Serving on the Faculty Association's Board of Directors is an opportunity for you to represent your colleagues and contribute to the collegial governance model of the University. It is a great way to gain experience with the functioning of the University, including developing, revising, and enforcing the various policies to which members of the University of Waterloo community are subject.
What do Board members actually do?
Directors are expected to stay current on issues before the Board and to attend biweekly meetings from September to June and 4–6 other FAUW meetings per year, such as General Meetings and Council of Representatives meetings.
Beyond that, we encourage Board members to have, or develop, their own interests in leading special projects that work for positive change in the University experience. For example, you might sit on a mental health committee, develop resources to advise faculty, or bring up unit-specific issues that are not yet on the Board’s radar. These projects often become collaborations with other, similarly passionate directors. In this way, you can build your service responsibility to the University in a way that is both relevant to your performance review and personally interesting and rewarding.
Very generally, members of the Board of Directors have a duty to act in the best interests of FAUW as an organization and of the faculty we represent. In practice, this looks like:
- Arriving prepared: Attend Board meetings whenever possible, prepare for those meetings, and make decisions only on an informed basis. This responsibility extends to all capacities in which we are formally acting as directors of FAUW.
- Taking on projects and tasks: Between meetings, we must all put in a reasonable effort to ensure that the work of the FAUW Board is fulfilled.
- Putting FAUW and its members first: We must act in the best interests of FAUW and its members. Personal interests are secondary in your capacity as a director.
- Representing all members: The Faculty-specific and lecturer seats exist to ensure broad representation on the Board. Once elected, all directors serve all members.
- Bringing issues forward: Take member concerns seriously and bring them to the attention of the Board or direct them to AF&T or another part of FAUW as appropriate.
- Avoiding conflicts of interest: We must not be involved in Board decisions if we have some form of personal interest that might bias our decision. Outside of Board matters, any actions we take as members of the University cannot conflict with our Board obligations.
- Respecting confidentiality: We must keep all non-public information confidential (e.g. the specifics of discussions at Board meetings).
What qualifications do Board members need?
You don’t need extensive existing knowledge of University governance as a new Board member; FAUW aims to make the Board a supportive environment in which you learn as you go.
The specific topics and issues that we deal with change from year to year, and while you don't need to be an expert on or have experience with any particular issues, it might be useful to think about how you can help FAUW with its current priorities. To get a sense of what we're working on now, read the Board meeting summaries (and other posts) on the FAUW blog or talk to a Board member.
What's the time commitment?
On average, Board members report spending 2–4 hours a week on average and note that this time can be accommodating of personal and family schedules. With project work, the time commitment increases, but this extra time is spent working on goals that are important to you.
If, in your second (or later) year on the Board you are appointed to the executive and/or the Faculty Relations Committee, your time commitment will increase significantly, but teaching releases are available.
How do the faculty- and lecturer-specific seats work?
The faculty-specific and lecturer seats were established a few years ago to ensure that the Board always has representation from among the lecturer ranks and from all six faculties. The faculty seats are elected by and from members in that faculty, and the lecturer seat is elected by and from members with lecturer appointments. However, once elected, all directors are responsible to all FAUW members. The purpose is to ensure broad representation around the table, not to create constituencies to which those directors are specifically accountable.
Okay, but what's it actually like?
Here’s what some current and past directors have to say about their time on the Board:
Serving on the FAUW Board has been one of my most rewarding experiences at University of Waterloo. I have learned tons about how the university works and about differences across the various faculties and departments. I value in particular the opportunity to work with colleagues from across the disciplines. It’s great to get out of our disciplinary 'silos' and work together with folks from all over campus to try to make the university run well and treat people fairly.
I’ve been delighted to be involved with FAUW these past few years: it’s a great way to understand the University as a whole, and to both focus on what’s wonderful about Waterloo as a university and a workplace, and help fix some of the problems that inevitably happen here.
Being on the FAUW Board has taken me out of my Science bubble and given me insight into what makes this university tick. There is definitely a time and energy commitment beyond the biweekly meetings, but none of this is make-work—you will find yourself getting drawn into issues you really care about. Warning: involvement with FAUW can be highly addictive!