President's Newsletter: April 2016

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

President’s Report for FAUW Spring General Meeting, April 6, 2016

Board membership changes

I want to begin by thanking some people who are stepping down from the FAUW Board and will be sorely missed. I have described this board many times over as comprising a group of people I genuinely enjoy meeting and working with. They are hard-working, smart, committed and fun. Above all, each one is willing to provide counsel when that is needed and step up to do one more thing when asked.

Lynne Taylor has completed her term and had the audacity not to run again because of sabbatical commitments. Her role as chief salary negotiator, salary anomalies champion, treasurer of FAUW and member of our executive has been of extraordinary value and a commitment vastly exceeding what we should decently have expected. She has also been abused shamelessly in terms of workload quite simply because she is always so good.

Greta Kroeker is the ideal for what we would want of a board member. She is always willing to step up on the little jobs and the big. She is a delight to work with and is creative and highly effective. Her term on the board is over (we have term limits) but we are very fortunate that she has agreed to continue on chairing one of the very important committees.

Next we have the case of the ‘incredibly changing past-president’; now you see him, now you don’t. David Porreca will be replaced by George Freeman from July to December. They then reverse positions when David comes back and George goes back on sabbatical. Finally, Bryan Tolson is also insisting on taking a sabbatical from July 1 till the end of the year and will have to be at least temporarily replaced as vice-president.

Fortunately we have talented new board members coming on. Our board has expanded following constitutional changes and we are grateful. There is much to be done and we often find ourselves stretched. We are grateful both to those who ran and were elected and those who were not elected. It is my hope that those in each group will be willing to serve FAUW either on the board directly or in another capacity. We need all good people participating.

As you know, I have been trying to keep the membership up-to-date through regular reports that get posted on our website. As with so many other things we do and don’t do, my worthy goals became thwarted by nothing more complex than ‘life’. What I will do here is make some general observations and then address more specific issues that have arisen since my last report in early February.


FAUW is almost there in terms of full staffing and organizational structure. Our executive manager, Erin Windibank, has now been with FAUW for a complete year. She has provided outstanding leadership despite managing an understaffed workplace. For those who don’t know Erin, she joined FAUW with a wealth of understanding and experience of how this university operates from the highest levels down. She also is a former lawyer and brings keen insight to issues. Our main goal is to ensure we exploit her talents wisely and effectively and for that we need full staffing.

In June, 2015 Katie Damphouse joined our staff. Katie is first and foremost working with Christopher Small on AF&T related matters. However, she also brings an enormously valuable skill set that we are increasingly exploiting in terms of policy development and general human interaction issues across campus.

 Finally, since November, Laura McDonald has been working half-time primarily managing community relations/social media. This was a stop-gap measure until we could hire full time. What became immediately obvious once someone as talented as Laura joined us was that so much of what is lacking in FAUW in terms of our communications outreach can only be resolved by a dedicated, full-time employee. We are currently engaged in the hiring process. Once that person is in place our team will be complete.

The workload of FAUW, both for staff and faculty volunteers, is immense. We are making real progress in terms of providing a clearer organizational structure and processes that work. We know we have many people who want to take on tasks. Right now we are still in the place where we are too often too busy to offload. That has to be corrected and is a current goal for all of us.

General observations

In terms of that workload, much of it is what you have heard about in the past and falls into the category of ‘routine’. However, there are also many issues in the current climate in our country that are both complex and pressing. For example, the university is working on revising its ethics policy (Policy 33) and introducing a new sexual assault policy (required by provincial law). These raise very complex issues in terms of managing the rights of both complainants and anyone against whom complaints are made.

We continue to work in an environment where the kind of long-term relationships with people in Needles Hall which make problem-solving easier, simply, for the most part, don’t exist. The entire university has been impacted by the turnover in the secretariat and the loss of people with long-term memories not only about what we do but why we do it. Our role is to find the balance between building relationships and standing up to things that we believe are clearly wrong. I tend to be very much a Pollyanna in this regard and would like to believe that we can resolve the former. Neither the board nor I will, however, allow this to happen from a position of weakness. If things are important and they are wrong, we will continue to point this out and work for change.

There also are some really positive initiatives and outcomes. Our last round of salary negotiations yielded the salary anomaly process that is moving ahead in a very positive direction. We have a team of highly effective and very hard-working people (Lynne Taylor, Cecilia Cotton and Benoit Charbonneau) working on this and, we trust, establishing the conditions whereby this becomes an exercise that must happen periodically since we know inevitably salaries can get out of line with time.

SWEC, which is a committee of FAUW, is leading a number of very important initiatives in both the equity and disability fields. We now have a Lecturer’s committee that has assumed leadership in gathering information about the experience of lecturers on campus. The more we learn, the more complicated these issues become.

We are beginning to find ways of bringing new faculty into our community and meet their needs. We are beginning to see more university administrators recognizing the need to bring FAUW into decision making/guideline development from an early stage. Finally, we are very grateful to those on the AF&T Committee and Christopher Small and Katie Damphouse in particular. Their workload continues to be immense but the tasks are essential.

I now shift to more specific issues that follow from my last report:

Specific issues

  1. We have begun a process of reviewing the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Rather than open up the entire document for review at one go, we are identifying major and minor issues and tackling one of each at a time through FRC and then the normal channels for change including the FAUW membership. The two issues on the books now are shifting to a biannual performance review process for tenured faculty (major) and ensuring all faculty policy statements about performance be passed by Faculty councils (minor). We are hoping both, if approved, will be in place by the end of the year. Should the first be passed, faculty would need a full year’s notice before the change would come into effect.
  2. You will have received an email report from all stakeholder presidents about pension plan management issues. This is about management of the fund and not performance. The stakeholder groups have worked closely together and will continue to do so as the university consults with us.
  3.  My last report talked about the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) policy. Two things are now going on. First, the process is beginning for revision of Policy 67, which is very out of date. Second, there is a committee working on the RFP for a new carrier. I believe we are looking to early 2017 before the new coverage will be in place. In the meantime, please report if you are having any difficulty accessing counseling services internally in the university.
  4. Laura has been consulting widely about our website. Please continue to pass on observations about needs, ideas, etc. Even if you find tiny irritants about the site, please pass them on to Laura ( This is the main way we have so far of finding out problems.
  5. I mentioned the sexual violence policy that is being drafted currently under the auspices of the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Equity (PACE). Dan Brown, our appointee to PACE, is involved. We thank him for this. This is a difficult policy to draft. If you have any comments, please pass them on to Dan.
  6. Both the course evaluation and the scheduling projects continue to consume large amounts of time, particularly for David Porreca and Bryan Tolson.
  7. I have mentioned the Policy 33 committee. The other major initiative is Policy 76, faculty appointments/hiring. This is where a number of complex issues arise and it is the main place where policy talks to the role of lecturers. The other policy review underway is that of 14, parental leave. We are hoping that will start work relatively soon as the new staff in the secretariat are able to handle this additional policy review.
  8. Weather: I am tempted just to say, ask Kate Rybczynski (and SWEC) and Bryan Tolson. Both have put an amazing amount of work into this and I think we are creeping forward. That said, I was more than a little surprised to be hearing a couple of very (very) senior administrators celebrating the fine snow clearance this Monday (4th). I was brash enough to observe that the snow was cleared but with no salt, the freezing rain was left to wreak havoc on our general sense of equilibrium. It did occur to me that with underground parking, it might be hard for some people to understand the extent of the issues.