Monday, April 24, 2017

Meet Lori Campbell, Director of the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre

On April 18th, the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre (WAEC) was awarded the 2017 Equity and Inclusivity Award. Kathleen Rybczynski, Chair of the Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC), described why the Centre was selected for this year’s award: “The Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre exemplifies community strength, and with tremendous success has established decolonized spaces that celebrate and share Indigenous knowledges. Developing networks within our campus and broader communities, the centre brings people together: supporting, educating, and working toward respect and reconciliation.”

FAUW asked WAEC’s new director, Lori Campbell, to introduce herself to our community. In this post, Lori tells us about her background, WAEC’s initiatives, and what we can do as faculty members to support Indigenous perspectives and projects.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Canada’s Fundamental Science Review: Good News for Basic Research!

—Heidi Engelhardt, FAUW Board of Directors

A comprehensive look at research in Canada

The report “Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research”, released April 10, 2017, is the culmination of a thorough look at the federal research ‘ecosystem’ in Canada. There is a lot to like here for the entire research community. Although the report was submitted to the Minister of Science, it goes well beyond STEM disciplines. Indeed, research was defined to include both science and non-science (‘scholarly inquiry’).

For this undertaking, the more important distinction was between investigator-led research focused on knowledge generation, versus ‘priority-driven’ research. The latter was defined as research with a tightly defined area of focus, oriented primarily to partnerships (with government, industry, business), or promoting knowledge translation, innovation, and commercialization. The primary focus was on investigator-led research supported by the three granting councils plus CFI, referred to as the four funding agencies.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

President’s Report to the 2017 Spring General Meeting

– Sally Gunz, FAUW President

This is the last official general meeting report of my term as president of FAUW. Technically, the changeover to Bryan Tolson is on July 1, 2017 but it will actually take place as of September 1 since Bryan is on sabbatical.

At this meeting the names of new FAUW Board members are announced. We had an excellent slate of candidates and all of us on the Board are particularly grateful to the new people willing to offer their services to FAUW. It has been my obsession in my role as president to ensure that FAUW is an association that genuinely seeks new people to join our ranks and, in time, take over key roles. There is also a learning curve to being on the Board so we do need some returnees at each election – terms are only two years and it would be sad to lose people just when they are really hitting their stride in terms of experience. I believe our present and new Board represent a good balance of experience and new voices.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Unveiling AccessAbility Services

—Jennifer Gillies, PhD | Manger, AccessAbility Services


AccessAbility Services (ASS) can be a bit of a mystery. The purpose of this post is to help break down the wall between AAS and rest of the campus and shed light on its purpose, function, and benefits.

Why does AccessAbility Services exist?

Offices that support academic accommodations for students with disabilities are present in every postsecondary institution in Ontario. The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development provides financial support and oversight of these offices. At the University of Waterloo, AccessAbility Services fulfills its mandate by collaborating with the university community to support equitable access to post-secondary education by designing academic accommodation plans and facilitating the implementation of accommodations.

The office is accountable to the Ministry concerning documentation requirements and service offerings, but it is also accountable to the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and the integrity and academic standards of the University.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission states that postsecondary instructors have a duty to accommodate students with disabilities. However, students’ medical information is private and needs to be reviewed and stored appropriately. Our office acts as a bridge: We receive and hold the sensitive medical documentation, and relay to you the ways you can fulfill your duty to accommodate. Essentially, our office is a faculty resource. We help you understand your duty to accommodate.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Call for Nominations for FAUW Board of Directors

The Faculty Association invites nominations for directors of the board – four at-large and one representing lecturers – for the term July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2019.

Eligibility

Only members as set out in the Faculty Association Constitution are eligible for nomination. Participating members are those regular and non-regular faculty and professional librarians who have opted in to FAUW membership. Learn more about becoming a member of FAUW.

Eligibility for directors-at-large
All members, including lecturers, are eligible to run and vote on these positions.

Eligibility for director representing lecturers
Only members holding lecturer appointments are eligible to run and vote on this position.

Hint: Check the Call for Nominations announcement in your email if you need a reminder as to whether you've opted in or not. If you can't locate the email, or you think it's wrong, please contact Laura McDonald.
The Faculty Association is strongly committed to representing the interests and concerns of its diverse constituency and membership. We especially welcome those who would contribute to the diversification of the association’s leadership.

How to submit a nomination

  1. Download a nomination form (PDF)
  2. Collect the required three signatures from members of FAUW. 
  3. Drop off or mail your complete form to the Faculty Association office (MC 4001) no later than 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 13, 2017. 

The role of the Board of Directors

The Board considers all matters concerning faculty relations with the University administration, University governance as it affects the association membership, and the Memorandum of Agreement. It also advises association representatives serving on the Faculty Relations Committee, where a wide range of issues related to employment and policy are considered. The Board normally meets biweekly on Thursday afternoons from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., September through June.

Service to the association is considered service to the University for the purposes of annual performance reviews, tenure, and promotion.

More information

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Twitter Day of Action to Support Fairness for Contract Faculty

Friday March 3 is a Twitter Day of Action to Support Fairness for Contract Faculty organized by OCUFA (Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations). Please consider using the hashtags #OurUniversity or #OurCollege, and #Fairness4CF on that day to raise awareness concerning the need for fairness for contract faculty.

You can visit the OCUFA website for more information and ways to promote this social media action. It is organized to build on the momentum created during last fall’s Fair Employment Week.

All faculty members at Ontario universities and concerned citizens are invited to participate. Please share widely!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Know Your Rights: Disability Accommodations for Waterloo Faculty

This month, FAUW's Status of Women and Equity Committee hosted Margaret Price, an award-winning scholar of disability, to present findings from an international study examining the experiences of disabled faculty members. Professor Price will continue in an official role as a consultant to FAUW as we navigate accommodation processes at Waterloo. Unlike the clear and consistent accommodations process in place for students, faculty navigate a much more difficult terrain.

Here’s what we know

Ontario Human Rights Commission

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) states that:
Costs of accommodation must be distributed as widely as possible within the organization responsible for accommodation so that no single department, employee, customer or subsidiary is burdened with the cost of an accommodation. The appropriate basis for evaluating the cost is based on the budget of the organization as a whole, not the branch or unit in which the person with a disability works or to which the person has made an application.[1]
Employees should be aware that necessary accommodations are not subject to budget limitations at the departmental or unit level. The University of Waterloo can and frequently does take financial responsibility for accommodation provisions at both the faculty and the central administrative levels.

Moreover, administration of accommodations must be central, and disclosure limited to protect the privacy and dignity of the individual.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Report from December 2016 Lecturers’ Town Hall Meetings

FAUW created a Lecturers Committee in spring 2015. Discussions about a review of Policy 76, which deals with appointment categories and promotion, highlighted the need for FAUW to better understand the unique needs of lecturers. Going forward, this committee will continue to advise the FAUW Board on matters pertaining to all aspects of the working lives of lecturers.

The Lecturers Committee hosted town hall meetings in December 2016. The committee provided context on the relationship of the Lecturers Committee to the FAUW Board, the issues raised via a 2014 meeting of lecturers and 2015 Lecturers Survey, and the current activities of the committee. The floor was then opened for discussion. Some of the highlights were:
  • Career path: The process for promotion to Continuing status is poorly defined and inconsistent across units. There is a need to clearly define ranks and the expectations for progression, and communicate this to all levels of administration.
  • Professional development: Both an expectation for lecturers to remain current in their field and provision for time to do this (‘one non-teaching term in six’) are enshrined in Policy 76. However, inconsistencies across and within units on how and whether this clause is applied are widespread.
  • Workload: Assignment of weightings for teaching tasks is inconsistent across units. Particularly with online teaching, values assigned to the development and delivery of online courses varies both across and within units. 
  • Service roles: Wording in policy surrounding lecturer eligibility for service tasks is ambiguous. Both lecturers and administrators are often uncertain if lecturers are eligible to serve in certain roles. 
  • Annual performance reviews: The process and the associated document template is designed for research faculty and therefore inappropriate for lecturers. 
  • Terminal degree: Similar to tenure-track positions, a PhD may not be the appropriate qualification for teaching-stream faculty in some disciplines (Pharmacy, Optometry, Accounting, Architecture, math, languages). This should be considered when revising policies governing the appointment and career progression of lecturers.”
A full report of the town hall meetings is available on the FAUW website, along with the slides used at these sessions.

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.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Federation of Students: Get Out the Vote!

From the Federation of Students 

Elections for student representatives in University of Waterloo’s student-led government are currently underway. The Federation of Students – the undergraduate student union since 1967 – would like to ask for your support in encouraging undergraduate students to vote.

In recent years, only a small portion of the entire undergraduate student population has come out to vote. According to Feds Research and Policy Officer Aaron Francis, Waterloo’s voter turnout has rarely been over 10 per cent in the last five years. Feds needs your help to spread the word about elections and help increase voter turnout.

Why is voting important?

Feds lobbies the government on behalf of undergraduate students; operates seven commercial services; oversees six student-run services; encompasses more than 200 clubs; and supports student societies – in addition to running day-to-day operations and special events.
Voting information

Information on elections, including candidate bios and platforms can be found at: feds.ca/elections
Voting opens February 13 at 10 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. on February 15. Students can vote at polling stations, online at vote.feds.ca, and through UW Portal.

Engaging students

Here’s how you can encourage student engagement:
  • Talk to your students at the beginning of class; announce when voting opens (Feb. 13) and give a reminder on the day voting closes (Feb. 15)
  • Add an elections slide to your class PowerPoint presentation
  • Put up election posters or share online 
  • Follow Federation of Students on Facebook and/or Twitter and share our posts about the election on your faculty social media account
  • Use #uwvotes to join the conversation online 
  • Share our elections information video on Facebook
The Federation of Students thanks you for your support in encouraging an engaged and informed undergraduate student body at University of Waterloo!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Did you Know that Central Pays for Pregnancy and Parental Leaves?

–Bryan Tolson, Vice President

The departmental economics surrounding Pregnancy and Parental leaves under Policy 14 are a mystery to most people on campus. Chairs and faculty members planning a leave each deserve to know the economics of a Policy 14 leave as they jointly discuss and plan for one. Until we can get a concise summary of key economic impacts into Policy 14 itself, here is what you need to know:

Central, not your department, covers the salary paid out to you from UW while you are on pregnancy/parental leave.

Let me say that a different way:

The unit paying your salary retains 100% of those funds when you are on pregnancy/parental leave.

Friday, February 3, 2017

What You Can Do About the Travel Ban

Practical things academics can do to help colleagues affected by the U.S. travel and immigration ban.

Last week, President Donald Trump issued a 90-day prohibition on entry to the U.S. by nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The same executive order blocks all refugee admissions for 120 days, with the exception of Syrian refugee admissions, which are suspended indefinitely.

Lawyers got to work, with mixed results. Some people from the seven countries have indeed been prevented from entering the U.S.; others have not. Suffice it to say that, for now, travel to the U.S. for nationals of those countries is very uncertain. And indeed, Muslims from countries other than the affected seven, as well as members of other marginalized groups, may well be wary about entering the U.S.

By now, you will likely have received communications from your professional organizations about how they’re responding to the ban. The Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Ontario Council of Faculty Associations, and University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur have all issued statements too.

Beyond such statements though, what practical measures can you take in response to the travel ban? Herewith, in no particular order, is an initial round-up of practical things you can do. If you have other ideas, please add a comment below this post. We’ll update the list as we receive your ideas.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

It Goes Without Saying

A message from the Status of Women & Equity Committee

In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, and in response to the initial executive orders (including the executive order which denies U.S. entry to all refugees for 120 days, citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen face a 90 day visa suspension, and Syrian refugees are denied entry indefinitely) many institutions, organizations and individuals have made statements condemning discriminatory and divisive statements, and supporting equity and diversity. January 21, Women's Marches in Washington and world wide organized in protest of the proposed legislative changes. This week, University of Waterloo community members gathered to express sorrow, support, and join in prayers in response to the shooting at the Grande Mosquée de Québec.

It goes without saying that the Status of Women and Equity Committee supports equity and inclusivity.

Except it doesn't go without saying. It shouldn't. We should say it, clearly and repeatedly.

We won't always say it in a timely manner, and we won't always say it perfectly. We won't always use the best words, or speak with great eloquence. But we should and will say it.

We support equity and inclusivity. We value and celebrate diversity, across all measures and intersections of identity. We will fight against discrimination in all its forms. We stand in solidarity with our fellow community members. And we are not alone.

Le Comité du statut de la femme et de l’équité de l’Université de Waterloo tient à adresser ses sincères condoléances aux familles des victimes et exprime son soutien et son entière solidarité aux blessés touchés par cette tragédie. The Status of Women and Equity Committee of the University of Waterloo send our sincerest condolences to the families of the victims and express our support and wholehearted solidarity to the wounded touched by this tragedy.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Tips for Writing Better Reference Letters

Some seasons seem to come around more often than others: many of us are presently writing reference letters—again. It is important to acknowledge the significant impact that this routine exercise has on our students and colleagues.

SWEC, FAUW’s Status of Women and Equity Committee, would like to remind each faculty member how easy it is for unconscious gender bias to slip into our reference letters. They have provided some resources to help us all write professional reference letters that reflect on women’s capacities in an equitable way.

The University of Arizona’s Commission on the Status of Women has a very handy one-pager on “common traps based on unconscious gender bias (PDF) ,” including:
  • Letters for reference for men are more likely to emphasize accomplishments while letters for women are 50% more likely to include adjectives that describe effort. 
  • On average, letters for men are 16% longer than letters for women. 
  • Letters of reference for women are 7x more likely to mention personal life—something that is almost always irrelevant for the application. 
The federal government’s Canada Research Chairs online resources include background research as well as tips for limiting unconscious bias, such as:
  • Use the nominee’s formal title and surname instead of their first name. 
  • Consider whether your letter unintentionally includes doubt-raising, negative or unexplained statements (e.g., ‘might make an excellent leader’ versus ‘is an established leader’).

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

OCUFA's Ontario Budget Recommendations Released

OCUFA’s 2017 pre-budget submission, which sets out OCUFA’s priorities for the Ontario Budget (PDF), is now available.

OCUFA’s recommendations include:
  • Increasing per-student funding for Ontario’s universities to match the average for the rest of Canada;
  • Making a commitment to supporting faculty renewal, including full-time faculty hiring that brings Ontario’s student-faculty ratio in line with the rest of Canada and replacing retiring faculty with tenure-stream positions;
  • Ensuring fairness for contract faculty by strengthening employment and labour laws;
  • Rejecting the use of punitive performance-based funding in the renewed university funding model; and
  • Establishing a new higher education data agency to collect, analyze, and disseminate key information on Ontario’s universities.
  • Providing greater clarity about criteria for solvency exemption to support the success of a multiemployer jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP) for the university sector.
OCUFA President Judy Bates presented these recommendations to the Ministry of Finance on January 9 and to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on January 19.

Source: OCUFA.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Response to CEPT Draft Report from Psychology Faculty Members

Update February 9, 2017: The Course Evaluation Project Team is reviewing all of the feedback they've received. When that process is complete, they will submit something to Senate to move forward. So the next opportunity for you to engage with this issue is talking to a member of Senate.

The Course Evaluation Project Team (CEPT) was formed in May 2014 to “explore the potential for a new course evaluation model that is informed by best practices and meets the needs of students, faculty, staff and administrators.”

The team released a draft report on November 8, 2016, including a proposed course evaluation tool, and requested feedback from the University community. Members of the Department of Psychology have asked us to share their detailed response to the report here.

The Status of Women & Equity Committee's response and FAUW's response are available on the FAUW website.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

“Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education” MOOC

More than 30 faculty members at Waterloo have already registered to attend UBC’s MOOC [Massive Open Online Course] on “Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education”.

This MOOC runs for six weeks between January 24 and March 7. One can audit it for free, or take it for a certificate ($50 USD). Registration is open until January 24.

A group of UW instructors (supported by the Centre for Teaching Excellence) have decided to take the course and to meet a couple of times to discuss ways to apply what they are learning at Waterloo. There is still time to join this group if you are interested in learning more about reconciliation, and in thinking about what UW can do to support reconciliation. If you would like to join the UW cohort, please email Trevor Holmes (tholmes@uwaterloo.ca) to have your name added to the mailing list.

Attending this course is a first but significant step to following the recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in its “Calls to Action” (#53, 62, 65). Indigenizing postsecondary education is also a burning topic that was extensively discussed at CAUT’s new activists workshop in November.

More about the course

Week 1: Indigenous Education Through the Lens of Reconciliation
Week 2: History of Indigenous Education
Week 3: Learning from Indigenous Worldviews
Week 4: Learning from Story
Week 5: Learning from the Land
Week 6: Engaging in Respectful Relations

The learning objectives of this course are to:
  • Explore personal and professional histories and assumptions in relationship to Indigenous peoples histories and worldviews.
  • Deepen understanding and knowledge of colonial histories and current realities of Indigenous people.
  • Engage with Indigenous worldviews and perspectives that contextualize and support your understanding of the theories and practices of Indigenous education.
  • Develop strategies that contribute to the enhancement of Indigenous-settler relations in schools, organizations, and communities.
  • Explore Indigenous worldviews and learning approaches for their application to the classroom or community learning setting.
  • Engage in personal and professional discussions in an online environment with others committed to understanding and advancing reconciliation.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New Writing Support Programs for Faculty

– Nadine Fladd, University of Waterloo Writing Centre

Faculty often recommend that their undergraduate and graduate students visit the Writing Centre for individual consultations or attend our workshops, but all writers – including professors – can benefit from working with someone who will listen as they talk through their ideas, read rough work, and ask questions to clarify the ideas they want to express.

Nadine Fladd's headshot
Nadine Fladd
As the Writing Centre’s new Writing and Multimodal Communication Specialist with a focus on Graduate, Postdoctoral and Faculty Support, I can support your writing goals as a faculty member – whether you’re working on a book, journal article, grant proposal, or any other project – through 50-minute consultations. These consultations are open to faculty at any stage of the writing process. I can help you work towards your writing goals by providing a sounding board as you plan and outline, helping you experience your drafts the way a reader might, facilitating goal-setting and offering coaching, and consulting on the structure, organization, or mechanics of a draft.

Weekly Writing Café

Have you set big publication goals for yourself for 2017? If so, a regular writing practice can help with productivity and motivation. Based on the success of the Writing Centre’s programming for graduate students, including Dissertation Boot Camp and the weekly Grad Writing Café, the Writing Centre will be hosting a Weekly Writing Café for faculty beginning January 11, 2017. Every Wednesday afternoon we will offer a dedicated writing space (with coffee, tea, and treats!) for faculty to write together. These loosely-structured sessions are designed to help faculty connect to a larger writing community, to stay focused, and to keep making writing progress.

Clare Bermingham, Writing Centre director, serves coffee and Timbits at a writing session for graduate students.
Clare Bermingham, Writing Centre director, serves coffee and Timbits at a writing session for graduate students.

We break these weekly, two-hour meetings into 25-minute writing sprints divided by 5-minute breaks, following the pomodoro technique (PDF). After the writing session, you are welcome to stay to discuss writing goals, challenges and strategies with your colleagues.

Faculty Writing Café: Wednesdays from 2pm to 4pm in SCH 228F
Faculty Writing Discussion: Wednesdays from 4pm to 4:30pm in SCH 228F

How to participate

Please email Nadine Fladd to set up an individual meeting to discuss your project.

There’s no need to register if you’d like to join our weekly Faculty Writing Café. Just show up with your laptop and ready to write!