On October 29 in Toronto, OCUFA held its first Board meeting of the 2016-17 academic year. Attended by OCUFA Directors and Faculty Association Presidents, the meeting was an opportunity to confirm the organization’s priorities for the upcoming year, hear from the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, and expand the mandate of OCUFA’s Status of Women Committee.
The Board renewed its focus on contract faculty and faculty complement, university funding, collegial governance, and pension renewal for the upcoming year. OCUFA will continue to support member associations as they respond to the shift towards precarious, contract academic work at universities across the province. OCUFA will continue to engage with the provincial government as it moves forward with its review and update of the university funding model and will support OCUFA members as the transition to the new funding model begins. OCUFA will identify strategies to address the erosion of faculty capacity to shape the direction of their institutions through processes of collegial governance. And finally, work continues toward the creation of a multi-employer jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP) for interested faculty associations, while OCUFA will also support those institutions not interested in a JSPP option.
Board meeting participants had the opportunity to hear directly from Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Hon. Deb Matthews, about the issues and goals she intends to focus on. In her remarks to the OCUFA Board, the Minister highlighted the need to manage the impacts of declining enrolment and ensuring that every qualified student has access to a high quality postsecondary educational experience. Drawing on the report of the Highly Skilled Workforce Panel, the Minister underscored the importance of ensuring that students are well prepared for the workforce when they graduate and offered insight into progress on changes to OSAP that would lower financial barriers to student participation in postsecondary education.
The Board voted unanimously in support of a motion to revise the mandate of the Status of Women Committee to expand the scope of the committee’s focus to include, in addition to issues of concern to women academics, equity issues more broadly. The new Equity and Social Justice Committee will be structured using the same model as OCUFA’s other standing committees and will include representatives from each OCUFA member association.