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.
We’re kicking off this series with Lori Curtis. Lori is the new chair of the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee (AF&T), which helps faculty members at Waterloo with a wide range of workplace questions and problems. We sat down for an interview in her office in November.
FAUW: Lori, What is the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee?
Lori: It’s senior faculty members who can act as an academic colleague for other faculty—a peer who knows the academic situation that you’re in. They can attend meetings with you, help you work through issues, or just listen.
We get a lot of questions on tenure, promotion, and contract renewal. We also, unfortunately, talk to faculty who are having issues with other faculty members.
What do you bring to this role?
I have an eclectic background. I used to be a nurse, I’ve worked in government, and in a couple of universities. I’ve worked in both unionized and non-unionized environments so I can talk people through the difference between us and a unionized organization.
I think I bring a bit of logic to academia. Sometimes academics haven’t worked outside the university environment, and I don’t want to say they don’t quite understand the real world, but sometimes they don’t quite understand the real world. I also bring a bit of experience with mental health work.
Why is there an AccessAbility Services Exam Centre?
AccessAbility Services’ Exam Centre is both a student and faculty service. The Exam Centre enables students to write tests with their approved accommodations, without requiring faculty to facilitate the accommodations themselves. Accommodations such as securing scribes, purchasing and setting up assistive technology, monitoring supervised breaks, providing additional writing time, and securing rooms that have natural light or ergonomic furniture can be difficult to coordinate, so our office is here to help.
Who writes in the Exam Centre?
AccessAbility Services provides academic accommodations and support to approximately 2,500 students, almost all of whom receive testing accommodations. The Exam Centre facilitates approximately 6,000 tests a term, for students with a variety of disabilities.
Just because you do a lot of it doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Whether you want to improve your writing skills or habits, need some direction, or could use a push to get the work done, you might benefit from the Writing and Communication Centre’s Faculty Writing Group. We’ve heard great things from our members about this and want to make sure you’ve heard about it before registration closes on October 1.
Here’s what the Centre says about the group:
The writing group will take place every Wednesday from 4:30pm to 5:30pm for eight weeks: October 17th to December 5th, 2018. During this hour faculty will set and share writing goals, report on their progress, give and receive feedback on excerpts of group members’ works-in-progress, and learn about and discuss new writing strategies.
All faculty are also welcome to attend the weekly drop-in Faculty Writing Cafe, which takes place every Wednesday from 2:00pm to 4:30pm in SCH 228F. The Writing and Communication Centre also offers free 50-minute consultations with their Faculty Support Specialist.
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Here are some of the key lessons shared by experienced faculty members at our recent workshop for newly tenured/continuing faculty. Workshop slides, notes, and background reading are available on our website.
The post-tenure slump is real. You need to plan how you’ll avoid it. Set goals; have a vision of what you want your career to look like in the end, and do things that move you toward that.
Service work is not the dark side. Participating in collegial governance is “superb but challenging,” and it can be extremely rewarding to make a difference in your colleagues’ work lives. It’s also necessary: If we want the University to continue being run by academics (versus giving control over to administrators), we all need to take a turn.
You can still learn new things about teaching. Don’t be afraid of new technologies.
A scholarship slump is common. Imposter syndrome often kicks in hard now. Do what you can to stay active in scholarship in any way. Do something small. Learn new methodologies that allow you to start a project you’re excited about. Make use of the resources available (talk to the Office of Research!) to figure out how to keep doing research, whatever your specific situation.
Take chances and try new things. Lecturers, remember that you’ve gotten to this point because your chair/director has confidence in you. Don’t worry about the new things you’re trying until your chair/director complains.
Lecturers: Ask for the things you need. Chairs and directors are still getting used to the different needs of lecturers. If you have a project you want to do, figure out how to make it count as a teaching task. Explain how it adds value and renews your skills.
Be a complete colleague. Contribute and participate in all areas of your professional life.
On April 18th, the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre (WAEC) was awarded the 2017 Equity and Inclusivity Award. Kathleen Rybczynski, Chair of the Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC), described why the Centre was selected for this year’s award: “The Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre exemplifies community strength, and with tremendous success has established decolonized spaces that celebrate and share Indigenous knowledges. Developing networks within our campus and broader communities, the centre brings people together: supporting, educating, and working toward respect and reconciliation.”
AccessAbility Services (ASS) can be a bit of a mystery. The purpose of this post is to help break down the wall between AAS and rest of the campus and shed light on its purpose, function, and benefits.
Why does AccessAbility Services exist?
Offices that support academic accommodations for students with disabilities are present in every postsecondary institution in Ontario. The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development provides financial support and oversight of these offices. At the University of Waterloo, AccessAbility Services fulfills its mandate by collaborating with the university community to support equitable access to post-secondary education by designing academic accommodation plans and facilitating the implementation of accommodations.
The office is accountable to the Ministry concerning documentation requirements and service offerings, but it is also accountable to the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and the integrity and academic standards of the University.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission states that postsecondary instructors have a duty to accommodate students with disabilities. However, students’ medical information is private and needs to be reviewed and stored appropriately. Our office acts as a bridge: We receive and hold the sensitive medical documentation, and relay to you the ways you can fulfill your duty to accommodate. Essentially, our office is a faculty resource. We help you understand your duty to accommodate. Continue reading “Unveiling AccessAbility Services”→