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May 2020

Academic Staff and Remote Instruction

As we all know, in March there was an urgent need to act quickly in responding to the CoVID-19 pandemic which resulted in an almost immediate transition from predominantly classroom-based instruction to entirely web-based instruction in the winter term. The winter semester was not a loss for students or the University thanks largely to the hard work and flexibility of academic staff members. With fully remote instruction continuing into spring/summer 2020, members of the Association are continuing to bear the unexpected additional workload burden associated with remote instruction. Members with significant concerns are encouraged to bring these to our attention.

It’s not clear when we will be able to safely resume classroom-based instruction fully, and with the news that instruction in fall 2020 will be predominantly remote, we have to think the implications of continuing remote instruction for academic freedom, security, and equity.

It is important to note that the Association believes that, outside of deliberately-created on-line programs approved by Faculty Councils, the method of delivery of courses should be left to the academic staff member as part of your academic freedom. Circumstances have forced a temporary adjustment to that, but we believe that post-COVID, you should not lose your right to choose the best method of course delivery. Your rights as an academic haven’t changed in this era of remote instruction – the Collective Agreement and the University of Calgary Intellectual Property Policy remain in force.

While Academic Freedom protects academic staff from actions by the Administration, it doesn’t protect an academic’s reputation in the public realm. While this has always been the case, one should be more conscious of this in an era of online lectures. It’s important to remember that all online activities may be recorded somehow, and these records are difficult to delete and could be reviewed later. Further, the ability for students to record lectures without permission is greater online. Even with the best efforts of academic staff, the teaching platforms, and the University Administration, there’s no guarantee that these records or recordings made of your lectures will not be reviewed or shared someday.

Whether recorded by an academic staff member or by a student, the lecture or other material presented on-line is the intellectual property of the creator and sharing or using that recording without the consent of the creator would be infringing on that person’s intellectual property and copyrights. The University of Calgary Academic Regulations addresses students recording lectures, and instructors might want to draw students’ attention to those policies in their course outlines and/or at the beginning of online lectures.

Worse, in some more controversial lectures, snippets of the discussion could be taken out of context to embarrass or discredit academics. Unfortunately, the University, like most, does not have a great track record when it comes to defending members whose reputations are being targeted by the public, the media, or the Government. Assume that anything you say and do online has the potential to be shared with the public.

While inequities persist at the University of Calgary, they may be less visible and exacerbated when working remotely. The sudden transition to online instruction likely resulted in an increased teaching workload for most members, but the change in workload was not distributed equally as the challenges varied significantly among disciplines and among individual classes. Additionally, there are other unseen factors such as childcare, eldercare, illness, access to resources, and so on, that can result in inequities.

The Faculty Association has negotiated a number of changes to processes already. In particular, all tenure-track academic staff members had their tenure clock extended, provisions were established to allow adjustments for those on research and scholarship leave or about to go on one, and the 2020-21 PER entitlement was opened up early to allow more resources to be available to academic staff when they needed them. Going forward, the Memorandum of Agreement with the Board of Governors establishes that further negotiations will occur given that remote instruction will continue in the Fall; in particular we will be discussing adjustments that will need to be made to the assessment, tenure, and promotion processes and criteria.

Sometimes, having little choice but to adopt new technologies can help us to make significant progress in how we do things. Perhaps, members are becoming more comfortable with online instruction technologies now and will be interested in continuing to use them to enhance learning. However, in most cases, online instruction cannot fully replicate the engagement that’s achieved through in-person instruction. Decisions around online learning must be pedagogically driven/supported and not driven by the need to balance the University budget. As stated earlier, decisions as to how and when academics use online instruction after the pandemic are clearly in the realm of academic freedom and should, therefore, be made by the academics.

Members are encouraged to contact the Faculty Association if they have questions or concerns about the issues raised in this article.

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Sessional Instructors Teaching in Winter, Spring or Summer 2020

The Faculty Association has filed two policy grievances related to sessional contracts and the move online during the pandemic. The first one is for Winter Sessional instructors; the second is for Spring/Summer sessional instructors.

The argument is 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. It is a fee-for-service model. If the University changes the amount of work assigned, the workload listed in the contract (i.e. the half-course equivalent [HCE] value) and the compensation must be adjusted accordingly. This is in contrast to regular academic staff who work full time and are governed by the Workload Article in the Collective Agreement.

What is being argued for Winter sessional instructors is that having come to an agreement on what job was to be done, the HCE value of that work, and the corresponding compensation, the Governors unilaterally changed the provisions of that contract by putting the courses on-line in the middle of the term. This added significant work for the sessional instructors that was not considered in the contract or compensation. The sessional instructor may not have accepted the contract if they knew that they would have to completely revamp the course or perhaps they would have not accepted it for the amount of compensation offered. Because this was done unilaterally, we have grieved the Governors for violating their contracts with sessional instructors and have asked for an across-the-board increase in the HCE for those contracts of 25%.

For Spring/Summer sessional instructors, the argument is somewhat different in that the courses hadn’t started at the time we filed the grievance. However, for some of the Spring/Summer sessional instructors, the contracts were already in force – for example, for sessional instructors who have a one-year contract, or where they signed the contract for Spring/Summer before the Provost announced the courses would be on-line. During the discussions of the COVID Memorandum of Agreement, the Association had asked the Administration to allow sessional instructors to reopen their agreements for Spring/Summer. The Administration refused. So, this grievance is again about those sessional members where the Governors have unilaterally changed the nature of the contract without negotiation with the affected member.

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Normally, the Faculty Association offers workshops related to the tenure, renewal of tenure track, promotion or transfer between the streams for academic staff members who are considering applying through these processes. Given the current situation, we are unable to provide the same sort of workshop as we have in the past; however, we remain available to help members with any questions they have regarding these processes. What follows are some of the suggestions we have for members who may be applying for tenure, promotion, renewal, or transfer between the streams this year. In all of the comments below the term “Head” is defined as being the person who prepares the initial recommendation regarding your application, in non-departmentalized faculties, this could be an Associate Dean or some other person designated by the Dean. It cannot be a shared role; there can only be one “Head” for each applicant.

Special Deferral due to COVID-19 Pandemic

All members who are on the tenure track have automatically received a one-year deferral of consideration, whether you are applying this year or in a future year. The reason is that everyone’s work has been disrupted and therefore everyone deserves additional time before being reviewed for tenure or renewal. However, if you want to apply for tenure this year, you are free to do so.

Promotion is linked with tenure if you are at the introductory rank and are on the tenure-track

For people who are applying for tenure at the assistant level (i.e. assistant professor, assistant archivist, assistant librarian) or instructor, receiving tenure will automatically move you up to the associate level or senior instructor. If you have those ranks on the tenure track you cannot apply for promotion without tenure. For anyone else (those at other ranks, or those who are not tenure track), there is not the same link between tenure and promotion.

Where to find the rules

The rules regarding the process for tenure, renewal of tenure track, promotion, and transfer between the streams are established in Article 28 of the Collective Agreement. You can find the Collective Agreement on the Faculty Association’s webpage (

While the Collective Agreement defines the process to be used, the criteria for consideration are found in the GFC Academic Staff Criteria and Processes Handbook (aka the “GFC Handbook”). You can find it here: Those criteria will be in effect for the current applications; however there is a working group actively reviewing the GFC Handbook, so if you are looking to apply in future years, check back to see what changes are put in place.

The Collective Agreement and the GFC Handbook permit Faculty Councils to interpret the criteria in the GFC Handbook to explain how they apply in the various disciplines. Although the Faculty Councils may refine and interpret GFC’s criteria, they may not add, contradict, or create new criteria unless specifically authorized to do so by the GFC Handbook. The problem is that the Faculties have not been permitted to update their Guidelines for several years. (Although the Faculty Association has filed a grievance against the Provost arguing that Faculties should be allowed to update their Guidelines, she has refused to release the Faculties to start such work. Presumably, she is waiting for the GFC Handbook Working Group to make a recommendation to GFC on changes.) So, when you look at your Faculty’s Guidelines, you have to read them recognizing that none of the processes apply anymore (they are in the Collective Agreement now) and that the criteria need to be interpreted consistent with the GFC Handbook. That being said, the Faculty Guidelines are very important in determining how your Faculty will look at your application.

You can find the Faculty Guidelines here: As with the GFC Handbook, the Faculty Councils will likely start redrafting their Faculty Guidelines in the next academic year, so if you are applying for these processes in future years, pay attention (and participate!) in the discussion of any proposals for changes to these Guidelines that are considered by your Faculty Council. For those applying in the current year, any changes to Guidelines would not be applied retroactively, so even if changes are made to the Guidelines this year it will likely be the case that the existing version is what will be used in considering your case.

Tenure/Renewal Timeline

The “normal” progression towards tenure for those hired at the entry-level rank within a stream is that there is a four-year tenure-track appointment. At the beginning of the penultimate year (i.e. year 3) you would apply for a two-year renewal. At the beginning of year 5 (penultimate year of renewal) you would apply for tenure.

For anyone hired on the tenure-track at a rank higher than the lowest rank, you are not eligible for a renewal of tenure-track and would be expected to apply for tenure at the beginning of the penultimate year (year 3).

There are many ways to change this timeline.

At any time that you think you are ready to go for tenure, you can go for tenure “early”. However this should be used carefully as you can only apply for tenure twice, and going early may have the effect of shortening the amount of time available to you. We would advise consulting with your Head (or equivalent) and/or the Faculty Association before applying early.

You can also change the timeline through deferrals. For all current tenure-track members, there has been a one-year deferral put in place in recognition of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as noted earlier.

There are four kinds of deferrals listed in the Collective Agreement. They can be used at the point of renewal or at the point of tenure consideration (see Collective Agreement Article 28.6.3 for tenure or 28.8.3 for renewal):

  1. Personal – at any time on or before November 25, you can defer consideration for one year by notifying the Dean. You can only use this once, either at the point of renewal or tenure. This is an entitlement — it cannot be denied.
  2. Dean’s deferral – this is generally used for anything outside of your control. Dean’s deferrals are very common when there is sickness, or a personal crisis, or when academic duties restrict you from working on your research, or other such reasons. These are granted at the discretion of the Dean. They can be approved more than once, but after the first, the Dean has to go to the Provost for confirmation.
  3. Parental deferrals – if you take a parental leave, you automatically get a parental deferral.
  4. Provost and VP Academic Deferrals – The Provost can approve deferrals; usually, these are for more serious cases or situations.

Application Process

For all the processes – renewal, tenure, promotion, and transfer – you give the Dean notice of your intention to apply by June 15th. In the case of all processes except renewal, you will provide names of possible referees at the same time. In the case of those in the professoriate, or professional streams, the referees will be from outside the university; in the case of those in the instructor stream, they may be from within the university, outside of your department. You can also provide a list of individuals you feel should be consulted as part of your application either from within or outside the University.

By September 1, you provide a copy of your CV and teaching dossier with a cover letter and the rest of the material listed in Appendix 28A of the Collective Agreement. The onus is on you to make your case.

You can update your application at any time when you believe there is new information that has a significant impact on your application. You can do this by sending the update to the Dean up until they make a recommendation, after that to the Provost’s office.

Remember, your whole career counts, not just work at the U of C.

Head’s Review


By November 3, the Head will prepare an assessment of your application, based on the advice received and his/her own views, and supply a copy to you. Between November 3 and 10th, the Head should be available to discuss this with you.

Following this discussion, the Head has until November 18th to revise the recommendation and provide a final copy to you and the Dean.

In the case of renewal of tenure track, the Dean can simply forward a positive recommendation to the Provost if they choose, or they can send it to the Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee. In the case of all other processes, the recommendations go to the Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee.

You can reply to the Head’s recommendation in writing to the Dean by November 25.

FTPC Review

The Faculty Tenure and Promotion Committee (FTPC) is a Dean’s advisory committee. The composition is listed in Article 28.11.1 of the Collective Agreement. You are to be informed of the members of the FTPC by November 10th. If you have concerns about any member, you can ask for a replacement.

The Committee meets between December 1 and January 15th for their preliminary meeting. You don’t go to that meeting. If they are considering giving you anything other than what you applied for, they will pause in their proceedings and invite you to reply to the committee’s concerns in writing and invite you and the Head to appear before them. That second meeting happens by February 1. You have to be given at least one week’s notice between receiving the letter and the date of the meeting.

If you are invited to appear, you have the right to take an Advisor with you. This can be any academic staff member. We encourage you to take someone with you who knows your work or who knows the system, to help you at the FTPC meeting. In the case of career-threatening situations, the Faculty Association is happy to provide an Advisor to work with you.

At the end of the process, the committee will make a recommendation to the Dean. For those considered for renewal, promotion, or transfer, the question is yes/no. For those applying for tenure for the first time, there is a third option, which is that the committee can recommend that you be given the opportunity to apply again in two years; your contract date would be adjusted accordingly.

The recommendation of the FTPC goes to the Dean who may change the recommendation before sending it forward. However, if the Dean changes the recommendation, you will be informed of both the Dean’s recommendation and the committee’s recommendation. The Dean must send this to the Provost, copied to you, by February 8. If the recommendation from the Dean is negative, you can appeal.

Central Process

From this point on, the process splits between those cases where tenure or renewal is a consideration and those cases where promotion or transfer is the only issue.

In the case of tenure or renewal, the Provost reviews all of the cases. She can approve/deny the recommendations, send them back to the FTPC to reconsider, or send them to an appeal committee. She can also ask to meet with you and the Dean (separately or together). You can also appeal the decision of the Provost to an appeal committee. The appeal committee is made up of three academic staff appointed by the Faculty Association and the VP Research, plus a non-voting Faculty Association rep.

In the case of promotion and transfer, if the recommendation is for promotion to a rank other than Professor or Teaching Professor, the Dean’s recommendation is the end of the process (unless there is an appeal). If the promotion/transfer is to the full Professor or Teaching Professor rank, it will go to the Promotion Review Committee (PRC). The PRC also deals with any appeals from other ranks.

In the case of positive recommendations for promotion to the full Professor or Teaching Professor ranks, the PRC will consider every case. If they are considering overturning any case, they will invite the applicant and the Dean to appear before them. Again, you can bring an advisor. Similarly, in the case of appeals heard by the PRC, you will be invited to appear before them.

Support from the Faculty Association

In any of these processes, the Faculty Association will endeavour to provide you with advice and support and answer any questions you might have. Note that all Faculties proceed through these processes simultaneously, so the workload in the Faculty Association office peaks at the various deadlines. Please give us as much notice as possible regarding your questions/concerns so that we provide you with the best advice possible. We take a triage approach at these times, so we try to prioritize those whose careers are being threatened (e.g. denial of tenure) first. If you contact the Faculty Association regarding these processes, please provide as much information as possible, including any documentation received, and note if you are facing a deadline. This helps us get back to you as quickly as possible.

The Faculty Association has non-voting representatives on all of the various committees. It should be noted that in this role, the Faculty Association’s reps are there for the good of all members; they are not advocates for individual applicants/appellants. If you are looking for a Faculty Association advocate to accompany you to a meeting or provide advice, that would be a different person.

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Member Emergency Funding

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,
All inquiries will be held in the strictest confidence.

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CAUT National Survey for Members on the Impact of COVID-19

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is seeking to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the working lives of staff at universities and colleges across the country. This information will be used by CAUT to inform their policy and advocacy work.

While the survey is entirely voluntary, we are encouraging your full participation to ensure as many academic staff and general staff as possible are included in this critical study.

The survey is open to those who were working at one or more Canadian post-secondary institutions (universities, colleges, and polytechnics), in March of this year.

The survey, which can be found here, National survey for members on the impact of COVID-19, consists of approximately 30 questions—some multiple-choice and some open-ended—that should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. The survey will be open until June 8, 2020.

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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. New and often unexpected challenges arise for our members as the pandemic and University budget constraints unfold, and we continue to do our best to help members to navigate these issues. The best way to reach us is by emailing 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 message at (403) 220-5722.

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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 started distributing a survey to the academic staff members in Faculties where the Dean is at the end of their term include the Dean of the Faculty of Law and the Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. The Association will be distributing a 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. Due to the pandemic, the mid-term surveys have been delayed until the fall.

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.

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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There is still no news on the results of the wage reopener arbitration from last fall. News from this arbitration will be shared promptly with members when there is something to report.

Given the pandemic, the Association and Governors have postponed bargaining which was scheduled to begin this spring until September 2020.

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Association Officers for 2020/21

The Board of Directors has announced the Association’s Officers for 2020/21 (effective July 1, 2020). Joining President-Elect David Stewart on the Executive will be:

Vice-President and Treasurer – Mary-Ellen Tyler

Principal Negotiator – Hamid Habibi

Grievance Advisors – John Baker and Kent Donlevy

Officers-at-Large – Nigel Caulkett and Melanee Thomas

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May 2020

Academic Staff and Remote Instruction

Sessional Instructors Teaching in Winter, Spring or Summer 2020

Tenure / Promotion / Renewal / Transfer

Member Emergency Funding

CAUT National Survey for Members on the Impact of COVID-19

Faculty Association Office Remains Available

Deans Surveys


Association Officers for 2020/21

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