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President’s Report

Dear Colleagues,

Fair Employment Week (October 18 to 22) is an opportunity to reflect on the essential role played by sessional instructors in the life of the University and, in our case, the Faculty Association.

This term, there are 550 sessional instructors representing about 23 per cent of academic staff at the University of Calgary and they are responsible for delivering 835 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.

The Faculty Association continues to work on several inequities regarding sessionals that have been exposed during the pandemic, including sick-time entitlement, continuation of PER, and communications from the Administration. You might recall from previous Academic Views that the Faculty Association filed two grievances with the Administration in the early weeks of the pandemic in 2020 regarding sessional members and the sudden unilateral change to the nature of the sessional contracts. These grievances are still unresolved and have been escalated to arbitration.

In these challenging and uncertain times, it is important to recognize the already precarious nature of the work carried out by sessional instructors and provide support to them. On behalf of all members of the Faculty Association, 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.

Best wishes,

David Stewart, President

Sick Time for Sessional Staff with COVID-19

Schedule B of the Collective Agreement has provisions for paid sick time for sessional staff. However, these provisions are limited and may not be sufficient to accommodate illness due to COVID-19.

The Faculty Association and the Governors of the University of Calgary have agreed to provide sick time to sessional academic staff (with Fall 2021 appointments) who become ill with COVID-19. Sessional academic staff who become ill with COVID-19 will continue to receive full salary and applicable benefits for the duration of their illness, or until the expiry of the Fall 2021 term.
For more information or concerns, please contact the Faculty Association by emailing or calling (403) 220-5722.

‘In Search of Professor Precarious’ Film Streaming During Fair Employment Week

In Search of Professor Precarious is a documentary feature in which the director, a long-time precarious contract instructor, travels Canada to lift the curtain on higher education’s dirty little secret. The search takes viewers into the lives of precarious contract faculty and tells their compelling stories. We also hear from permanent faculty, students, administrators, activists and experts. We see artists in action, experience an outdoor biology class on the shores of Nova Scotia, fight alongside a group of Alberta sessionals trying to make their faculty association more democratic, and watch as the biggest higher education strike in Canadian history unfolds.

The Faculty Association is hosting a virtual screening of In Search of Professor Precarious for the entire duration of this year’s Fair Employment Week. The trailer for the film is available now at and the full film will be available for viewing using the same URL beginning at 4 pm on October 15th until midnight on October 24th .

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 2,418 academic staff members at the University of Calgary (Datamart: September 21, 2021). Of these, 552 (23 per cent) are sessional instructors. Some faculties appear to rely on sessionals more than others.

While the Faculty of Arts has the most sessionals staff (189), other faculties, such as Werklund School of Education and Nursing, have more sessionals as a proportion of total academic staff with sessionals making up more than 40 per cent of the total academic staff in those faculties.

Based on the list of courses provided to the Faculty Association by the Administration, we estimated that sessional instructors were responsible for about 27 per cent of the credit course delivery at the University of Calgary in the 2020-2021 academic year. In comparison, we estimated that the Instructor stream (Instructor; Senior Instructor; Teaching Professors) were responsible for about 21 per cent of course delivery in the 2020-2021 academic year. The Collective Agreement allows for 13 reasons for the hiring of sessional instructors. With 30 per cent, the most common reason given for Fall 2021 is to enable the offering of a course in an area outside of the expertise of current ongoing academic staff. Meanwhile, only 7 per cent of sessional instructors in Fall 2021 were hired to provide teaching experience for graduate students.

About 56 per cent 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 42 per cent of the ongoing academic staff are women.

CAUT Fair Employment Week Activities

Fair Employment Week (FEW) is taking place from October 18 to 22, 2021.

Fair Employment Week 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 (CAS). Visit for more information about CAUT’s Fair Employment Week campaign.

Wednesday, October 20 // 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 22 // A Zoom social for contract academic staff

Contract academic staff from coast to coast are invited to an informal Zoom social to talk about the unique issues of CAS, discuss strategies to improve working conditions, and join together in celebration of the work and contributions CAS make to our universities and colleges.

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 calling (403) 220-5722 or emailing All inquiries will be held in the strictest confidence.

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