News From Your Board: June 21 Meeting Recap

The FAUW board gathered on June 21 for a special lunch meeting to acknowledge the service of those members who are finishing their terms and to welcome new representatives before breaking for the summer.

Of special note is that Sally Gunz, long-time board member and past FAUW president, is ending her term and embarking on a well-deserved sabbatical. Sally provided inspired leadership for FAUW over many years and was always ready with a witty anecdote, sage advice, or occasional salty barb. We also noted the departure of three fine board members, Craig Hardiman (Arts), Peter Johnson (Environment and scribe of these summaries though not these particular compliments!) and Heather Mair (AHS). They have all contributed much to FAUW and we hope to retain close links with them. We are very grateful for all their work.

We look forward to working with your new Board members, Daniel Cockayne (Geography), Clark Dickerson (Kinesiology), and Alice Kuzniar (Germanic and Slavic Studies), when meetings start up again in September. Continue reading “News From Your Board: June 21 Meeting Recap”

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

Changes to the Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement Process

By Lynne Taylor, FAUW Treasurer
Every year, the University of Waterloo makes available to individual faculty members an allowance for out-of-pocket expenses related to the performance of teaching, research and professional duties known colloquially as the “professional allowance” or the Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement (FPER). In the past, this claim could be made once annually at the end of the fiscal year for expenses incurred between 1 May of the previous year and 30 April of the current year, and was due by 30 April. Any allowable expenses that exceeded the maximum FPER in a particular year could be carried forward for up to three years, and be applied against future FPERs. This practice continues.
However, as of the latest salary settlement (effective 1 May, 2015), in addition to the ongoing practice of carrying forward all allowable expenses that exceed the maximum FPER, individual faculty members will also be allowed to carry forward all unspent FPER balances for up to three years. Thus, if an individual faculty member does not spend their entire FPER balance in a particular year, that unspent amount will be available to be spent for another three years. (This means, very pragmatically speaking, we don’t need to dash out to spend the remaining balance in the last weeks of the fiscal year, in order to claim the full allowance or lose a portion of it. Instead, we can let that amount carry forward to the next fiscal year and even accumulate for three years.) Simply put, any unspent balance will automatically be carried forward to the next year.
With the introduction of Concur, the new online system for submitting expense claims (which is being rolled out across campus as I am writing), individual faculty members now will be able to make two FPER electronic claims annually, at any point between 1 July and 30 April. It is limited to two claims, because the actual calculations must still be done manually and Finance does not have the resources to manage more than two claims per faculty member. We have been assured that these claims will be reimbursed in a timely manner (the expectation on Finance’s part is that it will be within approximately 10 days of submission). The period 1 May to 30 June is blacked out in order to allow Finance to calculate the amounts for the upcoming year.
What about expenses incurred in April of a fiscal year that cannot be submitted by the 30 April deadline?
Some confusion has arisen around a clause in the March 16 email from Finance to faculty and administrative staff regarding the FPER. In it, we were informed that claims for 2015/16 would not be accepted after April 30. The effect was to decree that any legitimate expenses incurred in the two weeks prior to 30 April (an estimated window) could neither be claimed in the 2015/2016 fiscal year, nor in the following fiscal year (2016/2017). Instead, the faculty member would have had to absorb those legitimate expenses themselves. 
This would happen because of the way in which the paperwork must flow – before an FPER claim can be submitted, it must be reviewed and approved at the departmental level, which often takes two weeks. At least one department was requiring that the form be submitted by 20 April at the latest, in order to meet the 30 April deadline. To use that department as an example, any expenses incurred by a member of that particular department between 20 and 30 April would not be able to be claimed, simply because of the time lag imposed by the flow of the paperwork.
This concern was raised by FAUW with Finance and, as of 25 March, 2016, a resolution has been reached. Concur has been reconfigured to allow any expenses incurred in April of a given year, that are not able to be submitted due to the timing of internal submission deadlines, to be claimed with the following year’s FPER claim.
NOTE: This is only for expenses incurred in April of the given fiscal year. See the “General” section of the official FPER guideline.

Changes to the Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement (Professional Allowance)

Under the terms of the faculty’s new salary settlement, as of 1 May 2015, we will be able to carry forward any unspent FPER balances for up to three years, as well as continue to be able to carry forward all excess expenses for up to three years.
However, this change does not apply to the current FPER, due at the end of this month (30 April 2015). The change only comes into effect with the new salary agreement and so only takes effect in the fiscal year of 2015-2016. If it makes sense, you should use up any outstanding balance you have for this year or you will lose it.

FAUW Updates – Part 1 of 2

David Porreca, FAUW President


Geese watch the science construction crane
Photo by George Freeman

Welcome back! Although this blog went dormant over the summer months, this does not mean that FAUW has been idle. In fact, so many things have kept us busy of the past couple of months that this inaugural 2014-15 update blog post needs to be divided in two. The first five of the following topics are posted today, while the rest will be posted on Monday.

The topics:

  1. Continuity in UW administration
  2. Meeting with lecturers
  3. Negotiations
  4. Scheduling
  5. Electronic expense claims
  6. Pharmacy Building
  7. Fall Break?
  8. FAUW Staffing
  9. Re-vamped Course Evaluations
  10. FAUW Retreat and Priorities for 2014-15

1. Continuity in UW administration

This topic practically deserves its own blog post. The concerns arise from the following observations:

  • UW has had no fewer than six Vice-Presidents Academic & Provost since 2009: Chakma, Hamdullahpur, McBoyle, Keller, McBoyle, Orchard.
  • UW’s Executive Council can be considered a good proxy list for the main decision-makers on our campus. Of the 27 people on the list, only 6 or 7 have been in their positions more than 5 years.
  • We are witnessing a change in 4 of the 6 deans within a 12-month period. By July 2015, Doug Peers will be the senior dean on our campus, with 3 years of experience under his belt by that point.

Consequently, UW runs the risk of losing a lot of institutional cultural memory. Precisely those things that make UW work better than most other places hang in the balance: informal networks of people who have developed relationships over time and therefore can be relied upon to get things done.
FAUW suggests that the decanal hiring committees give serious consideration to internal candidates for these open positions. In order to tackle this problem from another direction, FAUW is aware that the new provost plans to arrange for more robust onboarding of new senior administrators so as to share UW’s culture and practices more effectively, especially with those hired externally.

2. Meeting with lecturers

In July, FAUW called a special 3-hour meeting specifically inviting our Lecturer and Continuing Lecturer colleagues to voice their concerns. The meeting was very well attended (~1/3 of lecturers attended!), and the bulk of the problems fall into one of the following categories:

    Words: Assistant Teaching Professor, Associate Teaching Professor

  • Compensation: Dave Tompkins (Computer Science) gave an enlightening presentation comparing the lifetime incomes of lecturers vs. tenure-track faculty with an eye to the effects of their (very different) salary thresholds. Dave will summarize his findings for a future blog post that will appear in this space. Stay tuned!
  • Nomenclature: A broad consensus emerged at the meeting suggesting that FAUW push for the revision the designations “Lecturer” and “Continuing Lecturer” to “Assistant Teaching Professor” and “Associate Teaching Professor,” respectively.
  • Lecturers’ leaves: According to the current reading of Policy 76, “lecturers shall have the option to have at least one term in six be a non-teaching term.” This wording has not been interpreted consistently across campus, with some units granting this leave without question, while others insist that any lecturer availing themselves of this leave must ‘make up’ for the teaching not done during the term of leave during the other teaching terms s/he is on campus.
  • Clarity of promotion: One of the principal complaints raised at the meeting was the lack of clarity and transparency involved in attaining the status of Continuing Lecturer. Ideally, revisions to Policy 76 will create a parallel and equally transparent process for Lecturers as there is for the progression along the tenure track.
  • Departmental contributions: There also appears to be unevenness across campus in the extent to which Lecturers and Continuing Lecturers are allowed to contribute fully to departmental activities such as hiring committees, curriculum development, performance evaluation, student advising etc.

Over the course of the 2014-15 academic year, FAUW will be working with the Secretariat and Office of General Counsel to give Policy 76 a full revision, which will provide an excellent opportunity for resolving points b. through e. above. Such major revisions must receive the assent of the Faculty Association at the Faculty Relations Committee before being considered at Senate.

3. Negotiations

Math building distorted reflection in windows of EIT building
Photo by George Freeman

FAUW is coming to the bargaining table this fall to begin work on our new compensation agreement with the university. FAUW’s negotiating team is made up of Lynne Taylor (History, Chief Negotiator), Lori Curtis (Economics) and Shelley Hulan (English). The university, for its part, has put together the following team: Ian Goulden (Dean of Mathematics, Chief Negotiator), Jean Andrey (Acting Dean of Environment) and Doug Peers (Dean of Arts). On account of the precedents being set by other recently concluded collective bargaining sessions within our sector in the province and across the country, we have reason to be both extremely vigilant (witness the example of the University of Windsor) and cautiously optimistic (see recent settlements at Carleton University, Brock University and the University of Saskatchewan).
As a reminder, at UW, our negotiators onl
y deal with issues of compensation
. The rest of our terms and conditions of employment are set out in the Memorandum of Agreement (major changes to which require a full membership vote) and assorted Class F and FS numbered university policies (changes to these are subject to Faculty Association vetting and approval through the Faculty Relations Committee). Pensions and benefits are governed by the Pension & Benefits Committee, which has representation from all employee groups on campus. Currently, the faculty representatives are Lori Curtis (Economics), Peter Forsyth (Computer Science) and Mary Hardy (Statistics and Actuarial Science).

4. Scheduling

The build for the winter schedule is being done as I write, while we are experiencing the effects of the first on-the-ground run of the scheduling system this fall. How is it working out for you? Please send comments to the Faculty Association President or leave a comment on this blog post.
FAUW is aware that the problem we had foreseen of a deluge of scheduling constraint requests is overwhelming the coping capacities in the Registrar’s Office. We’ve been recommending since last winter term that the successor of the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Timetabling be formed in order to address some of the problems that have come to light in the meantime. Our aim is to have clearer guidelines for chairs to assign levels of priority to scheduling constraint requests, as well as establishing appropriate appeals mechanisms for when scheduling goes seriously awry for a colleague.

5. Electronic expense claims

Pilot testing of the new Concur expense claims system has been going ahead in a number of units within the Faculty of Mathematics. As of this writing, approximately 20 claims have been successfully shepherded through the system without any major glitches. The pilot testing and training of administrative staff on the new system is ongoing (~150 have been trained so far), and will include the undergraduate recruitment team in the Registrar’s Office as well as ~60 co-op coordinators from CECA. Based on the result of these extensive trials, the Steering Committee will be meeting in November to determine the final go-ahead (or not) for this system. The consultation process for the implementation of this system has been exemplary, especially when compared to other large-scale electronic systems that have been deployed on campus over the past several years.

One of the key advantages of the new system will be that it will allow for the processing of per diem expense claims for those accounts that do not involve provincial monies (e.g., Tri-Council grants). Faculty members have been clamoring for the return of per diems ever since UW was forced to do away with them as a result of the tightening of broader public-sector expense regulations at the provincial level.

One lacuna from FAUW’s perspective is that the privacy and security assessment that was made on the system by IST has not yet been made public. We are working to make that happen such that is will be accessible on the university’s website.

A Final, Important Note

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Faculty Association, I would like to extend our sincerest condolences to the family of the student who died tragically on the last day of Orientation Week during a powerful lightning storm. No words can make up for the tragedy.

Come back on Monday to read about the next five topics in David’s FAUW update.