8 Lessons from our ‘Making the Most of your Mid-career Years’ workshop

Here are some of the key lessons shared by experienced faculty members at our recent workshop for newly tenured/continuing faculty. Workshop slides, notes, and background reading are available on our website.

  1. The post-tenure slump is real. You need to plan how you’ll avoid it. Set goals; have a vision of what you want your career to look like in the end, and do things that move you toward that.
  2. Service work is not the dark side. Participating in collegial governance is “superb but challenging,” and it can be extremely rewarding to make a difference in your colleagues’ work lives. It’s also necessary: If we want the University to continue being run by academics (versus giving control over to administrators), we all need to take a turn. 
  3. You can still learn new things about teaching. Don’t be afraid of new technologies. 
  4. A scholarship slump is common. Imposter syndrome often kicks in hard now. Do what you can to stay active in scholarship in any way. Do something small. Learn new methodologies that allow you to start a project you’re excited about. Make use of the resources available (talk to the Office of Research!) to figure out how to keep doing research, whatever your specific situation. 
  5. Take chances and try new things. Lecturers, remember that you’ve gotten to this point because your chair/director has confidence in you. Don’t worry about the new things you’re trying until your chair/director complains. 
  6. Lecturers: Ask for the things you need. Chairs and directors are still getting used to the different needs of lecturers. If you have a project you want to do, figure out how to make it count as a teaching task. Explain how it adds value and renews your skills. 
  7. Be a complete colleague. Contribute and participate in all areas of your professional life.
  8. If things don’t go well, get help from FAUW

Unveiling AccessAbility Services

—Jennifer Gillies, PhD | Manager, AccessAbility Services

AccessAbility Services (ASS) can be a bit of a mystery. The purpose of this post is to help break down the wall between AAS and rest of the campus and shed light on its purpose, function, and benefits.

Why does AccessAbility Services exist?

Offices that support academic accommodations for students with disabilities are present in every postsecondary institution in Ontario. The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development provides financial support and oversight of these offices. At the University of Waterloo, AccessAbility Services fulfills its mandate by collaborating with the university community to support equitable access to post-secondary education by designing academic accommodation plans and facilitating the implementation of accommodations.

The office is accountable to the Ministry concerning documentation requirements and service offerings, but it is also accountable to the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and the integrity and academic standards of the University.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission states that postsecondary instructors have a duty to accommodate students with disabilities. However, students’ medical information is private and needs to be reviewed and stored appropriately. Our office acts as a bridge: We receive and hold the sensitive medical documentation, and relay to you the ways you can fulfill your duty to accommodate. Essentially, our office is a faculty resource. We help you understand your duty to accommodate.
Continue reading “Unveiling AccessAbility Services”

Know Your Rights: Disability Accommodations for Waterloo Faculty

This month, FAUW’s Status of Women and Equity Committee hosted Margaret Price, an award-winning scholar of disability, to present findings from an international study examining the experiences of disabled faculty members. Professor Price will continue in an official role as a consultant to FAUW as we navigate accommodation processes at Waterloo. Unlike the clear and consistent accommodations process in place for students, faculty navigate a much more difficult terrain.

Know your rights: disability accommodations for waterloo faculty

Here’s what we know

Ontario Human Rights Commission

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) states that:

Costs of accommodation must be distributed as widely as possible within the organization responsible for accommodation so that no single department, employee, customer or subsidiary is burdened with the cost of an accommodation. The appropriate basis for evaluating the cost is based on the budget of the organization as a whole, not the branch or unit in which the person with a disability works or to which the person has made an application.[1]

Employees should be aware that necessary accommodations are not subject to budget limitations at the departmental or unit level. The University of Waterloo can and frequently does take financial responsibility for accommodation provisions at both the faculty and the central administrative levels.

Moreover, administration of accommodations must be central, and disclosure limited to protect the privacy and dignity of the individual.

Faculty should not feel compelled to disclose disability diagnoses to their chairs or deans, or anyone else in a position of power over their hiring, tenure and promotion, salary, teaching assignments, performance evaluation or other benefits and responsibilities. A chair or dean may need knowledge of an accommodation, but they won’t ever need to know a diagnosis. Your chair or dean might be the nicest, most accommodating person in the world, but, as the OHRC guidelines show, they have too much control over your career to be involved in the accommodation process without the danger of bias. Removing your superiors from the process protects them as well. And, as the OHRC tells us, this is your right.

The precedent set by almost all of our peer institutions across Ontario, Canada and North America also reinforces this message: accommodations must be paid for and administered centrally. The OHRC guidelines are common sense and common practice.

Research-based guidelines

During her presentation, Professor Price, along with her research partners, laid out a similar set of guidelines for faculty accommodations, in even greater detail.

These included the following clear guidance:

Neither upper-level administrators nor chairs/directors should require faculty members to arrange accommodations with the same person who makes salary, scheduling, evaluation, or promotion decisions about their work. [Universities should:]

  • Ensure there is a central office or system to arrange faculty accommodations, so that faculty do not have to negotiate disability issues with their chair, dean, or provost.
  • Ensure that accommodations are funded centrally, so that a faculty member’s accommodation needs are not charged to their department or program. Access is an institutional responsibility, not a departmental or programmatic responsibility. Involving departments or programs in paying for faculty members’ accommodations leads to discriminatory outcomes such as avoiding hiring disabled personnel, and/or resentment from colleagues or supervisors.
  • Ensure that all accommodation requests and negotiations can be carried out confidentially. Contact information for the central office/person who handles faculty accommodation should be easily findable via every department’s or program’s web page, so that faculty seeking accommodations do not have to “ask around,” which may involve making unwanted disclosures. In addition, this information should be included in all orientations and relevant faculty trainings.

Seeking accommodations at Waterloo

As we work with Waterloo’s administration to ensure that these guidelines are followed, we encourage faculty members to do three simple things:

  1. Feel empowered to disclose disabilities and ask for help and accommodation. Far too few faculty seek and obtain the accommodations to which they have a right. We are a more productive, inclusive, and effective workplace if we all seek the accommodations we need, when we need them. FAUW will support all faculty members who need assistance.
  2. Do not disclose disability to superiors. Instead, contact Linda Brogden or Karen Parkinson at Occupational Health to begin the accommodation process. If you would like to discuss any questions, concerns, or if you encounter barriers in the accommodations process, contact Katie Damphouse or Christopher Small from FAUW’s Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee.
  3. Share this blog post, and these procedures, with all of your colleagues. We are all likely to need accommodations at some point in our careers. More than this, we need to be prepared to help our disabled colleagues. Currently, many of your friends and neighbors are afraid to seek accommodations, or confused or frustrated by the system. Conveying these guidelines to one another, to make them common knowledge, helps us all.

Waterloo aims to be one of the top employers in Canada, and these guidelines will help us to achieve this goal.

Update, June 12, 2017: Price and co-authors have just released an article on the same study, “Disclosure of Mental Disability by College and University Faculty: The Negotiation of Accommodations, Supports, and Barriers,” published in Disability Studies Quarterly (DSQ), which explores their findings and recommendations in more detail.


1. Ontario Human Rights Commission (2016).  Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability.  ISBN/ISSN: Print: 978-1-4606-8602-7 | HTML: 978-1-4606-8607-2 |PDF: 978-1-4606-8612-6. [This document is intended to provide clear, user-friendly guidance on how to assess, handle and resolve human rights matters related to disability.]

How to Get the Most out of Your Faculty Association This Year

Whether you’re new to UW or have been ignoring FAUW for years, here’s how to tap into our services.

1. Get to know your representatives

Browse the board and staff member bios and the list of committee representatives and get to know who we are and what we do.

2. Stay informed 

Stay up-to-date on what FAUW is doing and issues affecting faculty by following our blog and social media accounts (we’re @FAUWaterloo on both Twitter and Facebook). We post summaries of our bi-weekly Board meetings so you’ll always know what we’re working on.

3. Make sure you’re a member

Become a voting FAUW member by signing up on our website. By default, we represent all faculty members with regular appointments, and you pay dues, but you need to fill out the membership form once in your career in order to vote on things.

4. Join the Council of Representatives

The Council is a key link between each department or school and FAUW, and a great introduction to how FAUW works. We ask departments for new reps every September (though repeat reps are okay too), so if you have are interested in representing your unit on the Council this year, talk to your chair or director.

5. Tell us what’s up

There are a number of ways you can let us know how we can help or what you’d like us to focus on:

  • Provide feedback in response to emails and blog posts about what we’re currently working on. Your comments will reach members of the Board and inform FAUW’s position on issues.
  • Bring new issues to our attention by talking to your Council member or any of our Board members.
  • If you’re dealing with an individual workplace problem, contact the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee for personalized support (it doesn’t have to be about academic freedom or tenure.)

6. Browse the archives

See what we’ve been up to over the last little while by browsing past blog posts, and the news items on our website.

Wishing you a productive and enjoyable year,

The FAUW Board of Directors

Last updated August 2019.

Why UW, Part 2

Happy first day of Spring term! Today, FAUW President David Porreca continues his list of the ways that UW operates far differently from other institutions, and how those ways contribute to our success.

6) An astute Board of Governors

UW has been blessed with a financial situation that has been much more favourable than other places. It is the responsibility of the Board of Governors to tend to such matters, and on this front, the Governors have been very successful in fulfilling their mandate.

7) A faculty-friendly working environment

  1. There are few (if any) other institutions that offer a 6-month sabbatical leave for tenure-track faculty members after their first contract.
  2. UW offers 100% ownership to the creators of the intellectual property generated on our campus.
  3. UW offers an automatic one-year delay on the tenure clock for those taking parental leave.
  4. The consolidated daycare, with 160 spots, opened in early 2014, is a potent recruitment device for prospective faculty members with young families.
Continue reading “Why UW, Part 2”

Why UW? Reflections on How UW Operates

David Porreca, FAUW President

In my 22 months’ experience as FAUW President, I have had the opportunity to attend a number of meetings with my counterpart colleagues from other institutions at the provincial level under the auspices of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA – of which our own Kate Lawson is President) and at the federal level under the Canadian Association of University Teachers(CAUT). At these meetings one thing inevitably stands out to me in the starkest possible terms: how differently UW operates as compared to other institutions.

Generally speaking, the tone of interaction between faculty representatives elsewhere and their institutions is one of chronic mistrust and by-default antagonism. By contrast, UW manages to operate smoothly, with open and constructive dialogue on issues and concerns happening through well-recognized, well-respected and effective channels (e.g., Faculty Relations Committee (FRC), FAUW’s Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee (AF&T)).

In my experience observing other large organizations both academic and non-academic, institutions end up with the unions they deserve, initially as a result of poor management. UW somehow has avoided such pitfalls.

So, what makes UW operate so differently? I’ve been puzzling over this question and have the following speculations to offer, most at the intersection of faculty working conditions and financial considerations:

Continue reading “Why UW? Reflections on How UW Operates”