OCUFA’s 158th Board of Directors meeting

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On Saturday May 25 and Sunday May 26, OCUFA held its final Board of Directors meeting of the 2018-19 academic year. During the weekend, board members discussed the organization’s current priorities – good jobs, university funding, and capacity building – especially as they relate to the Ford government’s attacks on postsecondary education. During a special lunchtime reception on the Saturday, board members and colleagues celebrated the winner of the 2019 Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship.

Priorities

Good jobs

Advocating for good jobs – one of OCUFA’s long-term goals – has taken on particular urgency under the current government and with dramatic changes in the nature of academic work. OCUFA continues to advocate for a postsecondary education system where every academic job is a good job with fair compensation, reasonable workloads, access to benefits, and job security.

One of OCUFA’s main campaigns has been that of Fairness for Contract Faculty. Its goal is to reduce the reliance on contract faculty by ensuring more are hired into secure full-time positions. Delivering fairness for contract faculty and committing to faculty renewal will create more good jobs on our campuses and ensure that students have access to the quality learning experience they deserve. In light of the Ford government’s attacks on postsecondary education, meeting participants discussed the destructive impact these cuts and changes will have for contract faculty.

Further discussion focused on the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ recent “consultation” on faculty renewal, which neither delivered a commitment to faculty renewal nor addressed the negative impact of underfunded postsecondary institutions on full-time faculty hiring.

Additionally, board members discussed new legislation introduced in the Ontario Budget that would allow the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities unprecedented powers to override collective agreements for postsecondary faculty and staff working while collecting a pension.

University funding

OCUFA has held a long-standing goal of increasing public funding for universities to support high-quality postsecondary education in Ontario. Unfortunately, the government effectively reduced universities and colleges revenue through a tuition fee cut announced in January without an accompanying increase in public funding.

University funding was further destabilized by April’s Ontario Budget, which introduced a drastic move towards tying funding to market-based “performance” outcomes. By 2024-25 this new funding formula would allocate 60 per cent of university funding to institutions based on their ability to meet certain performance targets prescribed by the government. To put this change in dollar figures, funding tied to performance will increase from $50 million (the current figure for 2018-19) to an estimated $2.2 billion by 2024-25.

OCUFA has long cautioned against allocating university funding based on performance measures. Such a shift would be counterproductive as it will, by design, create inequities and slowly but certainly undermine the integrity of Ontario’s postsecondary education system. This drastic shift in the way postsecondary institutions are funded will only serve to destabilize the sector, make long-term planning impossible, encourage more bureaucracy and stifle innovation.

Capacity building

Ontario’s university faculty face serious challenges in their workplaces, including too few faculty to do the work, and too many precarious jobs at underfunded universities. OCUFA continues to support member associations with capacity building strategies that can be leveraged to build stronger unions and a university labour movement able to more effectively tackle these problems and resist the ill-advised policy decisions being made by the Ford government.

OCUFA continues to work with member associations to build their capacity to mobilize their members and build relationships with allies. At the Board Meeting, and based on members’ feedback and recommendations to the President and Executive Director, a new action toolkit was created to help faculty associations take action on their campuses and in their communities against the government’s attacks on postsecondary education.

OCUFA members elect new Executive

During the meeting, the OCUFA Board of Directors elected the organization’s executive for the 2019-20 academic year.

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

President:
Rahul Sapra (Ryerson Faculty Association)

Vice-President:
Sue Wurtele (Trent University Faculty Association)

Treasurer:
Ann Bigelow (University of Western Ontario Faculty Association)

Members-at-large:
Glen Copplestone (King’s University College Faculty Association)
Gautam Das (Lakehead University Faculty Association)
Michelle Webber (Brock University Faculty Association)

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

As President Gyllian Phillips is finishing her term of office, a special reception was held where she was thanked for her years of dedication, leadership, and hard work.

Welcome to the McMaster University Academic Librarians’ Association

OCUFA is pleased to welcome the McMaster University Academic Librarians’ Association (MUALA) as the newest member of OCUFA. Their membership was officially ratified at the meeting.

Celebration of 2019 recipient of the Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship

Finally, a special luncheon ceremony during the meeting celebrated the recipient of the 2019 Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship for Excellence in Social Sciences, Humanities, or Arts. Western University PhD student Rebecca Ellis was recognized with the Fellowship for her exceptional scholarship and deep engagement in her community. The luncheon concluded with a special presentation from 2018 Mandelbaum Fellowship winner Galen Watts. Galen shared his work studying the socio-political implications of contemporary spirituality for Canadian millennials.

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