How much would a true non-teaching term cost?

One of the issues that the FAUW team hopes to address in the revision process for Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) and Policy 77 (Tenure and Promotion of Faculty Members) is workload, one component of which is a regular non-teaching term for teaching-intensive faculty.

The current Policy 76 includes a provision for non-teaching terms: “…Lecturers shall have the option to have at least one term in six be a non-teaching term.” The interpretation of this clause, however, varies across faculties and even departments. In the faculty of Environment and in several departments in Engineering and Science, the non-teaching term is taken to be a reduction in load in that academic year; other faculties such as Arts, Health, and Math interpret the non-teaching term as a redistribution of load. In this case, lecturers teach their normal annual course load in two terms rather than three.

What lecturers say

Results from the recent FAUW Lecturers Committee survey, which had a response rate of 80%, show that 61% of the 192 respondents had had at least one non-teaching term during their employment at the University. Among these lecturers, 37% had what we’ll call a “true” non-teaching term (i.e., their teaching load was reduced not redistributed) while the remaining 63% had their load redistributed. For the 39% of lecturers who have never taken a non-teaching term, the redistribution of workload was cited as the most common barrier.

In recent faculty consultation sessions organized by the Lecturers Committee, lecturers shared that that having time and resources to fulfil professional development and scholarly work is a high priority. Many lecturers commented that a true non-teaching term would allow them to engage in scholarly activities including curriculum development, professional development, pedagogical research, and staying up to date in their field. There was also discussion around the mental health benefits of a non-teaching term during which lecturers could also take their annual vacation entitlement and recharge.

We should also recall that the University’s current Strategic Plan states that Waterloo strives to be “a people-centered institution committed to genuine care, concern, respect, inclusivity and well-being for all.” These values include commitments “to embed and promote sustainability and foster personal development and supportive environments for mental health and resilience, physical health, social inclusion, belonging and spiritual well-being in campus culture.”

Ensuring that teaching faculty have adequate time to engage in foundational academic activities—such as staying up to date in their fields and planning new courses—as well as much needed personal activities—such as taking vacations— is necessary for UW to fulfil these commitments.

The numbers

So, how much would it cost the University to implement a true non-teaching term for lecturers? Relying on FAUW membership data on lecturers and on data collected from the FAUW Lecturers Committee survey, we’ve come up with an upper-bound cost estimate.

Continue reading “How much would a true non-teaching term cost?”

Meet the lecturers: Lamees Al Ethari

As we work on securing improvements to the working conditions of teaching-focused faculty at the University of Waterloo, FAUW is interviewing lecturers across campus to find out more about their experiences at Waterloo—and how potential policy changes might affect their work.

Lamees Al Ethari has been a lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature since 2015. Let’s meet Lamees!

Lamees Al Ethari

What does your job include right now?

My contract officially defines my load as 80% teaching and 20% service. I teach 7–8 courses per year, mostly ENGL 109 (Introduction to Academic Writing) and creative writing courses, but occasionally also literature courses. In 2019, I developed and taught a course titled Displacement Narratives in the Arts First program.

In addition to teaching, I keep active as a researcher and creative writer. I participate regularly at academic conferences, readings, and literary festivals. I have also published a memoir and a collection of poetry. I co-founded a SSHRC-funded community writing and performance workshop, The X Page, for local immigrant and refugee women. I have been a coordinator and an editor with the workshop since 2018. I am also a nonfiction editor for The New Quarterly, a national literary magazine housed in St. Jerome’s University.

What parts of your work are you most passionate about?

I love teaching—it’s really a big part of who I am professionally. But I also love doing research—research allows me to work on projects that relate to my own academic specialization.

While some of the research I do is on pedagogy, most of my research is on immigrant women’s narratives, especially from the Middle East. I focus on their journeys from home, the trauma they endured, what they left behind, and their experiences of trying to resettle in the diaspora. I have applied that research in teaching both my writing and my literature courses.

What has your experience been like trying to navigate the process of becoming a continuing lecturer?

That’s a really interesting question. A lot of the process actually seems very much up in the air. Each person seems to have had a different experience, and my questions weren’t answered in a timely manner because no one seems to know what the process is, and it’s not the same across different departments. Originally, I understood that I could apply in my fifth year, but that turned out not to be the case. The situation kept changing, there was nothing solid to go by, no guidelines to follow.

I submitted my application at the end of 2020 and didn’t hear anything about the application for a few months. (I finally received my continuing offer in May 2021.)

The lack of information is problematic and needs to be addressed by the Faculty and the University or it will continue to be problematic for those who follow after me. I’m not the first person in this kind of situation, and it’s not just for continuing status. A clear and consistent process will allow lecturers to plan ahead and be prepared.

Have you applied for any research grants while working at Waterloo, and how did that go?

I’ve applied for two research grants. I faced some complications with the first application process because, once again, there were no clear guidelines for lecturers applying for grants. However, when I applied for a SSHRC Connection Grant in 2018, I was told that I just needed to get approval from my chair, who supported the application and the project. We were awarded the grant in 2019, which funded the first cycle of The X-Page workshops.

Research grants, like these, allow us to be part of the academic community and they help us expand the work we do in our classrooms. I know that many of my lecturer colleagues are working on interesting and innovative research. They would benefit greatly from research grants that could support and fund their projects.

Sabbaticals and non-teaching terms provide us with the time to develop our teaching, update research, and find new ways to introduce material in order to keep our courses interesting and engaging.

Continue reading “Meet the lecturers: Lamees Al Ethari”

June 3 report from the Board

Here are the updates from the June 3, 2021, FAUW Board of Directors meeting.

Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) change

On June 1, the University Board of Governors approved an update to Policy 76 that changes the threshold for which appointments need to go through UARC—it will now review appointments “longer than two years,” rather than “two years or longer.” As we reported last time, this will remove the primary reason for two-years-minus-one-day appointments. We asked the deans to add an extra day to all two-years-minus-one-day appointments and have heard from three that they are doing so. Two faculties don’t have any such appointments, and the sixth is discussing the issue further but we expect that to be resolved soon.

This extra day comes with significantly improved benefits, including dental coverage, better sick leave, long-term disability coverage, access to the Employee & Family Assistance Program, eligibility for the new pregnancy and parental leave policy, and tuition benefits under Policy 4 (for employees) and Policy 24 (for employees’ children). It can also have implications for retirement benefits eligibility.

Other work on Policy 76/77 will continue through the summer.

Equity data survey

We’re excited that the University equity survey will be going out soon. We encourage you to participate in it. This survey is what will provide the Salary Anomaly Working Group with the data needed to run the race-based salary anomaly review that we negotiated in our latest salary settlement. There is a lot of information about the survey and how the data will be used on the Equity Office website.

Response to FAUW position on fall 2021

Mario Ioannidis is representing FAUW on the new return-to-campus working group. This group has representatives from the Staff Association, Occupational Health, the Safety Office, Human Resources, and Plant Operations, among other units, and meets every other week. They are informing institutional guidelines (e.g. classroom capacity) for a staged return from now through January 2022, and applying a change management framework to this return. The group recognizes that returning to campus significantly affects faculty members.

Mario and Johanna Wandel met with Plant Operations. Plant Ops started upgrading HVAC systems (of which there are more than 300) as soon as campus emptied out last year. They are using MERV 13 standard air filters throughout campus and we’re working with them on getting detailed data to members about the rooms they use.

Tenure and promotion 2021

We are asking the University to ensure that departmental and faculty tenure & promotion committees (and external referees) take the effects of the pandemic on teaching and research into account when reviewing tenure and promotion files this year.

Continue reading “June 3 report from the Board”

Meet the lecturers: Burcu Karabina

As we work on securing improvements to the working conditions of teaching-focused faculty at the University of Waterloo, FAUW is interviewing lecturers across campus to find out more about their experiences at Waterloo—and how potential policy changes might affect their work.

Burcu Karabina is a lecturer in the Faculty of Mathematics Undergraduate Office, working in the Digital Assets Group (DAG). She came to Waterloo in 2019 with five years of online teaching and course development experience to help build online courses and digital assets equipped with the latest teaching technologies and pedagogies.

Burcu Karabina

What does your job include right now?

I teach mainly service courses such as introductory algebra, linear algebra, and calculus, both online and face to face. In addition to my teaching duties, I research and implement recent teaching pedagogies, incorporate evidence-based teaching and learning practices into our online course design. Working closely with the Centre for Extended Learning, DAG creates and designs an inclusive, accessible, student-oriented online learning experience. My workload balance is 30% teaching and 70% service. I spend most of my time developing online courses. The pandemic altered this balance dramatically, but it is slowly going back to normal. A lot of what we do in DAG is at the intersection of teaching, service, and research, so these weights are not a true reflection of our day-to-day operations.

What parts of your work are you most passionate about?

I am very passionate about utilizing digital technologies to bring the online learning experience to the next level for our students. In a rapidly changing world, we get a deeper understanding of how we learn, and technology is an integral part of it. We recognize that learning is an evolving process, not an end product! I find it fascinating that every course I teach is different than the previous one. I always learn something new from my students and my pedagogical research, and I always find myself trying something new in my courses. My job offers a life-long learning opportunity!

Have you applied for any research grants while working at Waterloo, and how did that go?

Last year, I had a chance to collaborate with a research group at National Research Council Canada. We prepared a proposal for a New Beginnings Initiative grant to enhance academic integrity using privacy-preserving tools. I was disheartened when I realized that I am not authorized to manage a research grant as a lecturer, and I cannot serve as principal investigator for the project. Our grant is approved, and I will still play a key role in the project, but my name will always be on the sidelines due to my job title. I am very passionate and excited about this research project, but, unfortunately, there will be no formal recognition of my efforts from the Unviersity, since research is not included in my job description. I know I am not the only lecturer in this situation, and it is very unfortunate.

We all need the time and the peace of mind to reflect on our teaching experiences and invest in our profession to serve our students better, to make this university a better place.

What would it mean for you to have professorial status and/or tenure?

The biggest problem with the current continuing lecturer promotion path is that it is very mysterious. Policy 76 states that an appointment to continuing lecturer is “understood to be unusual and offered only in special circumstances,” which is clearly no longer true but adds to this mysteriousness. As a new faculty member, I hear a lot of stories about the process. There are vague guidelines, and the current performance evaluation system does not support continuous professional development and research into our profession. Yes, there are many resources, but no structured guidance sets us up for success. Yes, professional development is encouraged, but pedagogical research does not weigh in our contracts. Service duties are not clearly defined, but they make up a significant percentage of our contracts. Many lecturers are buried in heavy teaching loads with large class sizes, worried about their contract renewals. They cannot even find time to take their well-deserved vacations.

We all need the time and the peace of mind to reflect on our teaching experiences and invest in our profession to serve our students better, to make this university a better place. A well-structured and guided career path that leads to professorial and/or tenure status would mean that lecturers are given an opportunity and space to grow into their careers, with a possible research component. With mutual support, the faculty and the university can work together toward a common goal.

Continue reading “Meet the lecturers: Burcu Karabina”

Hot topics from the May 20 FAUW Board of Directors meeting

Pandemic issues

The FAUW Board has issued a statement on fall 2021 decision making relating to teaching and faculty working conditions.

We briefly discussed some potential approaches to 2021 performance reviews, including re-weighting (e.g., to reduce the impact of your research score). We know there is also a continued need for pandemic considerations for tenure and promotion and will be returning to that topic with the administration soon.

Faculty members who need accommodations for fall (or any) teaching should contact our Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee for advice and referrals.

One small change for P76, one giant leap for lecturer benefits

From Dan Brown’s president’s report: This month at Senate we approved the first small step in the Policy 76/77 revisions, a surgical change to the mandate of the University Appointments Review Committee (UARC), so that it will now no longer be required to consider appointments of exactly two years (it will now review appointments longer than two years). This seemingly tiny change will matter, as it will remove the primary argument for deans to make two-years-minus-one-day appointments, which unfortunately come with fewer benefits than appointments just one day longer. [Editor’s note: This change was approved by the Board of Governors on June 1, making it official. We are asking deans to consider extending relevant appointments by one day.] The P76/77 Policy Drafting Committee will continue their work through the end of the summer, aiming for the August 31 deadline approved by Senate in March.

New travel and expenses policy

From Dan’s president’s report: The university’s president approved a substantial rewrite of Policy 31, the Travel policy, which has been renamed to University Expenses; this results in substantial improvements to reimbursement rates and also (hopefully!) a reduction in documentation required of travellers. It also details how research expenses like working lunches and hospitality will work. UW Finance consulted with FAUW (via Faculty Relations Committee) as part of their discussions of this policy.

Indigenous student scholarships

We have been looking into establishing a scholarship for students from Six Nations of the Grand River, on whose land the Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge campuses are situated. At this meeting, we got into some details about what the award(s) could look like in practice to inform conversations with the Grand River Post Secondary Education Office and the university’s Student Awards & Financial Aid office.

Benefits eligibility grievance outcomes

Adapted from Ken Vetzal’s Pension & Benefits report: In response to grievances filed by FAUW, a subcommittee of the Pension and Benefits Committee (including the P&B liaison to the FAUW Board, Ken Vetzal) was formed last fall with a mandate to provide precise definitions of “continuous University of Waterloo service” (Policy 23 – Eligibility for Pension and Insured Benefits) and “uninterrupted regular full-time service” (Policy 59 – Reduced Workload to Retirement).

Continue reading “Hot topics from the May 20 FAUW Board of Directors meeting”

Help Dr. X take their vacation!

Dr. X is a Lecturer at the University of Waterloo who teaches three terms a year. They are finding it difficult to take their four weeks of annual vacation entitlement, to be scheduled in blocks at least one week long.

The challenge

  • Can you help Dr. X find four one-week blocks of vacation time in the 2021-22 academic year? Share your results in the comments below.
The 2021-22 academic calendar, with academic dates from the Registrar’s important dates tool and paid holidays from the Human Resources website.


The 2021-22 academic calendar, with academic dates from the Registrar’s important dates tool and paid holidays from the Human Resources website.

Considerations and constraints

  • Dr. X has an exam scheduled on April 23; marking the exam and submitting final grades will take approximately four days.
  • Dr. X would like to attend their sister’s wedding in BC on July 3.
  • Dr. X’s family has been offered a cottage rental from August 8–21; Dr. X would like to join their family.
  • Dr. X has been assigned a new course in fall 2022 and needs time to prepare it.
  • Statutory holidays don’t count toward vacation time.
  • Dr. X’s chair needs to agree on the timing of each block of vacation ahead of time.

Reflections

  • Does Dr. X still have adequate time for marking and course prep, without doing any work during their vacation?
  • Would Dr. X be able to take two weeks off at a time?
  • What would make it easier for Dr. X to take their full vacation entitlement?

Share your results and reflections in the comments!

Bonus round

  • For bonus points, help Dr. Y take their five weeks of vacation entitlement. Dr. Y is entitled to five weeks since they have been at Waterloo for more than 10 years.
  • Extra bonus points: Help Dr. Z take seven weeks of vacation—their five-week entitlement, plus the two weeks they carried forward from the previous year.

What this is about

Workload for teaching faculty is one of the issues that the FAUW team hopes to discuss in the revision process for Policy 76 – Faculty Appointments and Policy 77 – Promotion and Tenure.

Workload is a complex issue. For Lecturers, it intersects with vacation access because—as you saw with Dr. X—teaching three terms a year leaves very little time for meaningful vacation.

It is true that Waterloo is a three-term university, unlike many of our comparator institutions. It is also true that UW has enjoyed the flexibility of assigning work to Lecturers in all three terms. But what if flexibility means a lack of access to vacations? Can teaching workload be assigned more fairly?

What is clear is that teaching-stream faculty members deserve to take the annual vacations that allow us all a chance to rest and relax, to connect with family and friends, and to come back to work refreshed. Work-life balance is something we hear a lot about these days. Teaching faculty at UW deserve this balance as well.

Meet the lecturers: Clive Forrester

As we work on securing improvements to the working conditions of teaching-focused faculty at the University of Waterloo, FAUW is interviewing lecturers across campus to find out more about their experiences at Waterloo—and how potential policy changes might affect their work.

Clive Forrester has been a lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature since 2016.

Clive Forrester from the Department of English Language and Literature

The work of lecturers varies across campus. What does it include for you?

I was hired as a lecturer in the Math Initiative, which is an agreement between the Faculty of Math and the Department of English to offer dedicated sections of ENGL109 – Intro to Academic Writing just for math and computer science students. In addition to ENGL109, I teach a variety of courses dealing with either linguistics or technical writing.

My research is primarily in a branch of linguistics called “forensic linguistics” which investigates the interaction between language and law. I’m particularly interested in courtroom discourse, and a few years ago I served as an expert linguist in a Toronto murder trial.

I’ve had different service roles over the years in the department, including coordinating the awards ceremony, coordinating the department research series, and running teaching squares for faculty in the department. I also have a YouTube channel where I upload videos related to linguistics and writing.

What parts of your work are you most passionate about?

Teaching linguistics is certainly one area that I’m passionate about. Recently, I got the opportunity to develop a new course, “Language, Life, and Literature in the Caribbean,” to be taught as part of the Black Studies Diploma. Though a few years away, I’m looking forward to teaching that course and developing similar ones in the future.

What was the experience of becoming a continuing lecturer like for you? 

Now that I’ve been appointed as a continuing lecturer, I can say the road to continuing lecturer status has been dotted with uncertainty. In the absence of a clear formal policy that outlines the progression from the initial appointment as a definite-term to a continuing appointment some five or six years later, everything happens on an ad hoc basis. So, there are no defined milestones to hit, no mid-progression check-in, and no specified date by which an applicant to continuing status needs to be notified. Aside from the undue anxiety this could cause a lecturer, it’s not hard to imagine that a lecturer in such a position might decide to simply take a new appointment somewhere else. In either situation, the department stands to suffer—lecturers anxious because of job security or lecturers leaving for the same reason.

Continue reading “Meet the lecturers: Clive Forrester”

Professors of Teaching at UBC

We’ve told you about teaching stream professors at the University of Toronto and McMaster University. This week, we head west, to the University of British Columbia. UBC appoints tenure-track and tenured professors of teaching.

UBC’s model of teaching faculty, along with Toronto’s and McMaster’s, is being considered by the policy drafting committee that is updating Policy 76 Faculty Appointments and Policy 77 Tenure and Promotion.

Here are some details from the 2020 UBC Collective Agreement.

  • There are three ranks: Assistant Professor of Teaching, Associate Professor of Teaching, and Professor of Teaching.
  • Tenure-track Assistant Professors of Teaching are normally evaluated for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor of Teaching in the fifth year of their appointment.
  • Associate Professors of Teaching and Professors of Teaching have the same rights to “study leave” as other professorial faculty. Study leaves allow faculty “to pursue study or research, of benefit to the individual and the University.”
  • Tenure and promotion to Associate Professor of Teaching “requires evidence of excellence in teaching, demonstrated educational leadership, involvement in curriculum development and innovation, and other teaching and learning initiatives. It is expected that Associate Professors of Teaching will keep abreast of current developments in their respective disciplines, and in the field of teaching and learning.”
  • Promotion to Professor of Teaching requires “evidence of outstanding achievement in teaching and educational leadership, distinction in the field of teaching and learning, sustained and innovative contributions to curriculum development, course design and other initiatives that advance the University’s ability to excel in its teaching and learning mandate. … Promotion to this rank is neither automatic nor based on years of service and it is expected that some persons will not attain this rank.”
  • “Educational leadership,” a key category for teaching faculty at UBC, includes many activities, such as the scholarship of teaching and learning; curriculum development and renewal, new assessment models, pedagogical innovation; teaching, mentorship and inspiration of colleagues; formal leadership responsibilities in a department, program, or faculty; and other activities that support evidence-based educational excellence, leadership and impact within and beyond the University.

As you can see, UBC has created a distinct career path for teaching faculty that runs in parallel to that of existing professorial stream faculty.

The FAUW representatives on the P76/77 Policy Drafting Committee are working to ensure that teaching faculty members at the University of Waterloo are fairly and rigorously evaluated and their contributions recognised and rewarded. Head to the FAUW website to learn about the committee’s work to recommend new terms and conditions of employment for UW’s teaching faculty members.

Meet the lecturers: Elena Neiterman

As we work on securing improvements to the working conditions of teaching-focused faculty at the University of Waterloo, FAUW is interviewing lecturers across campus to find out more about their experiences at Waterloo—and how potential policy changes might affect their work.

First in our series is Elena Neiterman, a continuing lecturer in the Faculty of Health, at the School of Public Health and Health Systems (SHPPS). She came to Waterloo in 2015 from a contract teaching position at McMaster University. Let’s meet Elena!

Elena Neiterman from the School of Public Health and Health Systems

The work of lecturers varies across campus. What does it include for you?

I normally teach six courses per year, including undergraduate courses in Health Promotion, Public Health Ethics, Canadian Health Systems, and Sociology of Aging, and graduate courses in Qualitative Research Methods. I also supervise undergraduate and MSc students.

I do a lot of service activities. I serve on the SPHHS Undergraduate Studies Committee, Recruitment Taskforce, and Annual Performance Review Committee. I also supervise Online Learning Assistants. At the Faculty level, I represent our School as a Teaching Fellow, serve on the Online Teaching Taskforce, and am part of the working group for the Faculty of Health Strategic Plan. At the University level, I am on the CTAPT committee, which aims to provide recommendations on how the university should assess teaching effectiveness in a way that truly captures the amazing work many of our UW instructors do in classrooms and beyond. 

Since COVID, I am also casually working as a tech assistant at home, trying to fix the internet and solve Zoom problems. I have five children, and, as any other parent in Ontario, I am navigating my online work and children learning from home.

While my work assignment does not include research, I do quite a lot of it because I find it engaging and fascinating. Currently, I am involved in two big pan-Canadian projects. One examines work experiences of Canadian midwives to identify factors that improve their workplace retention. The other explores mental health-related leaves of absence and subsequent return to work among knowledge workers (academics, accountants, dentists, midwives, nurses, physicians, and teachers).

I also have long-standing interest in women’s reproductive health and work on a number of pedagogy-related smaller research projects, including a textbook on health promotion.      

What parts of your work are you most passionate about? 

Teaching is my passion. I like being in a classroom and interacting with students. Since COVID, this has become more challenging – I mostly spend my teaching time staring at a camera and I miss seeing my students, but I make do.

Since I teach some required courses in our program, I usually know most of our students. It is really exciting to see “my” first-year students graduating! 

Being hired permanently meant that I could finally sleep at night – it is nerve-racking not knowing if you have a job next term.

Continue reading “Meet the lecturers: Elena Neiterman”

Another professorial teaching stream model: McMaster University

The other day, we told you about the “teaching stream” professoriate at the University of Toronto. Today, we want to let you know about “teaching-track faculty” at McMaster University. Both universities provide models that are helping to guide ongoing discussions about the future of teaching faculty here at the University of Waterloo.

Here are some details from the 2012 McMaster University policy on “Academic appointment, tenure and promotion” (PDF).

  • At McMaster, teaching-track faculty are expected to be “excellent teachers” and “to keep abreast of developments in the discipline in which they teach.”
  • McMaster’s policy notes that teaching and scholarship are complementary activities in a “research-intensive institution.” 
  • Scholarship in the teaching track is to have a special focus on teaching and pedagogy, so that these faculty members are especially encouraged to engage in activities such as curriculum development and evaluation; mentoring; and research into the efficacy of different pedagogical approaches.
  • In the fifth year of their appointment, Teaching-track Assistant Professors are evaluated for permanence, and they may apply for promotion to Teaching-track Associate Professor and, eventually, to Teaching-track Professor.
  • For promotion to Associate Professor in the teaching track, candidates must demonstrate “significant external recognition” in such areas as: continuing excellence in teaching practice; having teaching innovations adopted by others; assisting or leading curriculum development; presentations and scholarship on teaching or pedagogy; mentoring of other teachers; research on pedagogical and related issues; and/or leadership in experiential learning beyond the classroom.
  • Promotion to Professor in the teaching track requires that candidates demonstrate “a national or international reputation” for specific teaching and teaching related contributions.

Here at Waterloo, the policies on faculty appointments (#76) and tenure and promotion (#77) are both being updated. For FAUW, the aim of this process is to create a career path and clear expectations for teaching faculty members at Waterloo.

McMaster’s and Toronto’s well established policies are helpful to the policy drafting committee since each recognises and rewards the contributions of teaching-track faculty members, while providing models for fair and rigorous evaluation processes.