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.

FAUW Updates – Part 1 of 2

David Porreca, FAUW President


Geese watch the science construction crane
Photo by George Freeman

Welcome back! Although this blog went dormant over the summer months, this does not mean that FAUW has been idle. In fact, so many things have kept us busy of the past couple of months that this inaugural 2014-15 update blog post needs to be divided in two. The first five of the following topics are posted today, while the rest will be posted on Monday.

The topics:

  1. Continuity in UW administration
  2. Meeting with lecturers
  3. Negotiations
  4. Scheduling
  5. Electronic expense claims
  6. Pharmacy Building
  7. Fall Break?
  8. FAUW Staffing
  9. Re-vamped Course Evaluations
  10. FAUW Retreat and Priorities for 2014-15

1. Continuity in UW administration

This topic practically deserves its own blog post. The concerns arise from the following observations:

  • UW has had no fewer than six Vice-Presidents Academic & Provost since 2009: Chakma, Hamdullahpur, McBoyle, Keller, McBoyle, Orchard.
  • UW’s Executive Council can be considered a good proxy list for the main decision-makers on our campus. Of the 27 people on the list, only 6 or 7 have been in their positions more than 5 years.
  • We are witnessing a change in 4 of the 6 deans within a 12-month period. By July 2015, Doug Peers will be the senior dean on our campus, with 3 years of experience under his belt by that point.

Consequently, UW runs the risk of losing a lot of institutional cultural memory. Precisely those things that make UW work better than most other places hang in the balance: informal networks of people who have developed relationships over time and therefore can be relied upon to get things done.
FAUW suggests that the decanal hiring committees give serious consideration to internal candidates for these open positions. In order to tackle this problem from another direction, FAUW is aware that the new provost plans to arrange for more robust onboarding of new senior administrators so as to share UW’s culture and practices more effectively, especially with those hired externally.

2. Meeting with lecturers

In July, FAUW called a special 3-hour meeting specifically inviting our Lecturer and Continuing Lecturer colleagues to voice their concerns. The meeting was very well attended (~1/3 of lecturers attended!), and the bulk of the problems fall into one of the following categories:

    Words: Assistant Teaching Professor, Associate Teaching Professor

  • Compensation: Dave Tompkins (Computer Science) gave an enlightening presentation comparing the lifetime incomes of lecturers vs. tenure-track faculty with an eye to the effects of their (very different) salary thresholds. Dave will summarize his findings for a future blog post that will appear in this space. Stay tuned!
  • Nomenclature: A broad consensus emerged at the meeting suggesting that FAUW push for the revision the designations “Lecturer” and “Continuing Lecturer” to “Assistant Teaching Professor” and “Associate Teaching Professor,” respectively.
  • Lecturers’ leaves: According to the current reading of Policy 76, “lecturers shall have the option to have at least one term in six be a non-teaching term.” This wording has not been interpreted consistently across campus, with some units granting this leave without question, while others insist that any lecturer availing themselves of this leave must ‘make up’ for the teaching not done during the term of leave during the other teaching terms s/he is on campus.
  • Clarity of promotion: One of the principal complaints raised at the meeting was the lack of clarity and transparency involved in attaining the status of Continuing Lecturer. Ideally, revisions to Policy 76 will create a parallel and equally transparent process for Lecturers as there is for the progression along the tenure track.
  • Departmental contributions: There also appears to be unevenness across campus in the extent to which Lecturers and Continuing Lecturers are allowed to contribute fully to departmental activities such as hiring committees, curriculum development, performance evaluation, student advising etc.

Over the course of the 2014-15 academic year, FAUW will be working with the Secretariat and Office of General Counsel to give Policy 76 a full revision, which will provide an excellent opportunity for resolving points b. through e. above. Such major revisions must receive the assent of the Faculty Association at the Faculty Relations Committee before being considered at Senate.

3. Negotiations

Math building distorted reflection in windows of EIT building
Photo by George Freeman

FAUW is coming to the bargaining table this fall to begin work on our new compensation agreement with the university. FAUW’s negotiating team is made up of Lynne Taylor (History, Chief Negotiator), Lori Curtis (Economics) and Shelley Hulan (English). The university, for its part, has put together the following team: Ian Goulden (Dean of Mathematics, Chief Negotiator), Jean Andrey (Acting Dean of Environment) and Doug Peers (Dean of Arts). On account of the precedents being set by other recently concluded collective bargaining sessions within our sector in the province and across the country, we have reason to be both extremely vigilant (witness the example of the University of Windsor) and cautiously optimistic (see recent settlements at Carleton University, Brock University and the University of Saskatchewan).
As a reminder, at UW, our negotiators onl
y deal with issues of compensation
. The rest of our terms and conditions of employment are set out in the Memorandum of Agreement (major changes to which require a full membership vote) and assorted Class F and FS numbered university policies (changes to these are subject to Faculty Association vetting and approval through the Faculty Relations Committee). Pensions and benefits are governed by the Pension & Benefits Committee, which has representation from all employee groups on campus. Currently, the faculty representatives are Lori Curtis (Economics), Peter Forsyth (Computer Science) and Mary Hardy (Statistics and Actuarial Science).

4. Scheduling

The build for the winter schedule is being done as I write, while we are experiencing the effects of the first on-the-ground run of the scheduling system this fall. How is it working out for you? Please send comments to the Faculty Association President or leave a comment on this blog post.
FAUW is aware that the problem we had foreseen of a deluge of scheduling constraint requests is overwhelming the coping capacities in the Registrar’s Office. We’ve been recommending since last winter term that the successor of the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Timetabling be formed in order to address some of the problems that have come to light in the meantime. Our aim is to have clearer guidelines for chairs to assign levels of priority to scheduling constraint requests, as well as establishing appropriate appeals mechanisms for when scheduling goes seriously awry for a colleague.

5. Electronic expense claims

Pilot testing of the new Concur expense claims system has been going ahead in a number of units within the Faculty of Mathematics. As of this writing, approximately 20 claims have been successfully shepherded through the system without any major glitches. The pilot testing and training of administrative staff on the new system is ongoing (~150 have been trained so far), and will include the undergraduate recruitment team in the Registrar’s Office as well as ~60 co-op coordinators from CECA. Based on the result of these extensive trials, the Steering Committee will be meeting in November to determine the final go-ahead (or not) for this system. The consultation process for the implementation of this system has been exemplary, especially when compared to other large-scale electronic systems that have been deployed on campus over the past several years.

One of the key advantages of the new system will be that it will allow for the processing of per diem expense claims for those accounts that do not involve provincial monies (e.g., Tri-Council grants). Faculty members have been clamoring for the return of per diems ever since UW was forced to do away with them as a result of the tightening of broader public-sector expense regulations at the provincial level.

One lacuna from FAUW’s perspective is that the privacy and security assessment that was made on the system by IST has not yet been made public. We are working to make that happen such that is will be accessible on the university’s website.

A Final, Important Note

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Faculty Association, I would like to extend our sincerest condolences to the family of the student who died tragically on the last day of Orientation Week during a powerful lightning storm. No words can make up for the tragedy.

Come back on Monday to read about the next five topics in David’s FAUW update.