The Twelve Days of Performance Review

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.

A title card with mildly festive graphics: holly, mistletoe, etc.

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.

Continue reading “The Twelve Days of Performance Review”

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

Meet FAUW’s Equity Committee

On April 6, 2018, our members voted to change the name of the Status of Women and Equity Committee to “Equity Committee.”

The Equity Committee is concerned with equity issues, in line with the protected grounds of the Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The committee engages in educational and advocacy activities as appropriate and liaises with other related committees of the University, OCUFA, and CAUT.

The name change was prompted by a desire to better reflect all aspects of the committee’s focus, past and present. The new name also reflects current initiatives on campus to ensure diverse, inclusive, and representative equity-based action. Our mandate is to represent the interests of a range of equity-seeking groups and it’s important to us to more accurately reflect that diversity in our language.

The committee’s name will be followed by “formerly the Status of Women and Equity Committee” for the next several months to facilitate the transition. Please bear with us as we update our website and other documentation. Note that the stand-alone SWEC website will be archived soon and the Equity Committee section of the FAUW website is your best source of up-to-date information.

Learn more about the Equity Committee on the FAUW website.

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.

Bragging Rights: FAUW’s Contributions to UW’s Canada’s Best Diversity Employers Award

We were please by the University’s announcement last week that it was named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for its commitment to gender equity.

We were especially excited to see two initiatives started by FAUW volunteers—Waterloo Women’s Wednesdays and our Equity & Inclusivity Award—specifically mentioned as contributing factors to the University’s selection!

The Equity & Inclusivity Award is a project of our Status of Women & Equity Committee (SWEC). Waterloo Women’s Wednesdays (W3) is run by a committee with representation from faculty, staff (including our own), students, and postdocs. It is funded in part by FAUW and the Staff Association.

FAUW is actively working on equity issues of all kinds across campus at the Board level, through representatives on policy drafting and other committees, and via our own Status of Women and Equity Committee.

SWEC has working groups investigating a number of areas, including accessibility and accommodations, healthy workplaces, hiring, and the needs of racial and cultural minorities. There will be a call for new members in May.

News From Your Board: February 15 Meeting Recap

—Sally Gunz, past president

There were two key items on the agenda at our February 15 meeting.

First, the Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC), a committee of FAUW, presented a recommendation to change its name to the Equity Committee. The Board supported this recommendation and the change will be put to our Spring General Meeting for approval as it involves a change to our constitution.

Second, the Board was advised that, on February 12, Renison University College faculty members voted to create a new faculty association and constitution, the Renison Association of Academic Staff. This is the first new faculty association in Canada in many years and we passed a unanimous motion congratulating our Renison colleagues. More details of how the relationship between the two associations will play out will be available in due course.

Members of the brand-new Renison Association of Academic Staff

The balance of the meeting was spent addressing more routine matters, reviewing recent events, and planning future ones. The Board congratulated the Hagey Lectures Committee for a very successful event. We are planning a follow-up to the recent Council of Representatives meeting designed to hear more about matters of concern to members. Stay tuned for more on that soon. Finally, we continued a discussion on how we can enhance our role in advising potential faculty members in their decision to join the University.

News From Your Board: January 18 Meeting Recap

Peter Johnson, director for the Faculty of Environment
As winter term gets fully underway, the FAUW board met to share updates and discuss a number of important files.

First up was an update from lead negotiator Benoit Charbonneau. Meetings continue with the administration to find suitable common ground. If we don’t reach a settlement by February 1, we move on to mediation.

Next, Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC) member Nancy Worth brought forward terms of reference for the committee that refine and formalize its operating procedures and relationship with FAUW.

FAUW President Bryan Tolson and staff member Laura McDonald briefed the board on an academic freedom event that FAUW is planning with the administration. We are pleased with President Hamdullahpur’s plan to hold a campus-focused discussion to celebrate and bring clarity to the issue of academic freedom. You will receive an invitation to this event shortly.

Next we discussed what data the Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) collects about graduate student completion times, and to whom this data is provided. The GSPA wants to know if faculty members would find it helpful to receive this data, for self-reflection and so we can identify errors. Discussions are ongoing.

We had an extended discussion about FAUW’s participation in the University-wide Excellence Canada exercise. So far, we have not seen a clear role for us to play, but discussion will continue at the Council of Representatives meeting on February 13.

In a moment of reflection, the Board assessed our progress on the goals we generated at our September retreat. While some key goals have seen substantial progress, there are still tasks ahead for the Board and broader FAUW community, including a survey of our membership.

As always, we finished with a reminder of upcoming events, which you can find on our website.

And, as always, we welcome your feedback on any of the above issues. Leave a comment below, or get in touch with a Board or Council member!

It Goes Without Saying

A message from the Status of Women & Equity Committee

In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, and in response to the initial executive orders (including the executive order which denies U.S. entry to all refugees for 120 days, citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen face a 90 day visa suspension, and Syrian refugees are denied entry indefinitely) many institutions, organizations and individuals have made statements condemning discriminatory and divisive statements, and supporting equity and diversity. January 21, Women’s Marches in Washington and world wide organized in protest of the proposed legislative changes. This week, University of Waterloo community members gathered to express sorrow, support, and join in prayers in response to the shooting at the Grande Mosquée de Québec.

It goes without saying that the Status of Women and Equity Committee supports equity and inclusivity.

Except it doesn’t go without saying. It shouldn’t. We should say it, clearly and repeatedly.

We won’t always say it in a timely manner, and we won’t always say it perfectly. We won’t always use the best words, or speak with great eloquence. But we should and will say it.

We support equity and inclusivity. We value and celebrate diversity, across all measures and intersections of identity. We will fight against discrimination in all its forms. We stand in solidarity with our fellow community members. And we are not alone.

Le Comité du statut de la femme et de l’équité de l’Université de Waterloo tient à adresser ses sincères condoléances aux familles des victimes et exprime son soutien et son entière solidarité aux blessés touchés par cette tragédie. The Status of Women and Equity Committee of the University of Waterloo send our sincerest condolences to the families of the victims and express our support and wholehearted solidarity to the wounded touched by this tragedy.

Tips for Writing Better Reference Letters

Some seasons seem to come around more often than others: many of us are presently writing reference letters—again. It is important to acknowledge the significant impact that this routine exercise has on our students and colleagues.

SWEC, FAUW’s Status of Women and Equity Committee, would like to remind each faculty member how easy it is for unconscious gender bias to slip into our reference letters. They have provided some resources to help us all write professional reference letters that reflect on women’s capacities in an equitable way.

The University of Arizona’s Commission on the Status of Women has a very handy one-pager on “common traps based on unconscious gender bias (PDF) ,” including:

  • Letters for reference for men are more likely to emphasize accomplishments while letters for women are 50% more likely to include adjectives that describe effort. 
  • On average, letters for men are 16% longer than letters for women. 
  • Letters of reference for women are 7x more likely to mention personal life—something that is almost always irrelevant for the application. 

The federal government’s Canada Research Chairs online resources include background research as well as tips for limiting unconscious bias, such as:

  • Use the nominee’s formal title and surname instead of their first name. 
  • Consider whether your letter unintentionally includes doubt-raising, negative or unexplained statements (e.g., ‘might make an excellent leader’ versus ‘is an established leader’).

    FAUW Highlights: Meet SWEC, the Status of Women & Equity Committee

    Greetings FAUWers,

    Earlier this month, this blog explored the value of balanced and inclusive representation on the FAUW Board. With that theme in mind, we would now like to introduce you to the University’s Status of Women & Equity Committee, known across campus as ‘SWEC.’ The mandate of SWEC is to educate, advise, and advocate on matters related to the status of women, and broader equity issues such as those arising from gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, age, or gender identity.

    SWEC is one of three major equity-promoting initiatives on campus, including the Office of Equity as an administrative body, and the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign (which many of you are likely aware of!). Each one plays a distinct role in improving the equity climate at Waterloo.

    SWEC, a standing committee of FAUW, is composed of a diverse group of individuals with strong interests and experience in equity issues. With members from each of the six faculties, as well as one librarian, SWEC follows a community-based approach. In addition to liaising with related University committees, SWEC has a working relationship with the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). SWEC Chair, Dr. Kathleen Rybczynski, also sits on FAUW Board of Directors as an Ex-officio/non-voting member of the Board.

    To better serve as a proponent of equity, SWEC is in the process of broadening their community outreach. With the aim to create a locus of communication for equity initiatives, SWEC is currently redesigning their website content and would love your feedback (email Laura McDonald or Kathleen Rybczynski). If you are looking to connect on equity across campus, please contact us.

    Each year, SWEC recognizes exceptional commitment to equity, diversity and inclusivity at UW with the annual Equity and Inclusivity Award. This month, SWEC is celebrating the achievements of FemPhys and its co-founders Sarah Kaiser, Emma McKay, and Jennifer Reid. Their leadership, and their organization of public lectures, mentoring nights, and community-building social gatherings, have improved the equity environment at UW, particularly for women in Physics and Astronomy as well as within the broader STEM community.

    FAUW Highlights is a series of regular updates from the FAUW Board, written by Elise Lepage and Shannon Gordon.