Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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 only 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.

1 comment :

  1. On the topic of continuity, I would assume nominating committees for deans or other positions would always look at the full slate of internal and external candidates and nominate the one best suited for the job. It would taint the process if either external or internal candidates were a-priori preferred. I agree that we have a culture worth preserving. I've also seen some external people come to Waterloo and do just that.

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