Report from the November 26 Board meeting

Here’s what we discussed:

  1. Salary negotiations. We held a confidential session on our priorities, which include some of the typical items around salary and benefits, a couple of key equity-oriented items, and a few things that we believe will make life easier for our members and your families, particularly during difficult times. The negotiating team is optimistic and assures us they will be “tough and fair” as they head into bargaining next week. We will report back when we have news we can share, probably in the new year. Good luck, team!
  2. Redistribution of unspent professional expense (FPER) funds. Members will receive two-thirds of this money on December 4 and can use it as part of this year’s FPER; the remaining third will be added to the 2021-2022 FPER amount. There is also a new chart from Finance that explains which work-from-home expenses are eligible for FPER, a tax deduction, or both. 
  3. Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental Leaves). The Policy 14 consultation website is now live. Please share your feedback, both positive and negative. We’re very excited about the changes in this policy and need your help to make sure it’s approved. 
  4. Our 2020-21 budget. We passed a ‘business as usual’ budget at our April general meeting and business has not proceeded as usual. Some of our committees have submitted proposals to repurpose some of their funds in light of not having in-person events. We also have a couple of new, unexpected expenses, and a lot of event money that isn’t going to be used this year. We’ll have a more detailed update for voting members at our general meeting on December 8. 
  5. framework for teaching statements for 2020 performance reviews. Ian VanderBurgh created a document to help members contextualize and describe what their teaching has looked like over the last year. Teaching statements aren’t required; good ones take substantial time to write, and you can opt out of being evaluated on your teaching for 2020 altogether, but we think this is a useful guide for those who do choose to submit a statement. 
  6. Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments). We discussed candidate key changes that we want to see in this policy with regard to teaching faculty. This is essentially a list of bargaining priorities, so we won’t be sharing it publicly. We also discussed a tentative plan for moving forward with the policy 76 revision process, and we hope to have an announcement about this at the general meeting.  
  7. Winter and spring term dates. We haven’t heard anything about spring term starting late or having a reading week, but for the record, we aren’t in support of any such changes to spring term dates. Among other things, pushing back the end of spring term would limit the time available for faculty teaching in both spring and fall (let along all three terms) to take any time off next year. We have heard that the deadline for submitting your winter term grades is not changing. More on the changes to winter term in Dan’s president’s report below.
Continue reading “Report from the November 26 Board meeting”

October 1 Board meeting recap & president’s report

In addition to our usual summary of key Board meeting agenda items, we’re now also sharing the non-confidential parts of dan brown’s president’s report to the Board in these biweekly(ish) updates. 

President’s report to FAUW board 

dan brown, 28 sept 2020 

I hope you have all enjoyed the warmth of the past two weeks. I am distressed to see the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Waterloo Region, and hope that patio season can be extended as long as possible; it’s going to be a long winter. 

FAUW held a town hall for our members on September 22, both to talk about how people are doing in the pandemic (it’s a mixed bag!), and to talk about possible goals for our negotiating team. Members reported a lack of consultation at many levels of the university administration. 

We received a request for participation in the university’s new Equity Data Advisory Group. We will also be advocating for transparency in this key project. 

Faculty Relations Committee approved an agreement with the administration on how to handle performance reviews for 2020 in light of the pandemic. Members can choose to be evaluated on none, some, or all of the usual service, teaching, and scholarship categories for 2020, and the agreement spells out how scores for unevaluated categories will be calculated. [The details are in an email from Faculty Relations Committee sent by the University October 9]. My thanks to Johanna Wandel and Kate Lawson for serving as FAUW’s negotiators on this item. 

I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday and keep safe and well.  

Other things we talked about on October 1 

Continue reading “October 1 Board meeting recap & president’s report”

Updates from the August 6 & September 17 FAUW Board of Directors meetings

The FAUW Board of Directors meets every two weeks (except during July and August). After most meetings, we share a summary of the non-confidential parts of the meetings, to make sure our members know what we’re working on. If you subscribe to our blog, you’ll get these updates by email.

Here are some of the things we talked about at our last two meetings:

  1. Negotiations. We spent the first part of both meetings with our new negotiating team, discussing possible goals and preparing for the town hall meeting on Tuesday, September 22.
  2. Policy 14 – Pregnancy & Parental Leaves (Including Adoption). The Board had a first look at the new Policy 14 draft. Members will have an opportunity to review the proposed new policy soon!
  3. 2020 Performance Reviews. As announced by FAUW and the Provost recently, FAUW is finalizing an agreement to allow members to skip having their performance evaluated in categories they choose in 2020. We are working out details with the administration now.
  4. Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour. The new draft of this policy is currently being revised based on feedback from stakeholders, including FAUW.
  5. Winter term. It turns out this has kind of been announced, at least in some faculties, so in case you haven’t heard: winter term will look pretty much like fall term.
  6. Masks on campus. We had some concerns about the initial announcement (on July 21) about where and when masks are required on campus, and those concerns were addressed. (The University issued a follow-up statement on July 31 that masks would be required in classrooms and teaching labs in addition to the other common areas previously announced.)

Things we talked about at the July Board meeting

We’ve added some extra Board meetings to the calendar this summer. Here are some highlights from the first one, on July 10:

  1. We discussed concerns from a member about the proposal to migrate most telephones on campus to “softphones.” Essentially, the plan is to replace the physical phone that sits on your desk with software that functions as a phone via your computer, tablet, and/or smartphone (Skype for Business, in this case). Note that labs will still be equipped with emergency phones where needed. We are asking for official consultation directly with FAUW before this moves forward and for this be discussed at the Joint Health and Safety Committee. 
  2. We talked about how to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on 2020 performance reviews. There is an existing provision in section 13.5.4 (b) of the Memorandum of Agreement between FAUW and UW to account for missing data in performance reviews when members have been on leave. We want this same option to be available, automatic upon request, to all regular faculty for their 2020 performance review, considering the impacts of COVID-19 on all areas of faculty work. 

“A…Member who has been on leave shall receive in any category where assessment is not possible as a result of the leave, a rating equal to the average ratings of the three previous years in which the Member was not on leave.” 

MoA section 13.5.4 (b)
  1. We spoke at length about anti-black racism and what FAUW can do. Members will hear more on this from us in the coming weeks and months for sure.  
  2. The consultation plan for the new draft of Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) is being finalized and we expect to see the full draft policy very soon. We want the draft Policy to go to both our Board and the Lecturers Committee as soon as possible. 
  3. We are working with the Provost to find a way to use the accumulated unspent FPER funds from the last few years (see article 6 of our last salary settlement).
  4. We’ve selected our negotiating team for the 2020-21 salary negotiations. We will announce the members of the team and begin consulting with members about priorities soon. 

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.

Highlights from the January 30 FAUW Board meeting

Every two weeks or so, we give you a run-down of the major non-confidential topics discussed at our Board of Directors meetings. Here are the latest items:

  1. A new Board member. Patrick Lam (Electrical and Computer Engineering/Computer Science, Director-at-large elected in 2019) has stepped down and gone on sabbatical. Alfred Yu (also ECE) is stepping in until June 30. Nominations for this seat and the six Faculty-specific seats on the Board are open now and due in March.
  2. Climate Justice Working Group. The Board approved a proposal from members to form a FAUW Climate Justice Working Group. Its objectives include building climate justice awareness on campus, creating a community of practice for faculty, and sharing climate justice research with the regional community. You’ll hear more about this new group soon!
  3. Graduate Students Association unionization vote. The GSA Council (similar to our Council of Reps) has voted in favour of “the formation of a union of graduate TAs, RAs, and sessional instructors.” This is a green light for the GSA to explore the option of unionization. There is a detailed explanation on the GSA website. The Imprint has also published a statement from GSA VP David Billedeau.
  4. Our teaching workload project. We’ve collected some information about teaching workload norms and practices from our Council of Representatives. Unsurprisingly, we found wide variation across campus. This is back on the agenda at the Council of Reps meeting on February 5 as we work on narrowing our focus and filling in gaps in the data.
  5. Departmental addenda. Every Faculty has guidelines for performance reviews. Every department has (or is supposed to have) departmental addenda to those guidelines with department-specific criteria (teaching workload norms, for example). These are mandated by the Memorandum of Agreement and they’re important because they set out what the expectations are for your evaluation. We’ll be talking about what to include in these addenda—and why now is the time to update them—at the Council meeting on Wednesday.
  6. Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour. A subcommittee of the Faculty Relations and Staff Relations committees is reviewing the feedback from the Policy 33 consultations.

The Twelve Days of Performance Review

It’s that time of year—the time when faculty members at Waterloo start thinking about writing their annual performance review documents and putting together their files. In this spirit, the FAUW Equity Committee offers twelve tips to help you think about equity as an essential part of this process.

A title card with mildly festive graphics: holly, mistletoe, etc.

On the first day of performance review season, collaborate with members of your own department to demystify the review process, especially for new faculty members. All APRs are local; what someone does in another department is probably not the same in yours. Consider starting a sharing circle: pool APR reports, with or without the numbers attached, so that you can get a feel for the genre. Pay it forward. Mentor those junior to you.

On the second day of performance review season, focus on your teaching effectiveness in the full knowledge that student questionnaires correlate principally with non-instructional factors (scheduling, student interest in the topic, grade expectations, and the like).

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) states unequivocally:

“Using SQCTs [student questionnaires on courses and teaching] for performance evaluation penalizes women, racialized and LGBTQ2S+ faculty, and faculty with disabilities. These faculty are also more likely to be the target of harassment in the anonymous comments sections of the questionnaires. Further, using SQCTs for performance evaluation risks undermining effective teaching and intellectual diversity.”

To cite this report in your own performance review documentation:
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “Report of the OCUFA Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching Working Group.” February 2019. https://ocufa.on.ca/assets/OCUFA-SQCT-Report.pdf

On the third day of performance review season, start a broader discussion at the department level. Every department has guiding documents that outline how to evaluate performance. Share the recent arbitration ruling at Ryerson University (Ryerson University v. The Ryerson Faculty Association, 2018) that student evaluations of teaching via course questionnaires are valuable instruments for “captur[ing] student experience” but cannot be “used to measure teaching effectiveness for promotion or tenure.”

Or talk about how the Department of Psychology at Waterloo decided not to use student evaluations of teaching in their review process, citing the bias inherent in these evaluations. This effort was rejected at the decanal level, but maybe we just need more departments to take a principled stand. Consider citing the OCUFA document (see: day two) in your department’s review documentation. Ask what other sources of bias might exist in your department’s process.

On the fourth day of performance review season, your department gets a special gift: a junior faculty member on the performance review committee! Rotating junior members of the department onto the committee is important because it will pull back the curtain for these colleagues, but also because it can be unfair to junior faculty members to be evaluated only by senior colleagues. The Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between FAUW and the University delineates that there must be five members to assist the Chair on this committee (see section 13.5.6), but does not specify rank or other details about these members.

Continue reading “The Twelve Days of Performance Review”

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”

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