OCUFA holds final Board of Directors meeting of 2016-17 academic year

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On Saturday, May 13, OCUFA held its final Board of Directors meeting for the 2016-17 academic year. The day was an opportunity to discuss recent developments in higher education and review the organization’s current priorities: university funding, contract faculty and faculty complement, university governance, and faculty pensions. During a special lunchtime reception, board members celebrated the winners of the OCUFA Service Award and Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowships.

Contract faculty and faculty complement

The Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee have been hard at work this spring to keep fairness for contract faculty on the agenda. On March 3, OCUFA hosted a social media day of action to highlight the issues facing contract faculty and put pressure on university presidents and boards of governors to make changes. Supporters from faculty associations, OPSEU, and CUPE all took part.

Later in March, special events were held on two campuses to build solidarity between contract and tenure-stream faculty. These events featured comedy, music, and opportunities for faculty to get to know each other. For more information on these events, click here and here.

OCUFA continues to support the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign. OCUFA representatives attended a provincial strategy session this spring and co-chaired a caucus of faculty, students, and staff that are involved in the campaign across the province. As part of this initiative, a panel featuring York University Faculty Association President Richard Wellen, Contract Faculty and Faculty Complement Committee Chair Fran Cachon, and OCUFA Vice-President Gyllie Phillips discussed the important role faculty can play in the Fight for $15 and Fairness. To learn more about what you can do, click here.

University funding

The 2017 Ontario Budget was tabled on April 27 and, unfortunately, failed to make much-needed investments in the province’s universities. The budget includes no new university operating funding for the next three years. Adjusted for inflation, this will amount to a six per cent funding decline in real terms and means that the major investments made through the government’s 2006 Reaching Higher framework will have been effectively reversed by 2019. This represents a troubling erosion of public financial support for Ontario’s universities which threatens the quality of education and will cause Ontario to fall even further behind other provinces in public per-student funding. Read OCUFA’s complete post-budget analysis here.

As the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development moves ahead with the implementation of a new funding model for Ontario universities, questions remain unanswered about exactly how some of that funding will be distributed. OCUFA continues to caution against the use of punitive performance based funding and will advocate against the use of metrics that harm faculty, students, and institutions.

In addition, faculty have been quite concerned with the lack of consultation during the second round of SMA negotiations (SMA2), which are currently underway. Government has not required institutions to consult with their campus communities and so, in many cases, these agreements are being negotiated without input from faculty, students, or other members of the university community. OCUFA is supporting associations that want to engage in the SMA negotiation process through the sharing of information about developments on different campuses and by drawing attention to the inadequacy of the consultation process.

University Governance

University governance continues to be a concern for members. To help develop strategies for supporting collegial governance, OCUFA has been hosting a series of conference calls where participants can share developments on their campuses.

In March, OCUFA co-sponsored a conference on governance hosted by the Confederation of University Faculty Associations–British Columbia in Vancouver. The conference focused on the role of faculty associations as unions and collective bargaining. To read more about the conference, click here.

Many of these issues were on the agenda at OCUFA’s Advocacy Day on March 1. University faculty from across Ontario gathered in Toronto to participate in a day of advocacy at the Ontario Legislature. Twenty-three faculty ambassadors spent the day meeting with over 35 Members of Provincial Parliament and discussing the four priorities detailed in OCUFA’s 2017 pre-budget submission. To read more about OCUFA’s 2017 Advocacy day, click here.

Pensions

OCUFA continues to support faculty association pension needs, including working with sector partners to build a voluntary jointly-sponsored pension plan (JSPP) for university faculty. The development of the JSPP continues to progress, with representatives from the University of Guelph, Queen’s University, and University of Toronto meeting on a regular basis.

OCUFA’s Collective Bargaining Committee has been hosting special meetings with chief negotiators focused on building capacity and knowledge about pension issues and possible changes to solvency rules that may be introduced by the provincial government later this year.

OCUFA executive elections

During the meeting, the OCUFA Board of Directors elected the organization’s executive for the 2017-18 academic year.

As of July 1, the new executive will be comprised of:

President:
Gyllian Phillips (Nipissing University Faculty Association)

Vice-President:
Rahul Sapra (Ryerson Faculty Association)

Treasurer:
Glen Copplestone (King’s University College Faculty Association)

Members-at-large:
Michael Attridge (St. Michael’s College Faculty Association)
Diane Beauchemin (Queen’s University Faculty Association)
Sue Wurtele (Trent University Faculty Association)

Chair of the Board:
Kate Lawson (Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo)

As President Judy Bates and Chairperson Brian Brown are finishing their terms of office, a special reception was held the night before the board meeting where they were thanked for their years of dedication, leadership, and hard work.

Awards celebration

Finally, a special awards luncheon provided an opportunity to celebrate four individuals whose contributions have enriched Ontario’s universities and their communities.

York University professor Craig Heron and Lakehead University professor Glenna Knutson were honoured with OCUFA Service Awards for the work they have done to strengthen OCUFA and advance the interests of professors and academic librarians across the province.

University of Guelph PhD student Laura Jane Weber and Laurentian University Masters’ student Beaudin Bennett were then honoured with Henry Mandelbaum Fellowships for their excellence in scholarship and community engagement.

The luncheon wrapped up with a special presentation from 2016 Mandelbaum Fellowship winner Karen Marie Olsen Lawford who shared her work on the gap in maternal health care for First Nations women who live in northern communities.

The next OCUFA Board of Directors meeting will be held in October

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