Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A First Attempt

by: Sally Gunz, FAUW President

Three weeks into our new Board term and we at FAUW are all starting to sort out our new roles. Fortunately there is some breathing space while we orient ourselves. The living might not be exactly ‘easy’ in the summer but at least for those who teach, many committees go into hibernation. Now that August approaches, may grading be swift and holidays start. The good weather awaits.

Welcome to all new faculty who joined UW on July 1. We will meet in early September more formally but good luck with all the initial stages of settling in. Please consider FAUW a good source for information, advice, and general assistance at a time when university processes, etiquette and guidelines may appear to be more than a little bit of a mystery. Call any one of us with your questions.

Also welcome to new Board members Shannon Dea, Heidi Engelhardt, Elise Lepage and Paul Wehr. A very big thanks to our departing Board members Roydon Fraser, George Freeman, Jasmin Habib, and Frank Zorzitto. We are losing an immense amount of experience at FAUW. Turnover is always part of a healthy renewal process in any organization but we will certainly miss our departing colleagues. 

With the vast experience of three weeks in the job of FAUW president, I can make some general and brief observations. FAUW works on a very wide range of issues on behalf of all regular faculty with contracts one year or longer. David Porreca (past-president) handed me a list, many pages long, of tasks. I have been attempting to group tasks into some semblance of an organizational chart that ultimately will be posted on this site. To date we have no less than ten sub-committees, more than 40 representatives to university-wide bodies, and on and on.  The work load is extensive and increasingly we will be turning to faculty outside of the Board structure to work on tasks. The Council of Representatives will be a very important resource.

One glaring deficit at the Board level is voting member representation from Math, AHS, and Environment. This can and should be remedied quickly and one of the important changes to the constitution of FAUW that we shortly will propose is a mandated minimum of one representative from each Faculty. Meantime, once more we will turn to those outside of our Board structure in order to ensure that local issues are fully represented.

Over this next year I propose to write here on different Board functions. FAUW is very mindful that it is a representative body. It does not take positions without solid consultation. The first stage of that is ensuring the community understands issues even exist. In this blog I will discuss important discussions taking place about the role of lecturers at UW.

A number of people have noted recent name-changes to the lecturer position at the University of Toronto. Despite the prominence in the press, this is not a particularly new move and nor is it unique to U of T. Several other universities already have such changes in place. Where do things stand at UW?

Policy 76 defines all faculty appointments and much of the basic language around, in particular, what it means to be a lecturer member at UW. This is complemented by the provisions of the Memorandum of Agreement (for new faculty, this is the basic agreement between FAUW and the University that defines our terms of employment). Currently Policy 76 is one of several major policies under review at the University. A committee was struck some time ago chaired by John Burbidge (Economics) with Kelly Anthony, Shannon Dea, George Freeman, Gerry Schneider, and myself as members. If you are familiar with Policy 76 you will know it covers a broad range of issues only some of which relate to lecturers. Policy review is inevitably a cautious process and for good reason. It is really, really easy to get things wrong.

Those of us on the committee who are also FAUW Board members were very mindful of the need to ensure that we get full input from those most affected by change to the policy. The policy itself will be subject to a university-wide review process when a draft is complete, but it is important to gather input in the earlier stages where alternatives should be considered. In order to ensure that the interests of lecturers are fully represented, recently FAUW established a sub-committee chaired by Heidi Engelhardt. This committee will be active in gathering input from the lecturer community in general and examining options that might find their way into Policy 76. It will make recommendations to the FAUW Board that will, assuming it supports them, in turn be represented in the review process. Inevitably there is a good deal of back and forth to these processes.

In the interim, we urge lecturers in particular to consider issues such as:
  • what should the lecturer career path look like;
  •  if there is the equivalent of tenure (the continuing lecturer position today), how does that come about and what should be the qualifications;
  • should there be a finite contractual period for lecturer positions that are not leading to what is presently labelled the ‘continuing’ lectureship;
  •  what are appropriate names for lecturer positions should they change;
  • should there be a role for research and if so, how might that be defined; should the one term in six as non-teaching continue and, in any event, how should it be interpreted;
  •  is there a role for sabbaticals (not strictly Policy 76 but related possibly to the previous issue);
  • what is the appropriate balance between teaching only (or primarily) and teaching and research positions; etc.

Overall, FAUW sees its responsibility as ensuring that the outcomes of any changes are such that those in teaching positions are treated fairly. This includes taking great care to avoid the potential for ‘work-arounds’ that allow for decent employment practices to be avoided – such as the unfair one year less a day contracts.

We would urge all faculty to pay close attention to these issues and feed comments particularly to the Lecturer Sub-committee. You may find it useful to refer to policies at other universities to see how issues are addressed elsewhere. There is the opportunity now to have strong and well-considered policies that reflect all aspects of the teaching faculty member’s career.


Enjoy the rest of the summer. 

2 comments :

  1. It is high time that FAUW ensured that professors in the teaching stream were entitled to the benefits and rights as the research faculty, unless of course FAUW is blind to what is happening within its own jurisdiction while commenting on inequality happening elsewhere.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback. In order to address the concerns of primarily teaching faculty, FAUW has established a Lecturers' Committee (https://uwaterloo.ca/faculty-association/lecturers-committee) which keeps the FAUW board informed of concerns and current issues.

      FAUW is always looking for ways to improve its member services, and we invite you to discuss your concerns with any board member and/or, in this case, perhaps any member of the Lecturers' Committee. You can find contact information on our website (https://uwaterloo.ca/faculty-association/about/people)

      – Sally Gunz, FAUW President

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