We are currently working to revise the University's policies on Faculty Appointments (Policy 76) and Tenure and Promotion of Faculty Members (Policy 77) to create new teaching-stream faculty appointments.
Why these policies need updating
While Waterloo has had lecturers since the 1960s, the number of lecturers has increased significantly in the last decade. Now, almost one in five regular UW faculty members (that is, FAUW members) are lecturers. Teaching-focused faculty are now both common and essential to the University's work, but they’re still largely overlooked in many University policies, leaving lecturers severely disadvantaged when it comes to things like career progression and job security.
For example, Policy 76 (Faculty Appointments) states that the appointment of continuing lectures should be "unusual." Their roles need to be recognized and regularized to avoid unfair treatment, ensure equitable terms and conditions of employment, and to create an appropriate career path. An updated teaching-stream policy is also required for Waterloo to stay competitive among its peer institutions—many of which have had teaching-intensive professorial appointments for years.
FAUW’s fundamental purpose is to promote fairness for and equitable treatment of our members, to defend academic freedom, and to ensure that we all work in an environment that supports excellent research and teaching. It is the collective responsibility of all of us in the Association to fight for fair working conditions and good jobs for all of our members.
What we're hoping to change
Here are some of the things that we have identified as priorities for the updated policies, to better align the roles of teaching-focused faculty with FAUW's values, the University's values, and roles at comparator institutions.
Professorial teaching stream appointments, with tenure
We are advocating for professorial teaching-stream positions with rigorous tenure and promotion processes that run in parallel with tenure and promotion in the existing professorial ranks. Important models for this work are the University of Toronto, McMaster University, and University of British Columbia, which have “teaching-stream” or “teaching-track” professors at all three ranks.
The title "lecturer" is obsolescent in the Canadian post-secondary education sector and contributes to lecturers commonly being undervalued and underpaid. We are negotiating for the more appropriate titles Assistant/Associate/Full Professor, Teaching Stream.
Tenure is also a professional norm. See CAUT’s policy statement: “Tenure processes should be available to all academic staff”; and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) statement: “all full-time faculty members, regardless of rank, are to be considered eligible for tenure.
Consistency across campus
More generally, we think the current uneven treatment of teaching faculty across campus should be regularized. For example, all teaching faculty members should be able to participate in collegial governance, to apply for grants for which they are eligible, and to have every sixth term as a non-teaching term (with a commensurately lower teaching load).
Time and support for pedagogical and professional development
Teaching-stream professors will need time to do the work required to progress through professorial ranks. We are asking for all Lecturers teaching a full load to have at least one term in six dedicated to refreshing courses, disciplinary research, pedagogical scholarship, and professional development. This pedagogical and professional development (PPD) term cannot be achieved at the cost of overload teaching in other terms, which would undermine the purpose of the PPD term. Read our rationale for such a term and analysis of how much it would cost the University on our blog. Other supports include the ability to apply for grants.
Ending unfair contracts
FAUW is also concerned about some very specific employment issues that it perceives as unfair. For example, a significant number of current Lecturers are appointed on two-years-minus-one-day contracts and are denied benefits because of the one “missing” day.
ACCOMPLISHED: In May 2021, we negotiated a small but important change to Policy 76, so that the University Appointments Review Committee will no longer be required to consider appointments of exactly two years (only longer than two years), removing the primary reason for deans to make two-years-minus-one-day appointments.
We still want to find a resolution to revolving definite-term appointments, where Lecturers may regularly teach needed courses in a department for many years without job security.
Recognition for scholarship
While teaching-stream faculty here at UW are primarily devoted to teaching, it is worth nothing that, as Policy 77 states, “University teaching is informed and enriched by the research and scholarship of the professoriate.”
Moreover, the revised policies will need to take account of the varied duties currently assigned to Lecturers, with some having a significant service load and others having assigned scholarship duties. Some teaching stream faculty would also like flexibility in their assigned duties as their departmental contributions, as well as their interests and strengths, change over the course of their careers. In general, teaching-stream faculty deserve clear expectations about all of their assigned duties.
A smooth transition
Some current lecturers may prefer to remain in their current positions rather than transitioning to a new professorial stream. We will thus strive to ensure that transition mechanisms take account of the diverse range of current lecturers and their career aspirations
Where did these priorities come from?
These negotiating priorities are based on conversations with members, recommendations and reports from our Lecturers Committee, and research into similar roles at other Canadian universities.
Most lecturer input comes to the Board via the Lecturers Committee. The Lecturers Committee was created in 2015 specifically to gather information and advise the Board about priorities for Policy 76 related to teaching-intensive faculty. It has conducted two extensive surveys, held a half-dozen town hall meetings and a number of informal events with lecturers, and submitted multiple reports to the Board and to policy drafting committees over the years. The FAUW representatives on the last policy drafting committee (one of whom is also the Lecturers Committee chair), with the Committee, also held consultations with lecturers in each Faculty, and their work continues to inform our policy goals.
Policy 76/77 development history
Work on revising Policy 76 (faculty appointments) began in 2014. The Lecturers Committee was struck in 2015 to advise on policy development.
After a policy drafting committee (PDC) concluded in fall 2020 without a draft approved by Faculty Relations Committee, a new committee was formed in February 2021 to examine the working conditions, advancement, and hiring of teaching-stream faculty specifically and to propose related changes to both policies 76 and 77 (tenure and promotion).
The FAUW representatives on the 2021 PDC (Su-Yin Tan and Kate Lawson) and Lecturers Committee (chaired by Su-Yin Tan) held consultations with lecturers in each faculty in the spring and summer of 2021. That PDC submitted some recommendations by its August 31, 2021 deadline, but no substantial revisions to the policies.
In December 2021, Faculty Relations Committee reached agreement on general terms for teaching-stream faculty. In April 2022, the administration asked to change one aspect of this agreement, the pedagogical and professional development term. Based on lecturer feedback, FAUW rejected this change and proposed another plan over the summer of 2022.
Following a general meeting and a vote of lecturers (who overwhelmingly supported the plan), FAUW and the administration signed onto a new “path forward” for finally updating these policies. Senate struck a new Policy Drafting Committee on October 17, 2022, including Mary Hardy, Paul Wehr, and Su-Yin Tan representing FAUW. The PDC has held four meetings as per the plan, and has now entered into mediation in January 2023.
Meet UW's teaching-intensive faculty
Teaching-focused faculty at Waterloo are called lecturers. While Waterloo has had lecturers since the 1960s, their numbers have increased significantly in the last decade. Now, almost one in five regular UW faculty members (that is, FAUW members) are lecturers. Teaching-focused faculty are now both common and essential to the University's work, but they’re still largely overlooked in many University policies, leaving lecturers disadvantaged when it comes to things like clear career progression, benefits, and job security.
Who is a lecturer?
The term “lecturer” is often indiscriminately applied to everyone from sessional instructors hired by the course to permanent teaching faculty. At Waterloo, “lecturer” is one of the four faculty ranks (the others are assistant professor, associate professor, and professor). While sessional instructors are also hired at the rank of lecturer, they have adjunct or special (vs regular) appointments and are administratively very different from the lecturer-rank regular faculty members (we'll call them capital-L “Lecturers” from here on) who are members of FAUW. 47% of Lecturers have continuing status; the rest are on definite-term contracts.
Learn more in “8 Myths About UW Lecturers” on our blog.
What do Lecturers do?
The specifics of Lecturer positions—teaching loads, service and administrative tasks—vary widely between faculties, and even between departments in the same faculty. Of 194 respondents to our 2021 lecturers survey (an 80% response rate), 43% have a teaching-to-service ratio of 80/20, 13% have a ratio of 60/40, and 15% have an assigned scholarship/research weighting in their contracts. (It is worth stressing that 80% of respondents reported engaging in scholarship or pedagogical/professional development activities, regardless of their assigned weightings). Lecturers teach all kinds of courses, including upper-year and graduate courses (64%, according to the survey). The most common course load is six courses a year.
Learn more in our interviews with lecturers on our blog.
The lecturer experience
To help paint a picture of the current experience of lecturers at Waterloo, FAUW and its Lecturers Committee have conducted extensive surveys and profiled a number of lecturers on our blog. We have heard, over and over, about unbearable workloads, utter inability to take allotted vacation time, disrespect and exclusion, “mysterious” and inconsistent procedures, and more. We’ve also heard how passionate lecturers are about their work, their students, and the University of Waterloo.
A professional development term would be greatly beneficial. I’ve managed to have two book-length manuscripts under review since the pandemic, all while teaching a lecturer’s teaching load, with no support for research and no sabbatical. Doing that meant focusing on work to the detriment of personal life.
Further reading: Related blog posts
About lecturers at Waterloo
- 8 myths about UW lecturers
- Service opportunities for lecturers
- Meet the lecturers: Interviews about what it's like to be a lecturer at Waterloo
About policies 76 and 77
- Tenure and promotion: A more equitable approach to lecturer career progression
- PPD: What are Pedagogical and Professional Development activities?
- Professorial teaching stream:
We all need the time and the peace of mind to reflect on our teaching experiences and invest in our profession to serve our students better, to make this university a better place.
I’ve taught non-stop since September to free up the summer to work on my teaching development and my research. I am teaching three classes in the fall and want to create courses that will be meaningful and engaging for students. I have five papers that are still in process, three conference presentations, and a few student papers that need my attention. I am also finishing up writing my textbook.