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.

The Dubai Campus Re-Re-Visited and Memorandum of Agreement Changes

David Porreca, FAUW President

This week’s post provides a two-for-one deal: First, a response to Peter Douglas’ letter appended to the bottom of the previous posting entitled “The Dubai Campus and Transparency”; and second, a brief announcement about upcoming faculty-wide votes relating to changes to the Memorandum of Agreement.

The Dubai Campus Re-Re-Visited

In his letter addressed to the FAUW Board, dated to 10 February 2013, and added in the comments of the “The Dubai Campus and Transparency,” Peter Douglas, Director of UW’s Dubai campus, responds to one of the bullet points relating to the Dubai campus that had been included in our post about the resignation of the Vice President Academic and Provost. In this letter, he expresses his disapproval of FAUW’s position on the Dubai campus in no uncertain terms.


Here, I would like to respond by reiterating some of the main concerns that the Faculty Association has had with UW’s operations in Dubai from the beginning.

Firstly, by the very nature of the legal environment in the United Arab Emirates, there is no way that anyone could claim that all UW policies and procedures could be applied equally on our main campus in Waterloo as well as to the Dubai campus. In particular, the provisions we have that protect the rights of our LGBTQ community – students, staff and faculty – do not and cannot apply in the UAE. Being openly gay is a serious crime there, punishable with jail time and, for foreigners, deportation following jail time. Also, having sexual relations with anyone but one’s spouse (marriage is an essential component) is a similarly punishable offense.

Consequently, and by definition, the opportunities offered by the Dubai campus, in terms both of teaching and of learning, have not been open to the entire UW community of participating departments. It is therefore not a campus where principles of equity as we understand them here could be properly enforced, and hence FAUW’s opposition to its opening years ago, and also hence our gratitude at its closure.

The other main concern that the Faculty Association has had relates to the transparency of the operations in Dubai. These have been expressed in the previous posting and need not be reiterated here. If long-term financial planning had been shared openly with the UW community from the beginning, perhaps a more charitable eye may have been turned upon the several money-losing years of the operations in Dubai. As things stand, however, UW has spent seven figures learning an expensive lesson. What could UW have done otherwise with that money?

Finally, the word “debacle” has never appeared anywhere on the FAUW blog and is a mis-characterization of the postings that have appeared.

MoA Changes

There are two main changes to the Memorandum of Agreement that are currently in the works, and that UW faculty members will be called to vote upon before the end of April.

  1. Article 12.10: A paragraph will be added to the MoA allowing housekeeping changes to the MoA that both UW Administration and the FAUW Board agree upon to be enacted without re-opening the entire agreement. This is strictly a provision that will allow wording clarifications and small changes without going to a full formal vote each time. This has been common practice, but has never been accepted formally as a procedure. The full wording of the article clarifies that nothing to do with compensation can be affected by any changes enacted under the new 12.10.
  2. b. Article 14: A new framework for Integrity in Scholarly Research is being issued by the Tri-Agencies and is to be adopted by all institutions that receive Tri-Agency funding. A full description of the framework can be found here: http://www.rcr.ethics.gc.ca/eng/policy-politique/framework-cadre/. Each institution must develop its own policies and procedures that abide by the regulations outlined by the Tri-Agencies. The changes implied by this new framework enable the formalization and systematization of certain disciplinary procedures relating to academic integrity that will, I believe, improve both the transparency and the muscle of UW’s regulations on this front. Of main concern to FAUW is that adequate provisions be included to prevent the misuse of these new rules (e.g., we don’t want to enable ‘witch-hunts’: frivolous accusations must be discouraged as much as possible, and any allegations that turn out to be false must be handled in a way as to minimize or eliminate negative repercussions on the accused).

So, stay tuned and, if you are a member of the Faculty Association, expect to be called upon to vote on these matters within a few weeks. Any faculty members who are not Faculty Association members should join formally so as to have a voice in these important upcoming changes.