Let’s do more than talk

Canadians are beginning to recognize January 28 as an important day. Not only do we begin seeing the advertisements for Bell Let’s Talk day well in advance of the 28th; not only do a lot of us share their messages promoting help-seeking and mental health initiatives; but we also have begun to see a clear pattern of opinion pieces and news stories challenging Bell. It might be worth putting together some of the criticism here:

Michael Spratt reminded us that the millions of dollars Bell donates to mental health is “peanuts compared to its $23.45-billion annual revenue.” Even more disturbingly, he investigated Bell’s exclusive contract with the Ontario government to provide telephone services in jails. Under the Bell contract, Ontario inmates could only call landline telephone numbers and paid exorbitant collect-call rates. As he says, “Bell has never disclosed its profits from this exclusive and predatory phone racket, though it could amount to more money than it charitably donates during its “Bell Let’s Talk” campaign each year.” While Ontario has changed providers, Bell still holds the contract for federal prisons.

Maria McLean revealed that when she asked for a mental health leave from her job at Bell, they fired her.

Mandy Pipher argued that “during the worst years of my own mental health struggles — rough, often debilitating years — I’d dread the annual Bell mental-health-themed advertising blitz. Because that’s how it seemed: like advertising for a corporation dripping in the money desperately needed by many of those suffering from mental illness, with genuine concern for mental health sufferers a distant second.”

Continue reading “Let’s do more than talk”

What the Okanagan Charter means for Waterloo faculty

Dan Brown, FAUW Treasurer

In October, 2018, President Hamdullahpur signed the Okanagan Charter at a mental health forum about the status of the 36 recommendations of the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) report. At our general meeting in April, we heard from Campus Wellness about some of the ways the Charter is being implemented (download the general meeting slides).

Let’s dig a little deeper into what the Charter is and how it might affect faculty at Waterloo.

Continue reading “What the Okanagan Charter means for Waterloo faculty”

People You Should Know: Linda Brodgen, Occupational Health

Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services. 

Linda Brogden is a University of Waterloo Occupational Health Nurse. Among other things, Occupational Health helps employees manage the impact of illness on their work. We interviewed Linda to make sure faculty know about the important support available at Occupational Health.

What services does Occupational Health provide to faculty? 

Occupational Health (OH) helps faculty—and all employees—with sick leave and medical accommodations.

Any absence of five or more continuous days requires medical documentation. OH can receive that documentation so that a faculty member’s department doesn’t need to see it directly. We also help faculty set up accommodations, which are adjustments to job duties because of a medical condition (e.g., tenure extensions, reduced loads). And sometimes sick leave cases are referred to an external provider, such as absences longer than four weeks without a definite return to work date, or when the University requires external expertise to assess a case. Occupational Health can help navigate all of these processes, and act as a confidential liaison between an employee and their department if needed. (See page 6 of the Disability Management Guide (PDF) for more information.)

We also promote both physical and psychological health and safety in the workplace and can provide information about and referrals to our Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) at 1-800-663-1142. 

What is the most important thing you want faculty to know about visiting Occupational Health? 

The importance of seeking help early on in any illness. Having a chat with an OH nurse about your particular situation may help provide solutions for early intervention. We provide support to all employees with any health-related needs that may be affecting their ability to safely and successfully perform their jobs. All information provided to us, whether in writing or verbally, is maintained in strict confidence. 

Continue reading “People You Should Know: Linda Brodgen, Occupational Health”

6 Things FAUW is Working on Right Now

We’ve got a lot more going on, but here are six items we discussed at the January 15 Board of Directors meeting.

1. Explaining the salary changes for lecturers

Our first meeting of 2019 kicked off with an update from Benoit Charbonneau regarding the report of the Working Group on Salary Structure. As announced in December, the working group recommended changes to the salary thresholds for lecturers. We’re working on a public report explaining the changes and how they affect you.

2. An important reminder: Mental health training counts as professional development

In light of the PAC-SMH Report and Recommendations on mental health and wellness, we want reiterate that mental health training for faculty counts as professional development and can be reported on annual performance reviews in the same way as other professional development activities.

Continue reading “6 Things FAUW is Working on Right Now”

FAUW Statement on Faculty Training in Student Mental Health

FAUW recognizes the key role that faculty play in student wellness. Instructors themselves often recognize students in distress or are alerted by concerned teaching assistants. Whether communicating with troubled students directly or making referral decisions, faculty are better prepared if they have a) context-appropriate training in mental health and b) clear communication pathways to follow when they have concerns about students.

FAUW is pleased to see these points captured by recommendations 17 and 22 of the PAC-SMH Report. Here’s what we like about those recommendations and how we’d like to see them implemented. Continue reading “FAUW Statement on Faculty Training in Student Mental Health”

News From Your Board: May 24 Meeting Recap

Returning from the Victoria Day long weekend, a rowdy and energized board assembled to review many in-progress issues. We began with the implementation of the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) report, specifically how FAUW can support the recommendations on training for faculty. The Board expressed support for these recommendations, and suggests that faculty voluntarily engage in additional mental health training as provided on campus. We’ll have more on this in another post soon.

The second issue brought to us directly from members is the lack of secure bicycle parking on campus. The Board wants to support improved bike parking and hopes to see Parking Services commit more resources to this in the future. Discussions will continue on this topic.

Next, everyone’s favourite topic—the Fall Break pilot—made a reappearance, specifically preferred semester start dates after Labour day, and how changes would affect faculty who teach in the spring term and sessional or contract faculty who are only paid as of the first day of class.

On a related note: We recently sent a reminder to our members that the Registrar’s Office will schedule exams earlier in the spring block for faculty who teach in both the spring and fall terms, in order to provide adequate time between terms. The response was positive (mostly), and we hope that those of you teaching in both of these terms take advantage of this scheduling flexibility in the future.

We have been hearing from members whose professional expense (FPER) claims have been rejected despite meeting the April 30 submission deadline. From FAUW’s perspective, these claims should be reimbursed to our members as soon as possible. This position has been brought to the administration and more information is coming!

Members in Applied Health Sciences will be happy to hear that they now have a representative on the Board for the 2018–19 year. While the position was vacant following our elections in March, Clark Dickerson from Kinesiology has since stepped up to the plate and was appointed by the Board for a one-year term (as per the FAUW constitution).

Lastly, the Board passed terms of reference for the newly renamed Equity Committee. Information about all of our committees is available on our website.

—Peter Johnson, director for the Faculty of Environment

News From Your Board: March 22 Meeting Recap

—Peter Johnson, director for the Faculty of Environment

As we approach the end of the winter term, the FAUW Board of Directors met to discuss a variety of important issues. We discussed the agenda and process for the upcoming Spring General Meeting (April 5th) and reviewed our draft budget for the coming year, which will be presented to the membership at the General Meeting.

Many Board members attended and/or participated in the President’s Luncheon on Academic Freedom. As a result, we discussed this event and its outcomes in depth (see our blog post on the event for more details). Going forward, FAUW respects the efforts made to host this event and the issues and discussion that it raised, but ultimately there is still much work to be done to clarify how Academic Freedom is exercised on campus. Further events and discussions with administration will be very welcome.

The Board had a lengthy discussion about the issues raised at the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health forum and report. FAUW strongly supports many of the recommendations of this report and is working to provide advice to our members on how to better support student mental health.

We also reviewed several issues raised by individual members. We are always open to addressing specific issues, and receiving direct feedback from the membership, so please get in touch.

Upcoming events include the our annual tenure and promotion workshops, and the Spring General Meeting on April 5 in QNC 2502 from 11:30-1:30pm. Hope to see you there!

News From Your Board: December 6 Fall General Meeting Recap

Peter Johnson, Faculty of Environment representative to the FAUW board

The FAUW Fall General meeting is always an enjoyable time to get together with colleagues, discuss important issues in an open setting, and, of course, eat pizza and samosas. This year’s fall general meeting was no exception, with a lively crowd present. The meeting was chaired by Kate Lawson, with reports from president Bryan Tolson, treasurer Dan Brown, and the FAUW standing committees, including information on 2018 elections for six faculty representatives on the Board of Directors. Heidi Engelhardt gave a detailed report (PDF) on the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH), and is requesting feedback online.

On a lighter note, the winners of the FAUW Office Contest were revealed! Eight winners were selected for categories such as “Most Distracting Office,” “Most Spartan Office,” and “Most School Spirit.” Congrats to all the winners and everyone who submitted photos. I’m already at work on improving my office for a future contest by making my own custom desk (homemade furniture seemed to be a requirement for winning). I’m not sure what category this will qualify me for, but perhaps my plywood sheet balanced on milk crates could win for “Most like still being in grad school”?

Lastly, the floor of the General Meeting was opened for discussion. One main topic was who FAUW currently represents, and what various groups on campus FAUW could or should represent. Comparisons to other associations around the province were made, with some strong points about how research professors and sessional instructors should be represented. This is clearly a significant issue, particularly when considering precarious forms of employment. FAUW’s position on representation for these positions is currently under discussion, and work in this area is progressing.

News From Your Board – November 23 Board Meeting Recap

Sally Gunz, Past President

This is the time of year when we debrief our Council of Representatives meeting (November 14) and set the agenda for the Fall General Meeting (December 6). The former was very useful—thanks to all reps who attended. Interestingly, the exercise Shannon Dea (chairing the meeting) led reps through in terms of who knows what about FAUW and the University has informed our agenda setting for the General meeting. More later when the agenda is circulated.

Heidi Engelhardt reported back about her work on the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health. She chairs the Academic Panel. This is an important initiative and the discussion allowed for review of the interactions between this panel’s work and other initiatives on campus, and the Policy 33 review in particular.

Bryan Tolson attended a Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Council meeting in Ottawa this past weekend and some time was taken addressing issues expected to come up there.

Finally, with salary negotiations about to begin, our team (Benoit Charbonneau, Shelley Hulan and Dave Vert) is seeking guidance from the FAUW board on its mandate and, of course, it is best we treat these discussions as confidential. The team for the administration is, as with the last round, three deans but a completely new slate: James Rush (AHS), Pearl Sullivan (Engineering), and Steven Watt (Mathematics). Negotiations begin on December 1 and will run through the early months of next year. More on this in due course.

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.