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. 

I am the medievalist in the Classical Studies Department, and have been at UW as a faculty member since 2003.  My involvement with the university goes farther back, as I was first a student (1993-6) as well as a staff member at four of our campus’ libraries (Conrad Grebel, Dana Porter, Davis and the erstwhile Map Library on-and-off 1994-2003).  In other words, I have experienced this campus wearing a number of hats, and I am familiar personally with a variety of perspectives. The FAUW presidency, however, is a brand-new frontier! 

Speaking of which, this blog is the spearhead of a new communication strategy that FAUW has been plotting for the past several months that will see us branching out beyond the traditional hard-copy FAUW Forum newsletter that was sent to faculty members periodically.  It includes a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, a Google+ page.  The aim is to have a forum for more effective and faster feedback between our members and their Faculty Association. 

Beginning today, Monday mornings will feature new posts here, the format of which will alternate bi-weekly: news updates written by yours truly on campus-related issues relevant to our membership resulting from discussions at the FAUW Board of Directors – this in essence will replace the “President’s Message” from the Forum; and a rotating roster of guest posts principally from FAUW Board members on issues of broader concern.  Guest posts are by no means restricted to FAUW Board members: submissions are welcome from any member of the University of Waterloo community, and will be considered for posting subject to availability.  This new format will allow for nigh-instant feedback on the posts in the form of comments to reach the right eyes in a fraction of the time and effort than the hard-copy Forum did previously.  

This does not mean that we will cease entirely the traditional hard-copy distribution of the Forum, since there are some – myself included – who really appreciate having something physical to leaf through.  Consequently, at the end of every term, a selection of the most impactful blog postings will be compiled and distributed in print to all FAUW members on campus.  This publication will remain faithful to the format of the earlier Forum I would like to close this inaugural posting with a non-exhaustive list of questions that FAUW is currently working on:
  • Can faculty members be compelled to work on satellite campuses?
  • How exactly do we define a satellite campus?
  • Should tenured faculty members have their performance evaluations be annual or biennial?
  • How can we arrange to have our UW Librarians recognized as academic staff?  (hint: the librarians are working on this).
  • How can we ensure that academics govern the academic lives of academics? (hint: this principle needs to be enshrined in the governance documents of all campus centres and institutes)
  • How can we support the principle of collective bargaining when it is under siege in so many jurisdictions, including in Ontario?
  • Does the University of Waterloo’s idiosyncratic practice of having an “Approved Doctoral Dissertation Supervisors” list represent a net benefit or an unnecessary burden to our faculty members?
  • Will the new scheduling software package currently being tested by the Registrar’s Office actually produce better results for all stakeholders than the system currently in place?
  • Can a less onerous system of expense claims be put in place, and what would it look like?
 Finally, here’s a selection of other matters in our ‘ongoing issues’ pile: 
  • Work-Life Balance
  • Information gathering/storage relating to Short-Term Disability and Long-Term Disability applications
  • Modifications to the pension plan
As you can see, even though there may have been an uncanny silence from FAUW over the past several months, we have been far from idle.  It is my personal hope that this new format of communication will go beyond being a one-way transfer of information, or even a simple dialogue (the word implies only two participants); rather, I see this new FAUW Blog as a multi-nodal conversation, or more succinctly, a “multi-logue.”  Let the interchange begin! 

With best wishes for a productive and prosperous term, 

-David P.

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