‘20-21’

December 2020

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on December 2020 | Filed in 20-21, Academic Views

President’s Report

We are thankfully coming to the end of this challenging term with a large amount of marking confronting many of us. This term may well have been the most demanding teaching term you have experienced in your career and you should be proud of the efforts you have made to deliver academically sound and rigorous courses. You should be equally proud of the compassionate manner in which you have dealt with your students even when the accommodations you provided increased the demands on you substantially. I have tried in multiple venues to make the administration aware of how hard academic staff are working in terms of teaching and grading and will continue to do so going forward.

This has been a busy term. As you know, the administration has launched a new strategy entitled Growth Through Focus which has gone through a number of iterations following feedback from academic staff. I am disappointed that the administration has chosen not to release the feedback they received directly from academic staff. Transparency is important and what we are hearing from our members is that it has been in short supply on this issue.

President McCauley came to speak to the Faculty Association Board of Directors and we also organized a forum for our department representatives to provide us with views on the strategy. From these interactions and ongoing discussions with your elected Board of Directors we have a number of concerns and issues that we would like to see addressed before GFC and the Board of Governors approve this strategy.

We find a good deal of anxiety and uncertainty about Growth Through Focus rather than the enthusiasm the President seems to have encountered. We are asking the administration to include more academic staff on the various task teams that seem to be responsible for reshaping the document. We would also like to see a GFC committee elected to analyse the responses and ensure that the consultation process results in meaningful change. A clear explanation of how the budget process takes Growth Through Focus into account is another critical step in the direction of transparency and understanding how Faculties actually fit. We hear often from members that they are unconvinced that the work they and their colleagues do will be adequately reflected and appreciated moving forward.

Moreover, assurances that the development and delivery of certificates will be undertaken by academic staff is needed and that there will be recognition of this in the assignment and assessment of workloads would also be positive steps that we urge the administration to undertake. We would also like to see a discussion on how Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) fits in the plan, a clear explanation of what exactly is meant by ‘entrepreneurial’ and what changes may be sought to the merit, tenure and promotion process as a result of endorsing the proposed strategy. We are adamant that Growth Through Focus must not leave the University of Calgary as a diminished version of itself and that we remain a comprehensive university that meets the need of our community. We are pleased that the President has indicated that this strategy and plan will go through the collegial governance processes that are crucial to the effective operation and legitimacy of a post-secondary institution.

We understand that the administration is in a difficult financial situation and we are deeply disappointed at the cuts imposed by the provincial government. We have urged, and continue to urge, the government to reconsider this approach. The government has plans for rethinking post-secondary education in the province under the banner of Alberta 2030 and we have been active in trying to ensure that our voice is heard in this process. I have participated in town halls and have biweekly meetings with the Presidents of other University Faculty Associations to discuss how the process is unfolding and how we can have an impact. I also had a meeting with the McKinsey group that is carrying out the consultations and put some of the concerns of our Executive in a letter to them. That letter will be available on our website, but briefly, indicated our support for the views expressed by the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations while also noting the importance of avoiding one size fits all solutions and asking for changes in the bargaining environment. I also expressed concerns about reconsidering the bicameral decision-making process at universities and stressed the importance of liberal arts and basic science education to students and the wider community. My understanding is that this process will continue with a number of town halls to discuss an initial version of the report intended for the new year.

The new year will also be busy as we continue to negotiate with the administration on how the assessment process will work given the extraordinary circumstances under which we have worked since March. We had hoped that there might be an agreement on that before the break but that now seems highly unlikely. Our bargaining team will also be reporting in the new year on the overall bargaining process. Our Collective Agreement expired on June 30, 2020, and we will need to negotiate a new agreement, in an environment where we have no guaranteed access to binding arbitration and in which the government may well have given the Board of Governors a secret mandate that they are prohibited from disclosing.

This term we put together a Task Force on Membership Engagement that is examining ways in which our interactions with members can be improved. Please feel free to reach out to our office if you have suggestions on how you think engagement can be improved. In the environment in which we find ourselves, a committed and engaged membership is critical.

I want to express my gratitude to the TUCFA staff for their incredible work this term and the efforts they make to ensure that our voices are heard. We have a relatively small office that works hard to respond to member concerns and has a huge agenda to move forward each week. Our staff is smaller than the HR offices in some of the larger Faculties so you have some idea of the workload each of them carries. I wish them and all of you my best wishes this holiday season.

David Stewart, President

 

 

Academic Crisis Management Task Force Disbanded

The University’s Academic Crisis Management Task Force has been central to the University’s response to the pandemic. Representatives from the Faculty Association had been participating in the Task Force’s meetings but the Task Force was unfortunately disbanded in September.

 

 

Grade Reappraisals; Powers of Associate Deans

The Faculty Association has been receiving inquiries from members as to whether Heads or Associate Deans can unilaterally change the grades of students. The University Calendar outlines a general appeal process and some Faculties have implemented their own appeal processes for reappraisal of grades. We are unaware of any policy or procedures that would give a Department Head or Associate Dean the authority to unilaterally adjust grades. Such action, in lieu of following appropriate procedures, infringes on the academic freedom of the instructor who assigned the grades.

 

 

Recognition of Supervision of Student Sessional Instructors

The Faculty Association would like to remind our members of the “Letter of Understanding: Recognition of Graduate Student Supervision” in the Collective Agreement. When graduate students are hired under Article 23.2 L) (to provide teaching experience for a registered graduate student subject to 23.4) of the Collective Agreement, the intent is to provide the student with instructor experience and as such, the expectation is that the student is supervised by a regular academic staff member. The intent of this LOU is to ensure that this supervision is recognized as workload.

 

 

Faculty Association Supports Local Food Banks

As has become a tradition for the Faculty Association, the Association is donating to local food banks in lieu of gifts. The Students’ Union Food Bank and the Calgary Food Bank will each receive a donation to contribute to the valuable support they provide during the holiday season.

WE WISH YOU A HAPPY HOLIDAY AND ALL THE BEST FOR 2021!

 

 

Access to Campus Resources for Sessional Instructors

The Faculty Association raised concerns with the Administration around access to campus resources leading up to, and following sessional appointments. It has been clarified with the Administration that sessional instructiors should have access to email, the bookstore, the library, and D2L as soon as their appointments are finalized, and they have their UCard. Following the appointment, sessional instructors continue to have access to email and D2L for 12 months.

If any sessional instructors have issues with accessing any of these services as described above, they can contact the Integrated Service Centre who will be able to address the issue by either following up with the Faculty to ensure the appointment is finalized and entered, and/or with IT if there are any system access issues. Members can also reach out to the Faculty Association for guidance and/or assistance with these concerns.

 

 

Changes to Sessional Travel Fund During the Pandemic

Each academic year, a Sessional Travel Fund Committee will distribute a Sessional Travel Fund of thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) amongst eligible Sessional appointees to reimburse certain travel expenses per the Collective Agreement. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, there are changes to the eligible expenses that can be reimbursed.

Items eligible for the Winter 2021 submissions include:

  • Attendance to online and virtual events, including events at the University of Calgary;
  • Professional and/or technology items that make virtual attendance possible to the online event, such as webcams or headsets (max $200 per claim, no computers or software); and
  • Activities (such as online courses, or seminars) that support the development of teaching practice or scholarly activities.

Visit the University’s HR website for more information and to apply for this fund.

 

 

Nominations for Board of Directors

The Faculty Association is seeking nominees to the Association Board of Directors. There are five (5), three-year term, vacancies open for election on the Board of Directors. All nominees must be current members of the Association. In addition, the designated sessional seat, which is a one-year term, is also open for election. Nominees for the sessional seat must be current members of the Association or have held a sessional position at some point since May 1, 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nominations for the Board of Directors and the related materials should be submitted electronically to Faculty.Association@tucfa.com. All required information must be submitted by Monday, February 8, 2021, at 4:30 p.m. Nominators can submit their nomination electronically to the Faculty Association via email; clearly identifying who they are nominating. Alternatively, emails from the nominator or their electronic signatures may be attached to the nomination form, which is available from the Faculty Association office.

Nominations should be accompanied by a statement from the nominee of a maximum of 100 words, which will be circulated along with the ballots. No member may nominate more than two candidates.

Potential candidates should be aware that the Board of Directors meetings are regularly scheduled on Tuesday afternoons, approximately once per month from September to June. Additional meetings are scheduled as required. Board members are also regularly appointed to a variety of other Association, University, and external committees as representatives of the Association.

Please contact the Faculty Association office for a nomination form.

 

 

Membership Emergency Fund

The Faculty Association provides Member Emergency Funding to help individual members under emergency circumstances due to a sudden loss or decline in remuneration from the University. Member Emergency Funding is not intended to be used in cases where normal remuneration is inadequate for an individual’s expenses. Rather, this funding is available when there is an unexpected drop in remuneration, or when a personal emergency arises. This funding is not intended to replace the normal assistance available from the government or other agencies.

In addition to current members, individuals who have held sessional, limited-term or contingent term appointments that have recently terminated are eligible to apply. Relief may be provided as a grant, an interest-free loan, or as a combination grant/loan.

For more information on Member Emergency Funding, please contact Faculty Association Executive Director Sheila Miller, by phone, (403) 220-5722 or by email, Faculty.Association@tucfa.com. All inquiries will be held in the strictest confidence.

 

 

Faculty Association Office Closures

The Faculty Association office will be closing for the holidays on December 18, 2020, and will reopen on January 4, 2021. The Association’s voicemail will be checked regularly on days that the University is open.

The Faculty Association staff will continue to work remotely in January. When an academic staff member contacts the Faculty Association their inquiry is directed to the most appropriate staff person and triaged in order to best assist those individuals who have time-sensitive concerns. Faculty Association staff endeavour to get back to individuals as quickly as possible. The best way to reach us is by emailing Faculty.Association@tucfa.com with your concerns and, if possible, how you would like us to help. However, we continue to monitor our phone line for voicemail messages, so feel free to also leave a message at (403) 220-5722.

Have a safe and happy holiday.

 

 

Second Phase of OHCOW Survey of Workers’ Experience during a Pandemic

The Faculty Association is encouraging members to participate in a survey from the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) regarding workers’ experience during the pandemic. While this survey originates in Ontario, the survey is National and relevant to academic staff.

This survey is designed to learn about your experiences as a worker during a pandemic. This survey is a repeat of the survey originally launched in April/May 2020. Things have changed since this first survey, so the survey has been re-launched during this second wave of the pandemic.

The survey was put together by the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW), with help from researchers at the Institute of Work & Health and Duke University in North Carolina. There was also input from a number of health and safety union staff representatives, who shared the concerns and questions their members have.

To access the survey please select the appropriate link:

For healthcare workers (including EMS) working at healthcare workplaces (including homecare): For all other workers either working from home (i.e. remotely), or at a non-healthcare workplace:

During the previous survey, just over half of the respondents took less than 15 minutes to complete the survey (the shortest time was 5 minutes). Those who went through the survey slowly and provided thoughtful comments took up to half an hour.

If you feel uncomfortable answering a particular question, please just skip it.

All the information collected in this survey is confidential. Only the researchers directly involved in this project will see all the answers. The team will not keep any information that could identify you or others. All the data collected will be stored on a secure server.

The data collected is intended to be used for research and to share with research organizations for the end purpose of improving pandemic working conditions. The data, analysis and related information may be used in presentations, websites, and union, trade, and academic publications.

If you have questions, please contact John Oudyk at OHCOW

 

 

Department Representatives

The following is a list of Department Representatives, by department, for the 2020-2021 academic year. If your department or faculty is not listed below, it is because the Faculty Association has not received information about the election of a representative from your area.

 

Cumming School of Medicine

Anaesthesia
Jillian Miller

Cell Biology & Anatomy
Hedwich Kuipers

Critical Care Medicine
Paul Easton

Family Medicine
Turin Chowdhury

Microbiology, Immunology & Infectious Diseases
Shan Liao

Paediatrics
Pamela Veale

Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
Maire Duggan

Physiology & Pharmacology
Ken Lukowiak

Radiology
Roberto Sotero-Diaz

Faculty of Arts

Anthropology & Archaeology
Mary Pavelka

Classics & Religion
Irving Hexham

Communication, Media & Film
Marcia Epstein

English
Bart Beaty

Geography
Aaron Williams

History
Annette Timm / John Ferris

Political Science
Susan Franceschet

School of Creative & Performing Arts
April Viczko

SLLLC
Elizabeth Montes Garcés

Sociology
Val Haines

Faculty of Law

Kristen van de Biezenbos

Faculty of Nursing

Gudrun Reay

Faculty of Science

Biological Sciences
Marco Musiani

Computer Science
Ben Stephenson

Faculty of Social Work

Dora Tam

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Production Animal Health
John Kastelic

Veterinary Clinical & Diagnostic Sciences
Cindy Adams / Penni Murphy

Haskayne School of Business

Vern Jones

Libraries & Cultural Resources

John Wright

ODEPD

Shirley Voyna Wilson

School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

David Monteyne

Schulich School of Engineering

Civil Engineering
Martin Jasso

Geomatics Engineering
Ivan Detchev

Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering
Ahmad Ghasemloonia

Student & Enrolment Services

Lucy Amadala

Taylor Learning Centre

Cheryl Jeffs

Werklund School of Education

Kaela Jubas

There are no elected Department Representatives from the following Departments:

  • Art
  • Economics
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
  • Cardiac Science
  • Clinical Neurosciences
  • Community Health Sciences
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Medical Genetics
  • Department of Medicine
  • Obstetrics & Gynaecology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry
  • Surgery
  • Kinesiology
  • School of Public Policy
  • Chemical & Petroleum Engineering
  • Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Geoscience
  • Mathematics & Statistics
  • Physics & Astronomy
  • Comparative Biology & Experimental Medicine
  • Ecosystem & Public Health

 

 

Dues are Tax Deductible

As you prepare your taxes, remember that your Faculty Association dues (which include your CAUT dues) are tax deductible. You can find these dues on your pay stub and in box 44 of your 2020 U of C T4.

 

 

Deans Surveys

The Faculty Association of the University of Calgary, in accordance with its policy concerning the Assessment of Deans and equivalents, has completed a survey of the academic staff members in Faculties where the Dean or Dean-equivalent is at the mid-point of their term including the Vice-Provost (Libraries and Cultural Resources), the Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, the Dean of the Haskayne School of Business, and the Dean of the Faculty of Nursing.

The results of these surveys are shared with the respective Deans and the Provost and Vice-President (Academic) subject to response thresholds in the policy. The response threshold was not met for the survey regarding the Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape.

In accordance with the Faculty Association policy, information on only the quantitative results (statistics) of the survey will be released to the Association membership provided that the number of surveys received meets our requirements for the distribution of results. The quantitative results for the surveys of the Vice-Provost (Libraries and Cultural Resources), and the Deans of the Haskayne School of Business and the Faculty of Nursing are distributed with this newsletter to members of the Faculty Association.

Feel free to contact the Association office if you have any questions or concerns.

 

 

December 2020

President’s Report

Academic Crisis Management Task Force Disbanded

Grade Reappraisals; Powers of Associate Deans

Recognition of Supervision of Student Sessional Instructors

Faculty Association Supports Local Food Banks

Access to Campus Resources for Sessional Instructors

Sessional Travel Fund Changes in Pandemic

Nominations Open for FA Board of Directors

Membership Emergency Fund

Faculty Association Office Closures

Second Phase of OHCOW Survey of Workers’ Experience during a Pandemic

Department Representatives

Dues are Tax Deductible

Deans Surveys

 

 

October 2020 – Fair Employment Week

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on October 2020 – Fair Employment Week | Filed in 20-21, Academic Views

Fair Employment Week 2020

President’s Report

David Stewart, President

Dear Colleagues,

As I’m sure you are aware, Fair Employment week (October 19 to 23) is an opportunity to note the significant role played by sessional instructors in the life of the university and, in our case, the Faculty Association. In these challenging circumstances it is important to keep in mind the precarious nature of the work carried out by sessional instructors and provide support to them.

This term there are almost 500 sessional instructors at the University of Calgary and they are responsible for delivering almost 800 half-course equivalents (HCE). The University of Calgary could not achieve its enrollment goals or deliver its programs without the contributions of our hardworking sessional instructors. More than 1/5 of the academic staff are sessionals! Although we don’t have access to full demographic information on our sessional instructors, it is clear that almost 3/5 of them are women, a much higher percentage than that of the permanent faculty.

It is important for us to keep in mind that the critical work done by sessionals is not very well compensated. In many cases, if a sessional instructor is fortunate enough to have a TA, the TA may be making more money than the sessional. As well, sessional instructors have quite limited access to Professional Expense Reimbursement (PER). This became problematic during the winter term, as all instructors were required to pivot to on-line instruction, a pivot that often required the purchase of new equipment and in many cases an upgrading of the internet connections at the instructor’s home as well as additional expenses related to working from home. For many sessionals, the costs of these increases came out of the general compensation they received for teaching a course.

We were very happy to negotiate in the spring and summer and for the Winter 2021 term, in a Memorandum of Agreement with the administration, a clause that granted sick leave to sessionals who contracted COVID-19 during the period in which they were teaching. While this was a positive step, it is yet another indication of the precarious nature of sessional employment more broadly and the work that needs to be done on matters relating to health.

The fraught nature of sessional teaching can also be seen with moves to an increase in the number of courses expected to be taught face-to-face in the upcoming Winter term. Permanent faculty can negotiate with their academic unit regarding the modality of course delivery but sessionals do not always have this ability. They will be notified that the courses to be taught will be delivered face-to-face, and if they are not comfortable with that mode of delivery, their only option is not apply for the course.

In short, the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to highlight the difficult working conditions experienced by sessionals, as well as the reliance of the University of Calgary on them to deliver programs and keep up enrollments.

As Fair Employment Week unfolds, I ask all of us to thank our sessional colleagues for the contributions they make and the professional manner in which they discharge their responsibilities. We should use this opportunity to highlight the precarious nature of the work they perform and bring these inequities again to the attention of the administration and the public more broadly.

On behalf of all members of TUCFA, I want to acknowledge the critical work performed by sessionals, the reliance of the University of Calgary on their work, and the financial challenges faced by the highly educated and skilled professionals who work in this area.

This year CAUT has again organized a number of activities relating to Fair Employment that I encourage all members to engage with. The CAUT events are copied below and will also be available on our website.

Best wishes,

David

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CAUT Fair Employment Week Activities

Fair Employment Week, taking place from October 19 to 23, is CAUT’s annual campaign to raise awareness about precarious employment on campuses and support local organizing to improve the working conditions of contract academic staff.

In light of COVID-19, this year CAUT has organized a full week of online events. Below is the schedule, as well as the links to register.

Monday, October 19 / 1:00pm – 2:30pm (EDT) / / Organizing to Win for Contract Academic Staff: A CAUT Members’ Panel

Hear case studies from across the country on how academic staff associations have organized around and won victories for contract academic staff.

This event will take place in English with simultaneous interpretation into French.

Register

 

Tuesday, October 20 / 1:00pm – 2:00pm (EDT) / / Intellectual Property in a Time of Remote Learning for Contract Academic Staff: A Webinar with Dr. Sam Trosow

Join Dr. Sam Trosow, a professor at the University of Western Ontario, who will discuss the issues of ownership and control of course content for contract academic staff in a time of remote learning. This event will take place in English with simultaneous interpretation into French.

Register

 

Wednesday, October 21 / 1:00pm – 2pm (EDT) / / A Keynote Address by Dr. Liz Morrish

Liz Morrish, an independent scholar and activist for resistance to managerial appropriation of the university and co-author of the book Academic Irregularities, will present a talk titled, “A plague on universities: How the pandemic has created breach points for the future of labour, pedagogy and values in higher education.” This event will take place in English with simultaneous interpretation into French.

Register

 

Thursday, October 22 // A Social Media Day of Action

Stay tuned for shareables and ways to engage online as part of CAUT’s Social Media Day of Action.

 

Friday, October 23 / 1:00pm – 2pm (EDT) / / A Zoom Social for Contract Academic Staff

Join contract academic staff from coast to coast in an informal Zoom social. Folks will be put into breakout rooms to get to know one another, talk about the unique issues contract academic staff are experiencing, discuss strategies to improve working conditions, and join together in celebration of the work and contributions contract academic staff make to our universities and colleges.

Register

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Impact of pandemic on sessional academics

As reported in the Academic Views in June, the Association filed two policy grievances on sessional issues. The first grievance is related to Winter 2020 Sessional instructors; the second is related to Spring/Summer 2020 sessional instructors. In both grievances, the Association argues that sessional instructors are given a contract that specifies the workload, establishes a half-course equivalent for that work, and then provides payment for the specific work done. While ongoing members had some options available to reorganize their workload to accommodate the additional workload of remote instruction, sessional members do not have such flexibility. As many sessional instructors teach part-time and have other jobs in addition to teaching, their increased duties had to be balanced against other work opportunities in addition to the added pressures at home. In moving to remote instruction, the amount of work increased and there was no adjustment of compensation or allowing for the contracts to be renegotiated with the sessional instructors.

The first stage of these grievances (Winter 2020 sessionals and Spring/Summer 2020 sessionals) was heard by the Deputy Provost. She has denied the grievances stating the Administration is free to direct that courses be delivered remotely or in person, that there is no evidence that there was any increase in workload as a result of the move to remote course delivery, and noted that all academic staff were provided with additional resources to support the transition to remote delivery. The Association elevated the grievances to the level of Provost and has now met with the Provost on these two grievances. At this time, the Association is waiting for the Provost to decide on these grievances and we will update you in due course.

The response from the Deputy Provost was very disappointing, did not reflect what we had been hearing from Association members and seems to ignore the unique challenges that sessional instructors have experienced during the pandemic. Consequently, the Faculty Association asked sessional instructors to share their stories with us. As a result, we heard from sessional and ongoing academic staff about how the transition impacted their workload.

While other Universities had a transition period to teaching remotely, the move to remote instruction happened almost overnight at the University of Calgary. Likewise, the Administration appears to view remote instruction as different from online instruction, implying that in-person instruction can be transitioned to remote instruction with relative ease. However, it’s clear from the responses that we got, that many members felt that they needed to invest significant effort to rework their course materials for the transition.

For many, the pandemic means greater financial strain as other forms of employment disappeared or the additional teaching workload competed with other jobs. As of July 2020, sessionals earn as little as $6,338 per half course equivalent and can claim up to $175 in professional expenses per half course equivalent (HCE). With the move to remote instruction, came the need for many to invest in new equipment to facilitate online instruction and $175 does not go very far.

A common theme among the responses that we received was a concern for students’ well-being. With students participating across time zones, there was a need to respond to students at all hours of the day whether by emails or office hours. What we heard from many of you was that not only did the time to complete work increase, but the nature of the workload changed in unexpected ways that made it more stressful and difficult to complete. In some cases, our sessional members shared stories where students were facing extreme home situations and they needed to find ways to accommodate the needs of these students at the expense of their own time and energy.

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Sessional instructors by the numbers

According to the list of academic staff members that the University Administration provides to the Faculty Association, there are currently 2,343 academic staff members at the University of Calgary. Of these, 497 (21%) are sessional instructors.

Based on the list of courses provided to the Faculty Association by the Administration, we estimated that sessional instructors were responsible for about 25% of the credit course delivery at the University of Calgary in the 2019-2020 academic year. In comparison, we estimated that the Instructor stream (Instructor; Senior Instructor; Teaching Professors) were responsible for about 20% of course delivery in the 2019-2020 academic year.

About 56% of sessional instructors are women, according to the list of academic staff members that the University Administration provides to the Faculty Association. For comparison, about 41% of the ongoing academic staff are women.

 

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Membership Emergency Fund

The Faculty Association provides Member Emergency Funding to help individual members under emergency circumstances due to a sudden loss or decline in remuneration from the University. Member Emergency Funding is not intended to be used in cases where normal remuneration is inadequate for an individual’s expenses. Rather, this funding is available when there is an unexpected drop in remuneration, or when a personal emergency arises. This funding is not intended to replace the normal assistance available from the government or other agencies.

In addition to current members, individuals who have held sessional, limited term or contingent term appointments which have recently terminated are eligible to apply. Relief may be provided as a grant, an interest-free loan, or as a combination grant/loan.

For more information on Member Emergency Funding, please contact Faculty Association Executive Director Sheila Miller, by phone, (403) 220-5722 or by email, Faculty.Association@tucfa.com.

All inquiries will be held in the strictest confidence.

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FEW 2020

President’s Report


CAUT Fair Employment Week Activities


Impact of pandemic on sessional academics


Sessional instructors by the numbers


Membership Emergency Fund

 

 

September 2020

by Faculty Association | Comments Off on September 2020 | Filed in 20-21, Academic Views

President’s Report

David Stewart, President

Dear Colleagues,

We are beginning a new fall term unlike anything any of us have experienced before and one which will bring challenges that none of us anticipated. The personal has become professional in ways that have taken us all by surprise and many of us are dealing with family demands that we were not expecting. The responsibilities and anxieties created by this situation have obviously affected all dimensions of our lives. Nonetheless, the response of academic staff members to the COVID-19 situation has been phenomenal and we all should take pride in how we have addressed the challenge. The Administration continues to state how much they value our contributions in these circumstances, and we look forward to more tangible expressions of their gratitude. The situation is certainly very different from what I was expecting when I put my name forward to run for President. It is a great honour to have been chosen to represent you in this capacity and while I cannot promise to not make mistakes, I can promise to do my best on your behalf. We are currently involved in several grievances with the university. These include an unprecedented number of policy grievances, several investigations and numerous grievances reaching the arbitration level. I will be providing more information on this later in the fall.

I want to thank Paul Rogers for his years of service as President and for working to ensure as smooth a transition as possible under the circumstances. Similarly, I wish to thank Executive Director Sheila Miller and the TUCFA staff for their extraordinary work this spring and summer. The first meetings of our new executive, board and departmental representatives are scheduled for later this month and I look forward to working with the members you have selected as your representatives on these bodies.

With limited access to campus, opportunities for face to face interactions and meetings are limited. However, there are a couple of initiatives that I wish to move forward on as quickly as possible. First, given the changed nature of the work environment, we will be sending out a survey asking people about their experiences and how these have changed and how we might proceed with the assessment process in these circumstances. Responses to this survey will inform how we approach our discussions with the Administration in this area so please complete the survey. Marie-Andrée Bergeron, Nigel Caulkett, Hamid Habibi, and Melanee Thomas are taking the lead on this project and we all appreciate your co-operation on this important issue.

The second initiative is one that I highlighted in my campaign, namely improving membership engagement. I will be asking the Executive to appoint a Task Force on membership engagement to get views from the membership on your needs and expectations and to identify ways in which we can improve communication and representation. You are likely to be approached for your opinions on this as well, either through a survey, as part of a discussion group or both.

I was very pleased that the wage re-opener not only resulted in a wage increase, which the Provost indicates will take effect in October and be retroactive but also accepted the arguments we made and rejected most of the points the Administration raised in support of their argument for a salary cut. I want to express our appreciation to those who worked so hard to build and present our case on this issue. Our Collective Agreement expired on June 30, 2020 and we will be sitting down at the bargaining table on this soon; in the meantime, we will also be looking at bargaining for the following year. Obviously, the situation with both the Administration and Government will be difficult.

We have worked out an understanding to co-operate with the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations in the consultations with respect to the government’s Alberta 2030 post-secondary plans and Sheila Miller and I had a meeting with the Minister of Advanced Education to identify some of the concerns we have going forward. In this environment, it is critical to both build alliances and get access to decision makers.

I have replaced Paul Rogers on a variety of committees including the Academic Crisis Management Team (ACMT) and the committee recommending changes to GFC on the Handbook (the former GFC and APT Manuals relating to appointment, tenure, promotion and merit). Our interests and those of the Administration diverge on these issues and I am working to present our views as forcefully as possible. We are committed to collegial self governance and to ensuring that academic staff members play a major role in identifying vacancies, making appointments and establishing the standards for tenure, promotion and merit. I am grateful to be working with Associate Director Don Kozak on some of these issues and making sure that the Administration is aware of our concerns. With the ACMT we were able to achieve modifications in the technology statement to students as well as the return to work protocol but these involved compromises and the membership on this committee is determined solely by the Administration.

Although face to face meetings with the membership are not possible in these circumstances, I hope to set up regular townhall meetings through Zoom where I can respond to questions and hear concerns you wish to raise. Again, more communication on this front will be forthcoming.

Once again, let me say that is a great honour to represent you as President and I look forward to working with the Executive, Board, and departmental representatives in advancing our issues in the next two years.

Best wishes,

David

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Updates and Changes to the USRI

You may recall that the Faculty Association filed a grievance regarding the use of USRI in tenure, promotion, merit assessment and hiring with the Provost last June. The grievance has moved through the grievance process of the Collective Agreement and the Faculty Association Board of Directors has decided to proceed to arbitration. The Association’s position is, the Administration should not be using USRI scores as a summative assessment tool or as evidence of teaching effectiveness in hiring, tenure, promotion, and merit processes.

An expert panel established by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) firmly established that such student ratings are intrinsically discriminatory based on a variety of legally prohibited grounds, as well as on several other inappropriate bases (e.g. general attractiveness). [See Report of the OCUFA Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching Working Group]

The Association, like others before us, argues that given the intrinsically discriminatory nature of student ratings, any decisions related to tenure, promotion, and salary increases (merit pay) that have been partly based on these ratings, has been affected by this intrinsic discrimination and has resulted in irreparable harm to those affected.

The Provost has recently announced some changes to the USRI questionnaire. These changes are the result of work being done by the USRI Working Group which reports to the GFC, and they appear to be addressing some of the obvious shortcomings of USRI in attempting to limit some of the intrinsic bias. However, the recent changes do not address the grievance that the Association filed, and therefore, do not change the position of the Faculty Association regarding how USRI scores are used in evaluating members for merit or tenure and promotion. While the USRI Working Group continues to work on modifying the questionnaire, consultations with stakeholders may prove to be ineffective if the purpose or perceived purpose of the USRI is affected by the outcome of the upcoming arbitration. For this reason, the Faculty Association is not participating in these changes until the arbitration is complete.

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Faculty Association Representation

The Faculty Association would like to remind its members about the right to representation under the Collective Agreement. One of the key purposes of the Faculty Association is to protect academic staff interests through its work to resolve conflicts between members and the Administration. From time to time academic staff members may contact the Association for confidential advice. Many conflicts can be resolved informally at an early stage by the academic staff member with the advice of the Association and do not require Faculty Association representation. However, when there are situations that escalate which have the potential to lead to discipline, the Administration is required to advise you of your right to have a Faculty Association representative attend with you. In other situations, such as resolving conflicts, a Faculty Association advisor may also be useful. Please be aware of your rights for advice/representation. At any meeting with an Administrator where you are concerned that you need advice or representation – especially where the Administrator indicates that the results of such a discussion might lead to discipline — you can ask for a recess in the proceedings to allow you to have time to contact the Faculty Association for assistance.

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Faculty Association Office Remains Available

As with most of our members, the Faculty Association Staff continue to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a strange and difficult time for new members to begin a career at the University of Calgary. We hope that your first few weeks have been a pleasant experience despite these challenges. While the Faculty Association staff are also working remotely; staff are available to assist new and ongoing members in the new reality. Likewise, new and often unexpected challenges arise for all members as the pandemic and University budget constraints unfold.

We continue to do our best to help members to navigate these issues. When an academic staff member contacts the Faculty Association, their inquiry is directed to the most appropriate staff person and triaged in order to best assist those individuals who have time sensitive concerns. Faculty Association staff endeavor to get back to individuals as quickly as possible. The best way to reach us is by emailing Faculty.Association@tucfa.com with your concerns and, if possible, how you would like us to help. However, we continue to monitor our phone line for voicemail messages, so feel free to also leave a message at (403) 220-5722.

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Membership Emergency Fund

The Faculty Association provides Member Emergency Funding to help individual members under emergency circumstances due to a sudden loss or decline in remuneration from the University. Member Emergency Funding is not intended to be used in cases where normal remuneration is inadequate for an individual’s expenses. Rather, this funding is available when there is an unexpected drop in remuneration, or when a personal emergency arises. This funding is not intended to replace the normal assistance available from the government or other agencies.

In addition to current members, individuals who have held sessional, limited term or contingent term appointments which have recently terminated are eligible to apply. Relief may be provided as a grant, an interest-free loan, or as a combination grant/loan.

For more information on Member Emergency Funding, please contact Faculty Association Executive Director Sheila Miller, by phone, (403) 220-5722 or by email, Faculty.Association@tucfa.com.

All inquiries will be held in the strictest confidence.

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Deans Surveys

The Faculty Association of the University of Calgary, in accordance with its policy concerning the Assessment of Deans and equivalents, has completed a survey of the academic staff members in Faculties where the Dean is at the end of their term, which includes the Dean of the Faculty of Law and the Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. The Association has begun to distribute an email survey to the academic staff members in Faculties where the Dean or Dean-equivalent is at the mid-point of their term including the Vice-Provost (Libraries and Cultural Resources), the Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, the Dean of the Haskayne School of Business, and the Dean of the Faculty of Nursing.

The results of these surveys are shared with the respective Deans and the Provost and Vice-President (Academic) subject to response thresholds in the policy. In the case of review or search committees, the results will also be shared with the members of those committees. The results for the survey of the Dean of the Faculty of Law and the Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine have been distributed to members.

In accordance with the Faculty Association policy, information on only the quantitative results (statistics) of the survey will be released to the Association membership provided that the number of surveys received meets our requirements for the distribution of results. To ensure the survey’s validity, we treat responses in the same manner as an Association ballot.

Feel free to contact our office if you have any questions or concerns.

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September 2020

President’s Report


Updates and Changes to the USRI


Faculty Association Representation


Faculty Association Office Remains Available


Membership Emergency Fund


Deans Surveys