The FAUW Board: A great way to get started in collegial governance

Is there anything you would change at Waterloo?

It’s possible: Despite their long history, universities aren’t immune to change. Digital technologies have fundamentally altered how people relate to factual information. Being resistant to commoditization, our teaching and research costs are mostly in personnel. Increasingly, research spans disciplinary boundaries and is collaborative. Global problems, especially with the environment, are becoming local and urgent. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission charges us to better include Indigenous scholars and ways of knowing. The ever-growing body of scholarship on teaching and learning gives evidence as to how university teaching should evolve.

The university is always adapting and responding to challenges like these. Participation in the distinctive university apparatus called collegial governance affords faculty members influence in that process.

How collegial governance works at Waterloo

The University of Waterloo is organized on a bicameral model. Loosely, this means that our Board of Governors looks after the institution as a nonprofit corporation with an annual cash flow of about a billion dollars, and our Senate looks after the institution as an educational community of about 40,000 scholars (faculty, students, many staff).

It’s not a total separation of interests, however. To manage finances and risk, our Board must know the higher-education sector, its value and values, its trends, and Waterloo’s distinctive roles in it. To manage academic programs and policies, our Senate must promote academic initiatives that show an attractive cost-benefit and risk-reward tradeoff. Tensions are part of the model: autonomy versus dependence, academic freedom versus responsibility, individual versus group ambitions, etc.

Continue reading “The FAUW Board: A great way to get started in collegial governance”

Double Recap: General Meeting and December 6 Board Meeting

December 4 general meeting

Missed the general meeting? Here’s a quick recap, excluding items covered in previous blog posts. See the general meeting slides (PDF) and the agenda package (PDF) for more details.

  1. We had an inquisitive group of about 60 faculty members who ate a lot of pizza and not a lot of raw veggies (not judging; we love pizza).
  2. We’ve had a few changes to the budget since you saw it in April. Some of the new expenses are: giving the Renison Association of Academic Staff an interest-free loan and startup funding, helping fund a bike cage on campus, and upping our sponsorship of the Centre for Teaching Excellence conference breakfast. We’re still expecting a decent surplus.
  3. Members approved our audited financial statements for May–April 2018 (the mini-fiscal year that got us onto the same fiscal year as the University) and adopted RLB as our auditors for next year.
  4. The Elections Committee announced winter 2019 elections: four at-large representatives, one representative from AHS, and one lecturer representative. As per our new elections procedures (announced on the blog and posted online in September), members can only run for one seat at a time. Remember that you need to be a voting member to run or vote in FAUW elections.
  5. Members approved the service agreement with the Renison Association of Academic Staff, making their members affiliate members of FAUW.
  6. George Freeman gave his take on the themes that emerged at the University’s strategic plan consultations. Check out the slides for a list.
  7. We heard your feedback on the Freedom of Speech policy. We’ve summarized and forwarded this to the Secretariat and they are incorporating at least some of it. If you want to give more feedback or see a revised draft, you can meet with the University President and representatives from the Secretariat in the Senate room (NH 3407) at 3:30 on Monday, December 17.

December 6 board meeting

At our last board meeting of 2018, we talked about:

  1. How graduate teaching is counted. To no one’s surprise, there’s some inconsistency across campus on this front. But we just confirmed at FRC that teaching a stand-alone lecture-based graduate course counts toward your workload. Make sure you’re getting teaching credit for these courses! And if you’re teaching overload, make sure that’s being tracked and made up for later. In other words: Don’t teach for free.
  2. Appointment letters. Again. Ninety percent of faculty associations receive copies of their members’ appointment letters. This helps them advise members on negotiating a starting salary, startup funds, and anything else that’s negotiable. We can’t advise prospective faculty right now, because we don’t have any data. We don’t even know what’s negotiable in every department. While we’re working on getting at least some of that information, we’re going to start asking new faculty directly if they’re willing to share copies of their letters, and we will also send a request to all new faculty from the last five years. If you’re willing to share your own, we’d be happy to add it to our data set! You can send it to Erin Windibank at windibae@uwaterloo.ca. We will of course keep your letter confidential.
  3. Lecturer eligibility for DTPC and FTPC. The Lecturers Committee is wondering why Policy 77 (Tenure and Promotion of Faculty Members) excludes lecturers from serving on and even voting on the makeup of departmental and faculty tenure and promotion committees, considering that these committees grant/deny continuing status to lecturers. Our take on this is that the policy pre-dates the existence of modern lecturer appointments and is out of date. We know that some departments and Faculties are following the spirit, rather than the letter, of the policy, and do include lecturers. We are hopeful that Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments, which is nearing the end of its review process) can provide an interim solution to this problem.

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: May 24 Meeting Recap

Returning from the Victoria Day long weekend, a rowdy and energized board assembled to review many in-progress issues. We began with the implementation of the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) report, specifically how FAUW can support the recommendations on training for faculty. The Board expressed support for these recommendations, and suggests that faculty voluntarily engage in additional mental health training as provided on campus. We’ll have more on this in another post soon.

The second issue brought to us directly from members is the lack of secure bicycle parking on campus. The Board wants to support improved bike parking and hopes to see Parking Services commit more resources to this in the future. Discussions will continue on this topic.

Next, everyone’s favourite topic—the Fall Break pilot—made a reappearance, specifically preferred semester start dates after Labour day, and how changes would affect faculty who teach in the spring term and sessional or contract faculty who are only paid as of the first day of class.

On a related note: We recently sent a reminder to our members that the Registrar’s Office will schedule exams earlier in the spring block for faculty who teach in both the spring and fall terms, in order to provide adequate time between terms. The response was positive (mostly), and we hope that those of you teaching in both of these terms take advantage of this scheduling flexibility in the future.

We have been hearing from members whose professional expense (FPER) claims have been rejected despite meeting the April 30 submission deadline. From FAUW’s perspective, these claims should be reimbursed to our members as soon as possible. This position has been brought to the administration and more information is coming!

Members in Applied Health Sciences will be happy to hear that they now have a representative on the Board for the 2018–19 year. While the position was vacant following our elections in March, Clark Dickerson from Kinesiology has since stepped up to the plate and was appointed by the Board for a one-year term (as per the FAUW constitution).

Lastly, the Board passed terms of reference for the newly renamed Equity Committee. Information about all of our committees is available on our website.

—Peter Johnson, director for the Faculty of Environment

What You Missed at our 2018 Spring General Meeting

We had a full agenda at our Spring General Meeting last week. Here are some of the highlights.

Bryan Tolson’s President’s Report included an update on current policy development and the messages shared with MPPs at OCUFA’s lobby day last month. View the President’s Report slides (PDF) (and our blog post about lobby day) for details.

Marcel Pinheiro delivered the Elections Committee report: The successful candidates from Arts, Engineering, Environment, Mathematics, and Science are, respectively: Alice Kuzniar, Paul Ward, Daniel Cockayne, Dan Brown, and Vivian Choh (read more about the directors-elect). Voter turnout was 33% in Arts, 26% in Engineering, and 29% in Science.

We received no nominations from members in Applied Health Sciences, so this position will be vacant until the Board can fill it by appointment.

Members approved the budget for 2018–19 and changes to the constitution regarding the role of past president, the executive committee, and the name and mandate of the Status of Women and Equity Committee—now the Equity Committee. The updated constitution is on our website.

Lead negotiator Benoit Charbonneau gave an overview of the salary negotiation outcomes and a crash course on how our salary structure works, which you can also get from our Faculty Guide page on salaries. A detailed explanation of the negotiation results was posted on our blog in February. Charbonneau also noted the members of the Lecturers Salary Working Group.

Dan Brown, one of our representatives to the fall break working group, gave an update on the fall break pilot project. Thank you to the 506 faculty members who participated in the survey that closed on March 30. We are reviewing the results now.

We introduced a couple of waste-reduction initiatives at this meeting: Thank you to everyone who brought their own plate and/or coffee mug, and to everyone for composting their pizza crusts and paper plates!

The next general meeting will be in December.

Diversifying the FAUW Board in the Next Election

—Bryan Tolson, FAUW President

Hi everyone,

It is almost election time for FAUW and we are looking for six good people to join the FAUW Board of Directors! (See our website for a description of the open positions and deadlines.) My term as FAUW president runs to June 2019, so we will get to work together for one year!

While I am very fond of all the current Board members and will be saddened to see any of them leave, contested elections are healthy for an organization and we hope to see multiple candidates for all open positions.

In particular, we are seeking a diverse set of candidates including good representation from women and both visible and invisible minorities. Having a variety of perspectives around the table when we debate issues is key to our success. While the current gender balance on our Board is good, we do need better representation of other minority groups, and we need your help in assembling a slate of candidates that moves us in this direction.

Continue reading “Diversifying the FAUW Board in the Next Election”

News From Your Board: December 6 Fall General Meeting Recap

Peter Johnson, Faculty of Environment representative to the FAUW board

The FAUW Fall General meeting is always an enjoyable time to get together with colleagues, discuss important issues in an open setting, and, of course, eat pizza and samosas. This year’s fall general meeting was no exception, with a lively crowd present. The meeting was chaired by Kate Lawson, with reports from president Bryan Tolson, treasurer Dan Brown, and the FAUW standing committees, including information on 2018 elections for six faculty representatives on the Board of Directors. Heidi Engelhardt gave a detailed report (PDF) on the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH), and is requesting feedback online.

On a lighter note, the winners of the FAUW Office Contest were revealed! Eight winners were selected for categories such as “Most Distracting Office,” “Most Spartan Office,” and “Most School Spirit.” Congrats to all the winners and everyone who submitted photos. I’m already at work on improving my office for a future contest by making my own custom desk (homemade furniture seemed to be a requirement for winning). I’m not sure what category this will qualify me for, but perhaps my plywood sheet balanced on milk crates could win for “Most like still being in grad school”?

Lastly, the floor of the General Meeting was opened for discussion. One main topic was who FAUW currently represents, and what various groups on campus FAUW could or should represent. Comparisons to other associations around the province were made, with some strong points about how research professors and sessional instructors should be represented. This is clearly a significant issue, particularly when considering precarious forms of employment. FAUW’s position on representation for these positions is currently under discussion, and work in this area is progressing.