collectively bargain for our members’ salaries.
Johanna Wandel, FAUW Vice President / Geography and Environmental Management: We also negotiate fair and equitable university policies and make sure faculty voices are represented on dozens of University committees.
Lori Curtis, Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee Chair / Economics: We have a team of colleagues ready to assist our members with the tenure & promotion process or any workplace issues that may arise.
Kate Lawson, FAUW Director (Arts) / English Language and Literature: FAUW also represents Waterloo at provincial and national bodies that advocate for university faculty.
Narveen Jandu, FAUW Director-at-large / School of Public Health and Health Systems: We host events throughout the year to bring faculty together. At these events, we share information and offer advice on everything from taking leaves to work-life balance.
Alfred Yu, FAUW Director (Engineering) / Electrical and Computer Engineering: We make sure you hear about things happening on campus that affect our faculty through our blog, social media, and email.
Jay Dolmage, Equity Committee Chair / English Language and Literature: FAUW’s Equity Committee advocates for faculty from underrepresented groups and we’re working to build a more equitable university.
Su-Yin Tan, Lecturers Committee Chair / Geography and Environmental Management: Our Lecturer Committee is the voice for Lecturers on campus, advocating for this large group of Waterloo’s faculty.
Allison Kelly, Climate Justice Working Group Co-chair / Psychology: Our new Climate Justice Working Group is advocating for ways that the university can ethically respond to the climate crisis.
Nancy Worth, Indigenization Working Group member / Geography and Environmental Management: FAUW’s Indigenization Working Group helps faculty members better understand and act on Indigenization and reconciliation efforts.
Heidi Engelhardt, FAUW Director (Science) / Biology: You can contact any of us on the FAUW Board or FAUW staff member if you need help with anything as you settle into your role at Waterloo.
dan brown, FAUW President: We’re looking forward to welcoming you more fully at either the new faculty orientation in September or at one of our events this year. Again, welcome.
FAUW first started holding events specifically for Waterloo lecturers in 2014, but there have been lecturers on campus since at least the early ‘90s. With a distinct uptick in lecturer hiring over the last decade or two, there are now lecturers in every one of the University’s six faculties and they make up 18% of the FAUW membership. For many chairs, directors, deans—or just faculty colleagues—who are new to dealing with lecturer-rank faculty, there may be some uncertainty about who these people are and how they fit into their departments and schools. To help explain what lecturer faculty are—and aren’t—here are (in no particular order) eight myths about lecturers at Waterloo.
Myth #1: A lecturer is a lecturer is a lecturer
Fact: The term “lecturer” is often indiscriminately applied to everyone from sessional instructors hired by the course or term to permanent teaching faculty. At Waterloo, “lecturer” is one of the four faculty hiring ranks (the others are assistant professor, associate professor, and professor; see Policy 76 – Faculty Appointments). While sessional instructors are also hired at the rank of lecturer, they’re more correctly called adjunct or special lecturers and are administratively very different from the lecturer-rank regular facultymembers (just “lecturers” from here on) that we’re talking about in this post.
Lecturers can have “definite term” or “continuing” appointments. Most lecturer-rank faculty are initially hired on definite-term contracts, which can be repeatedly renewed when they expire, although there is never any guarantee of renewal (see myth #7). Continuing lecturers have permanent, ongoing appointments that don’t have expiry dates. FAUW represents both definite-term and continuing lecturers (but not sessional instructors). About 40% of UW’s lecturers have continuing appointments.
Getting the terminology straight is just half the battle. The specifics of lecturer positions—how teaching loads are defined, what kinds of service and administrative tasks they do—can vary widely between faculties, and even between departments in the same faculty. According to our 2015 lecturers survey, about half of UW’s lecturers have an 80/20 teaching/service ratio; the other half reported a broad variety of teaching/research/service weightings.
Usually when we talk about intellectual property at the University of Waterloo we are talking about Policy 73 (Intellectual Property Rights) which provides that inventors own much of the IP they create. Today, however, we’re talking specifically about your use of copyright-protected materials in class (or on LEARN) as an instructor and the risks of violating copyright.
First, a (very brief!) primer on copyright. A copyright is fundamentally the right to restrict distribution of a creative work. Let’s say I take some pictures of cats. I am the copyright holder of these pictures, and other people cannot legally make copies of, or distribute, these photos without my permission, unless under the so-called fair dealing provision. Fair dealing allows others to use portions of my work for educational purposes.
How do you know what you can use?
As an instructor, you will often be using others’ copyrighted materials for legitimate reasons, and our copyright law permits you to do this without seeking permission from the copyright holder under certain circumstances:
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.
Lauren Byl is the Copyright and Licensing Librarian at the University of Waterloo.
What does a copyright librarian do?
In my role, I answer copyright questions about use of materials in teaching, such as those related to the Fair Dealing Advisory, as well as provide guidance on copyright during the publication process. I’m also responsible for negotiating the Library’s licenses for electronic resources.
Why should faculty members know about your role?
Much of the work faculty do triggers copyright in some way—whether it’s their own rights as authors, asking permission to use other’s work, or what they can use in the classroom. Faculty should know about my role because I’m here to help make copyright easier to understand and provide guidance on University best practices.
What are the most common questions you help faculty with?
On the publishing side, the most common question is “What can I do with work I’ve published?” Faculty usually sign over copyright to their publisher during the publishing process; the agreement states what an author can do with their own work.
It’s that time of year—the time when faculty members at Waterloo start thinking about writing their annual performance review documents and putting together their files. In this spirit, the FAUW Equity Committee offers twelve tips to help you think about equity as an essential part of this process.
On the first day of performance review season, collaborate with members of your own department to demystify the review process, especially for new faculty members. All APRs are local; what someone does in another department is probably not the same in yours. Consider starting a sharing circle: pool APR reports, with or without the numbers attached, so that you can get a feel for the genre. Pay it forward. Mentor those junior to you.
On the second day of performance review season, focus on your teaching effectiveness in the full knowledge that student questionnaires correlate principally with non-instructional factors (scheduling, student interest in the topic, grade expectations, and the like).
The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) states unequivocally:
“Using SQCTs [student questionnaires on courses and teaching] for performance evaluation penalizes women, racialized and LGBTQ2S+ faculty, and faculty with disabilities. These faculty are also more likely to be the target of harassment in the anonymous comments sections of the questionnaires. Further, using SQCTs for performance evaluation risks undermining effective teaching and intellectual diversity.”
To cite this report in your own performance review documentation: Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “Report of the OCUFA Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching Working Group.” February 2019. https://ocufa.on.ca/assets/OCUFA-SQCT-Report.pdf
On the third day of performance review season, start a broader discussion at the department level. Every department has guiding documents that outline how to evaluate performance. Share the recent arbitration ruling at Ryerson University (Ryerson University v. The Ryerson Faculty Association, 2018) that student evaluations of teaching via course questionnaires are valuable instruments for “captur[ing] student experience” but cannot be “used to measure teaching effectiveness for promotion or tenure.”
Or talk about how the Department of Psychology at Waterloo decided not to use student evaluations of teaching in their review process, citing the bias inherent in these evaluations. This effort was rejected at the decanal level, but maybe we just need more departments to take a principled stand. Consider citing the OCUFA document (see: day two) in your department’s review documentation. Ask what other sources of bias might exist in your department’s process.
On the fourth day of performance review season, your department gets a special gift: a junior faculty member on the performance review committee! Rotating junior members of the department onto the committee is important because it will pull back the curtain for these colleagues, but also because it can be unfair to junior faculty members to be evaluated only by senior colleagues. The Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between FAUW and the University delineates that there must be five members to assist the Chair on this committee (see section 13.5.6), but does not specify rank or other details about these members.
Fall may be in full swing, but it feels like spring is in the air for cycling in Waterloo Region.
There is a growing
push for cycling across the community, catalyzed by concerns for accessibility
and safety, effective use of space, economic development, affordability, and
climate change, just to name a few. New segregated bike lanes on King, Columbia,
University, Queen, and Belmont are kicking off much-needed infrastructure
transitions outlined in municipal policy and planning. Trail improvements
through Waterloo Park and soon the Iron Horse are making for a more pleasant
cycling experience. Bike racks and spaces on busses and the iON make
multi-modal transportation more accessible.
Efforts have been building on campus as well. Waterloo has been expanding programs and services to make riding a bike a more convenient commuting option.
All campus buildings have adjacent bike racks, some of which are covered (QNC, B1, ESC, and EIT, for example).
Parking Services manages a secure bike locker program, and there is a new secure bike cage under construction between EV3 and ML!
Police Services runs a program to register your bike, so they can better help return it to you if it is stolen.
Cyclists can access an emergency ride home program, $75 per trip 4 times per year, to help with unexpected circumstances (unfortunately, weather doesn’t count!).
Better yet, employees can purchase transit passes for winter months at a 15% discount off the regular transit price (no minimum monthly commitment) so you can bike in fair weather and bus in the cold.
Waterloo has piloted a bike sharing program in 2019 to make getting across campus more convenient.
The Sustainability Office organizes events like Bike Month to recognize cyclists, provide free bike tune-ups from community partners, and offer prizes for logging bike trips.
these don’t address every barrier. Bike theft remains a challenge, which is why
the new secure cage is a critical step forward. We hope the cage is a model
that, through partnerships, can be replicated in additional areas of campus if
there is demand.
University is certainly not an island. It is connected to the network of roads
and trails leading to the campus, many of which lack robust cycling
infrastructure. It is a familiar sight to come to the end of your bike lane or
trail and have to merge into morning or afternoon traffic. Municipal
improvements are accelerating, but there is still a lot to do.
the efforts underway are already shifting the gears upward. Cycling is not just
for veteran riders. Diverse members of the University community—from a wide
range of ages and abilities—arrive on all types of bikes every day. We’ve put
thank-you cards on thousands of bikes across campus, so we know! Efforts to
improve infrastructure will continue to make it safer and more comfortable.
If you are
curious, explore your options. Google and gotravelwise.ca
can pull up routes and directions that optimize bike lanes and trails,
including new infrastructure, and the Sustainability website has more
information and links to the above services that can help.
Mat Thijssen is the University of Waterloo’s Sustainability Manager. He coordinates the University’s sustainability activities and efforts, in partnership with a broad range of stakeholders on and off campus
You can have this campus-wide update sent directly to your email every morning, and the accompanying podcast delivered directly to your podcast app every Friday. Beyond the Bulletin is available via RSS, Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, and probably any other way you listen to your podcasts.
2. Follow newsletters.
Here are a few that we know of. Please link to any we missed in the comments!
Tip: Like newsletters but don’t want to add more to your inbox? Try using Unroll.me to collect all your newsletters into one email every day. Hint: don’t include emails from people, offices (or, say, faculty associations) that send you time-sensitive or important emails, because you won’t get those emails right away.
3. Follow RSS feeds
Every UWaterloo website has an RSS feed for its News, Events, and Blog sections. You can find the RSS link at the top of each of those pages.
4. Add events directly to your calendar
When you find an event you’re interested in, add it to your calendar with just a couple of clicks—no typing required! Look for the little calendar icon with a plus sign at the top of any event listing on any UWaterloo website. Click it to download an “.ics” file, which you can open with any calendar app. (Here are the instructions for Google Calendar.)
Want to add all of the events from a website to your calendar at once? Use the “Export” button at the top of the Events page of that site.
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