newsletter for faculty and staff | winter/spring 2018
The scoop on signs of spring
With temperatures dipping below freezing at night, of which I am reminded as I fumble with poop bags during my midnight strolls with she who must be obeyed (and who has perfected beagle breakdancing), it is difficult to imagine that we have actually crossed over into spring. But if I look harder, I can detect some shoots of hope. Enrolments look good for next year and we have seen a notable uptick in international applications. Faculty, staff and student volunteers have done a great job in sparking interest in what we are doing here at Waterloo.
We have also recently approved a new Faculty of Arts constitution, a document that had not been opened for revision since long before my time as Dean. While many of the updates are intended to bring it into the 21st century, the most significant changes in it speak to our hopes of energizing collegial governance. The challenges of fostering more dialogue and ensuring better information flow in a Faculty of such diversity was a constant theme during our strategic planning discussions, and I am hopeful that the renewed constitution will revitalize Arts Faculty Council and help to overcome some of our governance challenges.
Major curricular initiatives are also well underway. At the end of March we will have our first Global Engagement Summit, followed shortly afterwards by Project Showcase highlighting the work of students at our Stratford Campus. In the fall term, our new Arts First courses will both better prepare incoming students academically for success, but also, by virtue of their small class size and interactive nature, foster a stronger sense of community amongst Arts students. Many of the findings that came from the President’s Task Force on Student Mental Health speak to our students’ sense of alienation and isolation and the Arts First courses will help to address that. I would like to thank the many faculty members who contributed their time, insights, and enthusiasm to this major initiative.
Looking ahead, I anticipate further discussions within the Faculty as to how best we can assist the university in responding to the recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Report. We will continue to work with the recently renamed Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre to organize and grow the Indigenous Speakers Series, facilitate curricular conversations, develop new courses, and in general spark discussion about what we can collectively do to redress past injustices. I am really chuffed by the number of faculty, students, and staff from Arts who have been so critical in the discussions taking place as we set the framework for a university indigenization plan.
As spring and families of geese gain traction on campus, please join us for Celebration of Arts on April 25, our annual fete of excellence in teaching, service, and research by so many of our colleagues. March can be such a wearing month with grading, a winter that seems never to end, budget and complement planning, apprehension over imminent geese attacks that we can often be so overwhelmed by the challenges before us that we forget to notice the many achievements we have individually and collectively made.
The work-life balancing act
Work-life balance can often feel like an unattainable concept. Staff in the Faculty of Arts are known to strive for excellence and to go above and beyond the call of duty, but when asked if they take time in their busy schedules to care for themselves, many say they do not.
- April 5 & 6, the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) is pleased to offer four workshops to help faculty through key transitions in their academic career. Read all the details.
- April 5, Research Talks: Contemporary Indigenous issues in Canada, featuring Susan Roy, Jasmin Habib, Lori Campbell, and Dan McCarthy.
- April 20, Pursuing Peace: Stories from home and abroad, Conrad Grebel University College celebrate 40 years of peace education, with a keynote address by the Hon. Bob Rae.
- April 25, Celebration of Arts, afternoon in the Hagey Hall Hub. Details coming soon!
Inside Arts is published each term. Comments, ideas, and submissions are always welcome. Please contact Wendy Philpott.