News From Your Board: April 19 Meeting Recap

There has been a long gap between our normal two-weekly Board meetings because we had our Spring General meeting on the 5 April and about that, you already know.

Not surprisingly, there was a lot to discuss, much of which was routine: recommendations for appointments to the University Tenure & Promotion Committee (UTPC), debriefing the Spring General Meeting and Bryan Tolson’s presentation to Senate about faculty hiring data (see the slides on our website), discussing representation from AHS on the Board, etc.

The interesting new topic was cycling on campus. There are some key people who have been strong advocates for biking and safe storage of bikes in particular. Johanna Wandel provided a summary of the current situation and a new pilot project that the FAUW will be supporting—we will share more about that soon. You’re also welcome to contact Johanna—and Parking Services!—with your thoughts on improving cycling on campus.

FAUW also agreed to provide financial support for an all-candidates debate (for the Kitchener-Waterloo riding only) that WLU has organized for May 16. Registration details will be posted on our website as soon as they’re available, and we encourage those interested to attend.

Finally, we are making progress on language in the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) about performance rating histograms. Our original goal for these proved unduly complex and we are working on revisions that will balance transparency, privacy, and feasibility. Recommendations are forthcoming. On a related note, it seems as if some departments still do not have addenda to their Faculty performance review guidelines as per the requirements of the MoA. Even the decision to defer to faculty-wide guidelines needs to be made by the department on a biennial basis (this time ’round, before October 15, 2018) and yet this does not necessarily always occur. Again, we’ll have more on this soon.

—Sally Gunz, past president

FAUW Celebrates Three Campus Champions and Six Decades of Collegial Governance

On October 26, FAUW held a 60th anniversary discussion exploring the unique relationship between faculty and the administration at Waterloo, and presented our first Awards of Appreciation to honour members of the University community who have made real differences in the lives of faculty members.

Panelists Roman Dubinski (FAUW president 1970–71), David DeVidi (FAUW president 2007–09), Lynne Taylor (chief negotiator and board member 2014–16), and Ian Goulden (dean of mathematics 2010–15) described the evolution of faculty representation at Waterloo, from the early relationship characterized by the University’s “benign paternalism” (in Dubinski’s words), through three attempts to unionize in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, to the “honest conversation” of the current arrangement.

The panelists discussed how this relationship works in practice, and how it differs from a union. The main difference is that, in our case, salary is negotiated separately from all other terms of employment. Rather than putting everything on the table (and at risk) in large-scale negotiations every few years, working conditions are continually negotiated —largely through biweekly meetings of FAUW and the administration at the Faculty Relations Committee (FRC).

This system allows us to “accomplish things you couldn’t in a full negotiation,” according to DeVidi. As audience member and 2004–07 FAUW president Roydon Fraser put it, “through honest conversation, you build understanding, and through understanding, you build, generally, good compromises.” Without the pressure of a looming deadline, Taylor explained, things move slowly, and both sides have time to give everything a “sober second thought.”

FAUW President Bryan Tolson and panelists
Left to right: David DeVidi, Roman Dubinski, Lynne Taylor, Ian Goulden, Bryan Tolson (FAUW president).

Surely there’s a catch

This system is not without its risks. Panelists highlighted the importance of having the right people on both sides. Goulden, our panelist representing an administrator’s perspective, pointed out that the provost has a great deal of influence over whether FRC is effective or just “a happy chat.” But overall, the system we have in place seems to be working.

And if it ever fails, we have the ability to seek recognition as a union. While the past union drives Dubinski recounted failed to result in unionization of faculty at Waterloo, they succeeded in encouraging the administration to make concessions and improve faculty working conditions. In fact, we have a near-unionization event to thank for the Memorandum of Agreement that governs working conditions today and which gives us a lot of the same powers as a union.

So, why aren’t we a union?

We promised that this event would answer the question “Why isn’t FAUW a union?” DeVidi offered this answer: “Most universities that unionize, there’s a galvanizing event, usually a massive clunker by some particular administration. So, I think a big part of the story is that the University [of Waterloo], compared to a lot of universities in Canada, has just been fairly well administered.”

Not all about FAUW

Following the panel, we shifted focus away from the Association and presented awards to Al Binns, director of Police Services for compassionately and discreetly helping faculty to navigate confidential emergency situations; Lynne Taylor, past chief negotiator for FAUW, for negotiating and co-chairing the 2015 salary anomalies review, and securing regular anomaly reviews into the future; and Linda Brogden, occupational health nurse, for supporting faculty members through some of the most difficult times of their careers and for her role in changing the conversation about faculty illness and mental health on campus.

FAUW Board members presenting awards to Lynne Taylor, Randy Jardin (for Alan Binns) and Linda Brogden
Left to right: Lynne Taylor, Bryan Tolson (FAUW president), Randy Jardin (accepting for Al Binns), Dan Brown (FAUW treasurer), Linda Brogden, Sally Gunz (past FAUW president).

Side note

Ian Goulden gave a great plug for another important mechanism at play in our relationship with the administration: FAUW’s Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee (AF&T), which he called “a really strong thread that runs through the University.” If you’re not familiar with AF&T and its confidential services to assist faculty with difficulties impacting their terms and conditions of employment, we encourage you to learn about it.

Quote of the day

“We’ll call them the administration. They like to call themselves the University, but so do we.” –David DeVidi

President’s Report to the 2017 Spring General Meeting

– Sally Gunz, FAUW President

This is the last official general meeting report of my term as president of FAUW. Technically, the changeover to Bryan Tolson is on July 1, 2017 but it will actually take place as of September 1 since Bryan is on sabbatical.

At this meeting the names of new FAUW Board members are announced. We had an excellent slate of candidates and all of us on the Board are particularly grateful to the new people willing to offer their services to FAUW. It has been my obsession in my role as president to ensure that FAUW is an association that genuinely seeks new people to join our ranks and, in time, take over key roles. There is also a learning curve to being on the Board so we do need some returnees at each election – terms are only two years and it would be sad to lose people just when they are really hitting their stride in terms of experience. I believe our present and new Board represent a good balance of experience and new voices.

It is tough each year to say goodbye to those people whose terms are done or who did not or could not run again. We have two outstanding Board members who are leaving. Elise Lepage will be a big loss. She has been our main Board person working with Laura McDonald on communications and many of the very valuable improvements to the website, events, and notifications have involved a large amount of Elise’s time. Paul Wehr’s departure will also be a significant loss. Paul is always willing to focus on the detailed elements of our activities that are necessary in order for FAUW to be successful. Paul was also a key part of the success of the Lecturers Committee and we hope he will continue to find the time to participate in that committee’s work.

I want to stress the many other aspects of FAUW where we need strong participation from all of you. Bryan Tolson has worked hard to revive and revitalize the Council of Representatives. If you do not have a person in your department or school routinely reporting about FAUW activities, please contact us to see if you are missing a representative.

There are other key standing committees of FAUW: the Status of Women and Equity Committee, Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee, Lecturers Committee. Please contact any one of us on the Board or our staff to find out how you can become more involved.

I now will summarize some recent events:

  1. We have been giving you updates on the progress of the review of Policy 42 – Prevention and Response to Sexual Violence. As of the time of writing, we still do not have terms of reference to review. We know that there have been delays because of the limited resources in the Secretariat, but the review was slated to commence in January. David Porreca asked about this at the Board of Governors on Tuesday (April 4) and he was assured things were “imminent.” I hope real progress will have occurred by the time you receive this report.
  2. We discussed the Course Evaluation Project Team (CEPT) Draft Report at the fall meeting and we used your input as the basis of the FAUW response that you can read on our website. You can see other responses on the CEPT site. There is a good deal of consistency in terms of the key concerns: bias, faulty measures of teaching, etc.

    We also are concerned about the assumption that all numeric data will become available to members of the University community by sign-in. This is available now in certain Faculties, but by no means all, and FAUW’s position is that change should be by Faculty vote. We will express our disappointment in the current version of the report that will be going to the provost. If the provost accepts the report, the next stages will be held at Senate, I assume. We will keep you informed as this proceeds.

  3. On the positive side, there are a number of initiatives that are moving forward well:
    1. Workshop for newly tenured faculty: newly-tenured and newly-continuing faculty members will be invited to a brand-new FAUW workshop in the fall. The workshop will help newly-tenured and continuing faculty members plan their next career stage.
    2. Our Memorandum of Agreement revision project continues. This is a really time-consuming and picky exercise. You should be invited to vote soon on proposed changes that are of a somewhat technical nature. 
    3. Mental health: FAUW recognizes that issues with students affect faculty members directly, and indeed that many of our members struggle or have struggled with mental illness. We plan to conduct an event in the fall, the exact nature of which is still taking shape. We also continue to work directly with members, Occupational Health, the Employee and Family Assistance Program Committee, Healthy Workplace Committee, and the Pension and Benefits Committee to ensure appropriate support and care are available to our members. 
    4. In November we will be hosting an event in celebration of FAUW’s 60th anniversary. More on this to come.
    5. Communications: you should now be aware of many of the wonderful initiatives spearheaded by Laura McDonald, Elise Lepage and others. This is far more than the logo though we are proud to see that on the banner, letterhead etc. Our social media presence continues to improve and we are always open to further suggestions. We have a “FAUW Five” initiative that disseminates information through the Council of Representatives. The Status of Women and Equity Committee also has a fine equity newsletter.
    6. For those of you who attended the Hagey Lecture, you will know of its success. Planning is already underway for the next lecture. Jasmin Habib has come to the end of her term as chair and these are big shoes to fill. Watch out for information about showing your interest in being considered as a member for the committee if you are in one of the Faculties where new representatives are required: Arts and Math. This is a premier event for the University and our committee comprises outstanding representatives from each Faculty appointed by the provost and myself. 
    7. We continue to work on ways to engage new members. We recently repeated our drop-in sessions and are planning fall events. 
    8. It is lead-up time to salary negotiations – that will be a major preoccupation for 2017–18.
    9. We continue to work with others on the ongoing policy review processes. There is some semblance of light I believe I can see at the end of the Policy 33 – Ethical Behavior and Policy 76 – Faculty Appointments tunnels and you will be fully informed in due course.
  4. We remain closely involved in OCUFA and CAUT events. Some of the latter events had to be canceled because of labour issues amongst CAUT staff, but it is our understanding that these are now over. I will be attending the CAUT Council in May in Ottawa. 

In sum, our plate is very full. There are so many more things we could and should be doing. We have outstanding staff. We have really committed Board members. We can always do with more volunteers. If yo
u are interested in offering your services or have good suggestions for how we can do better, please speak up. This is your association and it will be successful only if it represents what our members expect of us.

And finally a couple of “formal” personal comments. I have very much enjoyed my two years as president. I look forward to a quieter life, but that is no reflection of the genuine pleasure I have experienced while serving my term. Our staff and Board are all, to a person, fun, interesting, committed, smart, and hard-working people. I think all of us look forward to being together at our bi-weekly meetings. The members I meet through other events and committees are equally committed, compassionate and dedicated.

As for the University staff and senior administrators with whom I interact frequently, for the most part they are also committed to working with us as representatives of faculty and not against. At times we have to take firm positions, as do they, but I think it is safe to say that administrators are also human beings and generally pretty decent, hard-working ones at that! There have been times when I have feared for the future of the collegial governance process at Waterloo. My sense is that we are in a better place now and I hope this trend continues. We must, however, recognize that collegial governance can be fragile and requires nurturing and genuine respect on the part of all parties. 
It can also only be successful with strong representation from FAUW and our Board headed by Bryan Tolson will be in an excellent position to provide this. To all of you, thanks for your support. I will no doubt be writing more in the next five months, but this is the last formal sign off.

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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Faculty Performance Evaluations To Get an Overhaul

The University of Waterloo is presently considering amending the Memorandum of Agreement to change the way in which faculty members are evaluated. While discussion of student evaluation of teaching abounds in the academic community, faculty performance evaluation has so far received little attention in comparison.
In this context, UW brings a substantive but positive proposal to cut performance evaluations for tenured and continuing faculty back to only every other year, and increases the transparency of the review process. Pre-tenure and definite term faculty members will still submit activity reports and receive feedback every year.
Evaluating each Faculty member is a very time-consuming exercise; spacing it out to every two years will free up time for both administrators and faculty members to address other pressing issues.
The full text of the proposed changes and answers to questions you might have are provided on FAUW’s website. The FAUW board of directors endorses these changes and believes that they are in the best interests of our members.
If you’d like to learn more or discuss the proposal with board members, we invite you to a town hall meeting on October 5, so you can make an informed decision before voting. The poll will be open from October 3 to October 14.
–Élise Lepage

Vote Results & Discussion: MoA Outstanding Performance Award (OPA) Changes

David Porreca, FAUW president

This week’s post features the results from the poll FAUW conducted at the beginning of the month to do with the proposed changes to the Memorandum of Agreement’s clauses relating to the OPAs.  Please see the previous post for more discussion.

The Results

The changes passed by an overwhelming majority:

Declined 4
No 47
Yes 283

Follow-up Issues

In the course of answering questions relating to the vote, a number of larger-scale issues and concerns have come up.

Firstly, the optics from the perspective of the average Ontario citizen of having professors who already receive merit pay increases award themselves yet further bonuses may not be the best thing for the university’s reputation in the current political climate.  That said, the results of the provincial election indicate that this fear may be overblown.  Moreover, since the OPAs are drawn from the merit pool itself, they do not represent extra bonuses, but rather an in-principle meritocratic redistribution of said increases.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly from a broader perspective, does the merit system of increases we have do the job it’s supposed to do?  Does the productivity that it’s supposed to encourage actually manifest?  Do the professional antagonisms, time consumed in the evaluation process itself, as well as in any appeals that result, represent a net positive for the university’s operations?

I would encourage each of you to think about these questions and contact FAUW with any thoughts or reactions.  We may even conduct a formal poll of our members to find out what they think about these questions.

Memorandum of Agreement – Article 13.3.3(e) Changes Explained + Q&A

UPDATED Q&A (30-May-14)

David Porreca, FAUW President

On Monday, the Faculty Association circulated an e-mail that lays out the changes in wording to the Memorandum of Agreement we have discussed both at the FAUW Board of Directors and at the Faculty Relations Committee over the past few months.  This blog post is intended to a) explain more fully the reasoning behind the changes, and b) to respond to some of the questions and feedback that we have received since the message went out.

Why the changes?

Concerns had been expressed to the Faculty Association that the Outstanding Performance Awards (OPAs) in some faculties were being given to reward individuals who hold higher-level administrative positions (e.g., chairs of large departments, associate deans) rather than for their originally intended purpose to reward outstanding researchers and teachers.

Since service is one of the components of our job as faculty members, it made sense to us that rewarding truly exceptional service should still happen, while avoiding the potential for a systemic over-rewarding of administrators who are already well-compensated for their job.  That is why the new wording of Article 13.3.3(e) carefully ascribes a maximum of 20% of the OPAs granted in any given faculty and year be granted for service.

Moreover, outstanding service in non-administrative capacities can now be adequately rewarded under this new wording, which was not possible before.

The choice of 20% corresponds to the usual proportion of our duties dedicated to service.

Q&A

Q. So how exactly will these stars be identified?

A. This is a question that is more properly directed to each individual Dean.  The MoA article specifies that “Members in each Faculty unit (department or school) whose annual performance rating for the current year is within the top twenty percent of ratings within the unit may be considered for a special permanent salary increase.”  Departmental merit evaluation committees are responsible for assigning merit ratings, and from there the process is in the Dean’s hands.  By specifying a maximum of 20% of awards going toward ‘Service’, we minimize the potential for a buddy-administrator reward system, and allocate the large majority of the OPA funds to their intended purpose: to reward excellent teaching and research.

Q. Will there be a clear distinction as to what type of award is being given (i.e., whether it’s teaching/research or whether it’s service)?

A. At the moment, there is no provision for specifying the reason for each award, but it is certainly something that we can quite reasonably request for the sake of transparency.

Q. Does anyone receive this award for outstanding teaching?

A. There is no provision for separating teaching from research in the determination of the OPAs, and the original intent was to reward those who do both outstandingly well.  The only specification we have now added is that up to 20% of the awards can now be for service.  It was never really clear in the past why each individual received an OPA.  By scanning the list of OPA recipients from 2013, you can form your own opinion as to the rationale behind those names chosen.  As was mentioned above, it will be important for the transparency of the process that those receiving an OPA in the future be identified as receiving it for outstanding service or research + teaching.

Q. Aren’t OPAs based on overall performance?

A. No, they were originally intended to reward outstanding teaching and research, with no mention of service at all.  Over the years, however, it became clear that at least some of the recipients had been primarily involved in administrative tasks.  In order both restore the original intent of the OPAs and to create a mechanism whereby outstanding service can be recognized, the proposed changes are being put forward.

Q. How does this change to the MoA intersect with FAUW’s concerns over the document defining the standards for a 1.25 merit rating in the Faculty of Arts?

A. The two issues are only tangentially related, since the document defining the standards for 1.25 in service has as its intended audience individual departments’ merit evaluation committees, while the MoA article is meant to govern how deans handle the distribution of OPAs after the departmental evaluation committees have completed their work.

Q. If Deans have not followed the existing rules such that these changes to the MoA are needed (i.e., giving OPAs for service when they’ve not been meant for service at all), then what guarantee do we have that they will follow the rules limiting 20% of these awards for service? 

A. Alas, there is no perfect system, and there are no 100% guarantees. It’s our hope that the added transparency of having the reasons for each award published along with the recipients’ names will generate enough potential for opprobrium that abuse of the system will become rarer or, ideally, be eliminated altogether.