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UWSA organizational structure

The UWSA is overseen by a Board of Directors, and all UWSA members are eligible for election to the board for three-year terms. Collectively, the Board of Directors guides the high-level strategic governance of the UWSA and provides advice and direction to the Operations Team.

The Operations Team manages the day-to-day work of the UWSA and is led by the president, a UWSA member who is elected for a three-year term: one year each as president-elect, president (full-time secondment to UWSA with regular salary plus a stipend), and past president. The Operations Team also includes the three full-time UWSA staff, who are supervised by the president: the staff advocacy officer, communications officer, and membership and volunteer coordinator. Learn more about being UWSA president.

Overview of the director role

The Board of Directors provides governance, financial, and long-term strategic oversight for the Association.

UWSA directors must work to ensure that the work of the UWSA is in full alignment with its by-law and other governing principles. No one director has any more authority or power than any other director, which means a lot of collaboration, which means a lot of meetings. Directors are expected to:

  • Prepare for all meetings by reviewing past meeting notes, considering the topic at hand, and establishing a perspective on the topic,
  • Attend at least 75% of Board and assigned committee meetings,
  • Actively participate in all meetings and bring your best ideas to the table, and
  • Participate in training and development activities organized by the board.

Once the board is formed, it appoints directors to fill the officer roles of secretary, treasurer, chair, and vice chair. Each of these has additional responsibilities specific to the role.

Board responsibilities

The Board of Directors is responsible for the highest level of decision making and legal authority within the University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA). The role of the Board of Directors is mandated by the organization’s by-laws. The Board of Directors provides oversight to ensure compliance with the organization’s by-laws, governance policies and legislative requirements.

The contributions and responsibilities of the board include:

  • Establishing the strategic priorities for UWSA and monitoring achievement of the strategic plan
  • Providing a communication link between directors and UWSA’s membership
  • Establishing governing policies
  • Providing financial and risk oversight
  • Assisting in fund development and ensuring that UWSA has adequate revenues to accomplish its strategic priorities
  • Establishing, monitoring and evaluating an annual Board work plan

Individual director responsibilities

Some of the expectactions and responsibilities of individual directors are to:

  • Take leadership roles and special assignments willingly with the best interests of UWSA in mind
  • Understand and follow UWSA by-laws, policies, and procedures
  • Ensure that meeting materials are reviewed in advance in order to participate fully in Board discussions and decisions
  • Exercise the utmost good faith in all dealings with and for UWSA
  • Suggest suitable nominees for board membership
  • Participate in governance and or leadership educational opportunities
  • Ask timely and substantive questions
  • Serve on at least one committee as assigned by the board
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Conduct oneself in an ethical manner
  • Be aware of the impact of UW policies on UWSA members
  • Suggest agenda items to address UWSA related governance issues as appropriate as well as UW Policy considerations
  • Serve UWSA as a whole rather than any specific individual or community
  • Declare any real or perceived conflict of interest
  • Read, understand and exercise good judgement with respect to the UWSA’s financial statements, strategic directions, and board goals.

Benefits of being a director

Some of the benefits of serving as a director include:

  • Training in governance principles
  • Participating in UWSA strategic planning activities
  • Developing working relationships with colleagues from across campus, including senior members of University leadership
  • Becoming a more effective meeting organizer and participant

Time commitment and release time

As outlined in the University Service Guideline, the University grants release time to UWSA Members erving the UWSA as a director. Over the course of their term, directors can expect to spend the full release time.

  • Directors receive one day a month to attend to UWSA business
  • Directors appointed by the UWSA board to serve in the officer role of secretary or treasurer receive two days a month to attend to UWSA business

The supervisor of each UWSA member elected to the board receives a letter informing them of the appointment and the release time granted by the University.

The estimates below include meeting time, and do not include preparation time that is required for full active participation in meetings. Directors who take on additional committee work can expect to spend additional time outside of work hours.

UWSA meetings

  • UWSA board meetings: two hours every three weeks
  • UWSA annual meeting: one hour every year
  • UWSA special meetings: rarely called
  • Area Representatives meetings: one hour every month (recommended)

UWSA committees

Directors have the opportunity to participate in UWSA committees based on availability, interest, and skillset.

UW-level committees

Directors may also serve as UWSA representatives on university-wide committees that shape staff working conditions and compensation:

Skills for success

These are skills that have proven valuable. It is not an exhaustive list, and there are other skills that would support success. And possession of all these attributes is not a requirement; candidates with a subset of these skills are encouraged to put their name forward.

  • Openness to learn and develop new skills
  • Commitment to do your best and act with integrity
  • Willingness to actively engage in the collaborative work of the board and committees
  • A desire to advocate for staff interests in the areas of working conditions, compensation, benefits, and organizational policies
  • Strong organizational and time management skills
  • Collaborating in a diverse, hybrid team
  • An interest in contributing to the strategic direction of the UWSA
  • Awareness (or willingness to build awareness) of UW policies impacting staff

Valuable experience

The UWSA values experience as a member of an equity-seeking group, particularly candidates who are racialized, Indigenous, persons with a disability, and members of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities who can apply this experience to advocating for others.

Experience with organizational governance and not-for-profit boards can be helpful, but is by no means required. This is an opportunity to learn and training in this area is provided!

Officer roles

Certain skills can be quite useful for officer roles (secretary, treasurer, chair) but are not required for directors in general. 

  • Document management 
  • Budgeting, Excel, estimating
  • Setting agendas and chairing meetings
  • Keeping track of multiple issues and tasks