‘President’s Message’

Farewell message

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Farewell message | Filed in June 2018, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

With the arrival of spring and summer, many of us are in conference mode or perhaps shifting our focus from our regular duties. Here in the Faculty Association, we continue to work full-out with adapting to the new labour regime imposed on us by the government last spring. This work includes making sure all Association policies and by-laws conform to the Labour Code, negotiating with Senior Administration to develop an essential services agreement, developing strike protocols, and participating as intervenors in Labour Board cases whose decisions could have an impact on our future. This is in addition to dealing with the regular work of the Association, consisting primarily of grievance and investigation work, a workload that seems to be steadily increasing with every year, and also includes responding to member inquiries, which may be anything from providing a piece of information regarding career processes to dealing with violations of the Collective Agreement.

This is my last President’s message, as my term comes to an end on June 30. This has been a time of challenges, satisfying work, and sometimes frustration. As I noted above, there have been substantial changes during this time, primarily due to our becoming a trade union – and much of the work associated with this change continues and will continue for some time.

I would like to thank the members who have supported me and expressed their thanks for my work as President, as well as those who have provided critiques, which provided the impetus for reflection on how things could perhaps be done better. I would also like to thank members of the Board of Directors and Faculty Association Executive for their thoughtful input and guidance during these four years. Last, but not least, I would like to thank the Association’s experienced, professional, and accomplished staff, particularly our Executive Director, Sheila Miller, for providing exemplary support for me and the other Officers of the Association.

To all Association members, I hope you have time to recharge during the spring and summer and I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

Community Service Award 2018

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Community Service Award 2018 | Filed in March 2018, President's Message

Dr. Naweed Syed, Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy. Recipient of the 2018 Faculty Association Community Service Award.

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

I would like to congratulate, on behalf of all Faculty Association members, the recipient of the 2018 Community Service Award, Dr. Naweed Syed from the Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy. The Award was presented to Dr. Syed at an event on March 6, 2018.

The Community Service Award recognizes a member of the Faculty Association of the University of Calgary who has provided exceptional service to the community and has gone above and beyond the requirements of the person’s position. This person has thus made an outstanding contribution of personal time and effort for the benefit of others. Special emphasis is placed on those service activities that involve outreach to the community beyond the University and activities that go beyond the regular duties of the academic staff member. In this context, service may include volunteer work, as well as educational outreach or the application of research and other scholarly activities in the community.

Dr. Syed is a recent recipient of the Canada-150 Medal, one of the highest honours bestowed by the Senate, and has been recognized broadly and internationally for his community service and outstanding contributions to society-at-large. The community work of Dr. Syed is far-reaching and impactful. Below is a brief overview of Dr. Syed’s community service activities.

His recognition with one of the highest civilian awards from the Government of Pakistan spurred Dr. Syed to use this honour to support hundreds of children impacted by terrorism. A CBC news article on his efforts can be found here. He is working with other international organizations in Pakistan such as the World Health Organization, UNESCO, and the Canada Pakistan Research and Development Council on improving access to vaccinations and better equipping ambulances in that country.

In Calgary, Dr. Syed has led a significant fundraising campaign for Syrian refugees. He has held Discovery Workshops for Syrian refugee youth, exposing them to some of the most advanced research techniques in his lab at the Cumming School of Medicine. Similar workshops have been held for youth from across Calgary.

Faculty Association President, Sandra Hoenle (left) and Association Award Committee Chair, Justine Wheeler (right) present the Community Service Award to Dr. Naweed Syed.

Dr. Syed serves as the CEO of the Right to Live Foundation of Calgary – this organization serves all South Asian Communities regarding issues related to family violence and abuse of women and children. He is also involved with other Calgary organizations, including fundraising for the Calgary Food Bank and the Calgary Drop-In Centre.

Further to the activities outlined above, Dr. Syed is a well-respected academic colleague who has served on countless committees at the University of Calgary, he has provided leadership in his Department and research programs in Medicine. His academic advocacy involves outreach to the community and this past year he provided a keynote address for the March for Science in Calgary. This global initiative emphasizes the importance of research and its societal impact – ideals the Faculty Association very much supports and advocates for in its work with provincial and national partners.

Once again, I would like to congratulate Dr. Syed on this well-deserved Award.

I would also like to thank the Association Award Committee for their work: Justine Wheeler, Committee Chair (Libraries and Cultural Resources), Jason Anderson (Comparative Biology and Experimental Medicine), Berndt Brenken (Mathematics and Statistics), Kaela Jubas (Werklund School of Education), and Glen Wilkinson (History).

 

 

 

 

Wishing you a restful holiday break

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Wishing you a restful holiday break | Filed in December 2017, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

This has been an exceptionally busy semester for the Faculty Association. The Association has been, and continues to be, involved in the academic processes of Assessment and Tenure and Promotion. We have worked to ensure the Association is aligned with its obligations under the Labour Code, since we were deemed a trade union last summer. We received and responded to the CAUT report on Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability (more information available here). Further to this the Association continues to manage the heavy load of its core functions of bargaining, and advising and representing members. I, along with other Association Officers, will continue to communicate with academic staff in the new year as issues and processes move forward. In the meantime, I wish all academic staff Happy Holidays, a restful and unplugged break, and a productive 2018.

Working towards fair employment

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Working towards fair employment | Filed in Fair Employment Week, October 2017, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

Fair Employment Week (FEW) takes place this year from October 23 to 27, 2017. Each year the Faculty Association participates in this national event that raises awareness of the difficulties inherent in being a member of the Contract Academic Staff (the primary group at the U of C being sessional academics). Universities continue to lean on Contract Academic Staff as a cheap, flexible workforce. At the U of C sessional instructors are typically hired to teach individual courses; they are not expected to do research and they are not offered long-term or even medium-term commitments beyond the individual courses. These academics often work for low pay, and with the uncertainty of whether or not another short-term contract will be extended to them.

Sessional instructors are members of the Faculty Association and voted to join the Association in 1994. Since that time, the Association has consistently worked to negotiate representation rights and protections for sessionals. We believe one strong reason for these gains has been due to the united front the Faculty Association is able to maintain through representing both ongoing and sessional academics. The Association has worked to strike a balance between trying to slow the casualization of academic work while trying to improve the working conditions of those academics while they are in sessional positions.

The Collective Agreement states that continuing appointments are to be used to meet the continuing staffing needs of the University whenever reasonably practical (Article 23.1). A copy of the Collective Agreement can be found on our website here. The Faculty Association regularly reviews the use of sessionals in Faculties and departments, paying particular attention to where there are sessionals with substantial teaching loads, who teach year after year. We have been able to work with Faculties to achieve ongoing limited term or in some cases tenure-track appointments for these members, who thereby gain increased job security and access to benefits and a pension, among other things. In this way, and through challenging sessional use generally in Faculties, the Association is working to secure ongoing appointments for as many academics as possible.

We do realize that there are situations where sessionals are likely appropriate. A professional who holds specific expertise may be hired for a particular course or there can be situations in which a Faculty requires an instructor to fill a short-term vacancy. The reasons a sessional appointment can be used are outlined in the Collective Agreement under Article 23.2. However, situations in which the bulk of courses that are required for a program are taught year after year by sessionals need to be addressed.

In the Collective Agreement we have also worked to improve conditions for sessionals. After a sessional teaches eight (8) half-course equivalents they gain the right of first refusal for courses they apply for, provided they have taught within the last five years and subject to having a good record of performance plus the requisite knowledge, skills and professional qualifications for the position (Article 23.12). Salary rates have also been set as minimums only, so although sessionals must be paid at least the minimum they can also be paid more. Salary rates for sessionals are set up as steps on a salary grid. After a sessional teaches 8 half-course equivalents they are automatically moved up to the next step on the grid. We have also negotiated a professional expense reimbursement fund for sessionals, similar to the one for ongoing academics. Sessionals are eligible for $175 per half-course equivalent up to $1,750 per academic year. Information on salary and benefits for sessional academics can be found in the Collective Agreement under ‘Schedule B’.

When negotiating the Collective Agreement, the Faculty Association has traditionally worked to ensure sessional academics receive increases to salary rates which equal or exceed those of ongoing staff. This is done in the spirit of fairness but also with the recognition that sessionals do not have the same job security and benefits that ongoing academics have.

The Faculty Association believes that sessional academics should be seen as colleagues, as fellow academic staff members, and as such should be fully supported in their work. The Collective Agreement outlines access to facilities, resources, and participation in department meetings (Article 23.8). Further support is provided by the Faculty Association Sessional Travel Grants to assist these members with making scholarly presentations and participating in other scholarly activity in their field. This type of support is not offered to sessional academics elsewhere. The application for these competitive grants is currently open (and more information can be found here).

All of this said, sessionals here and across the country inhabit a very precarious position as these academics work from contract to contract, being paid for piecework with few benefits.  The problem of reliance on casual work is not unique to the U of C. According to the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), contract academics make up approximately one-third of all academic staff in Canada. These academics are paid on average one-third less per course than an ongoing academic staff member or roughly 67 cents on the dollar.

The Faculty Association will continue to work within our institution and with our national organization, CAUT, to improve the working conditions of sessional academics and to reduce the casualization of work in the academy. I encourage all academic staff, in your Faculties and departments, to discuss these issues with each other to help create awareness of the issues faced by our sessional colleagues.​

CAUT report on Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on CAUT report on Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability | Filed in October 2017, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

Yesterday the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) released a report “Into the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability At the University of Calgary”. It is now available at https://www.caut.ca/sites/default/files/caut-ahic-report-calgary-enbridge-centre-for-corporate-sustainability_2017-10.pdf.

The Faculty Association welcomes the release of the report by the CAUT Ad Hoc Investigatory Committee at long last, as it confirms many of the concerns that we and others within the University of Calgary academic community have been raising regarding failures of governance, lack of transparency, the need for robust protection of academic freedom, and the perceptions of conflict of interest.

The Investigatory Committee consisted of Professors Alison Hearn of the University of Western Ontario and Gus Van Harten of Osgoode Hall Law School and their investigation was conducted under the CAUT Procedures in Academic Freedom Cases which are available at https://www.caut.ca/about-us/caut-policy/lists/administrative-procedures-and-guidelines/caut-procedures-in-academic-freedom-cases

The Report’s detailed and extensive findings (pp. 3-6) are of great concern to the Faculty Association.

One of the greatest concerns is the domination of the senior administration in the governance processes of the University.  The failures of the checks and balances intended in effective collegial governance are significant.

One of the failures in governance has been the Board of Governors’ and the Senior Administration’s misapplication of for-profit corporate structures within a university collegial setting.  Rather than being a place of transparency and open debate reflecting the University as a public institution accountable to the academic and broader communities, the Governors and Administration have used for-profit corporate structures to keep decision making behind closed doors and controlled by the privileged few.  The result is the type of decision making reflected in the CAUT report.

While there are many bodies within the University who share in the responsibility for establishing the currently closed decision-making climate, the President had a unique responsibility not only for creating the structures, but also in failing to act in a manner consistent with her high office. We are concerned about the lack of sound judgment by the president, who as a former Dean and academic staff member, clearly knew the importance of respecting academic freedom and avoiding the appearance of conflicts of interest.

The Report contains very important recommendations about changes in the practices of the University of Calgary (pp. 36 – 37). To avoid such future incidents as reported by CAUT, the Faculty Association calls upon the provincial government to immediately review the governance structures and freedom of information legislation.  The current provincial government’s governance review, which has been truncated in recent months, needs to be expanded to address all of the issues identified in this report.

While this issue is in the past, we now need to focus on the future and ensure changes are made to prevent further damage. Without significant structural and policy changes within the University and by the provincial government, I fear that even greater problems are inevitable.

Unfortunately, the Board of Governors continues to rely on the report prepared for them by former Justice Terrance F. McMahon and now “considers the Enbridge matter closed.” (https://ucalgary.ca/utoday/issue/2017-10-12/board-reaffirms-its-full-support-and-confidence-president-elizabeth-cannon) Appendix A of the CAUT Report provides a critical assessment of the McMahon Report.

I call on the academic community and the provincial government to review the report for important lessons for our future, and to take action. We need a thorough review of governance processes both within the University and by the provincial government.

 

Upcoming changes to the Post-Secondary Learning Act

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Upcoming changes to the Post-Secondary Learning Act | Filed in March 2017, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

In the Fall, I reported to you on the provincial government’s consultations regarding changes to the Post-Secondary Learning Act (PSLA), focusing on matters related to Faculty Associations and labour relations. The need for these changes had arisen because of the Supreme Court’s decision that freedom of association included the right to strike, and thus the right to strike is protected by the Charter. As a result, the provincial governments were required to amend any legislation where strikes had previously been prohibited. In Alberta, the Faculty Associations at colleges as well as graduate students’ associations have been prohibited from striking. The research university Faculty Associations (at Calgary, Alberta, Lethbridge, and Athabasca) are not prohibited from striking, but there is no clear mechanism for how strikes would occur. In order to resolve bargaining disputes in lieu of strikes, the research universities have provisions in their Collective Agreements for binding arbitration. These will now likely be eliminated by the government as they install strikes/lockouts as the preferred method of resolving disputes. Of course, with strikes also comes the possibility of lockout by the employer as their method to resolve disputes.

Rather than simply establish a strike mechanism and leave everything else intact (which they certainly could have done), the provincial government seems to have decided that they wanted to significantly change the nature of Faculty Associations. Most simply put, in my own personal reading of the situation, the New Democrats wanted to turn all Faculty Associations into trade unions established under the Labour Act. Initially there had been a government round-table in the Fall of 2015 at which the consensus view of all stakeholders (Faculty Associations and Administrations) was that Faculty Associations should remain under the Post-Secondary Learning Act. At that time, for the research universities, all of the Faculty Associations unanimously agreed that it would be preferable to stay under the PSLA. In spite of this strong consensus opinion, the government undertook a second round of consultations in the following year.

In the summer of 2016, the government introduced a new discussion paper, which we shared with you, along with a discussion paper of our own highlighting numerous concerns with the government’s direction. From those papers, we consulted with you and the Department Representatives before making a submission to the government. We sent this final submission to you in an email in October, and you can also find it on our website here. The government subsequently held a series of round-tables with stakeholder representatives. At the invitation of the government, I attended one such round-table together with our Executive Director, Sheila Miller. The key issues discussed at the round-table were: 1) the potential implications of Faculty Associations becoming unions under the Labour Act; and 2) how and by whom designation of academic staff should occur.

The government’s consultant and moderator of the round-tables, Andy Sims, stated he would consider all submissions and discussions at the various round-tables in formulating his recommendations to the Government, which he would present in early 2017, after which new legislation would be tabled in the Spring sitting of the Legislature (scheduled from March 2 – June 1).

No matter how the government decides to proceed, there will be a profound impact on Faculty Associations and the nature of bargaining. Until now, if there was an impasse at the bargaining table, either side could take the matter to arbitration. There was inherent risk to both sides in taking matters to an arbitrator, as it could backfire and one might get stuck with something worse than what could have been achieved at the bargaining table.  This meant there was a tendency at the bargaining table to judge proposals based on how an arbitrator might rule. Moving to strike and lockout, we will no longer judge issues based on what an arbitrator might rule, but rather on where our/their bottom line is, how far we/they are willing to push on an issue, and where the possible overlap exists. This is not necessarily a better or worse system, but it does change the way we (and the Board of Governors) will approach bargaining in the future.

There is also the question of whether there will be a ‘phase-in’ period or whether strike/lockout will be established when Royal Assent is given to the new legislation. While this was a point of discussion at the round-table, until the legislation is brought forward, we do not know how long, or even whether, there will be a transition phase. As a result, we are about to enter bargaining in a state of uncertainty (our current Collective Agreement expires June 30, 2017). We do not know when the legislation will be enacted and what effect it could potentially have on bargaining in progress, especially what dispute mechanism might be in effect if we are unable to come to agreement at the table.

Once the legislative rules are made clear, we will need to discuss ‘essential services’ with the Board of Governors – that is those parts of our work which would continue even in the event of a strike or lockout. As ‘essential services’ are generally only considered to be those aspects of work where health and safety might be at risk, it is likely that work considered to be ‘essential service’ will be relatively rare. However, there will be exceptions – especially in positions with an urgent clinical component or where researchers are dealing with dangerous materials which need monitoring.

The Association membership will also need to decide on whether to establish a strike fund. There are a number of possibilities, for which we have gathered the relevant information: We can join the CAUT Defense Fund, establish our own fund, do both, or do neither. Again, once the legislation is clear, the Board of Directors will be coming back to you with a proposal for your consideration.

At this time, we can make no concrete plans for how to move forward until we see what the provincial government decides to do. Until we see the new legislation, we are not sure whether all of our current members will continue to be part of the Faculty Association or whether new groups of members might become part of the Association. We could grow, shrink, or remain the same. We are not sure how our powers, organizational structure, or mandate might change. There are potential indirect effects on various university policies, member benefits, and the pension plan that could occur as a result of the coming legislative changes. It is no exaggeration to state that this is the most significant change to the Faculty Association since we were established as a bargaining unit in the early 1980’s. We will keep you informed as we find out more and we will seek your input as we begin to develop our plans for charting our course through the new legislative environment.

 

 

Sexual violence and the University

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Sexual violence and the University | Filed in December 2016, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

As a society, it is an understatement to say that we are not doing well in dealing with issues of sexual violence. Incidents of domestic abuse in Calgary are at an all-time high. The military, the RCMP and our local police force seem to be failing to protect their members from sexual harassment. A member of Alberta’s legislature requires special protection after being subject to vile misogynistic comments and a spectrum of threats, and sexual harassment of women elected to local, provincial, and federal levels of government is not uncommon. The judicial system appears to be failing complainants. The recent high profile trial of a Canadian media personality might be taken to demonstrate that a complainant in a sexual assault trial is on trial just as much as the accused. I will leave it to the legal experts to judge whether or not this represents a flaw in our judicial system. Regardless, continued widespread myths and stereotypes, particularly about women’s dress, behavior, and sexuality continue to contribute to a systemic blaming of the victims of sexual violence. Universities across Canada and the United States are also in the public eye related to incidents of sexual violence and harassment.

It is within this concerning and controversial context that University’s Administration is proceeding with a policy to address sexual violence.  We agree all members of the University community deserve a safe learning, living and working environment, and that victims of sexual violence need to feel comfortable and safe in reporting such violence. Measures to debunk stereotypes and myths, and to raise awareness and understanding of consent regarding sexual relations are essential in addressing sexual violence. Support must be given to those whose lives have been traumatized by sexual violence. However, as concerning and unacceptable sexual violence is, it is also critical to ensure that procedures put in place to address the problem fairly protect the rights of all members of the university community and should not create the presumption of guilt until proven innocent. However well intended, procedures to address sexual violence need to recognize their potential impact and irreparable damage to the lives of all involved.

The Faculty Association has always played an important role both in supporting victims of sexual violence on campus and ensuring a fair process. It is from this experience that the Faculty Association should and must speak out to raise important concerns about the proposed Sexual Violence Policy. I will mention only a few of the issues that need to be carefully addressed.

The Administration’s current draft of a new Sexual Violence Policy defines sexual violence and outlines reporting procedures and how such reports are to be dealt with. Careful consideration is needed to ensure that the Collective Agreement is not violated, and that fundamental and procedural fairness are adhered to.

The Policy deals with complex issues fraught with emotion and an understandable sense of urgency. However, it is questionable whether this policy can or should be able to reach into the private lives of a married or cohabiting couple, as some sections of the draft seem to suggest. Further, the policy does not adequately address how privacy will be ensured, including the creation of files, their content, where they will be kept, who will have access to them, and how long and in what cases such files will be maintained.

In summary, very careful framing of the Policy is needed to ensure that complainants and respondents are treated fairly, that no collective agreement is violated, and that fundamental and procedural fairness are adhered to. If we get this policy wrong, we risk doing great harm in spite of the best of intentions. Therefore, let’s take the time and care to get it right.

Working together for fair employment

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Working together for fair employment | Filed in Fair Employment Week, October 2016, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

This week, October 24 to 28, 2016, is Fair Employment Week. It is a time when we, along with Faculty Associations across the country, put a spotlight on those colleagues who work contract to contract, often for less pay, with few benefits, and with no job security.

When I started working at the University of Calgary it was as a sessional. The number of courses I was contracted to teach on a year-to-year basis, I believe, were not one-offs but were needed to meet the continuing staffing needs of my area. Because of this situation, the Faculty Association negotiated to convert my appointment and others like mine from a variety of departments to ongoing positions. This is how I entered the continuing ranks of the University and how a number of other now senior members have transitioned to ongoing appointments. There have been multiple rounds of conversions of sessionals to continuing appointments which have been typically tied to the Association’s bargaining or grievance work.

Under the Collective Agreement, Article 23.1: “Whenever reasonably practical, the Governors shall use Continuing appointments to meet the continuing staffing needs of the University.” This is the basic principle the Faculty Association works towards. Having an ongoing appointment means the academic staff member has greater job security, access to benefits, and automatic membership in the Universities Academic Pension Plan, among other things. These conversions are one of the ways being a sessional member of the Faculty Association has been a definite benefit to the academic work of the institution as a whole. I recognize that there is legitimate need for sessionals in some situations, for example to bring in expertise from the community or to fill last minute vacancies. However, the ultimate goal of our Faculty Association is to push for the creation of regular full-time positions as appropriate under the Collective Agreement.

This being said, we know that the general reliance on sessional contracts has proliferated throughout the post-secondary sector in North America and beyond. According to the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), approximately one-third of all academic staff in post-secondary institutions in Canada are hired on a per-course or limited-term basis. Information is limited in Canada but I am happy to report that Statistics Canada has announced it will be collecting data on part-time and contract academic staff in the future. In the United States, according to an American Association of University Professors (AAUP) 2015-16 report, 70 per cent of all academic positions are not tenure-track and 54 per cent of the entire academic labour force is part-time. The issue of using part-time contracted academics to teach in our institutions is not going away any time soon.

I believe including sessional members within the Association provides greater strength for all of us. Part-time sessionals at the U of C voted to join the Association before they were designated academic staff in 1994. As we had outlined in our submission to the Post-secondary Learning Act labour review (available on our website here), the Association has been able to negotiate over the past 22 years certain representation rights and protections for those academics working as sessionals. This includes the right of first refusal for courses, regular increases to salary steps, a pro-rated professional expense reimbursement, access to facilities and participation in department meetings, among others. Further, when there have been financial cuts to other staff we have been able to shield the sessionals from the full impact. By being part of the Faculty Association, we have tried to encourage sessionals to be seen as colleagues and fellow academic staff members. To support this, the Faculty Association has developed a travel grant for sessional academics to assist them with making scholarly presentations, attending conferences, or other scholarly activity in their field. The application for these grants is currently open (and more information can be found here).

I feel that if sessional members were not part of our Association but represented separately there would be what we call an inherent (and somewhat perverse) incentive to keep the sessional academic staff in this exploited employee category. There would be some incentive to preserve the union membership of sessionals in this separate group, rather than securing ongoing employment. Keeping both academic types (ongoing and sessional) together helps us work as a united front – working together to ensure our students can benefit from a strong academic workforce. We have had sessionals chair the research ethics committee, supervise graduate students, and engage in various forms of research. In other words, the roles played by sessionals are diverse, and are fully integrated with the academic work of the University.

We recognize that there is still much work to do. There are some Faculties and departments in the University where sessionals have been relied on more than others. Sessionals still make up almost a quarter of our total academic staff and there are Faculties where reliance on sessionals is nearing or over 50 per cent of their academic workforce. We also see an ongoing trend where over half of sessionals are women whereas women make up just over one-third of ongoing academic staff. More information on sessionals across the institution can be found here.

Fair Employment Week is a time to draw attention to the fact that many colleagues work contract to contract, often for many years, indicating a need for an ongoing position. We ask all academic staff to think about these critical issues. Even as I am no longer a sessional, I continue to be involved with various initiatives such as active membership on the CAUT Contract Academic Staff Committee. CAUT works nationally to bring attention to the issues of the reliance on sessionals and currently has a pledge of solidarity available for signature here. The Faculty Association will continue to strive to improve the work life for sessionals not only this week but throughout the year.

I would like to conclude by issuing a challenge to the University to provide more institutional support and recognition for our almost 600 sessional members. Every year some funds earmarked for sessional professional expense reimbursement remain unclaimed. I would like to see those unclaimed funds added to the Faculty Association Sessional Travel Grant Fund to enable us to provide more grants to support  scholarly activities by sessionals.

Talking to the Government about governance

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Talking to the Government about governance | Filed in May 2016, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

In my last newsletter article I outlined a number of governance concerns and I’m happy to report there may be some positive changes on the horizon. The Faculty Association has been active in raising our concerns with our new MLAs and provincial Ministers. Unlike in previous years, this new government has expressed its interest in our perspective, in that it is actively seeking our input into relevant issues.

As you may know, the Supreme Court recently ruled on the constitutional right to strike. In order to conform to this ruling, the provincial government consulted widely with groups who have been prevented or hampered from exercising that right. As a result, Bill 4, which recognizes that right for public sector employees, was introduced. The Ministers of Labour and Advanced Education recognized, however, that the situation for academic staff is much more complex and requires a review of the Post-Secondary Learning Act (PSLA) – the Act which determines the governance structure within the Post-Secondary sector. Unlike the typical employee relationship to the employer, academic staff occupy a different space within their institutions in their role as decision-makers regarding academic matters. The government has recognized that this complexity requires thoughtful consideration before changes are made, as hasty decisions could result in unintended negative consequences. To this end, the government is proposing a thorough review of the PSLA, including extensive consultation with Faculty Associations, Student Unions, Graduate Student Associations and Senior Administrators – all of the groups recognized, defined, and governed by the PSLA. Our hope is that a number of indeterminacies within the Act, which have tended to be interpreted with a corporate spin that inappropriately defaults to “management rights,” will be clarified in a way that recognizes and supports the unique function of collegial governance at the core of universities. This will hopefully also extend to structures and processes that require the transparency befitting a public institution that is not only funded publicly but also exists for the public good.

In addition to the PSLA review, the government is also reviewing the appointment process for all agencies, boards, and commissions and the skills required of members of such bodies – including the Boards of Governors of universities. We have expressed our concerns about the Board: primarily a lack of diversity in the backgrounds and skill sets of the current board members, who are predominantly corporate. This is not a criticism of individual Board members, who bring needed skills and knowledge to their roles, however the University is a public institution, not a profit-generating corporation. The Board therefore requires some voices from other perspectives, primarily from people who understand the nature of a teaching and research institution and also who bring a viewpoint from other segments of the community. As I write this, we have learned that Minister Schmidt has not accepted the request by the current Board Chair to reappoint three members, whose terms will expire soon. He explicitly notes in his letter that these members are encouraged to apply through the open recruitment process, rather than the internal process conducted by the Chair. The Minister has also been quoted in the media saying there are concerns about the lack of diversity on many boards – diversity of gender, age and ethnicity in particular. Minister Schmidt has also assured us that competencies and potential diverse contributions that could be made by applicants will be taken into consideration in vetting new members. We are hopeful this new process and attitude will bring some much needed change.

On another issue, we have also provided the government with a number of concerns regarding the Compensation Disclosure Regulation (the so-called ‘Sunshine List’). While there is no question that the government will include academic staff in their disclosure, we have pointed out to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, who is responsible for this regulation, the additional negative impact the disclosure of individual salaries has on the privacy of academic staff. For example, it would be possible by comparing salaries from year to year to determine what merit increase an individual receives (or doesn’t), clearly an issue of a loss of individual privacy. We suggested instead, a listing of cohorts of a number of academic staff receiving salaries within a particular range. The government is still working through the details of this regulation and we hope the Minister will be responsive to our concerns. The text of the letter I sent as part of the consultations on this topic can be found here.

Since the election of the new government we have been advocating for the interests of academic staff and the health of the university as a public institution. It has been a refreshing change that our input and perspectives have been invited and recognized as an important component for consideration in their deliberations.

Year-end roundup

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Year-end roundup | Filed in December 2015, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

As the end of the year approaches, it is a good time to take stock of a number of serious issues we are facing in our institution. I find I am deeply concerned about a number of trends and patterns I have been observing from my perspective as President of the Association and as a member of various university-level committees.

Increasing secrecy: While President Cannon has repeatedly proclaimed the University’s commitment to transparency, in fact a pattern of opacity and secrecy in governance has been developing. In the past, prior to Board of Governors meetings, the agenda and materials for open sessions were posted on their website. As of recently, only the agenda is posted. This raises a number of concerns. Firstly, stakeholder representatives (such as AUPE, Management and Professional Staff, the Students’ Union and the Faculty Association) are unable to consult with their groups prior to the meetings in order to bring up issues for discussion. This means that Board of Governors’ decisions are made with very little or no input from the groups that understand the issues and who are able to provide a perspective beyond that of the Board of Governors members. In effect, the various groups of people who make up the university and are directly affected by those decisions are silenced. Secondly, the public is excluded from information about a publicly-funded institution. It is of great concern that the governing body of this publicly-funded institution is becoming increasingly secretive in how it is conducting its business. Further, the Board of Governors’ recent decision to remove the Students’ Union (SU) President from future discussions in sub-committees is a questionable move, which appears to be not only a tactic to remove stakeholders who question or dissent, but also retaliation against the SU for its legal action regarding their ownership of MacHall. Is the Board of Governors attempting to stifle free speech and independent thought?

Administrative domination: The Association is increasingly concerned about the academic processes designed to ensure bi-cameral collegial governance being progressively more controlled by the Senior Administration. GFC, the main body of academic decision-making, has had its authority gutted. Its key powers have given to committees whose membership appointments are, in effect, controlled by the Administration in the form of nominations made primarily by the President or the Provost. The GFC Executive is chaired by the President; the membership is nominated by the Administration. In effect, only issues approved or chosen by the President or Provost ever reach the agenda of the GFC Executive. Further, it is the Executive that sets the agenda for GFC; making it also subject to the approval of the President and/or Provost. Can independent, democratic processes concerning the academic decisions of the institution function under these conditions?

Secretariat overreach: The University Secretariat recently discovered that the GFC quorum rule was not consistent with the provincial Interpretations Act: a document that sets out rules of interpretation of all government acts, including the Post-Secondary Learning Act. In addition, the University Secretary claims that Faculty Council quorum rules are subject to the Interpretations Act, and are in violation of its 50% quorum rule. There is an argument that the Interpretations Act does not apply to Faculty Councils. Rather than seeking clarification from the government on this issue, the Secretariat and Administration developed a new template for all Faculty Council Terms of Reference, which was then approved by Deans’ Council, a body of administrators with no student or faculty representation. In the past, these kinds of discussions concerning academic bodies were done by GFC committees, and rightly so, as Faculty Council Terms of Reference fall under the authority of GFC. However, currently, this administratively-developed template is, in many cases, being rushed through approval at Faculty Councils with the argument/opinion that the changes must be approved to conform to the Interpretations Act. Further, this is generally being done without any reference to the existing Terms of Reference. Without that comparison, Councils are, one could argue unknowingly, voting to remove SU representation and reduce the proportion of academic staff members of Council. Where Councils are (supposedly) unable to meet quorum, the template allows for expedited decisions on academic matters by a committee where academic staff may not be a majority; or potentially not be represented at all. The final approval authority of these new Terms of Reference rests with GFC, which, however, has delegated this authority to the GFC Executive, which is dominated by the Administration. And thus we come full circle to the earlier points regarding my perception of administrative domination.

Enbridge: Currently an independent review established by the Board of Governors is being conducted, as well as an investigation by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) into allegations of President Cannon’s inappropriate conduct on behalf of donors. As I have stated in the media, even a perceived conflict of interest is harmful to the institution and to all of us who work and learn here. I reserve further comment until the results of both investigations are announced.

In addition to these weighty concerns, the Association continues to manage the heavy load of its core functions of bargaining, as well as advising and representing members.

The coming year promises to be challenging on many fronts. In closing this year, my wish is that everyone is able to take some time to spend with family and loved ones; time to regain some balance between work obligations and the rest of our lives.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Eid Milad-un-Nabi Mubarak, and Happy New Year.

 

Fair Employment Day highlights long-standing concerns

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Fair Employment Day highlights long-standing concerns | Filed in Fair Employment Week, October 2015, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

The start of this academic year again drew attention to the precarious position of many contract academics; the academics we call sessionals at the University of Calgary. In Canada there was a rebroadcast of Ira Basen’s CBC Radio documentary (originally aired on Sept. 7, 2014) about the “dirty little secret” of Canada’s universities: that an army of highly qualified and poorly paid instructors with no job security or pension are teaching about half of Canadian undergraduates. Beyond that rebroadcast, Canada and the US produced a flurry of tweets in the Twittersphere, drawing attention to the plight of many contract academic staff: getting contracts at the last minute and frantically trying to prepare adequately; sessionals’ assigned courses being cancelled at the last minute; the large number of courses contract academics teach at more than one institution to be able to eke out a minimal existence.

The working conditions of contract academic staff are of national and international concern. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has decided to focus its efforts on Fair Employment Day, October 7, to provide a more concentrated effect and to align with fair employment for all precarious workers. By doing this, CAUT and its member associations have joined a coalition of unions and activists across North America and around the world to organize a series of events during the International Labour Organization (ILO) World Day for Decent Work. This kind of coalition work is vital in an atmosphere of increasingly precarious working conditions in virtually all sectors. However, as academics we also have to keep in mind that one of the cornerstones vital to our work: academic freedom, is virtually impossible for someone who is afraid of not being rehired.

And how do things look here at the University of Calgary? While the Faculty Association has been successful in the conversion of some long-time sessional instructors into instructor positions, as well as a sessional’s right of first refusal in applying for a further sessional appointment, the proportion of sessionals remains stubbornly constant. As you can see from the chart, “Academic Staff by Rank,” the percentage of sessionals remains at around 23 percent – the same as for associate professors, and the same percentage as last year and many years before. You can also see that some faculties make much higher use of contract academics than others: over 50% in one faculty and over 40% in three other faculties (“Academic Staff by Faculty”). While there is a need for some true sessionals – experts in their field who are employed elsewhere and provide expert knowledge to their classes – there remain too many Contract Academic Staff who are rehired year after year into positions that are clearly ongoing and should be filled as such.

While I am pleased that the university is committed to hiring 100 new faculty members into tenure track positions over the next 2 years, I have concerns that these new hires will further consign many of our members to the “Sessional Ghetto.” However, I remain hopeful that that our senior administration will do the right thing and at the very least hire some long-term sessionals, who have proven their worth to the university over the course of multiple contracts, into some of those positions.

I encourage our members who are concerned about the two tiered-system: Regular Academic Staff with support for all aspects of their work, ongoing contracts and academic freedom versus Contract Academic Staff with no job security, little institutional support and no academic freedom – to take action by signing the CAUT Pledge of Solidarity.

This year, in conjunction with Fair Employment Day, the Faculty Association is continuing to award Sessional Travel Grants to provide these members with an opportunity to profile their research (work some continue to do even though they may not be compensated for it) or attend conferences to remain current in their fields. Three grants are available to be awarded (more information and application information is available online here).

We would like to congratulate 2014 Sessional Travel Grant recipients: Susanne Cote (Anthropology and Archaeology, Faculty of Arts), Christine Mains (Communication, Media and Film, Faculty of Arts), Amber Porter (Classics and Religion, Faculty of Arts) and Kris Vasudevan (Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science).

Looking ahead to a busy fall – Association priorities and activities

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Looking ahead to a busy fall – Association priorities and activities | Filed in President's Message, September 2015

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

As the 2015-16 academic year begins, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to all of our new colleagues. While the summer months are generally filled with all manner of scholarly activity and preparation for classes, I hope everyone, new and returning, had a chance to spend some restorative and energizing time; time away from the multiple and increasing demands of academic employment.

Here’s a brief overview of the coming year, beginning with items internal to the university, and then moving to the provincial and national scenes. The assessment process and tenure and promotion process are both currently underway. As most of you will know, these were conducted together in the past, but were recently separated into two distinct processes. The process for tenure and promotion is now included in the Collective Agreement, with the process for assessment still continuing under old rules while bargaining of an improved process continues. This recent change may still provide some confusion, and we are working hard to make sure things proceed as smoothly as possible and to avoid anyone being disadvantaged by the recent changes. This requires a great deal of Association time and effort to answer individual inquiries and provide representatives to sit on all of the various committees in all Faculties. More information about assessment can be found here: http://www.tucfa.com/?p=3949. The tenure and promotion agreement can be found here: http://www.tucfa.com/?page_id=111.

Bargaining of the assessment process is scheduled to continue this year. It is everyone’s fervent hope that this can be concluded soon. The work of the Agreement Review Committee (ARC) is also expected to move forward. This is a committee jointly appointed by the Board of Governors (BofG) and Faculty Association (FA), which is designed to meet regularly to review and discuss possible changes to the Collective Agreement. Based on those discussions, the committee brings recommendations to the BofG and FA for consideration during bargaining. We expect to begin bargaining a new Collective Agreement with the Board of Governors fairly soon, as our current agreement expires on June 30, 2016. You will hear more from our Principal Negotiator, Eileen Lohka, on all bargaining issues.

In past years, the Association has participated in Fair Employment Week together with our national organization, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and faculty associations across the country. Member associations organized events on campus to raise awareness about issues confronting sessionals. This year, CAUT has invited member associations to focus our energy on one day, Fair Employment Day, to coincide with World Day for Decent Work, on October 7, 2015. In a campaign to highlight Contract Academic Staff issues, CAUT is inviting sessionals to submit images – selfies, pictures, creative images or videos – that illustrate life as an academic on contract. These images can be sent to johnson AT caut.ca no later than October 7, 2015, 5 p.m. EDT. A selection of the best images will be posted on the CAUT website and Facebook page. For more information: www.fairemploymentweek.ca.

Our Association will mark Fair Employment Day by continuing our practice of awarding travel grants to Sessional Instructors, who remain ineligible to apply for University travel funding. More information regarding applications for this funding will be available shortly.

The Association will be honouring one of our members with a Community Service Award. I strongly urge you to consider making a nomination for this award. The deadline for nominations is October 23, 2015. For more information:http://www.tucfa.com/?p=3951.

On the provincial front, you have until September 14 to provide our new Government with feedback and comments regarding the provincial budget: http://alberta.ca/budget.cfm. The deadline is a bit short, but I encourage as many of you as possible to participate in this process. As academics we definitely have specific budgetary concerns that should be included in the Government’s deliberations and decisions.

And finally, another call to make your voices heard, this time on the national scene. Federal government policies clearly have an impact on many aspects of our work as academics, but especially on what funding is available for what kinds of research. For more information about how federal politics matter to us as academics, please read: http://www.tucfa.com/?p=3947.

A new political reality with possibility

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on A new political reality with possibility | Filed in June 2015, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

The face of Alberta politics has changed considerably since I wrote my last message. In this new political landscape, the Faculty Association is hoping to put the voice of academics on the radar. While our senior administration works hard to establish a good working relationship with the government, we do bring a different perspective to the table than the senior administration or the Board of Governors. Unfortunately in the past, the governing party seemed uninterested in the perspective of those of us who actually do the work at the core of the university’s mission: teaching and research. We bring expertise to those areas that will help us provide insights and assistance to our new minister, Lori Sigurdson, and her staff as she navigates her new position and her portfolio.

This is certainly an exciting time for government relations and the Faculty Association will maximize our opportunities to engage in dialogue with our new government, both through our Association and in conjunction with our provincial organisation, CAFA (Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations to voice out particular concerns.

As we move into the summer, I wish all of you – in addition to productive time for those projects that never seem to get done during the fall and winter semesters – time for rest, contemplation and regeneration. We have a busy and exciting year coming up.

Provincial election and budget

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Provincial election and budget | Filed in April 2015, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

As I’m sure everyone is aware, the long-awaited provincial budget has been announced, followed by the call for an election. During the period leading up to the budget, the University’s Executive Leadership Team was active in developing a strong case for our funding needs. On multiple occasions, the President and Provost championed the University of Calgary specifically, as well as joined their counterparts in demonstrating the needs of the post-secondary sector in general.

While this budget is not as bad for the post-secondary sector as was expected, it still contains a 1.4% cut to provincial grants for the coming year, to be followed by a 2.7% cut the following year. However, with the election call falling closely on the heels of the budget announcement, I am very concerned about what that could mean for post-secondary institutions, as it could be much worse than what we are facing in the recently-announced budget.

During the campaign period, I encourage all of our members to raise any concerns you have about post-secondary funding with candidates seeking election. Our provincial association CAFA (Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations), has designed a survey on post-secondary education issues which may be helpful to compare the parties’ platforms with regard to post-secondary education. All of the political parties running in the provincial election have been invited to respond. You will find the questionnaire posted on the CAFA website (http://www.ualberta.ca/CAFA/) and responses will be posted there as they receive them. You may wish to use the questionnaire as the basis for your own questions at all-candidates forums or in discussion with candidates on the doorstep.

You might also find this online tool both interesting and useful for finding out how your own views compare to those of Alberta’s political parties: Vote Compass http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/votecompass/alberta2015.html.

For further information about candidates, where to vote, eligibility requirements, etc. please visit: Elections Alberta http://wtv.elections.ab.ca/.

Whatever your concerns or political leanings, I strongly encourage you to get informed about the issues and cast your ballot on May 5.

A call for academics to be heard

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on A call for academics to be heard | Filed in February 2015, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

The upcoming provincial budget in the context of falling oil prices looms large on the current Alberta radar. While no one can be sure what options the Premier is considering, further cuts to post-secondary education – while we are still dealing with the fallout of the 7.3% cut in 2013 – could be one of those options. If you have concerns about this possibility, or advice you would like to share concerning revenue, taxes, or other budgetary matters, I would encourage you to write to your MLA and/or directly to Premier Prentice. The quickest way to obtain contact information is through the Legislative Assembly website:  http://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=mla_home. The Alberta government is also inviting public input on the upcoming provincial budget through an online survey. The survey, which consists of 16 questions, will be available until February 28 and can be found at http://alberta.ca/Budget.cfm.

Note that over the past five years the only increase from the Alberta government to the base-operating grant for post-secondary institutions was 2% in 2012. The other years saw the base grow by zero (or decline by 7.3% as mentioned) while inflation continued to increase. Universities have been on a starvation diet, even though our institution and those like us are likely our province’s best hope for a diverse and sustainable economy (both through an educated workforce and research).

I was recently invited to make a presentation to the Alberta New Democrats during their provincial budget tour. My presentation, not surprisingly, focused on the lack of predictable and sustainable funding for post-secondary and the pressures the institution, students and academics could face because of this in the years ahead. The Faculty Association routinely voices its opinion to the provincial government directly or through the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (CAFA) and welcomes any opportunity to provide its views to MLAs.

In January, together with roughly 50 other participants, I attended a two and a half day Forum for Faculty Association Presidents, hosted by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). A few highlights from the forum include Sylvain Schetagne’s (CAUT, Director of Research and Advocacy) analysis of the austerity policy that seems to dominate current provincial, national, and international politics and its effects on the post-secondary sector. One panel and open discussion was devoted to collegial governance and struggles to maintain an appropriate balance between managerial and academic decision-making. Some interesting food for thought concerning the corporatization of universities can be found in this position paper, “Circulation in the New University,” which is a critique of the (prevalent) U of Michigan model of running university: https://libcom.org/library/circulation-new-university-reclamations-journal. The main argument is that under this corporate model, universities become a point of circulation for other people’s investments and circulating financial capital gradually becomes central to the university’s core mission. Finally, as part of the panel entitled “Universities and Colleges go to Market: Exploring the impact of commercialization and corporatization,” I gave a well-received presentation about our (so far) successful thwarting of our senior leadership team’s attempt to commit to a third-party contract to reach internationalization goals.

Fall term ABCs – advocacy, bargaining and committees

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Fall term ABCs – advocacy, bargaining and committees | Filed in December 2014, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

As I write this, we are in the midst of our new tenure and promotion process, with various Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committees (FTPCs) meeting every day. As you will remember, we recently bargained a new process bringing tenure and promotion together rather than having members apply for each separately. Because this procedure is new, there may be some glitches and we’re working with the Provost’s Office to resolve issues as they arise; trying to make sure no one is disadvantaged by the change. We’ve done our best to train our representatives on all of the FTPC committees. There’s a lot to learn and, especially in the larger faculties, sitting on FTPC is a large time commitment. We are very grateful to all of our representatives for their willingness to serve in this capacity.

Regarding assessment, we are currently still bargaining with the administration to negotiate an assessment process into the Collective Agreement; work that will hopefully be done fairly soon. Mainframe bargaining, the Collective Agreement and salary schedules, will begin in the New Year. You will be hearing more about this from our Principal Negotiator, Eileen Lohka.

The news at the provincial level is becoming bleaker as oil prices slide and the Premier repeatedly warns there will be “consequences.” Although he previously stated he will not cut health, education (it is unclear if that includes PSE), or social services, we are unsure what that assurance means in the current economic climate. Previously Premier Prentice had also promised to restore education funding cut by the previous government, but no specifics were mentioned. The Speech from the Throne contained little about PSE and the government continues to focus on skilled labour rather than PSE. The government seems to be particularly uninformed about the needs of research institutions, many of those needs being not related to job training. All together this seems to indicate a rather bleak picture in terms of support, financial and otherwise, from the current provincial government.

This newsletter will ‘go to press’ just before we break for the holiday season. During the seasonal closure of the university, however you celebrate (or not), my wish for everyone is time to spend with family and friends, as well as opportunities to spend downtime ‘recharging your batteries.’

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Eid Milad-un-Nabi Mubarak; and a Happy New Year to all.

Sessional concerns affect us all

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Sessional concerns affect us all | Filed in Fair Employment Week, October 2014, President's Message

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

Imagine, as an experienced academic, having to reapply for your job every year – or possibly every semester; and possibly even knowing the program you teach in would collapse without the teaching you provide. Many of our colleagues at U of C experience this reality, year after year. These contract academic staff members we call sessional instructors, are hired by U of C to teach individual courses; they are not expected to do research and they are not offered long- or short- term commitments beyond the individual courses. These academics often work for low pay, and with the uncertainty of whether or not another short-term contract will be extended to them.

In some faculties, sessionals make up roughly half of the academic staff. That means half of the faculty members do not have job security or a reasonable salary with benefits. Many do not have a private office in which to meet students or a say in the academic and other decisions made in the academic unit. And last, but far from least, because of the nature of their positions, they would not have true academic freedom, one of the cornerstones of the academic profession.

This two-tiered system was brought to national attention in Ira Basen’s CBC Radio documentary (Sept 7, 2014) about academia’s ‘dirty little secret’: “Universities in Canada … are propped up by a huge army of part-time teachers, who are highly qualified and poorly paid. They have no job security or pension, and little hope of ever getting a full-time position. They go by many titles: sessional lecturers, contract academic staff, adjunct faculty. Today more than half of Canadian undergraduates are taught by these very precarious workers.”

What do things look like at the University of Calgary? You can see from the chart (Academic Staff by Rank) that about 23% of the academic staff are sessionals – roughly the same percentage as Associate Professors; and these numbers have remained steady since at least 2011. These highly qualified and dedicated individuals care deeply for their students and the University, yet they tend to be treated poorly and receive much less support than ongoing faculty members to do their work. As contract academic staff often teach large classes, the number of students they teach is significant and their poor working conditions can affect learning conditions for their students.

There are other direct impacts that we all feel. As one example, there are fewer people who can take on the numerous service elements of the academic job; fewer continuing faculty means heavier service responsibilities. It also means not being able to take advantage of the experience and expertise of colleagues who would have much more to offer their academic units if they were incorporated into decision-making processes.

The working conditions of contract academic staff are of both local and national concern, which is why the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) annually promotes and plays a coordinating role in Fair Employment Week (FEW). FEW (this year’s incarnation runs from October 27th to 31st) is a national event that raises awareness of the difficulties inherent in being a member of the contract academic staff. Contract academic staff are often on the front lines of attacks on academic freedom, quality, fair treatment, and the value of research.

To recognize the work and contributions of our sessional instructors, the Faculty Association introduced a program of Sessional Travel Grants in conjunction with FEW in 2012. The purpose of these grants is to provide these members with an opportunity to profile their research (work some continue to do even though they may not be compensated for it) or attend conferences to remain current in their fields. Three grants are available to be awarded (more information and application forms are available here). Last year, the Association awarded three grants. We would like to congratulate the FEW 2013 grant recipients: Sarah Eaton (Werklund School of Education), Valerie Pruegger (Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts) and Owen Slater (Department of Ecosystem and Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine).

While the Faculty Association is pleased to support these sessionals in their academic endeavors through this program, this is really a drop in the bucket. Ultimately it is up to universities to better support the academic work of their contract academic staff.

The Association has made a number of gains, including the conversion of some long-time sessional instructors into instructor positions, as well as a sessional’s right of first refusal in applying for a further sessional appointment. We know this is just the tip of the iceberg, so we will continue to look into this and try to make more progress.

While these small changes ease the working conditions of many long-serving contract academics, the University’s reliance on sessionals as a cheap and flexible workforce remains problematic. I encourage all continuing academic staff to let your colleagues and administrators know that the unfair treatment of sessionals at the U of C needs to be resolved.

New year with much work ahead

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on New year with much work ahead | Filed in President's Message, September 2014

– By Sandra Hoenle, Faculty Association President –

As the new academic year begins, I am pleased to greet you as the new President of the Faculty Association. I served as Vice President/Treasurer for 3 years (2011 – 2014), was previously a member of the Association Board, and served on numerous committees for 10 years (2004 – present). Although I do bring experience to the presidency, I will clearly rely on advice from and discussions with the Executive and Board of the Association. In addition, I encourage you, the academic staff, to share your thoughts and concerns with me, so that I can better represent your interests.

This promises to be another busy year, with Collective Agreement bargaining due to begin soon. Our Principal Negotiator will be seeking your input and will keep you updated with bargaining bulletins once bargaining is in progress.

As you may be aware, the Association has recently concluded bargaining the promotion and tenure process, which has now been moved into the Collective Agreement. Many Association resources will be directed toward transition to the new process. If you encounter procedural difficulties, please contact the Faculty Association office.

I am looking forward to taking up the challenges of my new role as President of this vital organization, and to working with the dedicated members of the Executive and Board, with the support of extremely competent and professional office staff. Again, I encourage you to contact me to share your general concerns and thoughts about issues of importance to you. If you should have any concerns specific to you or other individuals, please contact our office. The Faculty Association staff do not work for the university and will keep any concerns you bring to their attention confidential.

I wish everyone a productive and satisfying year.

The TUCFA President is “Dead” – Long Live the TUCFA President

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on The TUCFA President is “Dead” – Long Live the TUCFA President | Filed in July 2014, President's Message

 – By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

Well, I’m not “dead” but I have departed.  As you likely know by now, I have stepped down after serving as TUCFA President for the last three years, and your new President is Sandra Hoenle from the Faculty of Arts.  It has been both an honour and a pleasure to serve in this role, and I must thank the many individuals who have helped me and the Association during my period as President.  The effective functioning of the Association relies on its highly-capable full-time staff and on the very many dedicated academic staff members who willingly volunteer to contribute by serving on its Board, its Executive, its Department Representatives group, or in many other important roles (e.g. Association representatives on Faculty Promotion Committees).

Beyond the subset of you that has formally served the Association, I’d also like to acknowledge the support that many of you provided during the 2013-2014 academic year in opposing the plan to outsource teaching of for-credit courses for international students; it is only due to the very significant academic staff opposition that the opportunity to identify a better plan was created.  Please remember what you were able to achieve on this significant issue through concerted action, so that when other important issues emerge in the future you know that you have the power to influence things for the better.  It is likely that President Sandra Hoenle will need you to mobilize again during her term, and I encourage you to give her your full support.

There are three additional items that I’d like to bring to your attention before I close this final President’s message:

1.  On 1st July 2014 academic staff saw no across-the-board increase in base salary.  This is the third time in the last five years (July 2010 and July 2013 being the other two years) that a “zero percent increase” has been applied, with the increases in the other two years (July 2011 and July 2012) being just 2%.  The most recent Statistics Canada data on Alberta inflation shows that the “all items consumer price index” increased by 9.4% over the five year period from May 2009 to May 2014.  On 30th May the University’s Board of Governors approved the audited financial statements for the year ended 31st March 2014 and it is interesting to note that these statements include an operating surplus on the fiscal year of $65.7M (despite a cut in the government grant of $21.3M).  This most recent surplus comes on top of significant surpluses in the three prior of $94.5M in 2012-2013, $98.0M in 2011-2012, and $69.8M in 2010-2011.

2.  One of the fundamental concerns for academic staff that I highlighted in my first President’s message back in September 2011 was collegial governance.  The Association believes that academic staff should have a strong voice in all important university decisions, but there is at least one area where the academic staff voice has been significantly reduced in the last couple of years – this concerns the university budgeting process.  Up until (and through) the 2011-2012 academic year there was a Board of Governors’ standing committee called “The University Budget Committee” (TUBC) that played a significant role in preparing the annual capital and operating budgets, meeting frequently during the year.  TUBC’s voting membership included six academic staff members, one of whom was appointed as TUBC chair.  There was also an almost total overlap between the membership of TUBC and of the University Planning Committee (the predecessor to the current Academic Planning and Priorities Committee), helping to ensure that academic priorities were driving budgeting decisions.  Beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year, the Board of Governors decided to replace TUBC with something called the “Budget Committee” whose composition includes but one voting academic staff member, and which meets infrequently.  This change has meant that the ability of academic staff to influence operating and capital budget decisions has been significantly diminished.

3.  The Association remains deeply concerned about the Government of Alberta’s commitment to research universities, and the implications of this for academic staff at the University of Calgary.  The 2014-2015 operating grant from the Government to the U of C was increased somewhat from the prior year, but this new funding was tied to increased enrolment.  While the Association welcomes Government attempts to increase access to post-secondary education (Alberta has the lowest post-secondary participation rate of any province), the funding provided per new student is significantly less than that provided for existing students.  This raises concerns on class sizes, the overall student-to-faculty ratio, and the workload of academic staff.  As the 2013 Engagement Survey results for academic staff showed, the top two concerns amongst TUCFA members were the funding being provided to meet department needs and being able to achieve a reasonable work/life balance (and remember, the survey closed prior to the disastrous Government of Alberta 7th March 2013 budget).

Finally, let me again thank you for your support during my term as President of TUCFA, and encourage you to give similarly strong support to my successor, Sandra Hoenle.

CAUT Get Science Right town hall invitation

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on CAUT Get Science Right town hall invitation | Filed in April 2014, President's Message

 – By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

Members of the academic staff are encouraged to attend the CAUT Get Science Right town hall that is coming to Calgary on April 29th. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) launched its Get Science Right campaign last spring. The message of this campaign is that federal government policy and funding decisions are threatening Canada’s future in science and research.

There are a number of well documented issues including: favouring commercially-focused research over basic research; the relative starving (and public denigration) of the social sciences; choosing to fund very expensive “superstar” researchers at the cost of hundreds of Discovery Grants for university researchers; and decommissioning and muzzling government scientists whose work challenges the government’s ideology. The town hall seeks to engage the public and address why these issues and others are important and what can be done about them.

The event is being held April 29th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Fort Calgary (Burnswest Theatre). The event’s moderator is journalist and author Andrew Nikiforuk. Our colleagues Deborah Dewey (Pediatrics and Community Health Services), Hamid Habibi (Biological Sciences) and Penny Pexman (Psychology) will make up the panel along with David Hyttenrauch (English) from Mount Royal University.

 If you cannot make it to the event but would still like to get involved you can visit the campaign website at http://getscienceright.ca/. On the website you will find more information on the campaign as well as ways you can take action.

If you would like to download an event poster click here.

.

 

 

Best wishes for 2014 and beyond

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Best wishes for 2014 and beyond | Filed in December 2013, President's Message

 – By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

This has been an exceptionally busy semester for the Association on many fronts, as I am sure you are aware from the letter I sent to you all at the end of October on the plan of the U of C administration to contract with a third party to deliver a “foundation year” program on campus (click here for my original letter).   I will be writing to you all in early 2014 to provide you with a more detailed update on this important topic, but for now I would like to highlight that a number of U of C departments councils have passed motions formally opposing the contracting out of the teaching of for-credit courses to a third party, and we expect more to follow soon.

There is one other significant issue that I want to bring to your attention.  This is the composition of Presidential Review Committee (PRC) for President Cannon, which is a standing committee of the U of C’s Board of Governors.  I wrote to the Chair of the U of C Board, Bonnie DuPont, in early October (letter available here) raising concerns with the composition of the review committee, which does not include a representative of the Association, and asking that the composition be reconsidered.  Ms. DuPont responded quickly (letter available here), within a week, rejecting the Association’s request.  This is highly regrettable as the Board of Governors has not revised the terms of reference for this committee since 1992, which goes against both the Board’s by-law and the terms of reference for its Human Resources and Governance Committee.

If you have any thoughts that you wish to share with me on the two issues above, or on any others that you think ought to be concerns of the Faculty Association, please do not hesitate to contact me (I can be reached via email at my Faculty Association address, paul.rogers@tucfa.com).  Finally, on behalf of the Association, I wish you peace and joy for the imminent holiday season and for 2014 and beyond.

 

Supporting sessional colleagues important for student success

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Supporting sessional colleagues important for student success | Filed in Fair Employment Week, October 2013, President's Message

– By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

Last year, for the first time, the Faculty Association offered Sessional Travel Grants as part of Fair Employment Week (FEW). The response to the grant program was tremendous and the Association has decided to offer them again this year as part of FEW 2013. The purpose of these grants is to provide sessional academics with an opportunity to profile their research (work some continue to do even though they may not be compensated for it) or attend conferences to remain current in their fields.

For those that may not know, FEW (running this year from October 21st to 25th) is a national event that raises awareness of the difficulties inherent in being a member of the contract academic staff (at the U of C these staff are also known as sessionals). Contract academic staff are often on the front lines of attacks on academic freedom, quality, fair treatment, and the value of research. Universities continue to lean on contract academic staff as an inexpensive, flexible workforce. At the U of C sessional instructors are typically hired to teach individual courses; they are not expected to do research and they are not offered long-term or even medium-term commitments beyond the individual courses. These academics often work for low pay, and with the uncertainty of whether or not another short-term contract will be extended to them.

The numbers of academics in these positions continues to grow both nationally and internationally.  This growth is of significant concern to the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), which is why CAUT annually plays a coordinating role in FEW. CAUT has recently launched a new website supporting FEW: www.fairemploymentweek.ca.

Here at the U of C, like campuses elsewhere, the working conditions of sessionals directly impact the learning conditions of the students they teach. Through offering this travel grant program the Association is hoping to provide opportunities for sessional academics they would not otherwise have. Three grants are again available to be awarded (eligibility criteria and deadlines for application are available here) and information has been sent to all sessional members.

Based on the applications, the Association decided to award four grants last year. We would like to congratulate the FEW 2012 grant recipients: Marie Farrell (Faculty of Education), Brad Mahon (Department of Music), Christine Mains (Department of Communication and Culture), and Derrick Nault (Department of History).

Grant recipients traveled broadly, attending events in Canada, in the U.S. and internationally, engaging in work that  impacts their research and teaching. One of the Sessional Travel Grant recipients reported to the Association that, as a sessional instructor, having the opportunity to attend the conference meant being able to experience a broad range of thought-provoking research and conversations that she will bring back to her work with students. She noted that being able to integrate the thinking and perspectives of researchers in her field into her work at the University of Calgary, will help her provide a richer educational experience for the students entrusted to her. Another recipient reported that the conference provided the kind of opportunity to build a career that those on the tenure track often take for granted, and those who piece together careers out of sessional contracts can only wistfully imagine.

The Faculty Association is pleased to help these sessionals with their academic endeavors through this program. But ultimately it is up to universities to better support their contract academic staff. The Association was pleased, through the recent ratification of the Collective Agreement, to convert a number of long-serving, full-time sessionals to ongoing appointments. While this covered the most egregious cases, the Association would like to see more job security for other long-time sessionals.

In March 2013 the Association took a snapshot of its membership which revealed that 22.8% of academic staff at the U of C at that time held sessional positions. Not much has changed over the past year regarding the statistics on the faculty and gender of sessionals. You will find that the number of sessional academic appointments are almost equal to the number of Associate Professors, and they are employed in every corner of the University. In addition, over half of sessionals are female which is in contrast to statistics for ongoing academics.

It is important to emphasize the incredible dedication of these individuals to their jobs since sessionals are highly-qualified individuals who care deeply for the University and their students. The Association has always recognized that the concerns of contract academic staff should be the concerns of us all.  Please let your colleagues and administrators know that the unfair treatment of sessionals at the U of C needs to be resolved.

Next: Sessional Travel Grants available

Comments on provincial budget cuts

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Comments on provincial budget cuts | Filed in May 2013, President's Message

– By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

Click here to view as a .pdf

Dear Members of the Association:

I am writing to you to update you on how the Association has been approaching the issues raised by the actions of the Alberta Government over the last month or so relating to its 2013 budget and its development of what was originally described as “mandate letters” for post-secondary education (PSE) institutions in Alberta.  Both the cuts and the letters are deeply troubling to the Association and to others interested in the future of PSE in Alberta.  As you read the remainder of this letter please be aware that the Association is in the process of bargaining with the University’s Board of Governors, which impacts my ability to speak as freely and fully as I might like on some topics – it is important that the Association not be seen as bargaining in bad faith.

The 2013 Alberta Government Budget imposed a 7.3% cut in government operating grants to the PSE sector as a whole as well as to the University of Calgary.  Given that the U of C (and other institutions) had been promised an increase of 2% for fiscal 2013-14, this is actually a 9.3% cut in operating funding – almost a literal decimation.  This unexpected and deep cut makes it exceedingly difficult for the U of C to plan to effectively meet growing enrolment expectations and address priorities, and may prove devastating to the quality of its programs.  The PSE constituency most affected by these ill-conceived and unjustifiable cuts will be the students, whose aspirations to gain admission to a wide variety of high-quality programs in subjects about which they are passionate will no longer be achievable in the Calgary region.

In his budget speech, Minister of Finance, the Honourable Doug Horner, also noted that PSE institutions would be given “mandate letters defining their roles and government’s expectations for a more unified post-secondary system.”   In the days since March 7th these letters have become known as “letters of expectation” and the draft letters sent to each of the PSE institutions have become public.  The contents of these draft letters, as well as additional comments by Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education, the Honourable Thomas Lukaszuk, raise some very significant concerns for PSE institutions, especially those institutions in the Comprehensive Academic and Research Institution (CARI) sector of what is known as Campus Alberta.

The Association and its sister associations at the other CARIs in Alberta (the University of Alberta, the University of Lethbridge, and Athabasca University) have been working with the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (CAFA) to develop a strategy as to how best to respond to these developments which has resulted in the following actions under the CAFA banner:

1.  CAFA has issued a press release (click here for a copy) that speaks out against the PSE budget cuts and raises concerns with the draft letters of expectation.  If you have not seen the CAFA press release (co-signed by me and the presidents of the academic staff associations at the other three CARIs), I encourage you to read it.
2.  CAFA President and spokesperson Dr. Rob Sutherland has been widely quoted in the media within Alberta speaking against the cuts and criticizing some of the inaccurate and misleading comments of Minister Lukaszuk and other members of the Government of Alberta.

More locally, TUCFA has met with U of C Provost Dru Marshall and informed her of some of our most significant concerns with the U of C letter of expectation in the hope that these can be addressed in the response that President Elizabeth Cannon is preparing for Minister Lukaszuk (which President Cannon has committed to share with the campus community).  As you might expect, the list of TUCFA’s concerns is long but in brief some of the most significant include the following:

1.  Threats to institutional autonomy.
2.  Threats to academic freedom.
3.  Failure to recognize the full education and research roles that CARIs fulfil. The U of C aims to produce citizens who are able to critique, question, and think independently, and to be a place where scholarship and research thrive across the full spectrum of disciplines (as well as at and across the boundaries between them).
4.  A focus that is far too short-term (e.g. driven by immediate employment opportunities) as opposed to being on the long-term intellectual, social, cultural, and economic development of Alberta and Albertans.
5.  Lack of recognition of the value of pure/basic research and scholarship. Applied research is important, but it is not the only thing of importance in the context of the wider search for knowledge and truth.
6.  Diminution of the role of academic staff. The Minister appears to see no role for academic staff in institutional planning and decision-making.
7.  Failure to recognize that the literal decimation of PSE (i.e. the 9.3% cut in funding from what was promised) will inevitably have serious negative impacts on the quality of programs and on the ability of students to access these programs.

Of course, we will not know the extent to which the U of C administration agrees with these concerns until we see the University’s response to Minister Lukaszuk.  The Association is especially concerned about academic freedom (item 2. above), and the bicameral governance system (item 6. above), which have also been coming under attack internally as well as externally.

Yesterday, I wrote to Minister Lukaszuk to raise the Association’s concerns with both the budget and the letters of expectation.  This letter is publically available on the Association’s website (click here for a copy) and I encourage you to read it.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the website that the U of C has put in place to gather ideas, and feedback on them, for how to deal with the budget decimation.  I encourage you to register on this site (http://ucalgary.ideascale.com) and participate in the evaluation of alternative ideas – it is important that your voices are heard.

Sincerely,

Paul Rogers, President

Letter to Minister Lukaszuk (.pdf)

CAFA Press Release (.pdf)

Inspired Service Awards 2013

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Inspired Service Awards 2013 | Filed in February 2013, President's Message

– By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

The Faculty Association is pleased to announce that it has chosen two outstanding recipients to receive the Faculty Association Inspired Service Awards for 2013.

These awards are designed to recognize the relationships between our academic community and the community-at-large and the important links between scholarship and service being created because of these relationships. This partnership between our greater community and the community on campus is vitally important to enhancing the quality of life for Albertans, the quality of teaching and research at the University, and the reach and reputation of our institution. This year’s recipients of the Inspired Service Awards continue the strong tradition of active engagement and outreach demonstrated by previous recipients.

The Community Service Award recipient is Professor Clem Martini from the Faculty of Arts, Department of Drama. The Community Service Award recognizes a member of the Faculty Association who has provided exceptional service to the community. Professor Martini has served as an instrumental volunteer with Wood’s Homes and has also been heavily involved in advocacy around mental health issues including service as a member on the Canadian Mental Health Commission. More on Professor Martini’s story can be found here.

The Recognition Award is given to someone who is not a member of the Faculty Association but has contributed to the success of academic staff. This year the Association recognizes Ruth Clark who has volunteered as a community representative on the Health Sciences Animal Care Committee for ten years. As the lay person on the committee (as per requirements of Tri-Council and the Canadian Council on Animal Care) Ms. Clark has read and critiqued over 350 active protocols. She has recently also joined the University Animal Welfare Committee which oversees animal welfare across campus. More on Ms. Clark’s story can be found here.

As always, the Awards Committee faced the difficult decision of picking a single person from the large pool of highly deserving nominees for each award. I would like to thank Association Board member Mary-Ellen Tyler (Environmental Design) for taking on the position of Awards Committee chairperson. I would also like to thank the rest of the committee for accepting this difficult but rewarding task: Tina Gabriele (Kinesiology), Ted Horbulyk (Economics), Allan Ingelson (Haskayne School of Business) and Maureen Wilson (Social Work).

I would like to take this opportunity to invite all academic staff members to attend the Awards celebration on March 19th, (click here for event details). This occasion has become one of the Association’s most anticipated events.

Please join us in celebrating the remarkable accomplishments and impacts of these award recipients.

>> Community Service Award Recipient 2013

<< Member Snapshot – Gender by Faculty

Resources, Workload, Collegial Governance and Engagement

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Resources, Workload, Collegial Governance and Engagement | Filed in December 2012, President's Message

– By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

The main topic of my final Academic Views article of calendar year 2012 is the continuing concern of academic staff in a number of areas of the University regarding the related dimensions of resources and workload.  A subsidiary topic is collegial governance, and I will wrap up with some content on employee engagement, since the other three topics impact this.  I’ll have quite a bit more to write on these concerns later, but I want to begin on a more positive note.

In my October Academic Views article this year I stated that “I am committed to working with senior administration from a perspective of cooperation and mutual respect”, and I commended the University administration for deciding not to enter into a model licence agreement with Access Copyright.  In this December article, I want to add two further commendations for the administration, and for Provost Dru Marshall in particular.  Firstly, I’d like to thank Dr. Marshall for inviting me and Sheila Miller (Executive Director of the Association) to address an evening session of the “Academic Leadership Development Program for Deans” in late November  on the topic of how deans can interact with the Association in an effective and constructive manner.  Eleven of the thirteen Calgary-based deans were able to attend and our presentation was followed by a wide-ranging question and answer period.  Secondly, I’d like to commend Dr. Marshall for hosting two “town hall” meetings at which information on the U of C’s new “budget model” was shared (this was also shared with General Faculties Council at its meeting on 18th October).

However, while the sharing of more information on the University’s budget process was a positive step, there remain many members of the academic staff who are greatly concerned as to what the implications of the 2013-14 budget (and also budgets for years further into the future) will be for the resources available to their Faculties or departments and hence for academic staff workloads.  For some units (e.g. Arts and Education), it has been known for some time that the future number of academic staff will be much less than it was in the recent past, but other units (e.g. Science and Engineering) are seeing plans to reduce academic staff positions or place positions on indefinite hold.  To be more specific:

  • The 2011-2014 Comprehensive Plan for the Faculty of Arts predicts that there will be 341 academic staff in that Faculty in 2013-14 while Office of Institutional Analysis (OIA) data suggest that there were 370 in 2011-12, down from a peak of 406 in 2008.  If the prediction is correct, this will be a drop of 16% in 5 years.
  • According to OIA data, the number of academic staff in the Faculty of Education dropped from 87 in 2007 to 73 in 2011, a decrease of around 16% in 4 years.
  • The Faculty of Science has completed a review that includes a “decision” to reduce the number of academic staff by 39.  According to OIA data, this reduction would mean a decrease of 16% from 2011-12 levels (of 244).
  • Engineering has recently put a number of planned academic staff positions on indefinite hold due to budget concerns.  According to OIA data, the number of academic staff in Engineering has dropped by about 10% between 2007 and 2011.

The recently announced hiring of 50 new assistant professors (the so-called stimulus hires) is certainly a positive development, but this must be weighed against the significant position losses noted above (that have either already taken place, or are planned to occur).  It should also be recognized that only half of the cost of these new positions is being covered by new money provided to the Faculties, the other half having to come from budgets that are already under significant pressure.

Another concern of the Association that I must briefly mention before I get into the final topic of engagement concerns collegial governance and the process for developing or revising university-wide policies or procedures.  Back in February 2012 a formal process for this went through both the General Faculties Council and the Board of Governors.  This process includes both targeted consultation with stakeholders (such as the Association) as well as the opportunity for general public feedback on a good draft of the policy or procedure, elements that contribute to ensuring comprehensive consultation among stakeholders.  The Association is concerned that the administration is reticent to follow this process in all cases, and has asked the administration to either commit to following the February 2012 process or explain its concerns with this process.  I find it troubling that, to date, the administration has not responded adequately to this significant concern.

As anyone who read my March 2012 newsletter article on the results of the U of C’s 2011 engagement survey may recall, the number one concern of academic staff was the funding being provided to support the needs of departments (click here to view Academic Views, March 2012).  Almost two months ago, the Association acquired more detailed information on the results of the engagement survey in the form of results decomposed by administrative unit (e.g. by Faculty).  The Association has prepared a report on this new data (click here for the report Engagement Survey Results – Comparison Across Units) but I want to highlight some interesting aspects of the newly-acquired data here:

  • Comparing Faculties based on their average response to the questions in each category (see the section of the report beginning on p5) the two units with the most significant concerns appear to be Arts and Science, which rank in what I might term the “most gloomy” three (of eleven) units on 12 of the 16 categories.  These two units are followed by Education and Kinesiology, each of which ranks in the bottom three units on 6 question categories.  At the other end of the spectrum are Social Work, Medicine, and Nursing, which each rank in the bottom three at most once.
  • Looking a little closer at two question categories where there is substantial variation across the Faculties we can see the following:
    • For category #8 (faculty/institute/administrative unit, see p14 of the report) the three units with the most significant concerns appear to be Kinesiology, Arts, and Education (in each of these three units, on average, more people respond unfavourably than respond favourably to the four questions in this category).  At the other end of the opinion spectrum, there are four units, Social Work, Veterinary Medicine, Medicine, and Nursing, where the favourable responses outnumber the unfavourable by a factor of almost 4 to 1 or higher.
    • For category #13 (resources, see p19 of the report) the two units with the most significant concerns appear to be Arts and Education (in each of these two units, on average, more people respond unfavourably than respond favourably to the ten questions in this category).  At the other end of the opinion spectrum, there are three units, Veterinary Medicine, Social Work, and Medicine, where the favourable responses outnumber the unfavourable by a factor of 3 to 1 or higher.
  • Looking now at two specific questions where the overall level of concern was most significant (see the section of the report beginning on p23) we can see the following:
    • For question #45 (rate the University in terms of providing the funding to support your department’s needs, see p24 of the report), which was the top concern for academic staff, there were four units where the ratio of the percentage responding unfavourably to the percentage responding favourably was larger than 4 to 1.  These faculties are: Arts, Engineering, Science, and Education.  Also, in every unit the unfavourable responses exceeded the favourable.
    • For question #25 (the University supports me in achieving a reasonable balance between my work life and my personal life, see p25 of the report), which was another major concern for academic staff, there were three units, Education, Arts, and Science, where the  ratio of the percentage responding unfavourably to the percentage responding favourably was larger than 1.5 to 1.

If you have any thoughts that you wish to share with me on the above topics, or on any others that you think ought to be concerns of the Faculty Association, please do not hesitate to contact me (I can be reached via email at my Faculty Association address, paul.rogers@tucfa.com).  Finally, on behalf of the Association, I wish you peace and joy for the imminent holiday season and the new year.

 

>> Potential changes to pension plan

<< Season’s Greetings

Fair Employment an ongoing concern

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Fair Employment an ongoing concern | Filed in October 2012, President's Message

– By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

In March 2012 the Association took a snapshot of its membership which revealed that 23.1% of academic staff at the U of C at that time held term certain (also known as sessional) positions.  Across Canada this type of position is more typically referred to as contract academic staff, and it is a class that is growing both nationally and internationally.  This growth is of significant concern to the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), which is why CAUT annually plays a coordinating role in Fair Employment Week (FEW).

FEW (this year’s incarnation runs from October 22nd to 26th) is a national event that raises awareness of the difficulties inherent in being a member of the contract academic staff.  Contract academic staff are often on the front lines of attacks on academic freedom, quality, fair treatment, and the value of research.  Universities continue to lean on contract academic staff as a cheap, flexible workforce.  At the U of C sessional instructors are typically hired to teach individual courses; they are not expected to do research and they are not offered long- or even medium-term commitments beyond the individual courses.  These academics often work for low pay, and with the uncertainty of whether or not another short-term contract will be extended to them.

The Association is concerned that we are increasingly creating a have and have-not campus where some members of the academic staff receive much of the resources and security, while others are treated poorly.  It is important to emphasize the incredible dedication of these individuals to their jobs since sessionals are highly-qualified individuals who care deeply for the University and their students.

In recognition of the work sessional members do and the contribution they make to the institution, the Association is launching a new one-time program of Sessional Travel Grants in conjunction with FEW.  The purpose of these grants is to provide these members with an opportunity to profile their research (work some continue to do even though they may not be compensated for it) or attend conferences to remain current in their fields.  Three grants are available to be awarded (eligibility criteria and deadlines for application are available here).

Not much has changed over the past year regarding the statistics on the faculty and gender of sessionals. You will find that sessional academics still compose nearly one-quarter of all academics at the University, an amount almost equal to the number of Associate Professors, and are employed in every corner of the University. In addition, over half of sessionals are female which is in contrast to statistics for ongoing academics.

The Association has always recognized that the concerns of contract academic staff should be the concerns of us all.  Please let your colleagues and administrators know that the unfair treatment of sessionals at the U of C needs to be resolved.

>> Sessional Academics by the numbers

<< Sessional Travel Grants available

Bargaining workload

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Bargaining workload | Filed in President's Message, September 2012

– By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

By the time that this President’s Message, my first of the 2012-2013 academic year, reaches you we will be well into the busy Fall Semester, so please accept my somewhat belated best wishes for a productive and satisfying year. While I have no doubt as to magnitude of the workload burden members of the academic staff will be bearing this year, I want to ensure that you are aware of the extreme bargaining workload that the Association will be dealing with over the same period.

The Association will be entering into negotiations on the Collective Agreement (CA) with the Board of Governors this year as the current agreement is set to expire on the 30th June 2013. In addition to this, there are a number of other negotiations ongoing, some of which I mentioned more than a year ago including: (i) incorporating tenure and promotion processes into the CA; (ii) incorporating assessment procedures into the CA; (iii) discussion of issues regarding the assignment of duties article in the CA; and (iv) reviewing the article on sessional instructors in the CA. These negations will consume much of the time of the Association’s officers and staff, especially that of the Association’s Principal Negotiator, Eileen Lohka. You will be hearing more from Eileen as these negotiations progress, so please give her your careful attention, thoughtful feedback, and full support during what is going to be an exceptionally busy time for her.

I want to briefly update you on an important issue that I discussed in my June 2012 article, this being the workload of academic staff in the instructor stream in the Faculty of Arts (see here for the earlier article). There are two active grievances related to this now, the first being the original grievance of the unilateral decision of the Dean of Arts to increase teaching workloads, and the second relating to the conduct of the administration’s review of the Dean’s decision. I recognize that there is a great deal of concern over academic staff workload across the institution, not just in the Faculty of Arts, for example a number of members from the Faculty of Science have brought to my attention that unit’s plan to increase teaching loads.

As the previous paragraph makes clear, your Association and the university administration will not always agree on issues, but I am committed to working with senior administration from a perspective of cooperation and mutual respect. It is with this in mind that I want to commend Provost Dru Marshall and the U of C’s Copyright Committee for reaching the correct decision on the issue of the Access Copyright model licence agreement (as was announced towards the end of August, the U of C will not be signing the model licence agreement).

I received an interesting memo recently from the President of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) that makes it clear that a number of issues the Faculty Association is facing here are also concerns of other academic staff associations across Canada. The memo from CAUT President Wayne Peters highlighted a number of common concerns across the country, most notably: (i) increased workloads and expectations; (ii) challenges to academic involvement in governance; (iii) casualization of academic staff; and (iv) insufficient funding from government sources.

There is one additional development that I must bring to your attention before I close. Due to renovations in the Education Tower, where the Association’s office is located, the Association will be moving temporarily to another space on campus. This move will be disruptive, so please bear this in mind if Association staff are not able to respond to your requests as quickly as normal.

Finally, as always, I encourage you to contact me to share your thoughts on issues of importance to you and the Association.

 

>> Inspired Service Awards – Deadline October 25

<< New Board of Directors Member

Arts Instructor review outcome oblivious to workload realities

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Arts Instructor review outcome oblivious to workload realities | Filed in June 2012, President's Message

– By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

You may recall that one of the components of the June 2011 agreement between the Faculty Association and the Board of Governors was a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) regarding the Association’s grievance against the Dean of Arts over his unilateral decision to increase the workload of academic staff in the instructor stream in Arts.  In the MOA the Association agreed to hold the grievance in abeyance provided that a number of conditions were met, one of which included the University administration completing a review of the Dean’s decision and the process followed in reaching it.

University administration provided the Association with the results of the review at the beginning of June and I am writing, with regret, to let you know that the MOA condition concerning the review, in our opinion, has not been adequately met because of the following fundamental flaw in the review itself:
•    The review did not consider the process followed by the Dean in reaching his decision, in particular whether or not this is in violation of Article 12 of the Collective Agreement (on Assignment of Duties).
In addition to the fundamental flaw above, the Association has identified a number of other significant concerns with the review, summarized as follows:
•    The review outcome, that an 8 half-course equivalent workload norm across the entire Faculty of Arts is considered to be reasonable, is based on what appears to be a rather dubious analysis of course load data.  Concerns here include: (i) how complete and accurate were the data; (ii) did the data show legitimate differences in instructor course loads across departments; and (iii) did the data analysis assume that the workload of instructors carrying course overloads should simply be considered as regular load?
•    Further, the review outcome appears to be based on a fundamental error of reasoning.  The argument for the faculty-wide norm appears to be that since over half of the academic staff in the instructor stream are already carrying a load of 8 half-course equivalents (including overload!), therefore the other instructors should be doing the same (without any overload compensation).  This reasoning completely ignores a key argument in our grievance, specifically that all courses across the diverse departments within Arts do not present the same workload.
•    The review appears to give no weight to comments provided to it by instructors in Arts concerning the negative impact on the quality of instruction (and the experience of students) if instructor workloads are raised in the manner that is being recommended.
•    The review outcome includes the statement that “… we expect that the Dean and the Department Heads will have further [note: emphasis added here] discussions about how a faculty-wide guideline for the assignment of course load will be applied …”.  This appears to be oblivious to another of the concerns in the original grievance, this being that the Dean imposed this workload increase unilaterally.

With the review “complete”, the Dean of Arts has written (by email) to all Department Heads informing them that “the course load for Instructors and Senior Instructors in the Faculty of Arts, beginning with this 2012-13 academic year, will be 8 HCE” and encouraging them “to review the duties that are being assigned to Instructors and Senior Instructors in teaching and service”.  Your Association views this as an entirely inappropriate action, given the significant flaws in the review as highlighted earlier.  Consequently, we will be reactivating the grievance on this matter at the earliest opportunity and, in addition, we will be filing a new grievance regarding the conduct of the administration’s review.

The actions of the Dean of Arts following the review, unilaterally increasing instructor workloads at a time when teaching assignments have already been made for 2012-13, have created significant turmoil in Arts.  The Faculty Association is being deluged by questions and comments from members from all ranks within the Faculty of Arts as to what this means for everything from sessional contracts to preparations for courses.  The new Dean of Arts, who starts work on the 1st of August, will be walking into a mess.  We will be inviting him to consult and work with his Department Heads as well as the Faculty Association in order to resolve these issues for the future.

Looking more broadly, you may also recall that the June 2011 agreement between the Association and the Governors included a Letter of Understanding  (LOU) regarding the creation of a committee to examine Article 12 of the Collective Agreement (Assignment of Duties), and to prepare recommendations on the process/procedure for implementing it across the institution.  The actions of university administration on the Arts Instructor Workload MOA raise significant concerns as to how interested administration is in making fair decisions through proper processes, how seriously it takes the agreements it signs with the Association, and to what extent the Association can trust the administration.  All of this suggests that the committee to examine Article 12 under this LOU will be starting its work in the fall under a dark and ominous cloud.  Furthermore, this does not bode well for the upcoming Collective Agreement negotiations that will take place during the 2012-13 academic year.

>> There’s more… President’s additional items of interest

<< CAUT dues changes

There’s more… President’s additional items of interest

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on There’s more… President’s additional items of interest | Filed in June 2012, President's Message

– By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

Not wishing to take away anything from the importance of my main article (on the workload of instructor-stream academic staff in the Faculty of Arts), I also want to share some thoughts on two additional areas of concern for members of the Association:

1)      Access Copyright: it’s been a couple of weeks since I emailed you regarding this topic, and I want to share with you something interesting that was brought to my attention by CAUT.  Ariel Katz, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, is maintaining a webpage that keeps track of the institutions that have made public their decisions regarding the Access Copyright-AUCC model license.  Click here for the most recent information as to which institutions qualify for Ariel’s “Hall of Fame” or “Hall of Shame”. More information about Access Copyright, AUCC and the University of Calgary can be found here.

2)      Funding to support department needs: since the Association released the engagement survey results for academic staff in March (click here for the March article), I’ve had a chance to look at the survey results for the AUPE and MaPS staff groups too.  It appears that both of these groups share in the serious concern of academic staff as to the adequacy of the funding the university is providing to departments to meet their needs.  It is not clear how the university administration intends to address this top concern of staff overall, but many are worried as to the implications of the new performance-based budget model that administration will be introducing in April 2013 for their departments.

As always, if you have any thoughts that you wish to share with me on the above topics, or on any others that you think ought to be concerns of the Faculty Association, please do not hesitate to contact me (e.g. I’d certainly be interested to hear your thoughts on the current kerfuffle around university political contributions).

>>Principal Negotiator’s Report (2011/12)

<< Arts Instructor review outcome oblivious to workload realities

Access to Information Request Yields 2011 Engagement Survey Results

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Access to Information Request Yields 2011 Engagement Survey Results | Filed in March 2012, President's Message

– By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

I must begin by apologizing for the time that has elapsed since I published my most recent Academic Views article in December. I hope to atone for this delay by making available some data in which I think you’ll be interested, these being the results from last spring’s engagement survey for salaried academic staff. I had wanted to be able to share this information with you much earlier in the 2011-12 academic year, but the Association was not able to gain access to the results until 21st March.

You may recall that I raised the issue of the engagement survey in my December 2011 article (it was one of four “significant” items I wanted to bring to your attention), but at the time I knew almost nothing about how academic staff had responded to the 80 questions constituting the survey.  The availability of the engagement survey results has been discussed at a number of meetings of both the Faculty Association’s Executive Committee and its Board of Directors, with concerns expressed relating initially to how long it took for any information on the survey results to be shared, and then regarding the “thin gruel” that was eventually shared with U of C staff in mid-November 2011.

We had been hoping that the U of C administration would voluntarily share additional details on the survey results with the university community, but once it became clear to the Association that nothing beyond what was released on 16th November was going to be made available, we determined that we would have to take action.  Consequently, on the 21st February a formal access to information request was submitted to the office of the University’s Access and Privacy Coordinator requesting full details on the engagement survey results.  The response to this request, including the requested data, was provided to us on 21st March.

A preliminary analysis of the results provided by the Access and Privacy Coordinator has now been completed and I am writing to share this analysis with you.  Posted here is a 10-page document summarizing the responses of members of the academic staff to each of the 80 questions, together with some additional summary information that may be of interest (a link to the document is also posted at the bottom of this page).  The response to the access to information request presented separate results for each of two categories of academic staff, those with tenure and those without tenure.  The posted summary document presents the aggregated results for all academic staff who responded to the survey.

Before describing the results, here is some background information on the survey questions (based on the information provided by the Access and Privacy Coordinator):

–  There were 80 questions in the survey, organized under 16 categories as specified by the Hay Group,  the designer of the survey.

–  Results for each question are reported in terms of the percentage of respondents answering “Favourably”, “Neutrally”, or “Unfavourably”.  There were two main types of question as follows:

–  43 questions were of the form “How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement” with responses restricted to the five point scale:

–  1=Strongly Disagree; 2=Tend to Disagree; 3=Hard to Decide; 4=Tend to Agree; 5=Strongly Agree
–  A response of 1 or 2 is counted as unfavourable while a 4 or 5 is counted as favourable.

–  35 questions were of the form “Rate the University in terms of some dimension” with responses restricted to the five point scale:

–  1=Very Poor; 2=Poor; 3=Average; 4=Good; 5=Very Good
–  Again, a response of 1 or 2 is counted as unfavourable while a 4 or 5 is counted as favourable.

–  There were two questions, each of which had a unique response scale:

–  Question 79, “Overall, how would you rate your satisfaction working at the University at the present time”:

–  1=Very Dissatisfied; 2=Dissatisfied; 3=Neither Satisfied nor Dissatisfied; 4=Satisfied; 5=Very Satisfied.
–  Again, a response of 1 or 2 is counted as unfavourable while a 4 or 5 is counted as favourable.

–  Question 80, “Based on your career plans, how long are you likely to continue working at the University”:

–  1=Will retire in the next 1-2 yrs; 2=Will probably leave, but not retire, within the next year; 3=Will probably stay 1-2 more years; 4=No plans to leave the University at present
–  A response of 4 was counted as favourable, a 3 was deemed neutral, a 2 was counted as unfavourable, and a 1 was excluded from the results.

Here’s a summary of the survey results that are provided in the 10-page summary document:

–  Overall 711 academic staff responded to the survey, a rate of around 34% (468 with tenure {a 45% response rate} and 243 without tenure {a 23% response rate}).

–  The first page highlights the results for the “top-10” and “bottom-10” questions (from any category) where the ranking is based on the percentage of respondents answering favourably minus the percentage answering unfavourably.  For example, focusing on just the top and bottom questions:

–  86% of the academic staff responding to the survey agree (or strongly agree) with the statement “I have the opportunity to do challenging and interesting work”, while only 8.7% disagree (or strongly disagree).
–  Only 11% of academic staff responding to the survey rate the University as good (or very good) in terms of “Providing the funding to support my department’s needs”, while 65% rate it as poor (or very poor).

–  The next 8 pages present the results for all 80 questions, with the questions grouped according to the 16 categories, and presented at two categories per page.  E.g. there are 6 questions in the “Engagement” category, 4 in the “Enablement” category, and 10 in the “Resources” category.

–  Finally, a single page summarizing the average results for the questions in each category is presented.  On this page, the categories are sorted from best score to worst score (using the same ranking scheme as for the first page).

If you wish to look at the full, 86-page, response from the U of C’s Access and Privacy Coordinator, this is also available from the Association’s website here (a link to the document is also posted at the bottom of this page).  As previously noted, this document presents results separately for academic staff with and without tenure whereas the 10-page summary document (again, found here) presents results for the academic staff in aggregate.  Please note that both of the posted documents use colour so some of their content may be hard to read if a hard-copy is printed in monochrome.

If you see anything of particular interest in this article or either of the posted documents that you’d like to discuss with me further, please let me know.  I can be reached via email at my Faculty Association address (paul.rogers@tucfa.com).

 

Summary – U of C Engagement Survey 2011

U of C Engagement Survey 2011 – full response

Busy semester in review

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Busy semester in review | Filed in December 2011, President's Message

– By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

We are almost half way through the academic year and I’m confident that the prediction at the end of my September Academic Views article that this would be a busy year for all of us is valid.  Of course, this prediction took no great clairvoyance on my part, as anyone who’s been at the University of Calgary for a few years is cognizant of the increasingly unsustainable workload academic staff members are facing.  I say almost half way as I know that at the time of writing this article, most of you still have final exams to invigilate and then grade, so you still have much to do before the end of semester.  I too am not quite done with the first quarter of my two-year term as President of the Association as one major task stands between me and the holiday break, this being serving as a member (non-voting) of the General Promotions Committee during its December sessions.

The staff and officers of the Association are also facing extremely heavy workloads this year in a number of areas: (i) cases in the general area of grievances; (ii) bargaining activities on a number of topics, stemming from the recently ratified collective agreement; (iii) dealing with process problems at a number of this year’s Faculty Promotion Committees.  Please bear this office staff workload in mind if the Association does not respond to your enquiries as quickly as you would like.

There have been many developments of significance to the Faculty Association over the past months, only a few of which I have space to highlight in this article.  Some of the more salient are summarized below:

1)  The University launched “Eyes High” in late September, following the approval by both GFC and the Board of Governors of the Strategy Summary Document in June 2011.  This document is intended to provide a broad statement of direction for the institution and guidance for the development of planning documents.  While the specific measures on which the University is aiming to be top five are as yet undefined, the document has significant implications for resource reallocation, and acquisition of new resources.  E.g. if the intent is to be top five in sponsored research income, this would need to increase by 66 per cent (assuming that the current top five stay still), based on the latest information from ResearchInfoSource (released November 2011).

2)  Two of the University’s Vice-Presidents, Dru Marshall and Ed McCauley, are leading the development of an academic plan, building upon “Eyes High” (this will form one chapter of the University’s 2012 Comprehensive Institutional Plan, a requirement of the Alberta Government).  An early step in the consultation process on the academic plan was asking the Deans to submit faculty responses to a number of questions.  Deans were asked to be consultative in developing responses, but it is not clear to the Faculty Association which Deans have sought input from the academic staff in their units.  I’d be interested to hear from you concerning whether or not you were given a chance to have some input into developing the responses from your faculty as there are a number of interesting questions in the list given to the Deans (e.g. two where I am sure you would be interested were “What programs will you delete?  Why?”).

3) After a six-month delay, selected results from the University’s engagement survey of salaried faculty and staff were released in mid-November.  While we do not know what the response rate to the survey was for academic staff (the overall response rate was 47%), some of the areas of concern highlighted in the survey results come as no surprise given previously documented issues such as lack of collegial governance.  I am sure that many will be pleased to see that the number one priority of the executive leadership team of the University is to regain the trust of the academy.

4) The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), to which the U of C belongs, has approved a revised version of its Statement on Academic Freedom.   The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has been very critical of the revisions as they “undo many of the advances that have been achieved in the understanding of academic freedom over the past 100 years”.

If you have any thoughts that you wish to share with me on the above topics, or on any others that you think ought to be concerns of the Faculty Association, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Finally, on behalf of the Association, I wish you peace and joy for the imminent holiday season and the new year.

>> Annual Holiday Donation

<< Season’s Greetings

Fair Employment a campus concern

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Fair Employment a campus concern | Filed in October 2011, President's Message

– by Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

Contract academics, specifically sessional members, are often on the front lines of the attacks on academic freedom, quality, fair treatment, and the value of research.  The Association has always recognized that the concerns of contract academic staff should be the concerns of us all.

Fair Employment Week (FEW) is a national event that raises awareness of the difficulties inherent in being a member of the contract academic staff. The event this year runs from October 24 to 28 and is coordinated in part by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).

Normally, term certain (sessional) instructors at the University are contract academics who are hired to teach individual courses; they are not expected to do research and they are not offered long- or short-term commitments beyond the individual courses. These academics often work for low pay, and with the uncertainty of whether or not another short-term contract will be extended to them.

It is interesting to note that there are 47 sessional members employed in 2002 that are still employed as a sessional nine years later in 2011, according to information provided through the University’s Data Mart.  Also, there are 131 sessionals employed in 2011 that also had contracts in 2006. The Association is aware of a number of sessionals who have been working longer than nine or ten years from contract to contract.

It is certainly possible in some parts of the campus for students to complete a degree with most of their courses taught by these part-time “temporary” instructors to whom the University has not made a long-term commitment, and who are not involved in any research. The Faculty Association is concerned that we are increasingly creating a have and have-not campus where some academics receive much of the resources and security, while others are treated poorly. It is important to also emphasize the incredible dedication of these individuals to their jobs.  Sessionals are highly qualified extraordinary individuals who care deeply for the University and their students.

Below is a link to statistics on the rank, faculty and gender of sessionals. You will find that sessional academics compose nearly one-quarter of all academics at the University, an amount almost equal to the number of Associate Professors. In addition, over half of sessionals are female which in contrast to statistics for ongoing academics. Finally, it is important to note that there are sessional instructors employed in every corner of the University.

The Faculty Association is currently engaged in negotiations with the Governors regarding sessional instructors. These negotiations are still in their early stages but the Association is optimistic that the situation for our sessional members can be somewhat improved.

Let your colleagues and administrators know that the unfair treatment of Sessionals at the U of C needs to be resolved.

Sessional Academics by the numbers >>

Consulting with members a main objective

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on Consulting with members a main objective | Filed in President's Message, September 2011

– By Paul Rogers, Faculty Association President –

It gives me great pleasure to bring you my greetings as the new President of the Faculty Association.  I have been a faculty member at the University of Calgary since 1991 and I have served the Association in a variety of capacities during that time, including six years on its Board of Directors, and most recently, one year as its nominee on the University’s Board of Governors.  I have also served on numerous other University committees during my career, some on behalf of the Association, this experience has increased my understanding of how the institution operates, though I’m sure I have more to learn, especially regarding those units on campus with which I am less familiar.

One of my main objectives as President is to consult widely with you and listen to you carefully regarding the issues that are important to you as members of the academic staff. I wish to represent your collective interests faithfully, especially in fundamental areas such as the protection of academic freedom and the pursuit of true collegial governance of the institution.  In order to achieve this goal, I need to have your support and input, so I encourage you to share with me your thoughts on matters of concern to you over the next two years.  The better I understand your views, the better job I’ll be able to do, so I am counting on you to continue my education as President of your Faculty Association!

There are a number of issues the Association will be dealing with over the academic year. These include the conclusion of negotiations with the Board of Governors on placing the tenure and promotion processes into the Collective Agreement, and negotiation of a process for Assessment for inclusion in the Collective Agreement.  Last but not least, the Association is currently negotiating proposed changes for Sessional Instructors to improve these types of appointments.  The Association will be bringing you more information on these negotiations and on any proposals to be ratified over the next year.

As part of the most recent settlement ratified in June 2011, the Association will work as part of a Joint Committee on Workload established to collect and review data regarding academic workloads at this University and others, and clarify a process to follow when implementing Collective Agreement, Article 12: Assignment of Duties. We will be bringing you more information from this Joint Committee as it proceeds with its work.

There have been a number of changes to the Senior Administrative team at the U of C recently, including the appointment of a new Provost, Dr. Dru Marshall.  We are hopeful that Senior Administrators will work in a way that recognizes the critical role that academic staff members play in the collegial governance of the University via its key decision-making bodies.

I am pleased to be President of the Faculty Association because I believe it to be an important and effective organization.  The Board and Executive continue to be composed of committed members of the academic staff, willing to share their experience and wisdom to inform our discussions on the issues of the day.  The Association’s staff is highly professional and competent, devoting tremendous amounts of time to the pursuit of issues that affect you (often without your even knowing).  When an academic staff member contacts the Faculty Association (and this is very important), they will reach a staff member who will treat the call with the utmost confidentiality.  The elected officers of the Association (including me) are not informed of any confidential personal information without the member’s consent.

We all have a busy year ahead of us and I look forward to a fruitful year of dialogue with the campus community and most importantly, you, the members of the Faculty Association.

>> Merit – What is average?