8 myths about UW lecturers

A post from the FAUW Lecturers Committee.

FAUW first started holding events specifically for Waterloo lecturers in 2014, but there have been lecturers on campus since at least the early ‘90s. With a distinct uptick in lecturer hiring over the last decade or two, there are now lecturers in every one of the University’s six faculties and they make up 18% of the FAUW membership. For many chairs, directors, deans—or just faculty colleagues—who are new to dealing with lecturer-rank faculty, there may be some uncertainty about who these people are and how they fit into their departments and schools. To help explain what lecturer faculty are—and aren’t—here are (in no particular order) eight myths about lecturers at Waterloo.

Myth #1: A lecturer is a lecturer is a lecturer

Fact: The term “lecturer” is often indiscriminately applied to everyone from sessional instructors hired by the course or term to permanent teaching faculty. At Waterloo, “lecturer” is one of the four faculty hiring ranks (the others are assistant professor, associate professor, and professor; see Policy 76 – Faculty Appointments). While sessional instructors are also hired at the rank of lecturer, they’re more correctly called adjunct or special lecturers and are administratively very different from the lecturer-rank regular faculty members (just “lecturers” from here on) that we’re talking about in this post.

Lecturers can have “definite term” or “continuing” appointments. Most lecturer-rank faculty are initially hired on definite-term contracts, which can be repeatedly renewed when they expire, although there is never any guarantee of renewal (see myth #7). Continuing lecturers have permanent, ongoing appointments that don’t have expiry dates. FAUW represents both definite-term and continuing lecturers (but not sessional instructors). About 40% of UW’s lecturers have continuing appointments.

Getting the terminology straight is just half the battle. The specifics of lecturer positions—how teaching loads are defined, what kinds of service and administrative tasks they do—can vary widely between faculties, and even between departments in the same faculty. According to our 2015 lecturers survey, about half of UW’s lecturers have an 80/20 teaching/service ratio; the other half reported a broad variety of teaching/research/service weightings.

Continue reading “8 myths about UW lecturers”

February at FAUW

Maybe it was the Valentine’s Day candy, or maybe it was the coming long weekend, but we got through the February 13 Board meeting in good time. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. We debriefed the recent Council of Representatives meeting. One topic at that meeting was the importance of Faculty Performance Evaluation Guidelines and departmental addenda. These documents are the place to look for information about what’s a “normal” workload in your department, how service is evaluated, or what counts as teaching. Right now is a good time to start working on updating those documents if they need it (new versions must be approved by October 15). Talk to your Council member for more information. Here are some suggestions for things to include:
    • An explicitly defined normal teaching load
    • The expected/normal supervision load
    • A statement acknowledging different types of teaching and teaching responsibilities
    • The ability to submit peer reviews of teaching and solicited comments or letters
    • That participation in CTE and other workshops counts toward teaching
    • The ability to use evidence not just from the classroom and qualitative evidence
    • Direction that student surveys should be considered with caution
  1. We noted some confusion among members about how benefits plan decisions are made. The Pension & Benefits Committee decides what’s covered in our health and dental plans, and that committee is made up of members from all the represented employee groups (FAUW, the Staff Association, and CUPE) and the Retirees Association, plus representatives from the University administration and Board of Governors. FAUW has three out of 13 votes on the committee.
  2. We heard updates from our rep on the Copyright Advisory Committee. If you have questions about copyright in your classes or your own work, read this interview with Lauren Byl, Copyright and Licensing Librarian, to find out how to get answers!
  3. We cleared up an issue about travel to Cuba. University Finance sent a memo last July stating that “international financial sanctions prevent the University from making or receiving payment for products or services related, either directly or indirectly” to certain countries including Cuba and Iran. We had serious concerns about how this might limit opportunities for research collaboration and questions about why the University was implementing American sanctions (Canada doesn’t have sanctions against Cuba). 
    We now have confirmation that the University can “reimburse an employee for travel expenses related to countries subject to sanctions, provided that the employee’s travel reimbursement is to a Canadian bank account and assuming that the travel to that particular country has not otherwise been prohibited under University of Waterloo Policy.” If you encounter any difficulties with claims for travel to countries subject to sanctions, let a FAUW Board or staff member so that we can follow up.”
  4. After hearing that definite term lecturers did not receive an email about nominations for University Senate, we reaffirmed, again, that, lecturers are regular faculty (and eligible to sit on Senate). “Regular faculty” almost exactly overlaps with “faculty represented by FAUW.” Here’s the short version: Regular faculty = lecturers and professors hired for at least one year, except research profs and adjuncts.
    • The slightly more complicated version, as defined in Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) is that regular faculty means all lecturer and professorial rank faculty with appointments one year or longer, including clinical faculty (e.g. a clinical lecturer or clinical associate professor), but not including any faculty who have some other qualifier in their title to designate a non-regular appointment, such as “research,” “adjunct,” “visiting,” or “special.” (Sessional instructors are not regular faculty; they aren’t defined anywhere, but they all have special or adjunct appointments and are hired on contracts shorter than one year.) We’ll have more on this in a blog post from the Lecturers Committee soon.
  5. As we reported in the fall, the Media Resources office and preview room closed when the person staffing the office retired. The resources are now available through the IST Service Desk located in the Davis Centre Library. We brought concerns about this to the University, and have now heard that things are staying essentially the same. There is a new viewing room available at the DC library. To request new materials, email media.loans@uwaterloo.ca. The Associate Vice President, Academic has promised to keep an eye on this, and we will too. Let us know if the office closure creates problems for you.

What’s on the FAUW agenda for 2019-20

Our Board meeting summary posts are back! Tune in every two weeks to find out what the FAUW Board of Directors is doing for you. Subscribe to get the posts right away.

FAUW’s priorities for 2019-2020

These are the key items we’re aiming to get through this year, in addition to preparing for negotiations at the end of 2020 and inevitably weighing in on more proposals from the provincial government.

  • Policy development: Improvements and clarity around the policy drafting process, better supporting our representatives on policy drafting committees, and getting a few policies into (if not through) the approval process. Candidates are the policies on ethical behaviour (33), parental leave (14), accommodations (57, new), and faculty appointments (76).
  • Conflict of interest guidelines: See item #3 from the September 12 Board meeting below. 
  • Workload: We want to see clear and consistent definitions (and monitoring) of how teaching and other faculty work is counted across campus.
  • Representation: We plan to issue position statements on our relationship with research professors and sessional instructors.

September 12 Board of Directors meeting

Here’s what was on the agenda on September 12, the first meeting of the 2019–20 academic year. We welcome your input on any of these topics! 

Continue reading “What’s on the FAUW agenda for 2019-20”

Service Opportunities for Lecturers

Brought to you by the FAUW Lecturers Committee.

Lecturer appointments at Waterloo usually include a service component of anywhere from 20% to 60%. This blog post will address some of the questions lecturers have about navigating this element of their job.

Why should I bother with service?

Service is assessed in your performance review. It is important to seek service opportunities not only because the service you do is directly related to the merit score you receive at the end of the year, but also because it is directly related to the success of the shared governance of the University. In order to be fairly represented, lecturers must be part of the decision-making process. The best way to do that is by serving not only within your department but across your Faculty and the University.

How do I find out what service opportunities are available?

If you’re not sure where to start in finding service opportunities, we recommend you speak to your chair, who may be able to identify needs at least at the department level.

Continue reading “Service Opportunities for Lecturers”

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.

Highlights from the November 22 Board Meeting

This meeting was a bit of a preview of issues likely to come up at our Fall General Meeting on Tuesday, December 4. What’s a general meeting? Well, to start, it’s a great opportunity for you to speak with the FAUW board about issues that concern you, and for the board to report back to you what we’ve been doing this term. General meetings are also where we vote on association matters like financial statements, budgets, and constitution changes. We hope you’ll be able to join us on Tuesday.

In the meantime, here’s what we discussed at the November 22 meeting, including the lecturer salary working group, holistic benefits review, and breakfast!

Continue reading “Highlights from the November 22 Board Meeting”

FAUW’s Priorities for 2018-19

—FAUW President Bryan Tolson with an update on what we’re working on right now and what’s coming up this year.

Welcome to a new academic year! I hope you all took some time off this summer. FAUW is gearing up for a new academic year and I want to quickly fill you in on the array of things we are working on—and to highlight two items that are timely for you to consider putting some thought into.

Performance evaluation addenda

First off, we are quickly approaching the deadline (October 15) for each department and school to update its Addendum to their Faculty Performance Evaluation Guidelines. One quick example of why this might be useful: FAUW thinks this is a reasonable place for departments to specify how teaching tasks are counted and/or what the normal teaching loads are for both tenured/ tenure-track faculty and lecturers in your department.

While you’re at it, make sure to change any reference to “course/teaching evaluations” to read “student course perception surveys” as per the decision of University Senate. Continue reading “FAUW’s Priorities for 2018-19”

Lecturer eligibility for department committees

From the Lecturers Committee

Are you a Lecturer and wondering if you are eligible to serve on a particular committee (e.g. DTPC, DACA)?

Committees play an important role in decision making on campus. A democratic approach to decision making leads to good governance and proper management of the university as a whole. Lecturers can contribute to the democratization of university administration by serving on committees for which they are eligible at all levels.

If you have been denied membership on a committee as a lecturer, or would simply like your eligibility status clarified, FAUW can help. Inquiries regarding eligibility can be sent to Erin Windibank (windibae@uwaterloo.ca).

News From Your Board – November 9 Meeting

—Peter Johnson, Faculty of Environment representative to the FAUW board

The FAUW Board got back to business on November 9, after an October filled with special events, including the FAUW 60th anniversary celebration. We had a packed meeting room, evidence of a healthy and energized board, and of the strength of our organization and importance of our mandate.

We started off with a report from our independent auditor on the financial health of the organization. In a year that has seen great change at the administration level of the University, FAUW maintains a strong and prudent fiscal position that is neither overburdensome to our members nor compromising of our ability to protect our members and advance collegial governance on campus. Congratulations to Dan Brown, treasurer, and many treasurers before him for maintaining this balance.

Board members discussed ways to support our colleagues at local colleges while they are striking to reduce reliance on precarious employment and to obtain the academic freedom that many university faculty enjoy. FAUW has made a financial donation on behalf of our members to support those on the picket lines, and we are currently investigating other forms of support.

As discussed at our 60th Anniversary event, one of the main benefits of our Memorandum of Agreement with the University is that, compared to traditional union-based bargaining, in which a new collective agreement is negotiated every few years, FAUW is in a process of continual negotiation with the administration over terms of employment. The only thing we negotiate in the upcoming round of bargaining with the University is compensation.

In the last round of bargaining, our negotiating team secured the salary anomaly review, changes to the Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement (FPER), and annual scale increases to salaries and thresholds. That settlement expires April 30, 2018.

Our lead negotiator for this round, Benoit Charbonneau (Pure Mathematics), attended this Board meeting to brief the group and discuss preliminary strategy. Undoubtedly there will be more to come on this front, as bargaining commences in December. Shelley Hulan (English Language and Literature) and Dave Vert (School of Accounting and Finance) are also on the negotiating team.

The Lecturers Committee raised concerns with apparent discrepancies across campus regarding lecturer eligibility for departmental or school service tasks. FAUW would like to hear from any lecturers who have been prohibited from serving on departmental or school committees, especially Departmental Tenure and Promotion Committees (DTPC) involved in making hiring or promotion decisions about lecturers, and chair/director hiring committees.