News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for October 25

The start of our October 25 Board meeting was disrupted by a visit from a familiar-looking chicken farmer and their prize chicken.

(Watch the video or read the description on YouTube.)

Something was also a little off about the FAUW executive officers that day…

FAUW staff dressed as treasurer Dan Brown, president Bryan Tolson, and vice president Shannon Dea.
Is that the FAUW staff team, or executive officers Dan Brown, Bryan Tolson, and Shannon Dea? We can’t tell!*

But hey, there was candy!

Halloween-themed cellophane bags of candy, and chocolate brownies with green gummy bears on top.

The actual meeting

Reports from visitors

After this bizarre delay, the meeting began with an update from Fatma Gzara on the progress of the the Complementary Teaching Assessment Project Team (CTAPT). CTAPT was tasked with “researching and developing methods of assessing teaching and learning complementary to Student Course Perception surveys.” Fatma told us that CTAPT has hired a researcher to review the literature and how teaching is assessed at other universities, the U15 in particular.

Referendum results

The results of our two referenda came back this week, one on FAUW’s dues structure and another on some relatively minor changes to the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). Both passed, with large majorities of FAUW’s membership in agreement (86% of voters were in favour of the dues change and 94% for the MoA changes). If you missed the votes or want to learn more about them, read more about why our dues structure is changing and the changes to the MoA. Continue reading “News From Your Board: Meeting Summary for October 25”

President’s Report

Sally Gunz, FAUW President

This is my last report as president of FAUW. Tomorrow, Bryan Tolson will return from his sabbatical and assume his rightful position in my stead. Bryan is an associate professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has represented FAUW in many roles, and for the past two years has been its vice president. The membership made a fine selection. Bryan cares deeply for FAUW and its members, and I have no doubt he will bring a whole new level of positive energy to this position.

How do I feel at this stage? Of course there is inevitably a real sense of relief. This is, to all intents and purposes, a full-time job that brings with it a tremendous sense of responsibility to make decisions, offer opinions, and take initiatives that are in the best interests of the membership. Fortunately, the FAUW board of directors comprises a strong set of people with a vast array of experience, and we have many people on campus whose past experience with FAUW can be very useful. Issues are seldom new, even if they are new to me. Thoughtful people have always been there to offer advice and support and I thank them.

Further, FAUW has recently built up a team of permanent staff members who are highly skilled, tactful and always generous with their time. Volunteers will come and go with FAUW but our staff provide our memory and our continuity. We are most fortunate that all three of our staff are not only excellent at what they do, but are genuinely decent and caring people. Those of you who come by our offices in MC will know the value of the warmth and friendliness with which we are always greeted.

My goal coming into this position was to ensure that I left it with a strong organizational structure, sound staffing, a talented successor, and a strong board and, while any achievements are hardly my doing alone, I can say that as a group we have met all these expectations. FAUW is in very good hands. Here are some further observations, particularly relating to the months since I last reported.

New faculty

Summer is one of the really enjoyable times of year when we greet new faculty members. I gather we have approximately 40 new members of our academic community. In July and August, we held informal get-togethers for those who had just joined the University and these were fun. The newcomers are filled with enthusiasm and the pleasure they take in joining this university is infectious. We look forward to many more gatherings like this as the new academic year begins.

New administrators

The past months have once again seen major changes at the senior administrative levels of the University. Provost Ian Orchard’s retirement was not the best news, but, fortunately, George Dixon is well known to us all, and of course he knows the university through and through. It is good to have a University Secretary once more, especially as Karen Jack already has a sound understanding of the operations of the university. We also welcome Cathy Newell Kelly in her new role as Registrar and Beth Sandore Namachchivaya as University Librarian. But we remain engaged in hiring for top level administrators and there will be the obvious next transitions and adjustments.

Upcoming events

There are many issues FAUW will continue to work on over the next year. For now, I will let you know of the new events we have planned:

Workshop for mid-career faculty – September 29

This is for all of you who have become a continuing lecturer or acquired tenure in the recent past. You are officially “mid-career.” The workshop is offered in recognition of the relatively poor job we do of introducing faculty to the full range of options available in an academic career (as all universities do). We are often asked how people become administrators, journal editors, policy advisors, etc. Often it is a matter of being in the right place at the right time, which is obviously not good enough. Acquiring career security marks a significant transition in your life as an academic and this half-day workshop will introduce you to many of the options now open to you. Shannon Dea will lead the event and has brought in others with really solid experience at this university and others in a range of capacities. Please register in advance.

Celebrating our birthday – October 26

Yes FAUW too is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. We understand we are competing with many special events, but we believe ours will be the best. Please mark your calendar for October 26th, when we will have an afternoon panel session followed by a reception. We will be providing more information soon.

FAUW service awards – October 26

At our 60th anniversary event, FAUW will present its inaugural service awards. These will be given on an annual basis to members of the university community who genuinely have made significant and lasting contributions to the well-being of FAUW members.

Mental health workshop

We are currently exploring an event that would help faculty better understand mental health concerns in academe to complement other, more student-focused initiatives on campus. Stay tuned for more information.

Thank you

Thanks all of you for the support over the last two years. FAUW belongs to its members. It is an inclusive and transparent organization. We welcome all of you who wish to work with us on any of the important issues that arise in our academic community.

President’s Report to Members

<![CDATA[Sally Gunz, FAUW President

As I write this, those of you who are teaching this term will be enjoying the winter term break. I wish you well. May you have a good holiday, catch up, or achieve whatever goals you set yourself for the week. I last wrote in November so it is time for a short update on matters relating to FAUW.

New president

First, and most importantly, congratulations to Bryan Tolson for his election as the incoming president of FAUW. I suspect every former FAUW president shares my sentiments; it is a real pleasure to know that there are always members of our academy willing to take over leadership roles on FAUW. Bryan is particularly dedicated to FAUW and its members and will make an excellent president. He is formally on sabbatical from March 1 until August 31st so I will continue on as acting president through July and August, with Bryan beginning his term in September.

Elections for members-at-large of the board

Elections for four (4) member-at-large positions and one (1) lecturer position on the FAUW board will be held ahead of the April general meeting. I encourage anyone interested in running for such a position to discuss what it entails with any current or former board member. Nomination forms will be available on the FAUW website from March 1 with a closing date for nominations of March 13. The election itself (an online ballot) will be conducted March 21 through April 3.

Hagey Lecture

The Hagey Lecture is the premier event in the university speaker calendar. Typically it is held in the fall but this year it was shifted to March 2017 in order to accommodate the speaker’s schedule. The committee (chaired by Jasmin Habib) has selected an outstanding speaker. Dr. Carol Barnes (University of Arizona) will discuss how memory and the brain change during aging, highlighting some of the current thinking about how to optimize brain and mental functions throughout life. Please join us at the Humanities Theatre (HH) on 22nd March. Visit the event page to secure your free ticket.

Fall term break

The fall term break is a three-year pilot. Results from a student survey conducted by the Student Success Office will be presented at the next senate meeting. FAUW was asked about the perspective of faculty members and we encourage you to respond to our request for input if you have specific thoughts. So far the main concerns we have heard expressed centre around the difficulty for lab-based courses as a result of the two day, post-Thanksgiving break. Suggestions have been made that these could be overcome either by using the two days ahead of Thanksgiving (Thursday, Friday) or to extend the break to one week, as per the winter break. Those responsible for this project seem to be aware of these concerns but they did not indicate they would be making any changes. We would appreciate your input either on this or other issues relating to the break. For example, what was your experience of class attendance for the two days of the week following the Fall Break?

Please provide feedback in the comments section or by emailing laura.mcdonald@uwaterloo.ca.

Memorandum of Agreement

If you are tenured or a continuing lecturer, you will have now completed your last evaluation process until 2019. At the risk of stating the obvious, you will still be reporting on your activities for 2017 and 2018 but you will not complete a report until January 2019. Some further MoA changes will be circulated before long. These are generally of a technical nature. The one that will most affect you relates to histograms of performance evaluation. In the future you will be receiving a breakdown by all three categories (teaching, research and service). Full explanations of the changes will be provided at the time of the vote.

University governance and policy projects

On December 21, an announcement was made by the University president that the combined function of university secretary and general counsel would be separated into two offices. A consequence of this has been some delay in the policy revision projects. Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour) work continues and it is expected that the review of Policy 42 (Sexual Violence) will begin soon. Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) will begin its work again in March as will, most likely, the Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental leaves (including Adoption)) committee.

Surveys of student experience

We were all recently advised that the Course Evaluation Project Taskforce (CEPT) is currently reviewing the responses received to its draft report. The FAUW response is available on the FAUW website as is one from SWEC and a number of faculty members in the department of psychology. It remains a concern to FAUW just how many departments rely primarily – and in some cases solely – on student evaluations for the evaluation of teaching for annual performance evaluations and promotion and tenure given the very real concerns about the validity of these as measures of actual quality of teaching. FAUW has plans to help support the implementation of better practices for evaluating teaching over the year ahead. Note that the header used in this section follows FAUW’s recommended description for these exercises. The conclusion of the psychology experts and others is that it is inappropriate to expect students to be able to assess the quality of the teaching itself.

Other issues

  • FAUW has continued to work with the administration at the Faculty Relations Committee (FRC). You have all been notified about the provost’s new conflict of interest guidelines for hiring which were drafted jointly by FAUW and the administration. They take the form of a provostial guideline; these documents can be found on the Provost’s Office website and FAUW’s site
  • I would like to note that FAUW had no role in the provost’s recent announcement about business class travel, although I remain deeply jealous of anyone who has managed to pull this one off up until now!
  • Several hiring committees have either recently been struck or are about to be struck. I am FAUW’s representative on the committee to hire the university secretary and Dan Brown will be FAUW’s representative on the committee to hire a new registrar.
  • The Lecturers Committee published its report on the findings of its survey of all lecturers at the University of Waterloo administered in November 2015. 
  • If you are a new faculty member, please join us at another gathering either at noon or 4:00 on March 9. These are informal events at which you can meet fellow newcomers to UW and exchange experiences. Details will be posted to the FAUW website and emailed to new members soon.
  • The FAUW tenure and promotion workshop series will be held once more on April 4 and 5. These offer critical advice to those of you who are either untenured or are considering applying for promotion to full professor (See the FAUW Events page for details). 
  • FAUW will be introducing a new workshop to its series this Fall. In September there will be a workshop for all faculty members who have recently been tenured. More information will be available about this soon.
  • FAUW’s grievance with the administration was resolved to the satisfaction of the parties.

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FAUW Welcomes New Staff Member

Please join FAUW in welcoming Katie Damphouse, our new Academic Freedom and Tenure and Policy Officer. We are delighted that Katie has joined our team and is ready to take on the challenges of her new role. She has been part of the University community for 10 years and brings experience in mediation, coaching and policy development. Her passion for advising others will ensure excellence while assisting faculty with a variety of issues.
Welcome, Katie!