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Academic Views

President’s Message

Dear Colleagues,

This will be my last communication with you as President and on June 28 I will be leaving the city for a six-month leave.  I want to thank you all for the opportunity to serve as TUCFA president and for all the support I have received. I hope that you will be able to provide my successor, Dr. Kent Donlevy, with the same level of support as he represents us and works tirelessly to improve our working lives.

I am pleased that you have endorsed the new merit system. As I have said previously, the new system is not ideal, but I believe it represents a step forward for both TUCFA and the University and that it was the best option open to us at this time. There will obviously be some growing pains as the new system unfolds and I know that the TUCFA staff will be there to provide support and answer your questions moving forward. I want to thank Mary-Ellen Tyler, Don Kozak and Jennifer Krygier for their work in negotiating this major change. As always, we owe our gratitude to Sheila Miller for her advice and insight. I should also thank the bargaining team from the administration, Jim Dewald, Dianne Gereluk, Malinda Smith, and Steve McCardy for working to improve a process which was in need of reform. Thanks as well to our Executive, Board and Department Representatives for the advice and feedback they provided as we worked through this process. The final agreement was vastly improved as a result of their help.

The turnout for the vote was higher than we normally receive, and this is a very positive sign moving forward. We must work together to ensure that our salaries are as high as our eyes! When members demonstrate their engagement through their participation in TUCFA it enhances our bargaining position. I deeply regret that the secret bargaining mandates the government of Alberta utilizes continue to negatively affect labour relations. I know that you will support the new TUCFA President, Executive and Board as they lobby for the removal of these mandates and press for more support for post-secondary education.

For me, a positive indicator of change was visible at the most recent GFC meeting. The meeting approved the new Strategic Plan, but, only after a robust debate and with many on GFC actually voting against it. An open letter was submitted by a number of our colleagues calling for reconsideration of some of the elements in the plan as well as a pause in moving forward. I put forward a motion asking that the decision be deferred until the first GFC meeting in September and that a Town Hall on the plan be held before the GFC vote. While this motion was unsuccessful, a significant number of members voted in favour of it, indeed, it was the closest vote in my three years on the GFC. I hope that this serves as an indicator that there will be a greater willingness on the part of GFC to challenge initiatives in the future and that disagreement will be seen as a strength of our processes rather than a sign of disloyalty. I encourage you to monitor what GFC is doing and to reach out to your elected representatives to ensure they understand your views and concerns.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to work on your behalf but must concede that my three years have not been what I expected. When I decided to run for President none of us anticipated a pandemic that would dramatically change the way in which we work and interact with each other. I have not had an opportunity to meet in person with the Board or Executive during my term and the limited opportunities to personally meet with members has frankly been disappointing. Nonetheless, working with the TUCFA staff has been inspiring. We are fortunate to have such exceptional and hard-working people in our office and although their labours fall below the radar in most cases, their dedication is most impressive. The leadership provided by Sheila Miller and Don Kozak is extraordinary and I will miss working with them on a daily basis. We started as colleagues and ended as friends.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to work at the national level with both CAUT and the CAUT Defense Fund. I have also had the opportunity to enhance our working relationship with our colleagues at the Association of Academic Staff of the University of Alberta. It has also been a pleasure to work with our friends in AUPE here as well as the student leaders on campus.

I know that our new President, Executive and Board will develop these relationships as they work with our staff to improve our working conditions and salaries. I hope that you will give them the same level of support you provided to me. I have said this before, but I want to reiterate as a closing comment, that the opportunity to serve as your President has been the highlight of my career, thank you for this and please accept my best wishes for the future.

Best wishes,

David Stewart

President, The Faculty Association of the University of Calgary

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