Wednesday, February 22, 2017

President's Report to Members

Sally Gunz, FAUW President

As I write this, those of you who are teaching this term will be enjoying the winter term break. I wish you well. May you have a good holiday, catch up, or achieve whatever goals you set yourself for the week. I last wrote in November so it is time for a short update on matters relating to FAUW.

New president

First, and most importantly, congratulations to Bryan Tolson for his election as the incoming president of FAUW. I suspect every former FAUW president shares my sentiments; it is a real pleasure to know that there are always members of our academy willing to take over leadership roles on FAUW. Bryan is particularly dedicated to FAUW and its members and will make an excellent president. He is formally on sabbatical from March 1 until August 31st so I will continue on as acting president through July and August, with Bryan beginning his term in September.

Elections for members-at-large of the board

Elections for four (4) member-at-large positions and one (1) lecturer position on the FAUW board will be held ahead of the April general meeting. I encourage anyone interested in running for such a position to discuss what it entails with any current or former board member. Nomination forms will be available on the FAUW website from March 1 with a closing date for nominations of March 13. The election itself (an online ballot) will be conducted March 21 through April 3.

Hagey Lecture

The Hagey Lecture is the premier event in the university speaker calendar. Typically it is held in the fall but this year it was shifted to March 2017 in order to accommodate the speaker’s schedule. The committee (chaired by Jasmin Habib) has selected an outstanding speaker. Dr. Carol Barnes (University of Arizona) will discuss how memory and the brain change during aging, highlighting some of the current thinking about how to optimize brain and mental functions throughout life. Please join us at the Humanities Theatre (HH) on 22nd March. Visit the event page to secure your free ticket.

Fall term break

The fall term break is a three-year pilot. Results from a student survey conducted by the Student Success Office will be presented at the next senate meeting. FAUW was asked about the perspective of faculty members and we encourage you to respond to our request for input if you have specific thoughts. So far the main concerns we have heard expressed centre around the difficulty for lab-based courses as a result of the two day, post-Thanksgiving break. Suggestions have been made that these could be overcome either by using the two days ahead of Thanksgiving (Thursday, Friday) or to extend the break to one week, as per the winter break. Those responsible for this project seem to be aware of these concerns but they did not indicate they would be making any changes. We would appreciate your input either on this or other issues relating to the break. For example, what was your experience of class attendance for the two days of the week following the Fall Break?

Please provide feedback in the comments section or by emailing laura.mcdonald@uwaterloo.ca.

Memorandum of Agreement

If you are tenured or a continuing lecturer, you will have now completed your last evaluation process until 2019. At the risk of stating the obvious, you will still be reporting on your activities for 2017 and 2018 but you will not complete a report until January 2019. Some further MoA changes will be circulated before long. These are generally of a technical nature. The one that will most affect you relates to histograms of performance evaluation. In the future you will be receiving a breakdown by all three categories (teaching, research and service). Full explanations of the changes will be provided at the time of the vote.

University governance and policy projects

On December 21, an announcement was made by the University president that the combined function of university secretary and general counsel would be separated into two offices. A consequence of this has been some delay in the policy revision projects. Policy 33 (Ethical Behaviour) work continues and it is expected that the review of Policy 42 (Sexual Violence) will begin soon. Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) will begin its work again in March as will, most likely, the Policy 14 (Pregnancy and Parental leaves (including Adoption)) committee.

Surveys of student experience

We were all recently advised that the Course Evaluation Project Taskforce (CEPT) is currently reviewing the responses received to its draft report. The FAUW response is available on the FAUW website as is one from SWEC and a number of faculty members in the department of psychology. It remains a concern to FAUW just how many departments rely primarily – and in some cases solely – on student evaluations for the evaluation of teaching for annual performance evaluations and promotion and tenure given the very real concerns about the validity of these as measures of actual quality of teaching. FAUW has plans to help support the implementation of better practices for evaluating teaching over the year ahead. Note that the header used in this section follows FAUW’s recommended description for these exercises. The conclusion of the psychology experts and others is that it is inappropriate to expect students to be able to assess the quality of the teaching itself.

Other issues

  • FAUW has continued to work with the administration at the Faculty Relations Committee (FRC). You have all been notified about the provost’s new conflict of interest guidelines for hiring which were drafted jointly by FAUW and the administration. They take the form of a provostial guideline; these documents can be found on the Provost’s Office website and FAUW’s site
  • I would like to note that FAUW had no role in the provost’s recent announcement about business class travel, although I remain deeply jealous of anyone who has managed to pull this one off up until now!
  • Several hiring committees have either recently been struck or are about to be struck. I am FAUW’s representative on the committee to hire the university secretary and Dan Brown will be FAUW’s representative on the committee to hire a new registrar.
  • The Lecturers Committee published its report on the findings of its survey of all lecturers at the University of Waterloo administered in November 2015. 
  • If you are a new faculty member, please join us at another gathering either at noon or 4:00 on March 9. These are informal events at which you can meet fellow newcomers to UW and exchange experiences. Details will be posted to the FAUW website and emailed to new members soon.
  • The FAUW tenure and promotion workshop series will be held once more on April 4 and 5. These offer critical advice to those of you who are either untenured or are considering applying for promotion to full professor (See the FAUW Events page for details). 
  • FAUW will be introducing a new workshop to its series this Fall. In September there will be a workshop for all faculty members who have recently been tenured. More information will be available about this soon.
  • FAUW’s grievance with the administration was resolved to the satisfaction of the parties.

1 comment :

  1. RE Fall break: My attendance in a first-year course was not good. One student told me I was their only professor not to cancel class that week. Others expressed that it wasn't worth coming back early for when they could extend their time at home by an extra weekend. There was also confusion in my class about the rescheduling of days (that Friday was really "Wednesday").

    ReplyDelete