Monday, September 22, 2014

FAUW Updates - Part 2 of 2

David Porreca, FAUW President

This is a continuation from Part 1 posted last week.

6. Pharmacy building

East side of the pharmacy building showing flower garden
Photo by George Freeman
FAUW has received reports that certain peculiarities of the newish Pharmacy building on the corner of King & Victoria in Kitchener have been generating substantial environmental problems for the users of the building.  In particular, large teaching laboratories on the King Street side of the building have been experiencing high temperature and humidity levels on hot summer days.

Their large windows face roughly north east and would get direct sun in the early morning, especially around the summer solstice.  Users of the lab need the full protective gear of safety glasses, long-sleeved lab coats, etc., along with giant fume hoods to whisk away any hazardous vapours. It is possible the HVAC equipment in that part of the building is not sufficient to its task or needs adjustment in view of the exhaust force of the fume hoods.  FAUW and colleagues working in the Pharmacy building are working with Plant Ops to find a solution.

7. Fall break?

Sign post labelled October pointing to the right
© Filipe Frazao / Dollar Photo Club
The Federation of Students has expressed an interest in running a referendum on whether or not to call upon the university to establish a Fall Break, similar to the winter-term Reading Week.  Currently, 14 Ontario universities have such a break, leaving only 8 without one (UW included).  A Task Force has just produced a report for the Provost detailing the various trade-offs that would be needed for such a break to be established (e.g., some combination of shortening Orientation, allowing exams on December 23, Sunday exams, and other options).

The mandate of the task force was simply to gather information about these trade-offs, and to comment on their relative feasibility, rather to make any decisions or formal recommendations about whether or not to go ahead with this idea. The Task Force had good representation from all relevant stakeholder groups, and any moves toward a Fall Break would certainly involve much more extensive consultation of all the relevant parties. Any changes would require formal approval by Senate.

8. FAUW staffing

Just as the university itself is facing a crisis of continuity, the Faculty Association is also in a similar bind with respect to our staff. We have already bid farewell in early July to Jim Tigwell, our Communications Coordinator and Administrative Assistant, as well as to Carrie Hunting in mid-August, who was our Academic Freedom and Tenure and Policy Officer. Job postings forthcoming.
Geese graxing on the lawn beside the ENV3 building
Photo by George Freeman

9. Revamped course evaluations

Another Task Force, chaired by Mark Seasons (School of Planning) has been working on revising how UW conducts its in-class instructor evaluations by students. The faculty of mathematics and the faculty of science have been doing some pilot testing of all-electronic course evaluations using a very promising in-house electronic system. FAUW will be paying close attention to who has access to the completed evaluations, their format and content as well as to how they end up being used.

10. FAUW retreat and priorities for 2014-15

In July, the FAUW Board of Directors held its first-in-a-long-time strategic retreat to discuss large-scale issues facing us over the next year. During this retreat, we established a list of items that we hope to devote time and effort to over the course of the year. Some have already been discussed above, others are listed briefly here:

a - Surveys: the FAUW Communications Sub-Committee intends to do more intensive polling of our membership on assorted questions of concern during this year.

b - Revisions to Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour)

c - ADDS status: the revised ADDS regulations are winding their way through various Faculty Councils before going for approval at Senate. Revisions to the draft FAUW negotiated with grad students and the administration last year is likely to undergo revisions as a result of this process. More as it arises.

d - Performance evaluations: The idea of shifting tenured faculty members to a biennial performance evaluation scheme will be considered once again over the course of the year.

e - Arts 1.25 for service: This refers to the manner in which standards were set and communicated for assessments on the faculty annual performance (merit) evaluation.  It remains unresolved from last year.

f - Best practices in graduate supervision: In collaboration with FAUW and the GSO, the Graduate Students’ Association is planning to develop a document setting out best practices in graduate supervision.

g - Athletics: We will continue to explore ways of improving our health and wellness facilities on campus in collaboration with the student and staff associations.

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