Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Lessons from the CAUT New Activists Workshop

Elise Lepage, FAUW Board member
On November 24, I attended the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ New Activists Workshop in Ottawa on behalf of FAUW. This was the second edition of this day-long workshop and it was well attended by more than 40 colleagues representing universities from coast to coast. I found it both well- thought-out and structured, and yet just open enough for effective and meaningful discussions to happen.
The workshop started with an open discussion to identify the challenges faced by post-secondary education. The list was long and it appears that despite the major differences in terms of size, location, and mission of each university, all of us share very similar concerns.
We summed this list of concerns up in four keywords: austerity, solidarity, equity, and (lack of) collegial governance. Groups were formed around these major topics to further the discussion, and offer some strategies.
Another keyword that came up in all the discussions was indigenization, and it appears that Canadian universities are at very different stages in this process. Good practices have to be shared. CAUT offered its support in facilitating this academic culture shift.
[Editor’s note: University Affairs has a good overview of indigenization efforts across Canada (and criticisms of such), and the University of Regina offers 100 ways to Indigenize and decolonize academic programs and courses (PDF).]
There were also hands-on sessions in which we developed communication and organizational skills such as writing a grievance or a press release, or producing awareness-raising materials such as posters and videos.

Overall, it was a very useful and informative workshop, and I am looking forward to sharing and applying some of these ideas and skills in my work with FAUW.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Hagey Lecture Perspective: 2003

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.

This is the third post in a series on past Hagey Lectures from a few years ago – we just found the unpublished draft and thought we'd share it with you. Stay tuned for an announcement soon about the next lecture, coming up in March 2017.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Lecturers Survey Report Released

FAUW’s Lecturers Committee has just released its final report on the results of last year’s survey of all lecturers at Waterloo.

The Lecturers Committee advises the FAUW Board on the development and revision of University policies pertaining to Lecturers. In November 2015, the committee sent a survey to the 180 lecturers of UW to capture the diversity of their working conditions. The response rate was impressively high (83%), and the respondents also shared copious comments which are extremely valuable to this portrait of lecturers across campus.

The survey results cover five main topics:
  1. Questions about terms of appointment gathered data on length of employment at Waterloo; the ratio of research, teaching, and service; and the possibility of promotion.
  2. Comparing teaching loads can prove to be challenging given the diversity of disciplines taught at Waterloo. The report highlights that lecturers are being tasked with a wide range of teaching loads.
  3. 70% of lecturers teach in all three terms. Lecturers are entitled to take one out of every six terms as a non-teaching term, yet only one-third of lecturers have ever had a non-teaching term. As for the others, it seems that the possibility, the conditions, and the perception of requesting a non-teaching term are not clear.
  4. There is also a lack of clarity around what is expected of lecturers in terms of service roles. The survey demonstrates great involvement of lecturers in their units, but uncertainty about their eligibility for a number of roles.
  5. The suggested options for new titles to replace the terms “Lecturer” and “Continuing Lecturer.” The preferred set of titles was Assistant Professor / Associate Professor / Professor, Teaching Stream.
The Committee shared some highlights of this report at FAUW’s Fall General Meeting in 2015. This final report synthesizes additional comments from the respondents in these five areas, and also on topics not covered in the survey, such as short-term and “less-a-day” contracts, respect for lecturers among other faculty, and compensation.

The full report is available on the FAUW website.

FAUW is very grateful to the Lecturers Committee for this insightful report.

Friday, November 4, 2016

President's Report to Members

Sally Gunz, FAUW President

This is one of my semi-regular updates on what is happening with FAUW. It is timely as we have recently received the results of the vote on the proposed changes to the performance evaluation provisions (now approved by the Board of Governors) of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) and can now move forward to other topics. Thanks very much for your participation in this exercise.

Memorandum of Agreement

The MoA remains one of the primary focuses of our activities as it clearly has a number of flaws that affect the terms and conditions of employment. The Faculty Relations Committee (FRC) has agreed to consider major issues brought forward by FAUW one at a time. It is a lengthy process with many eyes on drafting because it is simply too easy to make mistakes. After agreement is reached at FRC, the next step is for members to vote and then changes are presented to the Board of Governors. We expect another round of changes to come before the membership in the late winter 2017 and will keep you updated at the general meeting in December.

Sexual Violence Policy Update

Sally Gunz, FAUW President

A number of you will have been following issues relating to the new policy on sexual violence (Policy 42). The province has mandated that all Ontario universities have sexual violence policies in place by January 1, 2017. There is no flexibility in terms of the date. The draft presented at the last Senate meeting was the work of PACE (Provost’s Advisory Committee on Equity) and was headed by the university equity officer, Mahejabeen Ebrahim.

FAUW is supportive of this initiative and very grateful for all PACE’s hard work. Our concerns in no way are a reflection of the effort and contribution of all involved in creating the current draft. Rather, and put quite simply, developing and approving a fully working policy and procedures within the timeline imposed by the government was a near impossible task. The Policy 33 (Ethical Behavior) revision committee has been grappling with closely related issues for a lengthy period and has still not managed to propose a workable process.

The policy itself was approved by the Board of Governors on October 25th and FAUW was supportive. FAUW and others argued for the delay of the accompanying procedures/protocols because the current version had elements with which we could not agree.

FAUW’s concerns

Our most immediate concerns involve aspects that relate to potential disciplinary investigations and measures against faculty members, as these touch directly upon the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). We need to ensure that these are handled in a way that is fully consistent with the principles of natural justice.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Putting a Face on Contract Faculty Members: A Recent Study

Guest post by Kate Lawson for CAUT’s Fair Employment Week

Most of us would agree that academic jobs should be good jobs. But many of us have little knowledge of the real working conditions and academic background of contract faculty members, colleagues who are also known as “sessionals” or “part-timers.”

A recently published study by C.C. Field and G.A. Jones from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) provides much-needed data about who contract faculty are at Ontario universities.

If you think that “sessionals” teach “part-time” by choice, that they lack a terminal degree, do not engage in research, or teach “on the side” because they have a full-time job elsewhere, then you are thinking of what Field and Jones call classic sessionals. In their study, classics sessionals comprise 24.8% of those surveyed.

By contrast, 61.3% of contract faculty are what they term precarious sessionals who rely on their income from instructional work.

Field and Jones state that they use “the term ‘precarious’ for two reasons: first, many are working full-time equivalent workloads (when courses are available) on a semester-by semester basis, with little or no job security; and second, these sessionals are likely to be either hopeful or disillusioned with the idea of having a full-time permanent career in the academy.”

So who are the “precarious sessionals,” according to Field and Jones?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

City of Waterloo Neighbourhood Strategy Consultations

The City of Waterloo is developing a neighbourhood strategy and is looking for faculty to participate.

What do you love about Waterloo neighbourhoods? What are your great ideas for making Waterloo neighbourhoods even better? 

The city is looking for 12 faculty members to join a discussion and share their vision for even stronger, more connected neighbourhoods in Waterloo! 

October 17, 12:00 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. in Needles Hall, room 3043. 

The City of Waterloo will welcome the first 12 people to RSVP to Janet at neighbourhoods@waterloo.ca.

Please bring a bag lunch, coffee and cookies will be provided. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Faculty Performance Evaluations To Get an Overhaul

The University of Waterloo is presently considering amending the Memorandum of Agreement to change the way in which faculty members are evaluated. While discussion of student evaluation of teaching abounds in the academic community, faculty performance evaluation has so far received little attention in comparison.

In this context, UW brings a substantive but positive proposal to cut performance evaluations for tenured and continuing faculty back to only every other year, and increases the transparency of the review process. Pre-tenure and definite term faculty members will still submit activity reports and receive feedback every year.

Evaluating each Faculty member is a very time-consuming exercise; spacing it out to every two years will free up time for both administrators and faculty members to address other pressing issues.

The full text of the proposed changes and answers to questions you might have are provided on FAUW’s website. The FAUW board of directors endorses these changes and believes that they are in the best interests of our members.

If you’d like to learn more or discuss the proposal with board members, we invite you to a town hall meeting on October 5, so you can make an informed decision before voting. The poll will be open from October 3 to October 14.

–√Člise Lepage

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Welcome back to campus from FAUW!

We at FAUW hope you had a fantastic summer, full of lots of research and course prep and writing…right?

To help you kick off the new school year, here are some tips on how to get the most out of your Faculty Association:

1. Find out who your FAUW reps are

Browse the new board and staff member bios on our website and get to know who we are and what we do.

2. Stay in touch 

Stay up-to-date on what FAUW is doing and issues affecting faculty at UW through our blog and social media accounts (we’re on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+).

Sign up to get blog posts delivered to your email.

3. Make sure you’re a member

Become an active FAUW member by signing up on our website (you are already represented by us and paying dues, but need to fill out the membership form once in your career).

4. Join the Council of Representatives

We are looking forward to enhancing our communication with members this year, in part by redefining and revalorizing our Council of Representatives. If you have are interested in representing your unit on the Council, talk to your chair or director.

5. Attend a new faculty event

A special welcome goes to our new faculty members! We have events designed for you coming up on October 19: come meet new colleagues, eat, drink, and compare notes! Not-so-new faculty are also invited to welcome your new colleagues and share tips for adjusting to Waterloo. Stay tuned to our website for more details soon!.

6. Save the date: don’t miss these other FAUW events

7. Tell us what’s up

We need to know what issues our members are facing so we can address them. There are a number of ways you can let us know how we can help:
  • Provide feedback in response to emails and social media and blog posts about what we're currently working on. Your comments will reach members of the board and inform FAUW's position.
  • Bring new issues to our attention via social media, this blog or by getting in touch with any of our board members.
  • If you're dealing with an individual workplace problem, contact the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee for personalized support.

8. Browse the archives

See what we've been up to over the last little while by browsing past blog posts and news items on our website. Or use the tags to delve into a particular issue.

Wishing you a productive and enjoyable fall semester,

The FAUW Board of Directors

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

CAUT Discussion List on the Copyright Act Review

In anticipation of the upcoming parliamentary review of the Copyright Act, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has created and is hosting a listerv called copy2017a.

The purpose of the list is to facilitate communication among individuals in the education community about the 2017 review.

If you would like to join the list, please contact Paul Jones (jones@caut.ca), CAUT’s Education officer.

By way of background, the purpose of copy2017a is to facilitate discussion of topics of interest to individuals in the education community about the 2017 Review of the Canadian Copyright Act. List members share information about what is happening at the local, provincial, national and international level, and participate in developing advocacy strategies to ensure copyright law respects and furthers the interests of the education community.

copy2017a is a bilingual discussion group and correspondence is encouraged in French or English. copy2017a is not to be used for the posting of job advertisements.

Postings to the list should be addressed to copy2017a@lists.caut.ca

All postings must include the identification of the sender (name, institution and email address).

Participation in this list is open to individuals. The list is not moderated. Any messages inappropriate for general distribution should not be posted. Participants should be aware that any messages posted or replies to messages posted are automatically distributed to all those on the list. Anyone wishing to communicate to individuals on the list is encouraged to send a private message, rather than utilizing copy2017a. Any participants who post material found to be defamatory or who violate any list rules will be removed from the list.

Friday, August 19, 2016

New Report on Sessional Faculty in Ontario

Researchers at OISE have prepared a report on sessional faculty for the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development. Sessional faculty are defined in this report as faculty members who are either hired course by course or on short-term contracts. The report studies sessional faculty at 12 Ontario universities.

The report is available on the Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education (CIHE) blog.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Salary Anomaly Working Group Results Released

By now you will have received notification of the Salary Anomaly Working Group final report. FAUW has posted highlights from the report and a Frequently Asked Questions page on our website, which we will be adding to as more questions come in.

On behalf of the FAUW Board, I would like to thank the Working Group for the extraordinary amount of work they put into this task. It is my understanding from talking to those on the committee that this group represented the very best of processes at UW. While they came from diverse parts of campus and constituencies, they were committed to the twin tasks of both identifying anomalies and designing processes for now and the future and they did so in a very collegial and effective manner.

I would like to thank Lynne Taylor in particular, who co-chaired the group with Jean Andrey. Lynne has continued her work on this project into a well-earned sabbatical. I also thank our other two FAUW representatives, Cecilia Cotton and Benoit Charbonneau. Cecilia in particular continued to respond to questions and address issues despite being on parental leave since May. As well, I thank all other members of the group for their hard work: Jean Andrey (co-chair and Dean of Environment), Christiane Lemieux and Bill Power. The degree of cooperation and goodwill on the Working Group is to be commended. Finally, it is my understanding that staff assistance (Human Resources’ in particular) on this project was always gracious and highly effective, without which this review could not have happened.

My final comment relates to our relationship with the university administration on this issue. These processes don't always run smoothly at any institution. Most gratifyingly, when the Working Group submitted its report to the University administration and FAUW, the Provost in particular accepted the findings immediately. It was seen by all parties as quite simply the right and necessary thing to do. It is a real pleasure to be able to report this.

—Sally Gunz, FAUW President

Read the report (PDF)
Read the highlights
Read the F.A.Q.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Friday: Solidarity Rally with CUPE 926 at Laurier

From the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA):

There will be a solidarity rally for Wilfrid Laurier University workers in CUPE 926 who are currently on strike this Friday, July 15, 2016 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The location of the rally is 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo.

CUPE 926 represents custodians, groundskeepers and tradespeople at the university. The dispute is centred on the employer’s attempts to remove contracting-out language from their agreement, and contract out custodial work, creating lower-paid, less-secure positions. The other key issue has been the claw back of post-retirement benefits. The administration’s very aggressive approach to bargaining has implications not only for CUPE 926 but for all faculty and staff at Wilfrid Laurier and across the province.

Read the letter from OCUFA president Judy Bates to Laurier president Max Blouw.

For more information about the rally from CUPE, you can phone 905.739.9739 or email: info@cupe.on.ca.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Quia nunc vale

Sally Gunz, FAUW President

On behalf of all board members of FAUW past, present and future, I would like to offer my most sincere thanks to David Porreca for his amazing service to FAUW.

David was a board member from July 2009 to June 2016, he was president from July 2013 to June 2015, and for the past year he has been an invaluable past president. I can safely say I would not have survived this last year without David's wise counsel and always gracious assistance. David has continued to serve in some of the most time consuming and valuable roles for FAUW and is one of those quiet and one hundred percent dependable/reliable colleagues who is always ready to step up and do one more task. His work is always of the highest quality; thoughtful, careful, and wise.

David, we will miss you as you head off to your well-earned and much deserved sabbatical. Thank you for everything.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

An Update on Compassionate and Bereavement Leaves

Sally Gunz, FAUW President

A few weeks ago you received a statement on leave entitlements from the provost and myself. No sooner than it had gone out than I received an email reminding me we had forgotten to discuss compassionate and bereavement leaves. This is entirely correct.

FYI, bereavement leaves are short and are covered by university guidelines.

Compassionate leave is trickier. Ontario's Employment Standards Act ensures job protection for up to eight weeks of Family Caregiver Leave, eight weeks of Family Medical Leave (in circumstances of imminent death of a family member), and up to 37 weeks of Critically Ill Child Care Leave. As of now they are unpaid, although there may be eligibility for employment insurance benefits. Information is available on the Human Resources Website (see the section on Employment Standards Act (ESA) Leaves).

FAUW raised the issue of lack of a clear policy or guideline for compassionate leaves, and the terms of reference for the new committee reviewing Policy 14, Pregnancy and Parental Leave (Including Adoption) have been extended to allow for the consideration of inclusion of this (and possibly other) leaves. While these may seem unrelated life events, in fact the principles behind the leaves are very similar. Certainly the entitlements should be clarified by policy.

I thank those who brought these issues to my attention.

Note: Additional updates on ongoing issues are provided in today's President's Newsletter, available on the FAUW website.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How You Can Support Faculty in Fort McMurray

Without question, everyone has been saddened and shocked by the stories and images of the wildfires in Fort McMurray. As widely communicated through the media, the best way each and every one of us can currently help is by donating to the Canadian Red Cross online or by texting REDCROSS to 30333.

Anyone interested in supporting this important cause can also offer help to the Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association (ACIFA) as ACIFA will be coordinating communication and relief offers from colleagues across the country. It is expected that ACIFA will provide some direct support to faculty members through the Keyano College Faculty Association.

Your generous help to support colleagues in Alberta going through this hardship will be very much appreciated. To inquire, please contact Doug Short, President of ACIFA at dougs@nait.ca, or the ACIFA office:

Suite 412, 10357 109 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5J 1N3
Tel: (780) 423-4440
Fax: (780) 423-4515

Yes, You Are Entitled and Expected to Take Your Leaves

Sally Gunz, FAUW President

Early this month, a joint statement on leaves was sent out from the Provost and myself. This was a long time in the writing and even still we have omitted reference to compassionate leaves which we will correct in due course. Nonetheless, it is important that everyone understand why we prepared this statement.

We hear from time to time that members are not taking various leaves in part or in full because of concerns about the cost to their departments or individuals within them. We want to stress that the university expects you to take these leaves and that cost should not be your concern.

If a department does indeed experience an undue burden, we have been told over and over again, this should be passed on to senior levels. The key is to understand that the leaves are there to ensure you have a successful and healthy career. You are expected to take them. You enhance your department, your faculty and the university when your career is successful. If you are encountering obstacles, please contact FAUW for advice and assistance.

Monday, April 18, 2016

FAUW Highlights: Visiting the School of Pharmacy

The FAUW Board recognizes that the University of Waterloo includes satellite campuses as well as the main campus. In mid-April, the FAUW Board took a field trip to the School of Pharmacy, located at the Downtown Kitchener Health Sciences Campus. This experience was the perfect opportunity for the FAUW Board to learn more about the perspectives, ideas, and innovations of a key University group.

On April 14, several Pharmacy faculty members participated in an informal discussion, which was strengthened by the various career stages represented at the table. The FAUW Board gained insight into a distinctive feature of the School of Pharmacy which is the amazing number of team-taught courses. Team-teaching ensures that each expert can connect with students at the appropriate place in the curriculum by sharing their knowledge on a specific topic. It is clear that Pharmacy faculty members function as a team in the classroom. Needless to say, the Board greatly appreciates the time Pharmacy faculty members took out of their busy schedules to meet with us!

As the official representative of all regular faculty members at the University of Waterloo, FAUW is continuously interested in the thoughts, questions & concerns of all University faculty. The FAUW Board strongly encourages any faculty member to contact FAUW at fauw@uwaterloo.ca anytime a question or issue comes up which is relevant to FAUW. We want to hear from you!

FAUW Highlights is a series of regular updates from the FAUW Board, written by Elise Lepage and Shannon Gordon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

FAUW Highlights: Meet SWEC, the Status of Women & Equity Committee

Greetings FAUWers,

Earlier this month, this blog explored the value of balanced and inclusive representation on the FAUW Board. With that theme in mind, we would now like to introduce you to the University’s Status of Women & Equity Committee, known across campus as ‘SWEC.’ The mandate of SWEC is to educate, advise, and advocate on matters related to the status of women, and broader equity issues such as those arising from gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, age, or gender identity.

SWEC is one of three major equity-promoting initiatives on campus, including the Office of Equity as an administrative body, and the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign (which many of you are likely aware of!). Each one plays a distinct role in improving the equity climate at Waterloo.

SWEC, a standing committee of FAUW, is composed of a diverse group of individuals with strong interests and experience in equity issues. With members from each of the six faculties, as well as one librarian, SWEC follows a community-based approach. In addition to liaising with related University committees, SWEC has a working relationship with the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). SWEC Chair, Dr. Kathleen Rybczynski, also sits on FAUW Board of Directors as an Ex-officio/non-voting member of the Board.

To better serve as a proponent of equity, SWEC is in the process of broadening their community outreach. With the aim to create a locus of communication for equity initiatives, SWEC is currently redesigning their website content and would love your feedback (email Laura McDonald or Kathleen Rybczynski). If you are looking to connect on equity across campus, please contact us.

Each year, SWEC recognizes exceptional commitment to equity, diversity and inclusivity at UW with the annual Equity and Inclusivity Award. This month, SWEC is celebrating the achievements of FemPhys and its co-founders Sarah Kaiser, Emma McKay, and Jennifer Reid. Their leadership, and their organization of public lectures, mentoring nights, and community-building social gatherings, have improved the equity environment at UW, particularly for women in Physics and Astronomy as well as within the broader STEM community.

FAUW Highlights is a series of regular updates from the FAUW Board, written by Elise Lepage and Shannon Gordon.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Changes to the Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement Process

By Lynne Taylor, FAUW Treasurer

Every year, the University of Waterloo makes available to individual faculty members an allowance for out-of-pocket expenses related to the performance of teaching, research and professional duties known colloquially as the “professional allowance” or the Faculty Professional Expense Reimbursement (FPER). In the past, this claim could be made once annually at the end of the fiscal year for expenses incurred between 1 May of the previous year and 30 April of the current year, and was due by 30 April. Any allowable expenses that exceeded the maximum FPER in a particular year could be carried forward for up to three years, and be applied against future FPERs. This practice continues.

However, as of the latest salary settlement (effective 1 May, 2015), in addition to the ongoing practice of carrying forward all allowable expenses that exceed the maximum FPER, individual faculty members will also be allowed to carry forward all unspent FPER balances for up to three years. Thus, if an individual faculty member does not spend their entire FPER balance in a particular year, that unspent amount will be available to be spent for another three years. (This means, very pragmatically speaking, we don’t need to dash out to spend the remaining balance in the last weeks of the fiscal year, in order to claim the full allowance or lose a portion of it. Instead, we can let that amount carry forward to the next fiscal year and even accumulate for three years.) Simply put, any unspent balance will automatically be carried forward to the next year.

With the introduction of Concur, the new online system for submitting expense claims (which is being rolled out across campus as I am writing), individual faculty members now will be able to make two FPER electronic claims annually, at any point between 1 July and 30 April. It is limited to two claims, because the actual calculations must still be done manually and Finance does not have the resources to manage more than two claims per faculty member. We have been assured that these claims will be reimbursed in a timely manner (the expectation on Finance’s part is that it will be within approximately 10 days of submission). The period 1 May to 30 June is blacked out in order to allow Finance to calculate the amounts for the upcoming year.

What about expenses incurred in April of a fiscal year that cannot be submitted by the 30 April deadline?

Some confusion has arisen around a clause in the March 16 email from Finance to faculty and administrative staff regarding the FPER. In it, we were informed that claims for 2015/16 would not be accepted after April 30. The effect was to decree that any legitimate expenses incurred in the two weeks prior to 30 April (an estimated window) could neither be claimed in the 2015/2016 fiscal year, nor in the following fiscal year (2016/2017). Instead, the faculty member would have had to absorb those legitimate expenses themselves. 

This would happen because of the way in which the paperwork must flow – before an FPER claim can be submitted, it must be reviewed and approved at the departmental level, which often takes two weeks. At least one department was requiring that the form be submitted by 20 April at the latest, in order to meet the 30 April deadline. To use that department as an example, any expenses incurred by a member of that particular department between 20 and 30 April would not be able to be claimed, simply because of the time lag imposed by the flow of the paperwork.

This concern was raised by FAUW with Finance and, as of 25 March, 2016, a resolution has been reached. Concur has been reconfigured to allow any expenses incurred in April of a given year, that are not able to be submitted due to the timing of internal submission deadlines, to be claimed with the following year’s FPER claim.

NOTE: This is only for expenses incurred in April of the given fiscal year. See the “General” section of the official FPER guideline.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Scheduling Memo – 2016 Reboot

By Bryan Tolson, FAUW Vice President

By now, you should have heard about – and hopefully read – the memo regarding the Fall 2016 changes to the scheduling system. With these substantial changes now officially announced, it seems an appropriate time for another blog post about scheduling.

The point of this post is to give you my thoughts, as FAUW’s representative on PACT (the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Timetabling), on the scheduling system and in particular the most recent memo from PACT addressing the system of constraints. I will close with some essential facts and recommendations about how you can get what you need under the revised system.

If you have not read the memo, I suggest you do so before continuing below (read the memo here). FAUW has posted scheduling system-related blog posts in the past few years. For a refresher on the ongoing debate around scheduling, you can find them using the following links:


It is both my and the Board’s basic premise that the new scheduling system is here to stay and that our goal is to work with it and the Administration to get the best for FAUW members. That said, we must also realize that it is a centralized scheduling system in which every unit and every faculty member must share finite space and, thus, lecture times. Equity and fairness are a big concern for all on PACT (including me), as well as for FAUW. Any accommodation made for one faculty member will impact another, so these cannot be made lightly.

Let me provide a concrete example. If you attempt to “game” the system so that you avoid teaching Friday afternoons, you are effectively sentencing a colleague to teach in that time slot. (So please keep your colleagues in mind as you attempt to define a teaching schedule that works for you.) Negotiating this balancing act is not a simple exercise and this newest memo is another attempt to strike that balance.

What I like in the memo

There is much to like about this latest iteration of PACT’s attempt to identify acceptable constraints on timetabling. First of all, many people are working very hard to try and make real improvements to the scheduling system. The changes in the memo are a “net positive” in terms of achieving equity and fairness across the campus.

Second, like it or not, it appears that future provincial funding for new teaching space on campus will require a clear demonstration that we are utilizing our current teaching space at something approaching full capacity. Hence, setting targets for the ratio of 3x1-hr courses to 2x1.5-hr courses to maximize room use efficiency is sensible from this perspective.

Third, the idea of giving every faculty member on campus – our childless, parentless, or partnerless colleagues included – the opportunity to specify a seven-hour teaching block in which all their teaching will occur is also a good one. Lastly, the changes to the system introduce more predictability for instructors, something many of us appreciate.

What I do not like in the memo

The devil is really in the details with this system. The details are what matter to all of us and I am concerned about certain aspects of the new definition of constraints, concerns I have raised on the faculty members’ behalf at least once, sometimes multiple times, at PACT meetings or in PACT discussions, with little impact. Chief among those are that:
  • regular research commitments such as remote field-work or off-campus meetings with research partners (these can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reschedule) are not explicitly listed as a Level 2 constraint. To be clear, they potentially are allowable Level 2 constraints, but only at the discretion of the Chair. So ask for these if they are needed. 
  • all faculty who teach a 1x3-hr lecture to more than 80 students are now forced to either teach in the 2:30-5:30 p.m. time slot or in the evening (there are no other options). This is not fair. Unless the campus is ready to decide that no class should be delivered in one 3-hour block during the daytime, our colleagues who, for pedagogical reasons, choose to teach this way deserve more flexibility in potential teaching times during the day. (If you teach a course like this and share my concern, please email me: btolson@uwaterloo.ca.) 
  • in this first iteration of the “teaching window” model, Chairs are being asked to ensure that their unit has “spread their teaching window requests evenly over the three start times (8:30am, 9:30am and 10:30am).” I firmly believe that the natural distribution of requested start times across the available options will be such that the resulting schedule’s integrity will not be compromised. 
  • there are scheduling software defaults that are not yet known to all instructors. It is unclear in the current documentation, for example, how early a faculty member can be scheduled to teach the day after delivering a night class that ends at 10:00 pm. 
The memo is a living document and so I believe the above concerns can be easily dealt with in the next revision or even earlier, when supporting documentation eventually goes online at the brand new scheduling website. I have other concerns, but they will be made clear in the following list of “what you need to know.”

What you need to know when submitting teaching availability constraints

The list below highlights things you need to know that are not clear from the scheduling memo, or things I think need to be emphasized. The memo contains many other things you also need to know so please do also read the memo if you haven’t yet!
  • You cannot be required to teach after 5:30pm. You may do so if you wish to, and you are free to negotiate this arrangement with your Chair. However, you cannot be required to do so. 
  • Chairs have been instructed in the memo to ensure that instructors have spread their teaching window requests evenly over the three start times. While some of us may be able to be flexible, others may not. My recommendation is that those who, for personal or professional reasons, cannot change their teaching window should simply refuse to do so. 
  • Due to time constraints, PACT was unable to completely standardize the way that instructor availability constraints are collected from instructors. As far as I can tell, your department will collect these in one of the following ways:
  1. A slick web-based collection form. I have seen the test website for this form but if you wish to learn more, you will have to ask for details from your Faculty-level PACT Representative. Make sure your scheduling representative is aware of this option. 
  2. A more clunky MS-Word-based option using the template file provided by the RO to scheduling reps (see form here). 
  3. Some sort of variation to what your department has done in past terms to collect instructor constraints.
For anyone in category #3, you should check that your departmental approach is essentially consistent with the instructions you see in the link in #2 above. If you have concerns about inconsistencies which may lead to inequities, please share them with your scheduling rep, your Faculty PACT Representative and me (btolson@uwaterloo.ca).
  • You are not limited to submitting only two teaching availability constraints even though collection methods #1 and #2 in the above bullet imply this. If you have valid constraint requests, you are allowed to submit more. Simply add the additional required constraints in your submission to your scheduling representative (include them in an email if necessary). However, please do not attempt to craft a complex and numerous set of constraints that precisely defines your perfect/ideal lecture schedule. This will be counter-productive. 
  • You are not required to submit ANY documentation to either your Chair or to your departmental scheduling representative to support medical- or human rights-related constraints (these are Level 1 constraints). For a constraint based on medical reasons, you should communicate directly with the university’s Occupational Health Nurse, Linda Brogden (lbrogden@uwaterloo.ca). For a constraint based on human rights issues, contact directly Mahejabeen Ebrahim, Director of the Equity Office (mahejabeen.ebrahim@uwaterloo.ca). If they approve the constraint requested, Linda or Mahejabeen will provide confirmation to that effect to your Chair without releasing details as to the grounds for the constraint.
  • The memo makes clear that, if it is necessary for a department to reduce the number of 2x1.5-hr course offerings, achieving the required reduction is the responsibility of the Chair and instructors within the department. It is also clear from the memo that PACT recognizes that all the necessary reductions of 2x1.5-hr course offerings will be gradual and will certainly not be completely achieved in Fall 2016. My hope is that departmental members will be able to work together collegially to determine how best to meet the target ratios specified in the memo (e.g., 9 classes of 3x1-hr MWF : 6 classes of 2x1.5-hr TR). Thus, it is important to realize that you should not be forced to switch multiple courses in one term from one meet time pattern to another, or switch all your courses in the 2016 academic year, to a completely new meet time pattern (e.g., from all 1.5-hr meets to all 1-hr meets). 
  • Your Chair has been instructed to inform you in a timely manner of any teaching availability selection or constraint that s/he has chosen not to approve. 
  • Several early-March “Question and Answer” sessions have already been arranged with chairs/directors and their scheduling representatives to discuss how to set department/school goals. You should pass questions/concerns through these channels initially. 
Please feel free to bring concerns to me through your department’s representative on the FAUW Council of Representatives, as scheduling is a topic of discussion at the March 23rd Council meeting this term. Of course you can also email me directly at btolson@uwaterloo.ca.

The Scheduling Office has a new website with news and resources.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Faculty access to the student portal

Guest post from the Student Success Office

All Waterloo faculty members can now access the student portal - a mobile-friendly communication and student success tool that delivers just-in-time information to current students. The portal was launched to all undergraduate and graduate students last fall.

You can log into the portal using your WaTIAM username and password. A brief video and online tour will orient you to the site and you can read more about the portal’s features and find helpful tips. You can also enable a fake student data set in your portal so you can see what students see, to get a more robust view of the student experience on the portal.

How can this help you as a faculty member?

There are many features that may be of value to you as a campus community member, including the real-time GRT schedule; WatCard balance; campus news and events; food outlet hours, locations, and specials; varsity schedules and scores; and campus hotspot crowd reporter.

As a faculty member, if you use Learn to post midterms, quizzes, and assignment due dates in the Learn course calendar, your students can import that into their portal calendar, to ensure they stay on top of their important dates.

How can you help?

As you navigate through the different portal features, think about how this tool can be of value to your students and where possible, encourage your students to use it, to help manage their academic, social, and campus life information.

This year, the portal team will focus on creating a much-desired mobile application, as well as investigate enhanced system integration, including Learn.

If you have any questions, you can submit feedback in the portal or email the portal team.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

FAUW Highlights: Inclusivity & the FAUW Board

Greeting FAUWers!

The FAUW Election Committee is passionate about addressing a recurring issue: balanced and inclusive representation of all six faculties on the FAUW Board. At the moment, there is significant Faculty of Arts representation in the group, but no Directors affiliated with the faculties of Environment, Mathematics, or Applied Health Sciences.

Representing the interests of all faculties is vital to a group like the FAUW Board, and to support this approach, the new FAUW Constitution ensures that each faculty has at least one representative on the Board, with additional “At-Large Representatives.” 2016-2017 will be a transition period toward this new representation on the Board.

This month, FAUWers will elect their President (July 2016 to June 2018), as well as one member affiliated with each of the six faculties (July 2016 to June 2018). Current members whose terms end in 2017 will become At-Large Representatives. To support this transition, one of the Board’s current Lecturer members (Heidi Engelhardt) will become the “Lecturers Representative” until the end of her term in June 2017.

The need for this new cycle of elections arose from a lack of informed voices around the table regarding current practices in each of the six faculties. Inevitably, FAUW's operations were slowed by the need to go outside the Board to find the information we needed regarding a number of issues.

Although elected from each of the six faculties separately, it is understood that the individuals elected in this way will still act in the interests of the membership as a whole, not exclusively the members of their faculty.

We believe that this new approach will foster better representation of our members. This also means that we look forward to your nomination forms!

Your next steps:

Note: Only active members of FAUW – those regular and non-regular faculty and professional librarians who have opted in – are eligible to vote and be elected. If you can’t recall whether you’ve opted in, check the bottom of the Call for Nominations announcement in your email.

FAUW Highlights is a series of regular updates from the FAUW Board, written by Elise Lepage and Shannon Gordon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

New Board Updates, Starting with Weather Policy

By Elise Lepage

Greetings FAUWers,

I’m one of the newest Directors on the FAUW Board, and will start hearing from me quite regularly on this blog (I hope!) to share what this Board is about and what it is doing for you.

Having attended bi-weekly Board meetings since last summer, I have been amazed by the number of crucial issues that FAUW is committed to. Meeting agendas are packed with a variety of burning topics requiring a range of expertise, and fostering in-depth discussions.

My hope is that regular, short updates on the blog will help you better understand FAUW’s role, gain insight into what is at stake, and encourage you to reflect upon the UW environment – and to share your stories with us.

 * * * 

I will start this week with a timely issue: the Severe Weather Policy. This issue stems from 2015 when the University of Waterloo remained open during a very stormy winter day. The University updated the weather closing guidelines on January 19 of this year, and has agreed to discuss, with FAUW, revisions to these guidelines as they are integrated into the University’s overarching emergency guidelines.

The FAUW Board and SWEC have been hearing a number of concerns from faculty, mainly about the need for clear and transparent standards for non-closure during severe weather, such as priority snow clearance routes to aid accessibility, and accommodating missed classes fairly.

As this important discussion continues, the silver lining is perhaps that the remaining weeks of the winter semester may bring more spring than snow!

As always, we want to know how issues are affecting you. Please join the conversation in the comments, or send private concerns via email.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ratings for Service

From Sally Gunz, FAUW President

There have been rumours swirling around various places on campus for a year or more that FAUW is finally able to address. These relate to possible instructions from at least one dean to chairs to have the average for service in the annual performance evaluations in any particular department to be no more than 1.25 or 'good' (MoA, 13.5.3).

The position of FAUW has been consistently that this violates terms and conditions of employment as described in the MoA. Specifically, if the average of only one element of the three most faculty are evaluated upon (i.e., Research, Teaching, Service) is reduced, the consequence is to lower the weighting of that element (to below the 20 percent weighting for service for most faculty members). 

We have now had confirmed that in fact there is no such directive to lower averages for service. Obviously if anyone still hears from their own chair that service weightings must be lowered overall, please let us know. It often takes time for these kinds of rumours to be dispelled.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hear their Stories: Welcoming and Understanding Refugees

By Lamees Al Ethari, PhD, a lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature.
Watching Syrian refugees arrive in Canada these past few weeks has ignited memories of displacement and migration for me and my family. I am not a refugee. I have not been stranded in UN camps that provided the basic needs for human survival. I have, however, lived through the traumatic experience of war and displacement. I have stood for hours at the borders of neighboring countries and pleaded with officers as they rummaged through my clothes and threatened to send me back on the long, dangerous route to Baghdad that seemed to never end.
As an Iraqi, I lived through both Gulf Wars and was forced in 2006 to find some way out of the country in order to escape the constantly rising violence and instability that plagued Iraq. We left Baghdad with three suitcases of our belongings and a prayer for better days to come. The experiences of trauma and displacement were not issues that we easily overcame or dealt with. At times, I feel that I can still smell the scents of morning as I wake up at my grandfather’s home surrounded by family. At times, I am jolted awake by memories of American troops raiding our streets. I am always burdened by mixed feelings of unquenchable longing for a home that is no longer there and a life that has dissolved in the midst of conflict, fear and hate. 
I do not believe we will ever fully recover from that experience; however, through supporting each other and finding support in the communities that surrounded us, we were able to focus on moving forward and constructing a new sense of belonging and identity here in Canada. We have learned to establish a home and a way of life that integrates our culture and our beliefs with the diverse cultures and beliefs of those around us here in Kitchener-Waterloo.
The excitement and interest surrounding the arrival of Syrian refugees that I have witnessed in the past couple of months is heartwarming. People in our communities are doing their best to support the cause both here and abroad. However, as the excitement recedes, we have to acknowledge some issues when we deal with these families and individuals. While there is no formula to follow when dealing with people in such traumatic situations, we can still keep in mind some of the following points:
  1. First and foremost, remember that these people may have suffered the loss of family members and friends, the loss of traditions and culture, and of course the loss of home. They are struggling with accepting this loss and are most likely traumatized.
  2. The whole concept of a new “home” is in itself traumatizing. Trying to adjust to new weather conditions, new positions in society, and a new sense of identity is not an easy shift. That little hyphen (Arab or Syrian-Canadian) is heavy with issues of confusion, acceptance and belonging.
  3. Although everyone thinks about the topic of language, not many focus on its ability to create a strong sense of isolation. The inability to express certain emotions or certain concepts because they cannot be translated is very difficult. The language barrier plays a major role in leading people to avoid socializing and adjusting.
  4. Canadian and Middle Eastern cultures are different, but that does not mean that these people have been isolated from the world. Arab culture and Arab media have evolved greatly in the past few years and people have come to accept many aspects of Western culture.
  5. That said, however, many families still hold to strict cultural and religious ideologies because they were raised within societies that enforced them. The idea is to accept who they are, not change them.
  6. The process of adjustment will take time. That sense of gratefulness may not easily surface because there is so much to take in during this move to resettle and adjust.
The most important thing is to listen. Each of these individuals is unique and each one of these Syrians has a personal narrative that tells a story of a journey, of loss and of trying to find content within the safe borders of a new home.

On March 15 at the Kitchener Public Library (7–9 pm), Lamees will participate on a Faculty of Arts panel addressing global and local perspectives on the Syrian and other refugee crises.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

How’s it Goin’ @ UW for You? An Event for New Faculty

Starting a new position can be daunting and sometimes even a little lonely. Wouldn’t it be nice to meet and talk to others who are also adjusting to a new life in Waterloo? You could ask them questions like “Where’s the best place to get good Thai food?” or “How did you find the Math and Computing building?” To this end, the Faculty Association would like to invite new faculty to come and share your experiences and travails with each other over refreshments on February 3rd.

Even if you are not that new (or don’t feel new anymore), please come to welcome the newest members of our community. Come enjoy the company. Come to meet new colleagues. Come to eat, drink, and compare notes. Members of the Faculty Association Board of Directors will also be present to answer questions such as “What does AF&T stand for?"

When and where

This will be a double-dip event on Wednesday, February 3 that includes an alcohol-free coffee break in the afternoon, and an alcohol-friendly Happy Hour at the Grad House.

1:30 pm – Coffee BreakLight snacks & beverages will be served in DC1301 beginning at 1:30 pm and ending at about 3:00 pm.

4:30 pm – Happy Hour
Nachos and other pub foods will be provided on the second floor of the Grad House beginning at 4:30 pm and ending at about 6:00 pm. (The Grad House also has a good selection of beer available for purchase – and pop and juice, if that's more your thing).

We all know how busy everyone’s schedule is, so feel free to come late and leave early.


Please RSVP here if possible so that we can determine how much food to arrange.

How to find the events

DC1301 is the glass-walled “fishbowl” lounge just off the main lobby of the Davis Centre.

The Grad House is located at the south end of campus, on the hill between the Dana Porter Library and South Campus Hall.