Faculty need more support to meet increasing teaching workload and expectations

FAUW members, other instructors, and the many staff members who support teaching and learning at the University of Waterloo have gone above and beyond over the last two years to continue delivering excellent education to Waterloo students. The abrupt change to remote teaching last year accelerated positive innovations that were already in the planning stages. Together, we have learned new technologies, developed new digital assets, and experimented with new pedagogical approaches. Quickly adopting and adapting these approaches and innovations has required a huge effort by dedicated instructors and students alike.

This change has also come at a cost to many students due to technology issues, a sense of disconnection, and a lack of appropriate learning environments. For students who have not yet developed independent study skills and self-discipline, the switch to remote has been particularly difficult. As we prepare to return to on-campus teaching in the coming months, we have an opportunity to ensure that we carry forward the positive features and the lessons from this experience into a future of teaching and learning that is better for everyone.

These changes are far from over. The University—all universities—must significantly increase the resources available to enable instructors to deliver adaptable and universally accessible teaching.

Continue reading “Faculty need more support to meet increasing teaching workload and expectations”

October 14 FAUW Board of Directors meeting report

And we’re back! Here’s what we’ve been working on lately – please comment below or contact us to let us know what you think!

  1. The AODA Education Standard recommendations. There are 179 initial recommendations that would inform accessibility standards (regulations) for postsecondary education across Ontario, under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. FAUW’s representative on the University’s Accessibility Committee, Zara Rafferty, visited this meeting to discuss how the recommended standards might affect faculty, and to gather concerns to inform the University’s submission to the ministry. A thread throughout the discussion and the feedback Zara has received is that instructors will need significant support in order to meet the proposed requirements. The deadline to send feedback to Zara has passed, but you can submit comments individually until November 1. Your Council member has more information about this.
  2. Proposed changes to pension plan investment documents. The Pension Investment Committee has drafted changes to the Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures and introduced new Fund Implementation Procedures and a Responsible Investment Policy. The drafts are available in the agenda for the October 22 Pension & Benefits Committee meeting. We are concerned that the proposed changes introduce unnecessary risk, may be ineffective in implementing ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) criteria, and could reduce accountability to plan members. In addition, the administration at times appears to treat pension funds as university assets, which is inappropriate.
  3. Policies 76 and 77. After the latest drafting committee failed to submit substantial revisions for the Faculty Appointments and Tenure & Promotion policies, the Board directed your Faculty Relations Committee representatives to request mediation as a way to move forward. The Board also identified things we absolutely must achieve for our teaching-intensive members (there’s a longer list on our website), including:
    • Teaching-stream professorial ranks with defined progression through these ranks.
    • Time to do the work required to progress through the ranks, in a pedagogical/professional development term (one in every six terms).
  4. Our grievance related to Policy 14 – Pregnancy & Parental Leaves (including Adoption) and the Return to Work. Members who were already on pregnancy leave when the new policy passed (on April 6) were informed by the University that when their parental leave started (after April 6), they would not qualify for expanded benefits under the new policy because it’s all “one leave” that started before the policy came into effect, even though individuals who did not give birth and went on parental leave at the same time did qualify. We believe this is inequitable treatment and that these are two separate leaves in policy, and have filed an association grievance. We know of at least five members affected by this; please contact Lori Curtis if it affects you as well.
Continue reading “October 14 FAUW Board of Directors meeting report”

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”

Notes from our May 21 Board meeting

Here’s what happened at our last Board meeting:

  1. We tried out Microsoft Teams’ new ‘raise hand’ feature. It added some efficiency to the meeting—just remember to put your hand down after you speak. 😉 
  2. We heard about the updates Bryan (Tolson, FAUW president) is getting about the Integrated Co-ordination and Planning Committee (pandemic response) discussions. It’s not quite the regular communication that UW President Feridun Hamdullahpur suggested at Senate or in his virtual town hall last week, but it’s helping keep us in the loop. 
  3. We talked about some of our major pandemic-related concerns (now itemized on our website), including the role of Senate in deciding things like whether the Registrar’s Office will schedule meet times for the fall term or not (spoiler alert: we think this should be a Senate decision). 
  4. The CEPT2 and CTAPT motions both passed at Senate. Bryan voted against the CEPT2 update. We’re very happy about the support for CTAPT at Senate and that Waterloo now has a strong, public mandate to use means other than student surveys in evaluating teaching quality. 
  5. We discussed our recent member survey about preparing for spring and fall teaching. The results of that are on our website now: 2020 teaching survey results. We are particularly concerned that, at the time of the survey (May 8–13), 71% of respondents teaching in the fall said it was not clear to them how decisions were being made about how their courses should be delivered. 
    Another important finding is that 74% of respondents teaching in spring felt more unprepared than usual at the start of term and only 53% felt that they received adequate support for spring term overall. Which is why… 
  6. We formally adopted the position that student course perception surveys for spring 2020 should be used only at the discretion of instructors, as was the case for winter 2020. We’ll be advocating for that position with the administration. We’re also starting to talk about how to address 2020 performance reviews, overall. That’s with our Equity Committee now. 
  7. We talked about the various challenges the library is having in responding to the needs of researchers and students while buildings are closed and books are not circulating. FAUW is grateful to our colleagues in the library for all the difficult work they are doing in enabling our members’ work.  
  8. We got an update about T2200 tax forms and claiming home-office expenses. The update is that there will be an update from the University at the end of this week. We have some interim info about T2200s on our website. (Keep in mind that this is for next year’s taxes. On a related note: we don’t have an answer yet about claiming these same expenses (i.e. your home energy bill) on your FPER, but that also won’t be relevant until next year, as this year’s FPER still only applies to expenses incurred up to March 31. Many connectivity and equipment expenses are already eligible for FPER, so keep your receipts.
  9. We are picking up our faculty teaching workload survey that got sidelined in March. We gathered data from the Council of Representatives in the fall and presented preliminary findings at the February Council Meeting, but still have gaps. We will soon be sharing everything we have so far and crowd-sourcing corrections from members.

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”

So far in 2019…

It’s been a while since we’ve provided an update from the Board of Directors. Here’s a run-down of (almost) everything we’ve been working on since January. Our committees have also been very active this year and we’ll report on more of their work soon. Feel free to ask for more details in the comments or by email.

In no particular order:

1. We announced the lecturer salary threshold increase. This was a big win for lecturers. In case you missed it, here’s the gist: When your salary passes each threshold, your merit increase is reduced by a certain amount to slow down your rate of increase once you’re in that higher salary bracket. [Learn more about how this works.] The lecturer thresholds were too low, so lecturers were hitting them earlier in their careers than intended. Last year, we negotiated for a Working Group on Salary Structure to fix that, and they did. The Lecturers Committee held a packed celebration at the Grad House on June 11.

2. We cleared up a vacation issue for lecturers (and other faculty, but mostly lecturers) with a small change to the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). Any member engaged in classroom teaching in all three terms is now entitled to carry over one week of vacation, for one year. You just have to notify your chair. Carrying forward one week or more of vacation was already (and still is) allowed for all members “in exceptional circumstances.” A formal announcement of the precise change is coming later this month.

3. We approved a change to the MoA that addresses issues with expense deadlines. Namely, we added more clarity on deadlines and Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement Plan in general and the submission cycle is essentially shifted earlier to provide a reasonable amount of time for processing and approvals. A formal announcement of the precise change is coming later this month.

4. We participated in two separate provincial government consultations about 1) a cap on public sector wage increases and then 2) faculty simultaneously collecting a salary and pension. We are developing another formal response document for the end of the month to an additional government consultation session in late June on the potential for the Minister to write a regulation prohibiting collecting a salary and pension.  We will share in some way with members after it is submitted. Thanks to all members who have engaged with us in providing useful feedback. 

5. We supported faculty who teach Undergraduate Communication Outcomes Initiative (UCOI) courses in pushing back against an announcement about class sizes that contradicted Policy 40 (on the role of chairs). FAUW wanted to see appropriate (and required) levels of consultation and now believes such consultations are occurring. 

Continue reading “So far in 2019…”

Behind the Scenes of AccessAbility Services’ Exam Centre

Hello faculty members! It’s Jennifer Gillies here, the associate director of AccessAbility Services. In my last blog post for FAUW, I talked about the general operations of AccessAbility Services. This time, I’m going to share some ‘behind the scenes’ information about our Exam Centre.

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.

Where do students write their tests?

A student writing a test with AccessAbility Services will be scheduled to write in one of five locations, based on factors in their accommodation (e.g., the need for a scribe or natural lighting). Continue reading “Behind the Scenes of AccessAbility Services’ Exam Centre”

News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for September 13, 2018

Daniel Cockayne (Geography and Environmental Management) and Brent Matheson (Math/Business and Accounting) are taking over the Board meeting recaps this year. Here’s Daniel’s first go: 

The first FAUW Board meeting of the 2018/2019 academic year (meet your new Board members here!) began with a summary of FAUW’s finances by Michelle Adams from the accountancy firm RLB, which audits FAUW’s finances annually. You’ll be glad to hear that she confirmed that FAUW’s financial situation is sound!

Long in the works, there is to be a new policy that will establish a clear process for dealing with accommodations for faculty and staff. As an FS-class policy, it will need to be approved by the faculty and staff relations committees (FRC and SRC). The terms of reference for the policy have been drafted, and a committee will be appointed soon.

We discussed the final details of the agreement between FAUW and the Renison Association of Academic Staff (RAAS). Pending adoption by both the RAAS and FAUW memberships, this agreement will make RAAS members affiliate members of FAUW. They will pay FAUW dues in exchange for access to specific services and resources. We expect to bring this to the membership at the Fall General Meeting on December 4.

The Board approved new election procedures, now posted on our website, which mostly just document existing practices and will be reflected in the next call for nominations for FAUW President this fall.

We discussed the current re-development of student perception surveys at Waterloo in light of the arbitration decision at Ryerson University, which ruled against the use of student surveys in tenure and promotion decisions. This has established an important precedent for faculty associations and universities across Canada. It is important to emphasize that this decision does not dismiss the value of student surveys wholesale, just their use for summative decisions pertaining to merit, tenure, and promotion. FAUW discussed how this decision affects (or should affect) Waterloo’s current Course Evaluation Project Team 2 (CEPT2) and Complimentary Teaching Assessment Project Team (CTAPT). (See also: Jay Michela’s recent analysis of this issue and all our blog posts about student surveys.)

Another point of discussion was FAUW’s response to the recent announcement from the Office of the Premiere that publicly-assisted universities and colleges must post a policy on free speech by January 1, 2019. There were questions around precisely how formalized such a policy needs to be and the kinds of protections for free speech that the University of Waterloo already has in place. There will certainly be more to come on this topic. Stay tuned.

News From Your Board: June 7 Meeting Recap

The board met for the last time this academic year in its basement home in MC. We began by hearing from Daniel Miller from Electrical and Computer Engineering who presented an analysis of early retirement policies based on those of the University of Toronto and other schools. FAUW will look at this further.

For several weeks, FAUW has been working on a response to a draft document on student academic accommodation procedures. The board will continue to work with the Equity Committee to identify feedback for Jennifer Gillies, associate director of AccessAbility Services. If you have feedback, please contact Katie Damphouse by Friday, June 15.

An outstanding issue is that of FAUW having access to faculty appointment letters on a limited basis to assist in our role of counselling new faculty. The board believes that having this information will significantly improve the support we can provide to new faculty members, and while we are at currently an impasse, we will keep working on making this happen.

A few board members gave updates on current policy initiatives and issues, including that Policy 43 (Special Conditions for Employment for Deans) has recently had an explanatory appendix attached, which is contrary to the process for FS policies. This is being addressed.

We reviewed drafts of upcoming surveys for both volunteers and all members. Look for those in your email by the end of the month. Your feedback will shape FAUW’s work in the future.

Finally, this is a time of transition. Shortly (after one more blog post) both authors of the News From Your Board series (Peter Johnson and Sally Gunz) will end their terms on the board. We await a new and high quality version of the series this fall with baited breath! Thanks for your patience with our scribbles.

—Sally Gunz, past president