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Academic Views

President’s Report

As the summer term begins, most of us have turned our thoughts towards the fall and the challenges that term will bring. The government assures us that everything will be open, and the university is acting on that assumption and is proceeding to vastly expand in-class teaching. We continue to hear from many of you who have concerns about face-to-face teaching and we are passing those concerns along to the Provost as well as discussing them at meetings of the Academic Crisis Management Team. If you have concerns that would lead you to request a change of modality away from classroom teaching it is important that you make the Dean of your Faculty aware of your issues. We are told that very few people have approached their Deans with any such concerns. You can, as always, reach out to our office with your concerns.

Many members of academic staff are concerned about the extra workload that will be required if they are expected to deliver their courses both online and in person. We have been assured that there is no expectation that courses will need to be delivered in two formats but if your experience differs, please let us know as soon as possible. Obviously, those of us who need formal accommodations for teaching will be able to pursue such adjustments through the normal process. Please review the material released earlier this month by the Provost on this matter. The guidelines for Fall planning can be found here.

The provincial government’s Alberta 2030 process continues to move ahead and, along with the President of CAFA, I had a meeting in mid June with the Advanced Education Minister. There is a clear desire on their front to move forward with issues relating to governance but there is as yet no clear direction with respect to the development of new structures and the relationship that any new committees would have to our existing structures. If you have views on Alberta 2030, please feel free to pass them along to our office. I hope to meet again with the Minister this summer for a broader discussion of issues of concern. The documents that form the basis for the discussion, as well as ministerial planning, can be found here.

We continue to co-operate with other post-secondary organizations in the Calgary region and beyond in providing feedback on government initiatives and remain focused on stopping further cuts to post-secondary education and raising public awareness of the negative implications of such cuts. We will provide updates on actions relating to this as well as actions undertaken by CAUT on our website throughout the summer. You are aware that we are still negotiating a new Collective Agreement and that the composition of the Administration team has changed with the departure of key individuals. Our bargaining team remains intact and will be proceeding with negotiations into the fall term. We will be hearing more directly from our Department Representatives on these issues in the fall.

At the last meeting of Department Representatives for the academic year, we had a discussion about the ‘Growth through Focus’ materials and the package that was going forward to GFC. There continued to be some concerns expressed about the process, issues relating to equity, as well as the status of a new area of focus and the relationship of the proposals to the evaluation and hiring process. I raised these concerns at the GFC meeting where a “Framework for Growth” was approved and you can review the materials discussed by clicking here. There remains much work left to flesh out the plan as we move forward.

At the same GFC meeting where this framework was approved a new version of the Academic Staff Criteria and Processes Handbook was adopted. The revised Handbook will have implications for hiring, tenure, promotion, and merit so you should take a look at this document as it will form the basis for changes to Faculty policies that will be discussed in the fall. This is part of an ongoing process so if you have concerns about this matter, I would once again encourage you to reach out to our office.

Our office and staff remain busy with grievances and investigations, but we hope to work with the new Provost to reduce the number of these cases moving forward. These matters take up a good deal of Association time and as they move into formal grievances and arbitrations can become quite expensive. The staff and, in particular, the Executive Director and Associate Executive Director, work very hard on these issues. As well, I want to let you know that we have heard concerns about communications and are in the process of advertising for a new staff position that will be focused on this need. The person who takes on this new role will help us to upgrade our communication tools and strategies and help us respond to challenges both within and outside the university in a more effective manner.

Finally, as my second year as your President begins, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve in this capacity. It has been a challenging year, but I feel deeply honoured to work on your behalf. Moreover, I am very proud of the work done by all of you to move your research forward and provide high-quality courses to our students in an environment you were not prepared for, and which left many of us with significant new demands in our personal lives. You should all be very proud of what you have achieved. I hope you have a pleasant and productive summer.

David Stewart, President
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