Monday, December 9, 2013

Fall General Meeting

The Faculty Association will be hosting our Fall General Meeting from 11:00 - 13:00 on 9 December in MC 4041 (light lunch and beverages provided). Some hot-button items for discussion:
  • Infosilem scheduling system
  • Online expense claims and digital privacy
  • University governance: Senate bylaw revisions, policy revisions, strategic planning and Senate
  • Athletics access and facilities
  • Course evaluations
  • Status of Lecturers and contract academic staff
  • Approved Doctoral Dissertation Supervisor status

We hope to see you there!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Senate Strategic Planning Update

David Porreca, FAUW President

This week’s post addresses issues and concerns relating to the November Senate meeting, when UW’s Strategic Plan was voted upon and approved. The UW Imprint and Daily Bulletin have already published news items relating to these events.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Open Access

Christine Jewell, University of Waterloo Library

Do you follow developments in the Open Access (OA) movement? If so, you’ll have heard the exciting news on the Canadian front.  This past October, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) together launched a consultation on a harmonized open access policy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Quebec Charter of Values

Dan Brown, Status of Women & Equity Committee

It is a bit dismaying how little discussion there has been of the academic freedom implications of the proposed Quebec Charter of Values. Neither the Canadian Association of University Teachers nor the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has been willing to go on the record publicly about concerns with the Charter, and inside Quebec, the only university to publicly state its opposition has been McGill, whose new Principal, Suzanne Fortier, did publicly oppose the Charter.

In October, SWEC approved this letter.

The Status of Women and Equity Committee of the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo disagrees strongly with the proposed Charter of Québec Values.

These proposals forbid civil servants from wearing "conspicuous" religious symbols, such as hijabs, turbans, and kippot, while allowing for "non-ostentatious" small jewellery. 

"This proposed charter would unacceptably enshrine religious discrimination and restrict the academic freedom of faculty and staff at universities across Québec."
This proposed charter would unacceptably enshrine religious discrimination and restrict the academic freedom of faculty and staff at universities across Québec.  A pluralistic society will include members who express their personal beliefs by diverse choices of attire, and this diversity does not reduce the religious neutrality of the state.  We reject the claim that leaders of public institutions will proselytize by their choice of dress.

We strongly support the rights of women and equity for all members of society.  The proposed Charter does not enable women's equality, and, by forcing some women to choose between their profession and their religion, violates their freedom of religion and freedom to practice their profession.

Finally, the Charter will reduce the quality of research and education in Québec.  Leaders at universities in Québec are already expressing concern about recruiting excellent faculty if the Charter were to be enacted.  At the University of Waterloo, we know that a diverse faculty is essential to educate our students and spark innovation, and we will regret the unnecessary loss to the research community that will come from silencing so many scholars.

We call on the Québec government to cancel the introduction of this unnecessary and divisive Charter.

Monday, November 11, 2013

In Support of the Strategic Plan

George Freeman, FAUW Past President

Since I am on both Senate and Board of Governors and have been involved in discussions of Ontario university politics for five years, I do support the strategic plan in its present form and suggest another approach for Senate and individuals who don't like the wording of the 'over the next five years' paragraph in the 'transformational research' section of the plan.

Lest We Forget

Monday, November 4, 2013

Changes to UW’s Strategic Plan: Up for Approval at Senate

David Porreca, FAUW president

This week’s blog post outlines a series of serious concerns a number of Senators have expressed concerning the version of UW’s Strategic Plan that is intended to be discussed for approval at the next UW Senate meeting on November 18.

Monday, October 28, 2013

FAUW Issues Update

David Porreca, FAUW president

It has been an extremely busy start to the Fall term.  Now that we are at the mid-way point, it is time to provide you, dear reader, with an update as to what has been keeping us at FAUW on our toes over the past several weeks.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Scheduling System Update

Bryan Tolson, FAUW Director, Civil & Environmental Engineering

UW continues to move closer to implementing a proposed new scheduling system based on InfoSilem software. FAUW has been working hard to understand the impacts of the proposed system and has taken the position that the new software should not be implemented until it has been clearly demonstrated that it produces better results for all stakeholders than what we currently have. The Provost has agreed to this request. We want to share what we understand about the proposed scheduling system and urge you to join the discussion on this important issue.

Why you should care

As we all know, the inherent flexibility in course scheduling is one of the principal benefits of being a faculty member.  This benefit functions to improve our work-life balance and allows us to do our jobs to the best of our ability.  For some of us, this means that we get to teach when we believe we teach best.  For others, it means we get to define blocks of time for research tasks and regular out of town research meetings and these blocks of time help us work as efficiently as possible.  For some, like me, this benefit functions to ensure we can have a life where we can pick up the kids from daycare at a reasonable time or take them to hockey practice.  

Moving to the proposed system could reduce our scheduling flexibility.  Such a change is totally reasonable if it is demonstrably required, e.g., students are not graduating on time under the current scheduling system.  It is not so clear cut given the primary reason for the new system, as FAUW understands, is to provide virtually all students with conflict free schedules instead of forcing them to settle for their #2 or #3 choices of electives.  To me, this lack of clarity defines the scheduling problem as a balancing act between undergraduate student scheduling preferences and faculty preferences (benefits).

Current status of proposed scheduling system

FAUW has been told that the results of Simulation 3, which is the proposed system’s attempt at scheduling the 2013 Fall term for comparison with the actual Fall schedule, will be made available to individual faculty members within a few weeks.  FAUW is very concerned the results of Simulation 3 will be the last piece of evidence examined to ultimately deem the proposed system better and hence go live with the software for scheduling the summer 2014 term. Despite Simulation 3 being the most realistic test of the scheduling software to date there remain serious problems and ambiguities that are currently unresolved.  Let me share a few of these with you (note that this is not an exhaustive list):
  • Simulation 3 results will not be an accurate representation of reality because
    • An unknown and potentially significant number of faculty who are teaching in the 2013 Fall term did not specify their teaching constraints or preferences (you should have been asked for yours by your departmental scheduling representative and the assumption by the Registrar’s Office is that you have been asked).
    • The settings for faculty preferences in Simulation 3 will virtually ensure all faculty preferences are met because all preferences are ranked equally.  While in a real schedule build, these preferences would be assigned the lowest priority.
  • FAUW does not know the form of the objective function the scheduling software is actually trying to optimize when it builds a schedule.
  • Despite the reality of balancing student preferences with faculty preferences, there is no plan currently to use the software in a way to understand the balance or tradeoff between these competing objectives
  • There are seemingly no plans to conduct a simulation (i.e., test the software) for the Winter or Summer terms
  • We are concerned about the impact of this new system on the academic life of our students because we feel they also have not been consulted adequately
Another reason Simulation 3 is not accurate is that faculty members were not told what the software could do with individual schedules if preferences to the contrary were not specified.  For example, the software settings used in Simulation 3 could create a schedule that has you teaching back to back classes or teaching 5 hrs in one day…unless you specified an instructor preference to avoid these.  After I examined all the things the software could do based on the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Timetabling (PACT) documentation for Instructor Accommodation requests, I developed my list of Accommodation requests (my constraints and preferences) that I plan to submit for the next Simulation (or real schedule build).  I list them below so that other members can have some insight into the kind of accommodation requests they want to consider.

Bryan Tolson’s instructor accommodation requests for Winter & Spring terms

  • 4:30 – 5:30 pm, M-F:  child care logistical constraint.  Level 1[a]
  • No teaching at after 5:30 pm, M-F:  child care logistical constraint.  Level 1[a]
  • Regular University Level Administrative meetings (no teaching):
    • Mondays 3:30 – 5:30.  Level 1
    • Thursdays 2:30 – 4:30. Level 1
  • No back to back lectures.  Level 3
  • No lectures longer than 1.5 hrs.  Level 3
  • Prefer teaching 1 lecture per day.  Level 3[b]
  • No lectures on Fridays after 2:30 (Winter).  Level 3[c]
  • No lectures on Fridays after 11:30 (Spring).  Level 3[c][d]
  • No lectures 3:30 – 4:30 (Spring).  Level 3[d]
a There are two levels of child care accommodations with Level 1 having higher priority than Level 2.
By default the software assumes you prefer 2 days of non-teaching and thus squeezes two or more classes per day for one or more days.
c Many others will likely ask for this so if I don’t, the chances I teach Friday afternoons skyrocket.
d Teaching in the summer is not great because of an increase in family activities. Hence, if I‘m teaching I want my days to end early enough to allow for these activities.  Plus there should be more flexibility to build faculty-friendly schedules during the spring term.

How much you have to justify each of your preferences depends on your department, I suppose.  After you submit accommodation requests, I am not sure how much chairs will filter these requests.  I am also not sure if there is a feedback loop to tell you if an accommodation has been rejected by the chair.  So there appear to be some important departmental level discussions that you may want to ensure take place. If you are unclear about the definition of Level 1, 2 and 3 accommodations, this is something your chair/department scheduling representative or the PACT committee should be telling you.  Go to the same sources for the other potentially undesirable things the scheduling software will enable by default to happen to your schedule. FAUW will eventually step in to clarify these questions to our members if that becomes necessary but we are hopeful the communication lines to faculty are soon wide open.

Next steps for FAUW and faculty members

We will continue to try and understand the proposed system and work with the Registrar’s Office to iron out problems that come up.  We want to understand if the new system is better for faculty.  We want the best balanced schedule for everyone on campus.  Assuming the proposed scheduling system becomes a reality, we want a smooth transition and our insistence on continued simulations (testing) will help in that regard.  Reaching these goals requires feedback from our members.  If you are as concerned as we are about the proposed scheduling system and want to be more engaged, there are three things you can consider doing:
  1. Contact your departmental scheduling representative and make sure you understand how the process in your department works for specifying instructor accommodations.
  2. If you are teaching this term, please provide direct feedback to your scheduling representative or chair on your satisfaction with the scheduling results of Simulation 3 (which will supposedly be released within a few weeks).  Please respond to the survey you will eventually be asked to fill out regarding Simulation 3.  Be aware that the official feedback mechanism to the administration on faculty satisfaction will go through the chair/department scheduling representative and not FAUW.
  3. Consider contacting one of your Faculty’s PACT representatives with feedback they can bring to their next meeting.  PACT members are listed on the STEP Project website.

FAUW’s ideal case scenario

Each individual faculty member should be empowered to designate a certain number of hours per week of non-teaching time, regardless of the rationale.  So far, this solution has been deemed infeasible for reasons that are unclear to us, but we will continue to explore ways in which it can be achieved.  Importantly, any such solution must have minimal impacts on our students’ timetabling.  Please contribute to the discussion by commenting below.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Privacy Colloquium

After a lengthy period of looking at various possibilities by a broad group on campus, the University is currently considering adoption of online processing of expense claims using Concur, a US-based company with a US-hosted system. As part of the consultation process, we are organizing an information session on the privacy aspects if we were to go ahead with Concur for this purpose. There will be two speakers, Jim Turk, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), and Fred Carter, Senior Policy and Technology Advisor of the Ontario Privacy Commissioner's Office. Following their presentations, there will be a question and answer session with a panel that includes the two speakers, together with other experts.

Prior to the Colloquium, Karen Jack, the University's Privacy Officer, will send a list of questions to Fred Carter of the Ontario Privacy Commissioner’s Office, and Jim Turk of CAUT, asking that these be addressed as part of the presentations at the Colloquium. Your suggestions for questions of concern and interest would be much appreciated; please make them on the following web page by October 22.

The colloquium will be held on Wednesday, December 4th,  2 – 5 pm (followed by reception), in M3 1006. Please mark the date on your calendar for this important event.

Come back next week for a post breaking down what's going on with the new scheduling system!

Monday, October 7, 2013

News from the OCUFA Director

Jasmin Habib, FAUW Ontario Confederation of Faculty Associations (OCUFA) Director

The OCUFA Board of Directors meeting that FAUW President David Porreca and I attended at the end of September was intense. While FAUW is engaged in important discussions about, for example, scheduling and the balance between work and home lives, both David and I were struck with the very serious threats that appear to be facing some of our colleagues across the province.    

Monday, September 30, 2013

Highlights: OCUFA 141st Board of Directors Meeting

David Porreca, FAUW President

The OCUFA Board of Directors, with representation from 27 member faculty associations, meets three times a year in September, February, and May. The September meeting includes association presidents, as well as OCUFA directors. FAUW’s OCUFA director, Jasmin Habib, attended the meeting with David Porreca.

This blog post will provide the main headlines from this past weekend’s OCUFA Board meeting, with more ample elaborations to follow later in the week.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Shining the Spotlight on Gender Equity at UW

Diana Parry, Associate Professor and Special Advisor to the President on Women's and Gender Issues at UW

Professor Diana Parry, Special Advisor to the President on Women's and Gender Issues at UW
Credit: Mathew McCarthy, Record staff
Thank you to FAUW for inviting me to write a guest blog post about my new position as Special Advisor to the President on Women's and Gender Issues at UW, which I started in July. The ultimate goal of my work is to engage our campus community to move gender equity forward for the benefit of everyone. In this post, I tell you a little bit about me and my research by way of answering a couple of questions: Why have I been asked to take on this role? And, what do I hope to do while in this position? I also want to provide you with more information about how you can take part in the process and have your voice heard.

Monday, September 16, 2013

More FAUW Burning Issue Updates

David Porreca, FAUW President

In this week’s blog post, I provide an update on some of the principal issues raised in last week’s post, with a particular emphasis on scheduling.

Monday, September 9, 2013

CAUT Gets Science Right, and Other FAUW News

David Porreca, FAUW President

Welcome back!  In this inaugural FAUW blog post for the 2013-14 academic year, I would like first to send out a keen welcome to all 70+ new faculty members who have joined UW over the last hiring cycle.  FAUW now represents ~1,150 faculty members.  I also plan to bring this blog’s readership up to date on the wide assortment of issues both new and ongoing from last year.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Vote Results and Summer Farewell

David Porreca, FAUW President

I am pleased to announce the results of the two votes on modifications to the Memorandum of Agreement that were held in late June. I would like to extend thanks to those who cast their ballots and contacted the Faculty Association with questions and concerns.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

The FAUW Forum

The Forum is our print newsletter, and its latest issue is forthcoming. It's gone through a lot of changes since it began in 1964, when we were the UWFA and it was merely called "NL". Here's an excerpt from our fourth issue, edited by A. M. MacQuarrie.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Burning Issues Update & Introducing the New Board of Directors 2013-14

David Porreca, FAUW President

This week’s post will accomplish two things: bring you up to date on some of the outstanding issues that have been of concern to our members this year, and also to introduce the members of the Faculty Association board for next year.

Monday, June 3, 2013

What is the Merit of Merit?

David Porreca, FAUW President

This post owes its origin to a discussion we had both at the last FAUW Board meeting and a subsequent e-mail conversation among Board members. Essentially, the question boils down to asking whether all of the effort expended on the annual assessment of merit for faculty members provides a net benefit of productivity for all the relevant stakeholders: individual faculty members, our university as an institution, and academia writ large? 

In other words, what purpose does our current scheme of merit evaluations serve?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Hagey Lecture Perspective: 1997

The Hagey lectures are the University of Waterloo's premier invitational public lecture series. Since 1970, outstanding individuals, who have distinguished themselves internationally in some area of scholarly or creative endeavour have given talks intended to challenge, stimulate and enrich not only the faculty, staff and students of the University of Waterloo, but all members of this community.

These annual lectures are co-sponsored by the Faculty Association and the university, and with the success of this year's lecture by Dr. Paul Collier, we'd like to take the opportunity to celebrate some of our past lectures.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tenured Positions Under Threat at St. Paul University

On Saturday May 25, we received the following message from the Professors' Association of St. Paul University in Ottawa.

"The administration of Saint Paul University is threatening to fire an unspecified number of tenured professors to make up a deficit in the budget for the coming year.   Last week they began by firing a professional librarian who holds a permanent appointment.  There is no financial exigency clause in our Collective Agreement that would allow this."

David Porreca, President of FAUW, responded to Mme. Chantal Beauvais, the Rector of St. Paul's with this letter.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Redefining the Scope of Academic Freedom

Principal Threats to Academic Freedom

David Porreca, FAUW President

This is the second entry in the series of posts on academic freedom stemming from the CAUT general meeting in Ottawa last month, this one focusing on attempts to redefine academic freedom in increasingly restrictive and less useful ways.  By way of example, I shall compare and contrast the definitions of academic freedom as expressed on the one hand by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), and on the other by our colleagues at St. Jerome’s University in their collective agreement.

In terms of context, university presidents across Canada adopted the AUCC statement on academic freedom unanimously.  The SJU-ASA wording has been held up at CAUT meetings as a model of brevity and comprehensiveness.  The fact that both are almost exactly contemporaneous adds to the relevance of the comparison.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Global Trends in Media and Higher Education

Worldviews 2013: Global Trends in Media and Higher Education will take place in Toronto, June 19-21, 2013 on the University of Toronto campus. It is a unique international conference that brings together thinkers, academics, editors, students, journalists, and communication professionals to examine how media coverage of higher education --  including universities and colleges -- is shaping the organization, operation and perceptions of these institutions.

The conference is a forum for those from media and higher education to engage one another and consider directions for the future. The impact of new and emerging forms of communication, the internationalization of higher education campuses, and the restructuring of media and academia in the context of financial constraints are some of the critical issues that those attending Worldviews will address.

Worldviews also aims to actively engage its audience and is designed to maximize the participatory nature of the event. Interviews, panels, keynote addresses, workshops, café conversations, a live twitter feed and engagement with other social media will allow participants to deliberate, network, and generate ideas in a unique setting.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Casualization of the Academic Workforce

Principal Threats to Academic Freedom

David Porreca, FAUW President

The Canadian Association of University Teachers – the umbrella organization representing 68,000 university faculty members and librarians nationwide – held its 74th Council April 25-28th, in Ottawa. I attended representing FAUW.  Among the many issues and concerns that were discussed from Thursday to Sunday, threats to academic freedom in Canada loom large.  The ten items below were identified as the principal threats to academic freedom currently prevalent in Canada.
  1. Casualization of the academic workforce
  2. Redefining the scope of academic freedom
  3. Undermining the concept of tenure through permissive contracts
  4. Discrimination and harassment of members of marginalized language groups
  5. Loss of custody and control of faculty members’ records
  6. New donor agreements and collaborations
  7. Contracting out of academic work
  8. Policies on “respectful workplace” / “civil discourse”
  9. Diminution of civil liberties
  10. Restriction of trade union rights
Over the next several months, but interspersed with items of immediate interest, a post about each of these threats will appear on this blog, beginning today.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Senate Follow-Up

David Porreca, FAUW President

Last week’s post by George Freeman received more hits than all our previous postings combined. In response to several comments I received both personally and in the comments section, I had promised to provide a summary of the discussion that actually occurred.

I note, however, that the draft version of the minutes to the last Senate meeting are now available. I hereby invite all faculty senators to look over the text provided in the minutes and make sure the wording reflects the tone and content of the discussion as you recall it occurring.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Go Forth and Differentiate?

George Freeman, FAUW Past President

The Senate meeting of Monday, April 15 will live in my memory under the heading “kill two birds with one stone.” Unfortunately the two birds seem to have been institutional autonomy and collegial governance. Also, curiously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen more examples of the prisoner’s dilemma or tragedy of the commons illustrated in a single meeting. That’s because we had a great talk by Prof. Keith Hipel of Systems Design Engineering on methods to analyse problems which otherwise might go down those unfortunate paths. Then we went down them.

Monday, April 15, 2013

FAUW News Flashes

David Porreca, FAUW President

Today’s blog post aims to bring our readership up to speed on a number of different issues that FAUW is working on at the moment.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring General Meeting

Today’s post is just a quick reminder that the FAUW Spring General Meeting is tomorrow at 11am in MC 4059. Topics on the agenda include a report from the president, treasurer, FAUW committees, our OCUFA Director, as well as the approval of our 2012 audited financial statements and 2013 budget, and an opportunity for members to raise issues and concerns. The full information package was distributed to our signed-up members. To sign up, fill out this quick form. We look forward to seeing you there!

FAUW Spring General Meeting Agenda
Also, the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee workshops begin tomorrow, and there's room for a few people to drop in.

Applying for promotion to full professor
Tuesday, April 9, 9:00 to 10:30 am - MC 4059

Faculty recently hired to their first probationary term
Tuesday, April 9, 2:00 to 4:00 pm - MC 4059

Faculty applying for probationary contract renewal in 2013
Wednesday, April 10, 9:00 to 11:00 am - QNC 1502

Faculty applying for tenure in 2013
Wednesday, April 10, 12:00 to 2:00 pm - QNC 1502

Monday, April 1, 2013

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: 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.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Quick Note On Scheduling

David Porreca, FAUW President

This post is intended to bring our membership up to speed on the latest developments regarding the new scheduling software being tested by the Registrar’s Office.  The discussion below is based upon a presentation and Q&A session held with Ken Lavigne at the most recent Faculty Relations Committee meeting on 14 March.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Upcoming Events

There's much afoot in the Faculty Association, and we want to do our best to keep you informed. Over the next month there are a number of key meetings and workshops happening, Head past the jump to find out more about the Council of Representatives meeting, the Spring General Meeting, and the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee's promotion workshops.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Approved Doctoral Dissertation Supervisor (ADDS) Status: An Obstacle or An Impediment?

David Porreca, FAUW President

Over the past few months, concerns about the impact of the university’s regulations surrounding ADDS status (known as the LIARS list in Engineering) have come to the Faculty Association’s attention.  Below the fold, you will find 1) a summary of the principal concerns surrounding this issue 2) what has been done about it so far, and 3) an open letter from a colleague wanting to share his strong concerns about this issue.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Hagey Lecture Perspective: 1982

The Hagey lectures are the University of Waterloo's premier invitational public lecture series. Since 1970, outstanding individuals, who have distinguished themselves internationally in some area of scholarly or creative endeavour have given talks intended to challenge, stimulate and enrich not only the faculty, staff and students of the University of Waterloo, but all members of this community.

These annual lectures are co-sponsored by the Faculty Association and the university, and with the success of this year's lecture by Dr. Paul Collier, we'd like to take the opportunity to celebrate some of our past lectures. 

In 1982, Margaret Atwood became the first female lecturer in the Hagey lecture series, joining pre-eminent scientists, politicians, and Nobel laureates. Already an award-winning author at the time, her accolades included the winning the Governor-General's Award for Poetry (for the Circle Game in 1966) and the E. J. Pratt medal, as well as serving as the University of Toronto's Writer in Residence. The year before, in 1981, she was celebrated by Chatelaine as their woman of the year. To have such a prestigious Canadian author so near to Waterloo was too great an opportunity to pass up.

During her visit, she held a seminar on the writer and her craft, lecturing to the English Language and Literature department, as well as students in the Writer's Workshop on campus. Her second seminar, held with Women's Studies, Drama, History and Fine arts, focused on the writer as a cultural agent, and the impact writers can have on the larger community. Her lecture, "On Writing the Male Character," remains one of the best Hagey lectures on writing in the series' 40 year history.

Since her lecture here, Margaret Atwood ascended from being an eminent writer to being one of the most read and celebrated authors in Canada, receiving another Governor-General's award and most recently the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal. Her contribution to literature is recognized across the globe, and it was both an honour and a privilege to have her at Waterloo.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Dubai Campus and Transparency

David Porreca, FAUW President

This blog follows up on correspondence received by FAUW’s Board of Directors regarding a bullet point in the 29 January blog posting entitled “To Provost or Not to Provost,” that related to the closure of UW’s Dubai campus.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Limits of Academic Freedom

Peter van Beek, Chair, FAUW Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee

Should a psychologist who is a "scientific" racist be defended? What about a historian who is a holocaust denier?  A biologist who is an advocate of intelligent design?  A physicist who denies anthropogenic climate change?  An engineering professor who fiercely challenges the university administration when they propose to open a satellite campus in a country with a questionable human rights record? And finally, what about an ethnic studies professor who, days after the 9/11 attacks, characterizes those who died in the World Trade Center as "little Eichmanns"?  Should that faculty member's right to speak and write be defended?

In other words, what are the limits to academic freedom?  That was the topic of a conference organized by the Harry Crowe Foundation that David Porreca, George Freeman, and I attended in Toronto recently on a cold January weekend. Below are some of the highlights that I took away from the conference. However, let me first put forward a disclaimer: Although I have been a faculty member for almost twenty-five years and I chair the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee, to my major discredit I came to the conference pretty much a blank slate on this topic. My learning curve was steep.

Monday, February 11, 2013

MOOCs: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

David Porreca, FAUW President

Last week’s FAUW Board meeting was dominated by a discussion of MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses. 

MOOCs: They’ve become too big to ignore, and have drawn in the likes of Harvard, MIT and Stanford.  They have also become the darling idea of the “faculty productivity”-obsessed, and the bane of those who value the dynamic interplay between research and teaching that defines what we do as regular faculty members. 

To what extent should Waterloo get involved in this new method of content delivery – recently approved for academic credit by Antioch University in Los Angeles?  How can we go about pulling some value from the MOOC bog?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Academia in the Age of Austerity

Part 2 – The view from other situations

I return you to the scene: 120 conference attendees, absorbing a talk on the decline of the university as a centre of critical thought and human development, while using a spoon to chip away at a perfect sphere of hyper-frozen desert effectively unsupported on a flat plate without (a) making too much noise; or (b) launching the sphere across the table at a colleague.

Borg adapting to phasers
After lunch, more discussion on the austerity excuse to rewrite Ontario labour legislation brought home the scary point that the government might adapt its strategy based on lessons learned through the zero-zero ‘consultations’ and the various fights with big unions such as the ones representing teachers (in my mind, I think of the Borg response to phaser fire in Star Trek).  The most extreme case would be US-style ‘right-to-[be-exploited-in-your]-work’ legislation to cripple all collective bargaining.  Many of our neighbouring states have it already. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

To Provost or Not to Provost?

David Porreca, FAUW President

Well, as many of you already know, our institution had a heart attack last week. Dr. Sallie Ann Keller resigned from the position of Vice-President Academic and Provost (VPAP) after nine months on the job.

Quite understandably, this topic dominated the discussion at the Faculty Association Board of Directors’ meeting this past Thursday. This sort of development tends to lead to speculation about what might have gone wrong. In this post, however, I would like to highlight some of the significantly positive developments – from the Faculty Association’s perspective – that have occurred under Dr. Keller’s leadership:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Academia in the Age of Austerity

Part 1 – The Ontario economic and political scene

Dr. George Freeman,
Past President of FAUW
For those unfamiliar with it, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) runs a long-term strategy of fact-based lobbying through relationships with all three major political parties and government staff at the provincial level.  Aside from keeping up-to-date with other associations, meetings often bring us into face-to-face discussion with provincial Ministers, MPPs, or staff as well as other labour groups, student groups, think tanks, economists, lawyers, etc.

In the OCUFA style, this day-and-a-half conference assembled a cast of characters with a diverse range of expertise, situations, and views regarding the austerity agenda being promoted by the offices of finance of many governments, and its impact on academia.  The topics were arranged as panel discussions with a moderator and audience question periods.  About 120 people attended with a large representation from faculty associations in Ontario but also many academics and others from across Canada.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Opening Up the Multi-Logue

Greetings and Welcome to the FAUW Blog! 

A Happy New Year to all!  This is David Porreca, the Faculty Association President at the University of Waterloo since July 2012, when I took over the job from George Freeman, who is consequently now filling the still-significant role of Past-President. In this inaugural blog post (my first one ever), I aim to introduce myself to you as the new FAUW President, as well as to introduce our new plan to keep in touch with you.