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”

Report from the November 26 Board meeting

Here’s what we discussed:

  1. Salary negotiations. We held a confidential session on our priorities, which include some of the typical items around salary and benefits, a couple of key equity-oriented items, and a few things that we believe will make life easier for our members and your families, particularly during difficult times. The negotiating team is optimistic and assures us they will be “tough and fair” as they head into bargaining next week. We will report back when we have news we can share, probably in the new year. Good luck, team!
  2. Redistribution of unspent professional expense (FPER) funds. Members will receive two-thirds of this money on December 4 and can use it as part of this year’s FPER; the remaining third will be added to the 2021-2022 FPER amount. There is also a new chart from Finance that explains which work-from-home expenses are eligible for FPER, a tax deduction, or both. 
  3. Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental Leaves). The Policy 14 consultation website is now live. Please share your feedback, both positive and negative. We’re very excited about the changes in this policy and need your help to make sure it’s approved. 
  4. Our 2020-21 budget. We passed a ‘business as usual’ budget at our April general meeting and business has not proceeded as usual. Some of our committees have submitted proposals to repurpose some of their funds in light of not having in-person events. We also have a couple of new, unexpected expenses, and a lot of event money that isn’t going to be used this year. We’ll have a more detailed update for voting members at our general meeting on December 8. 
  5. framework for teaching statements for 2020 performance reviews. Ian VanderBurgh created a document to help members contextualize and describe what their teaching has looked like over the last year. Teaching statements aren’t required; good ones take substantial time to write, and you can opt out of being evaluated on your teaching for 2020 altogether, but we think this is a useful guide for those who do choose to submit a statement. 
  6. Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments). We discussed candidate key changes that we want to see in this policy with regard to teaching faculty. This is essentially a list of bargaining priorities, so we won’t be sharing it publicly. We also discussed a tentative plan for moving forward with the policy 76 revision process, and we hope to have an announcement about this at the general meeting.  
  7. Winter and spring term dates. We haven’t heard anything about spring term starting late or having a reading week, but for the record, we aren’t in support of any such changes to spring term dates. Among other things, pushing back the end of spring term would limit the time available for faculty teaching in both spring and fall (let along all three terms) to take any time off next year. We have heard that the deadline for submitting your winter term grades is not changing. More on the changes to winter term in Dan’s president’s report below.
Continue reading “Report from the November 26 Board meeting”

Update from the October 29 Board meeting

After every Board of Directors meeting, we share the non-confidential highlights of the meeting, and now the president’s report, too.

President’s report 

dan brown, 27 October, 2020 

I love autumn, and on a recent workday afternoon, I took the advice of a friend and skipped out on some writing and went for a hike in a regional forest. I hope you’re all also taking the time to enjoy the outdoors and not just be cooped up in your home.

We say this all the time, but this time may actually be different: I think that Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental Leave) will go out for consultation in the next couple of weeks. Many thanks to my predecessor Bryan Tolson, who is a member of the drafting committee. We are learning a ton from this process, about how we have to establish clear mandates for our representatives on policy drafting committees, put in place a reporting process so that they can check in with us about what they’re doing, and give committees clear timelines.

One project moving forward with FAUW support and representation is the Equity Data Advisory Group, which will advise some UW offices on how to keep good statistics about employees and students who are members of a variety of equity-seeking groups (racial minorities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ folk, Indigenous people and others), and what concerns they’ll need to be mindful of so that the resultant data are useful for projects that will hold the university to account. FAUW’s representative on this group is Nancy Worth, from Geography.

Continue reading “Update from the October 29 Board meeting”

October 1 Board meeting recap & president’s report

In addition to our usual summary of key Board meeting agenda items, we’re now also sharing the non-confidential parts of dan brown’s president’s report to the Board in these biweekly(ish) updates. 

President’s report to FAUW board 

dan brown, 28 sept 2020 

I hope you have all enjoyed the warmth of the past two weeks. I am distressed to see the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Waterloo Region, and hope that patio season can be extended as long as possible; it’s going to be a long winter. 

FAUW held a town hall for our members on September 22, both to talk about how people are doing in the pandemic (it’s a mixed bag!), and to talk about possible goals for our negotiating team. Members reported a lack of consultation at many levels of the university administration. 

We received a request for participation in the university’s new Equity Data Advisory Group. We will also be advocating for transparency in this key project. 

Faculty Relations Committee approved an agreement with the administration on how to handle performance reviews for 2020 in light of the pandemic. Members can choose to be evaluated on none, some, or all of the usual service, teaching, and scholarship categories for 2020, and the agreement spells out how scores for unevaluated categories will be calculated. [The details are in an email from Faculty Relations Committee sent by the University October 9]. My thanks to Johanna Wandel and Kate Lawson for serving as FAUW’s negotiators on this item. 

I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday and keep safe and well.  

Other things we talked about on October 1 

Continue reading “October 1 Board meeting recap & president’s report”

Updates from the August 6 & September 17 FAUW Board of Directors meetings

The FAUW Board of Directors meets every two weeks (except during July and August). After most meetings, we share a summary of the non-confidential parts of the meetings, to make sure our members know what we’re working on. If you subscribe to our blog, you’ll get these updates by email.

Here are some of the things we talked about at our last two meetings:

  1. Negotiations. We spent the first part of both meetings with our new negotiating team, discussing possible goals and preparing for the town hall meeting on Tuesday, September 22.
  2. Policy 14 – Pregnancy & Parental Leaves (Including Adoption). The Board had a first look at the new Policy 14 draft. Members will have an opportunity to review the proposed new policy soon!
  3. 2020 Performance Reviews. As announced by FAUW and the Provost recently, FAUW is finalizing an agreement to allow members to skip having their performance evaluated in categories they choose in 2020. We are working out details with the administration now.
  4. Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour. The new draft of this policy is currently being revised based on feedback from stakeholders, including FAUW.
  5. Winter term. It turns out this has kind of been announced, at least in some faculties, so in case you haven’t heard: winter term will look pretty much like fall term.
  6. Masks on campus. We had some concerns about the initial announcement (on July 21) about where and when masks are required on campus, and those concerns were addressed. (The University issued a follow-up statement on July 31 that masks would be required in classrooms and teaching labs in addition to the other common areas previously announced.)

Things we talked about at the July Board meeting

We’ve added some extra Board meetings to the calendar this summer. Here are some highlights from the first one, on July 10:

  1. We discussed concerns from a member about the proposal to migrate most telephones on campus to “softphones.” Essentially, the plan is to replace the physical phone that sits on your desk with software that functions as a phone via your computer, tablet, and/or smartphone (Skype for Business, in this case). Note that labs will still be equipped with emergency phones where needed. We are asking for official consultation directly with FAUW before this moves forward and for this be discussed at the Joint Health and Safety Committee. 
  2. We talked about how to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on 2020 performance reviews. There is an existing provision in section 13.5.4 (b) of the Memorandum of Agreement between FAUW and UW to account for missing data in performance reviews when members have been on leave. We want this same option to be available, automatic upon request, to all regular faculty for their 2020 performance review, considering the impacts of COVID-19 on all areas of faculty work. 

“A…Member who has been on leave shall receive in any category where assessment is not possible as a result of the leave, a rating equal to the average ratings of the three previous years in which the Member was not on leave.” 

MoA section 13.5.4 (b)
  1. We spoke at length about anti-black racism and what FAUW can do. Members will hear more on this from us in the coming weeks and months for sure.  
  2. The consultation plan for the new draft of Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) is being finalized and we expect to see the full draft policy very soon. We want the draft Policy to go to both our Board and the Lecturers Committee as soon as possible. 
  3. We are working with the Provost to find a way to use the accumulated unspent FPER funds from the last few years (see article 6 of our last salary settlement).
  4. We’ve selected our negotiating team for the 2020-21 salary negotiations. We will announce the members of the team and begin consulting with members about priorities soon. 

Notes from our June Board meetings

In absolutely no particular order, here are some of the things we’ve been working on or talking about this month. As always, feel free to comment below or otherwise get in touch with a Board member to share your input.

  1. The library begins pickup service starting June 26!
  2. Major win: The Registrar’s Office (RO) will schedule synchronous course activities on request this fall (as usual). We also got confirmation that for the RO to not provide this service would require a decision at Senate. Thank you to everyone who helped advocate for this at Senate and through other channels. We’ve since released a statement to all members about the decision by three Faculties (Arts, Math, and Engineering) to not use RO scheduling services for fall term.
  3. There are new remote teaching guidelines regarding privacy and intellectual property—give them a read if you haven’t yet. We were not consulted about these guidelines and don’t have official opinions on them yet.
  4. HR has been prorating merit increases for faculty on paid sick leave. We believe this contravenes the Memorandum of Agreement (while there are provisions in the MoA for prorating merit, they are for unpaid leaves) and we are discussing this at Faculty Relations Committee.
  5. The end is in sight: The Policy 76 drafting committee has sent a draft to FRC. FRC is advising on next steps for consultation.
  6. We are sorting out what we will do in place of our usual new faculty social events in July and August. The University’s new faculty orientation (in which we play a supporting role) will be fully online.
  7. The Equity Office postponed its Pride celebrations in light of the Black Lives Matter protests and the vast increase in disclosures of racism from members of the UW community. The Gender and Sexual Diversity Working Group, on which FAUW is represented, has issued a statement in support of this decision.
Continue reading “Notes from our June Board meetings”

Veronica Kitchen’s June 2020 Senate Report

Veronica Kitchen is an Associate Professor of Political Science and an elected Arts Senator who produces a great summary after each University Senate meeting and has agreed to share them here. Her reports understandably focus on items relevant to Arts faculty and are not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all the agenda items, nor should they be viewed as a substitute for the official minutes on the University Secretariat’s website.

[We’ve cut a few very Arts-specific items this time, because this was a long one!]

Items of interest [especially] to Arts on the Regular Agenda

  1. Graduate studies is changing calendar language re: students who are required to withdraw, and making it possible for students who are required to withdraw for academic reasons to voluntarily withdraw instead (thus making admission to another graduate program easier).
  2. Approval of a new Major in Communication Arts & Design Practice
  3. New transfer credit agreement between Arts & the University of Essex, in which students will get a BA and an LLB in Human Rights Law. Open to students taking a human rights minor.
  4. Changes to academic progression and admission to major rules in light of the increase in CR/NCR on student transcripts.
  5. Endorsement of the process in practice for minor changes to academic programming in light of COVID & remote teaching.  

Return to Campus 

Return to campus now has its own agenda item, instead of being delivered by the President. There is a new Integrated Coordination and Planning Committee to regularize return to campus. This will now be delivered in three segments by working groups of the ICPC.

Continue reading “Veronica Kitchen’s June 2020 Senate Report”