11 things we talked about at the November 8 Board meeting

We think it’s important that our members know what we’re doing on your behalf. So we report on the non-confidential business from every Board meeting here on our blog.

The November 8 meeting covered the status of policy 76, the free speech policy, weekend teaching, new faculty representatives on University committees, and more. Here are 11 things you might want to know about:

  1. The University will be creating a G-class policy to meet the Ontario government’s free speech requirements. FAUW does not have a role in the development of G policies, but we will keep you posted as much as we can.
  2. The Board and administration are talking about exceptional circumstances that might warrant hiring people specifically for weekend or overseas teaching, and how we might keep tabs on such hires.
  3. Members of the Renison Association of Academic Staff are voting this week on a service agreement between RAAS and FAUW, which outlines the membership dues that RAAS will pay to FAUW and the services and supports that RAAS and its members will receive in return. If they approve it, our members will vote on it at our general meeting on December 4.
  4. The Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) has been running for two years. High usage and largely positive feedback have confirmed the need for the program. We’re also hearing that people want more long-term services within the program, which is currently designed to offer short-term solutions. The utilization rate is almost 17%, which is considerably higher than the expected 10%. We have requested information about how this might affect the cost if the contract is extended next year (which it likely will be). If you would like to share feedback about the program, please comment below or send it to Katie Damphouse.
  5. We announced in our last post that we’re looking into arranging for new faculty members to access medical services on campus. We’ll be surveying members hired in the last few years soon to help us make the case for this.

Continue reading “11 things we talked about at the November 8 Board meeting”

News From Your Board: January 18 Meeting Recap

Peter Johnson, director for the Faculty of Environment
As winter term gets fully underway, the FAUW board met to share updates and discuss a number of important files.

First up was an update from lead negotiator Benoit Charbonneau. Meetings continue with the administration to find suitable common ground. If we don’t reach a settlement by February 1, we move on to mediation.

Next, Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC) member Nancy Worth brought forward terms of reference for the committee that refine and formalize its operating procedures and relationship with FAUW.

FAUW President Bryan Tolson and staff member Laura McDonald briefed the board on an academic freedom event that FAUW is planning with the administration. We are pleased with President Hamdullahpur’s plan to hold a campus-focused discussion to celebrate and bring clarity to the issue of academic freedom. You will receive an invitation to this event shortly.

Next we discussed what data the Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) collects about graduate student completion times, and to whom this data is provided. The GSPA wants to know if faculty members would find it helpful to receive this data, for self-reflection and so we can identify errors. Discussions are ongoing.

We had an extended discussion about FAUW’s participation in the University-wide Excellence Canada exercise. So far, we have not seen a clear role for us to play, but discussion will continue at the Council of Representatives meeting on February 13.

In a moment of reflection, the Board assessed our progress on the goals we generated at our September retreat. While some key goals have seen substantial progress, there are still tasks ahead for the Board and broader FAUW community, including a survey of our membership.

As always, we finished with a reminder of upcoming events, which you can find on our website.

And, as always, we welcome your feedback on any of the above issues. Leave a comment below, or get in touch with a Board or Council member!

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.

News From Your Board – November 9 Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Changes to the Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement (Professional Allowance)

Under the terms of the faculty’s new salary settlement, as of 1 May 2015, we will be able to carry forward any unspent FPER balances for up to three years, as well as continue to be able to carry forward all excess expenses for up to three years.
However, this change does not apply to the current FPER, due at the end of this month (30 April 2015). The change only comes into effect with the new salary agreement and so only takes effect in the fiscal year of 2015-2016. If it makes sense, you should use up any outstanding balance you have for this year or you will lose it.