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President’s Report

The winter term has now come to an end and we have met the challenge of fall and winter terms delivered predominantly in an online format. This was demanding and you should be proud of the work you have done. Unfortunately, the pandemic has not yet receded into the background and we are faced with serious questions about the fall term and the teaching responsibilities that will accompany it. Most of us have concerns about fall teaching assignments and are worried about the safety of all members of the university community. Concerns have been expressed about the process by which courses have been assigned and the absence of choice in the selection of teaching modalities. We have raised these concerns with the Administration and in particular with the Provost and will continue to advocate for a process and outcome that provides the maximum level of choice for academic staff. We will be working to negotiate a Memorandum of Agreement relating to fall teaching and the pandemic shortly.

The 2020-21 academic year was as busy as it was unique. The Administration presented new plans for the University entitled Growth through Focus which went through a number of iterations following feedback from academic staff. A Framework for Growth will be going before the GFC in June as a means of moving forward with this agenda.

The Government of Alberta has released its plan for the future of post-secondary education in the province and has noted the problem with funding for this sector without really acknowledging the damage done by the sustained budget cuts their policies have inflicted. There are many issues of concern in this document. There is an increased focus on vocational education as well as measures planned to enhance corporate influence. The impact of proposals on governance have yet to be determined and this is an area where attention is due.

The continuation of budget cuts in the March budget was extremely disappointing. The budget with its cuts fails to recognize the contributions of academic staff and the importance of post-secondary education to the future of the province. Budget cuts may well increase reliance on sessional instructors and enhance the state of precarity in which these highly trained and valuable colleagues work. Questions about workload must also be raised in a context where unions are devalued and inappropriate government involvement in the collective bargaining process continues. We lament and oppose the job losses that have affected our colleagues in AUPE, losses which diminish greatly our sense of community at this institution and which unquestionably have a negative impact on education. Negotiations on a new contract continue and we will continue to issue bargaining updates to ensure that members are informed about the issues and timing. I want to express my appreciation to our Chief Negotiator Hamid Habibi and the team which includes Trevor Tombe and Sheila Miller, along with Don Kozak as resource person to the team.

In light of these challenges, we worked with the Calgary section of Public Interest Alberta on a drive-by protest at the McDougall Centre in March, a Social Media protest in early May and will be working with them on a town hall on May 27 discussing “Post-Secondary Education and the Alberta Brain Drain”. The link providing more information on this event and registration information is provided here and will be available on our website where we will try to keep you updated on upcoming events. www.stoppsecuts.ca/brain_drain_town_hall

I want to remind you of the situation faced by our colleagues at Laurentian University where more than a hundred members of academic staff have lost their jobs, over 60 programs have been closed and the university’s unique role in providing bilingual education and serving the indigenous peoples of Northern Ontario has suffered a terrible blow.

These circumstances have been aided by that university’s use of bankruptcy protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). We are supporting CAUT, OCUFA and LUFA in calls to see that the academic staff who lost their jobs receive priority for severance payments in the bankruptcy proceedings and that university administration and the provincial government are held accountable for the decisions that have left Laurentian in this position. CAUT has a link providing information on Laurentian which will help keep you up to date on this issue. https://www.caut.ca/content/laurentian-university-take-action

The Association has also been busy with an unprecedented number of grievances, investigations and upcoming arbitrations. Our grievance advisors and our staff work extremely hard on these demanding matters. This is the hidden work of the Association. It takes an extraordinary amount of time and resources but is extremely important to our members and to their rights.

Unquestionably these are challenging times and the uncertainty about fall teaching looms above us all. We appreciate the support and attention that members provide in these circumstances and look forward to working with you to see us through this period. Thank you for the work you have done this past year, work which has, without doubt, continued to assure a high-quality education experience for students and strengthened the University of Calgary.

David Stewart, President

Faculty Association President, David Stewart, showing support for post-secondary education at the Stop PSE Cuts drive-by protest on March 27th.

Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs

The Honourable Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides, released the much-anticipated Alberta 2030 strategy on April 29th. The Faculty Association welcomed opportunities to participate in this engagement process and will continue to engage in this process. We have several concerns with the strategy and will discuss some of that below, and we are interested in getting more member input on the strategy. Members are asked to give input either to their Department Representatives to be discussed at the next Department Representatives meeting or by email to Faculty.Association@tucfa.com.

The strategy focuses on six goals with few hints at how they might be achieved but gives few details. The goals as presented in the strategy are as follows:

  1. Improve Access and Student Experience: Ensure all Albertans have access to high-quality post-secondary opportunities and that the student experience is coordinated and integrated.
  2. Develop Skills for Jobs: Ensure every student has the skills, knowledge and competencies to enjoy fulfilling lives and careers and that they have greater transparency around labour market outcomes.
  3. Support Innovation and Commercialization: Contribute to Alberta’s innovation capacity by supporting post-secondary research and strengthening its commercialization potential to create new knowledge, develop future skills and diversify the economy.
  4. Strengthen Internationalization: Become a leading destination for top talent to drive the growth of skills, ideas and innovations, locally and globally.
  5. Improve Sustainability and Affordability: Provide institutions greater flexibility to generate own-source revenue and strengthen student aid.
  6. Strengthen System Governance: Modernize governance of the system to increase collaboration and drive outcomes.

Overall, the strategy raises high ideals where the implementation could be positive or draconian. While the strategy presents a relatively optimistic outlook for the province’s post-secondary sector, it is impossible to ignore the Government’s actions to date. The Government has been massively cutting post-secondary education resulting in staff layoffs, micromanaging, interfering, and intervening at the bargaining table and on various issues, supporting comments about post-secondary education and research that is about using it solely as a tool for business, and, in general, creating a high level of distrust regarding their motives and actions. Given all of this, and the fact that Alberta’s post-secondary system is competing on a global stage, it isn’t clear how the Government can expect to achieve even the most innocuous, well-meaning objectives such as to “attract and nurture world-class faculty and students.”

The strategy’s goals to improve access to post-secondary education are positive, but there is a clear focus on “preparing for a specific job or career” and the promotion of entrepreneurialism. This is a narrow view of education and short-sighted given Alberta’s transitioning economy. This relates to other goals and proposed metrics that would evaluate programs based on the ability of graduates to find jobs in their field of study. Many disciplines do not have clearly defined associated jobs that can be prepared for, and asking recent graduates if they are employed in a job related to their field of study is highly subjective. Likewise, while work-integrated learning opportunities may be highly valuable for some career paths, some disciplines are likely to struggle with connecting students to positions within the discipline.

Among the most concerning of the strategy’s goals is that of modernizing the governance of post-secondary institutions. This goal will likely be most relevant to Academic Staff and is potentially very good news or very bad news for Alberta post-secondary institutions. The Faculty Association consistently advocates for Governments to depoliticize Boards of Governors and to avoid interference. However, given that this Government has a history of partisan Governor appointments and interference, it seems unlikely that we will achieve such a goal.

Faculty members are fundamental stakeholders in post-secondary education, and this is formalized within our collegial and bicameral governance structures. The principles of academic freedom and collegial governances are at the core of Alberta’s public post-secondary institutions. However, the Alberta 2030 strategy seems to be missing any recognition or even an understanding of the collegial and bicameral governance structure under which the Universities in Alberta operate.

The University of Calgary has a bicameral governance model that shares governances between the Board of Governors and the General Faculties Council (GFC). The GFC, which currently has responsibility for areas such as the academic and research plans, academic quality (pedagogy, learning and scholarship/research), programming, curriculum and methods of instruction, academic standards, research, and academic policies and awards, is composed of members by virtue of their office and academic staff members who are elected from each Faculty.

The strategy calls for changes to how programs get created or eliminated and increased opportunities for micro-credentials and retraining. Perhaps this is intended as an antidote to the predictable consequences that come with focussing too strongly on training for specific jobs and career paths. Depending on how this is implemented, this has the potential to undermine the authority of the GFC and erode academic freedom and collegial governance.

The strategy presents a planned initiative of setting a national standard for policies and practices that foster commercialization, which is interesting, but it isn’t clear if it is again one of those ideas that may be helpful or harmful. In addition, there is a strategy to implement an intellectual property framework to foster industry/institution collaboration, and adoption of faculty promotion and tenure policies to incentivise faculty to pursue entrepreneurial activities. This causes us concern.

It appears that the sudden shift to online learning during the pandemic is being used as justification for a permanent shift towards online modes of instruction. One of the strategies is to support the development of online learning including the support for the expansion of “Open Educational Resources”. It isn’t clear if there would be enhanced protection for the intellectual property rights of these resources under the proposed intellectual property framework or if producing open educational resources would qualify as “entrepreneurial activity”. Meanwhile, the suddenly increased workload associated with creating or recreating learning materials for online instruction has not been fully acknowledged by the University Administration.

Ultimately, the Alberta 2030 strategy that has been released gives some insight into the future of Alberta’s post-secondary education but whether the strategy is good news depends on how it is implemented and there is still a great deal of work to do. Our Faculty Association will continue to follow this closely and raise concerns when possible. Again, we would like to hear from our members either by sharing input with your Department Representatives to be discussed at the next Department Representatives meeting or by email to Faculty.Association@tucfa.com.

Tenure / Promotion / Renewal / Transfer

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

Last year, all members who were on the tenure track have automatically received a one-year deferral of consideration, whether they were due to apply last year or in a future year. So this year, the only people who are expected to apply are those who would normally have applied for tenure or renewal last year.

This year, any tenure track academic staff member may apply for an additional one-year deferral of consideration. The academic staff member is to submit this request to the Dean on or before November 25, 2021, but as early as possible. The requested additional deferral would then be applied automatically. There is no requirement to defer, and a member can apply for tenure or renewal in the normal course.

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 (www.tucfa.com).

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. As of the time of writing, the current version of the GFC Handbook is dated November 5, 2020, although GFC is expected to approve a new version at their meeting on June 10, 2021.

For those applying for tenure or renewal, the applicant may choose to be evaluated under the criteria currently in effect, or those in place at the time of appointment. This applies for both the Handbook and the Faculty Guidelines. The version of the GFC Handbook dated April 2019 reflects the criteria from the previous Appointment Promotion and Tenure Manual, so would be consistent with the criteria which existed at the time of appointment for most applicants. So it will be the applicant’s choice if they choose to apply under the GFC Handbook criteria from the 2021 or 2019 versions.

For those applying for promotion (or transfer), not linked with an application for tenure, they may choose to be evaluated under the current criteria or those in effect three years prior to the promotion application, or the date of hire whichever is later. Similar to the tenure/renewal situation, the version in effect three years prior would be reflected in the 2019 version of the GFC Handbook, if applicants elect to use that version instead of the current version.

Most Faculties are currently reviewing their Faculty Guidelines with an eye to updating them to reflect the changes in the Collective Agreement and GFC Handbook. Given the approval process timeline, it is unlikely that most Faculties will update their guidelines prior to the application deadline this year. However, if that happened, the same choices apply as above.

The Collective Agreement and the GFC Handbook permit Faculty Council to interpret the criteria in the GFC Handbook. The problem is that the Faculties have not been permitted to update their Guidelines for a number of years. 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:  https://www.ucalgary.ca/hr/work-compensation/labour-relations/academic-labour-relations/academic-staff-tucfa/guidelines.

Tenure/Renewal Timeline

The “normal” progression towards tenure for those hired at the lowest rank within a stream is that there is a four-year tenure-track appointment. At the beginning of the penultimate year (ie. 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 was the automatic deferral due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plus an additional special pandemic deferral that can be applied for this year, 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):

a) 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.

b) 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.

c) Parental deferrals – if you take a parental leave, you automatically get a parental deferral.

d) 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 their 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 17th 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, 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). This also applies in the case of all transfer recommendations. If the promotion 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.

You can contact the Faculty Association by email Faculty.Association@tucfa.com or phone (403) 220-5722.

Censure against University of Toronto

You are likely aware that CAUT has censured the University of Toronto. Our Faculty Association has been supportive of this move by CAUT Council as the actions that have been taken by the leadership at the University of Toronto are a threat to Academic Freedom and an administrative overreach.

Censure is a rare and extremely important sanction in which academic staff are asked to not accept appointments or speaking engagements at the institution until satisfactory changes are made. It is a measure of last resort used only when we are faced with serious violations of academic freedom and other principles that are fundamental to higher education. This is only the third time since 1979 that CAUT has censured an institution, and the first since the censure of First Nations University over governance concerns in 2008.

A website (www.censureuoft.ca) that has launched in support of the censure has information on the censure and the impact that the censure is having. The censure has resulted in considerable national and international media attention, and has resulted in numerous resignations, cancelled or postponed events, and the suspension of Amnesty International’s relationship with the University of Toronto.

More information on what lead to the Censure of the University of Toronto can be found in a recent CAUT Bulletin Article.

Faculty Association Office Remains Available

As with most of our members, the Faculty Association staff continue to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We continue to do our best to help members to navigate through issues as they arise despite the pandemic. 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.

Association Officers for 2021-2022

The Board of Directors has announced the Association's Officers for 2021/22 (effective July 1, 2021). Joining President, David Stewart on the Executive will be: Vice-President and Treasurer - Justine Wheeler Principal Negotiator - Hamid Habibi Grievance Advisors - John Baker…

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CAUT Dues Changes 2021-2022

Minor changes in the CAUT dues take effect on July 1, 2021. These dues fees are calculated based on average academic staff salaries by rank, as reported annually by Statistics Canada, applied against an approved mil rate. The mil rate…

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Faculty Association Representation

The Faculty Association would like to remind its members about the right to representation in situations of conflict, discipline, or potential discipline. Many conflicts can be resolved informally at an early stage by the academic staff member alone (sometimes with the confidential advice of the Association) and do not require direct Faculty Association involvement. However, when there are situations that escalate which have the potential to lead to discipline and an Administrator asks to meet with you, the Administration is required to advise you of your right to have a Faculty Association representative attend such meetings with you. If you attend a meeting on your own with an Administrator and you become 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.

The best way to reach us is by emailing Faculty.Association@tucfa.com. However, we continue to monitor our phone line for voicemail messages, so feel free to also leave a message at (403) 220-5722.

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 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.

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