Sunday, January 14, 2018

Work-Life and Work-Work Balance in 2018: Winter Study Days

Happy 2018 everyone. One of my resolutions this year is to try to find better work-life balance. As an academic, I also believe I should try to improve my work-work balance, ensuring I’m giving the appropriate time to my teaching, research, and service activities. Like most resolutions, turning those intentions into actions is easier said than done.

As FAUW President, I want to see all UW faculty find the appropriate work-life and work-work balance. What that is for each of you is individual and different. I imagine that, to most of us, ideal solutions would include a 36-hr day or cloning ourselves. But there are realistic actions we can take and I want to encourage all of you to do three things in the hopes of improving your work-life and/or work-work balance in 2018:
  1. Make sure the week of February 19–23 is in your calendar as ‘Reading Week’ or ‘Winter Term Study Days’ or ‘Spring Break’. Additionally, to ensure marital bliss, I also strongly suggest those of with families block off February 19 as something called ‘Family Day’. 
  2. Plan to do what you want to do on Reading Week! Say no to other things in order to make this happen.
  3. Think twice about scheduling any type of committee/service meetings during Reading Week and maybe even cancel them.

Monday, January 8, 2018

News From Your Board: January 4 Meeting Recap

Peter Johnson, director for the Faculty of Environment

The boardroom was full of post-holiday/return-to-campus energy as the FAUW board sat down for the first meeting of 2018. A brief update on negotiations noted that a number of January dates have been set for the bargaining teams to meet.

We discussed the issue of equity among Canada Research Chair appointments across campus, with numerous comments on the Equity Action Plan released in December. If you have feedback, please comment below or email Bryan Tolson.

We also discussed the perpetual question of whether there is an optimal way to schedule final exams that better supports student mental health, and to have final exam schedules prepared earlier in the term. Discussions with the Registrar’s Office is ongoing and we hope to have an update in the spring term.

Additional conversations focused on the extent to which individuals on health leave are able to access on-campus resources and activities, for example faculty members continuing to supervise students while on health leave, or access to the Physical Activities Complex for graduate students on leave. This has been an issue in the past and has become relevant yet again. If you have feedback on this topic, please contact Paul Ward or Brent Matheson.

How You Can Support Fair Copyright and Federal Investment in Basic Research


The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is a national organization representing 70,000 academic staff across Canada, including you! All faculty at Waterloo who are represented by FAUW are part of CAUT.

CAUT serves as a resource for faculty associations and members through research, legal support, workshops, and conferences, and lobbies governments on behalf of Canadian academic staff. It also provides ways for individual members to take action on issues affecting academic work.

This month, CAUT is asking members to participate in two major campaigns: Get Science Right, and the Fair Copyright campaign. Read on to find out how you can support these initiatives.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

News From Your Board: December 6 Fall General Meeting Recap

Peter Johnson, Faculty of Environment representative to the FAUW board

The FAUW Fall General meeting is always an enjoyable time to get together with colleagues, discuss important issues in an open setting, and, of course, eat pizza and samosas. This year’s fall general meeting was no exception, with a lively crowd present. The meeting was chaired by Kate Lawson, with reports from president Bryan Tolson, treasurer Dan Brown, and the FAUW standing committees, including information on 2018 elections for six faculty representatives on the Board of Directors. Heidi Engelhardt gave a detailed report (PDF) on the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH), and is requesting feedback online.

On a lighter note, the winners of the FAUW Office Contest were revealed! Eight winners were selected for categories such as “Most Distracting Office,” “Most Spartan Office,” and “Most School Spirit.” Congrats to all the winners and everyone who submitted photos. I’m already at work on improving my office for a future contest by making my own custom desk (homemade furniture seemed to be a requirement for winning). I’m not sure what category this will qualify me for, but perhaps my plywood sheet balanced on milk crates could win for “Most like still being in grad school”?

Lastly, the floor of the General Meeting was opened for discussion. One main topic was who FAUW currently represents, and what various groups on campus FAUW could or should represent. Comparisons to other associations around the province were made, with some strong points about how research professors and sessional instructors should be represented. This is clearly a significant issue, particularly when considering precarious forms of employment. FAUW’s position on representation for these positions is currently under discussion, and work in this area is progressing.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Lecturer eligibility for department committees

From the Lecturers Committee

Are you a Lecturer and wondering if you are eligible to serve on a particular committee (e.g. DTPC, DACA)?

Committees play an important role in decision making on campus. A democratic approach to decision making leads to good governance and proper management of the university as a whole. Lecturers can contribute to the democratization of university administration by serving on committees for which they are eligible at all levels.

If you have been denied membership on a committee as a lecturer, or would simply like your eligibility status clarified, FAUW can help. Inquiries regarding eligibility can be sent to Erin Windibank (windibae@uwaterloo.ca).

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

News From Your Board – November 23 Board Meeting Recap

Sally Gunz, Past President

This is the time of year when we debrief our Council of Representatives meeting (November 14) and set the agenda for the Fall General Meeting (December 6). The former was very useful—thanks to all reps who attended. Interestingly, the exercise Shannon Dea (chairing the meeting) led reps through in terms of who knows what about FAUW and the University has informed our agenda setting for the General meeting. More later when the agenda is circulated.

Heidi Engelhardt reported back about her work on the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health. She chairs the Academic Panel. This is an important initiative and the discussion allowed for review of the interactions between this panel’s work and other initiatives on campus, and the Policy 33 review in particular.

Bryan Tolson attended a Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Council meeting in Ottawa this past weekend and some time was taken addressing issues expected to come up there.

Finally, with salary negotiations about to begin, our team (Benoit Charbonneau, Shelley Hulan and Dave Vert) is seeking guidance from the FAUW board on its mandate and, of course, it is best we treat these discussions as confidential. The team for the administration is, as with the last round, three deans but a completely new slate: James Rush (AHS), Pearl Sullivan (Engineering), and Steven Watt (Mathematics). Negotiations begin on December 1 and will run through the early months of next year. More on this in due course.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

News From Your Board – November 9 Meeting

Peter Johnson, Faculty of Environment representative to the FAUW board

The FAUW Board got back to business on November 9, after an October filled with special events, including the FAUW 60th anniversary celebration. We had a packed meeting room, evidence of a healthy and energized board, and of the strength of our organization and importance of our mandate.

We started off with a report from our independent auditor on the financial health of the organization. In a year that has seen great change at the administration level of the University, FAUW maintains a strong and prudent fiscal position that is neither overburdensome to our members nor compromising of our ability to protect our members and advance collegial governance on campus. Congratulations to Dan Brown, treasurer, and many treasurers before him for maintaining this balance.

Board members discussed ways to support our colleagues at local colleges while they are striking to reduce reliance on precarious employment and to obtain the academic freedom that many university faculty enjoy. FAUW has made a financial donation on behalf of our members to support those on the picket lines, and we are currently investigating other forms of support.