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Enrolment still increasing, despite projected decline

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With Budget 2017 arriving imminently, it is useful to revisit the provincial government forecasts for one of the principal variables in provincial funding for universities – the number of students. In the 2010 provincial budget, the Ontario government optimistically promised to add 40,000 new places for full-time university students by 2015. Because of a demographic dip in the cohort of 18-24 year-olds (already anticipated in 2010), that actual number was never met.

In the 2015 budget, the government changed its tune and predicted that enrolment would flatten and actually decline. However, that assumption should also be taken with a grain of salt. While it may be too early to tell if the number of university applicants for 2017 is an outlier, the proportion of 17 year-old applying to universities has been increasing. Among both undergraduate and graduate students, fall enrolment in 2016 increased by 2 per cent province-wide. With the exception of 2014, the trends suggest enrolment will continue to grow.

Regional demographic changes do mean that some institutions are seeing a decline in enrolment, while others continue to experience increases. This is why a nuanced approach to funding is important, with attention not just to the methods for allocating funding, but the total amount as well.

At this point, OCUFA forecasts that the gap in university funding between Ontario and the average for the rest of Canada will widen to 37 per cent for the current budget year. We do not yet know how much bigger the gap might become this year, but we do know that lowballing the enrolment forecast will certainly compound the effect of declining enrolments where they do occur.

With enrolment increasing, it is vital that the government increase public funding for Ontario’s universities so that they remain capable of providing a high quality postsecondary education.

Worldviews Lecture tackles populist challenge for universities

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Worldviews Lecture tackles populist challenge for universities

On April 5, Professor Sir Peter Scott, a Professor of Higher Education Studies at the UCL Institute of Education, delivered the third annual Worldviews Lecture on Media and Education with a focus on the populist challenge for universities.

In a live video broadcast to an audience in the library of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), Scott described how right-wing populism has driven a series of events over the past two years, including the election of Donald Trump and the vote of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. Then he addressed the challenge universities face coming to terms with this rising tide of anti-elitism.

Scott illustrates how populism has been driven by the failures of free-market neoliberalism and the growing gulf between haves and have-nots. While universities are considered elite institutions, home to many of the world’s experts, populism represents a general distrust of government organizations. Scott sees danger in this reality, but he argues populism’s strength should not be exaggerated and those in the academy should not be spooked. Instead, he believes that goal should be to continue expanding access to higher education as a key component of citizenship in democratic societies.

Scott concluded by presenting a four-point plan to counter the populist narrative:

  1. Shift away from the obsession with creating ‘world-class’ universities and focus on widening participation so that no group feels marginalized or left out.
  2. The commodification and commercialization of learning must be resisted.
  3. More democratically formed research communities need to be developed, in which producers, users, and beneficiaries have more equal voices.
  4. The community engagement mandate of universities needs to be reinforced as part of the effort to restore the ‘public’ university.

Following Dr. Scott’s virtual lecture, a panel of local academics continued the discussion of the populist challenge from a variety of perspectives.

Idil Atak, Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology at Ryerson university, discussed the malicious myths that stigmatize immigrants and are one driver of populism, especially during election periods. She detailed how enthusiastically these stories are picked up by the media, and how the academy has a role to play in conducting the evidence-based research that dispels these myths.

Greg Lyle, President of Innovative Research Group Inc., agreed with Professor Scott that populism is not winning. He highlighted poll results showing that the Canadian public values postsecondary education, and that two-thirds of Canadians believe that experts should be trusted. He argued that as economic gaps widen, individuals feel that the elite, including politicians, have lost touch with their constituents. He concluded by advocating that universities engage more with their students as individuals and people.

Emma Sabzalieva, a Doctoral researcher in the Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education at OISE, talked about students from a global perspective. She highlighted that approximately five million students travel internationally for their education, and a third of them travel to the US and UK – the countries most visibly afflicted by populism. While there might be short-term ripples, she does not believe international students will stay away from these countries over the long term.

Steven Tufts, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at York University, stated that while it may be making headlines now, populism isn’t new. He discussed the ‘common sense revolution’ of the Mike Harris era in Ontario, a populist platform that targeted postsecondary education among other social programs. He further argued that populism is not a right-wing issue, that it can also be driven with a progressive agenda. He concluded by encouraging professors to engage with their communities and join the fight to extend fair wages and fair working conditions to all workers.

To watch a video of the entire event, click here:
http://worldviewsconference.com/worldviews-2017/

 

This article originally appeared in OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week, please subscribe.

Briefing note: Student questionnaires on courses and teaching

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Download a pdf of this document.

It is a common practice at universities to have students complete end-of-term questionnaires about their courses and instructors. Sometimes called student evaluations of teaching (SETs) or student questionnaires on courses and teaching (SQCTs), these are often used to make decisions about faculty tenure and promotion without an appreciation of their limitations. These questionnaires could be good for capturing the student experience, but responses are inherently influenced by factors outside of the professor’s control, including the subject being taught, class size, and the professor’s gender, race, or accent. Further, the comment sections in these anonymous questionnaires can and have been vehicles of harassment.

Ontario’s faculty understand the value of student feedback, but the manner in which this feedback is sought, and the ends to which it is used are problematic. The goal of student questionnaires should be to inform the understanding of the teaching and learning experience, not to punish faculty for their class size, instructional innovations, gender, or skin colour.

To consider these issues, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has set up a working group with experts in methodology, research ethics, and human rights. The group has been tasked with developing a deeper understanding of how student questionnaires are currently being used at Ontario’s universities, defining the limitations of these questionnaires, and developing proposals for ensuring that these questionnaires are used appropriately. The working group is expected to release its report and recommendations later this year. What follows is a summary of the group’s findings so far.

Student questionnaire results are skewed by factors outside of faculty control

When completing a questionnaire, students are influenced not just by their impression of their professor’s instruction, but by their more general experiences in the class, program, and institution. So many factors influence the classroom experience that it is very difficult to determine whether ratings are the result of faculty performance or other contributing factors. For instance, students in larger classes, lectures early in the morning, or more difficult upper year courses are more likely to give low ratings than those in smaller classes, mid-day lectures, or easier first-year courses. In fact, in multiple large studies it has been shown that instructors who help students achieve higher outcomes in future learning receive relatively poor ratings compared with instructors of the same course whose students later attained lower academic outcomes.

Student questionnaire results are skewed by systemic discrimination and bias

Systemic discrimination based on gender, skin colour, and accent is a very real issue on Ontario’s campuses, and one of the places it manifests itself is in student questionnaire results. Research conducted in several countries over the past two decades has shown that women, people of colour, and those with accents receive lower evaluation ratings than their white male peers – regardless of ability. This discrimination and bias even plays out on the basis of course content, with classes about gender and racial issues more likely to receive lower ratings.

Student questionnaires facilitate anonymous harassment

Course evaluation questionnaires are composed of mostly multiple-choice questions. As such, they provide a very limited type of feedback. Accordingly, many such questionnaires include room for comments, allowing students to address topics not captured in the multiple-choice section. Unfortunately, as these questionnaires are anonymous, the comment section has become a means by which many faculty are being subjected to racial and sexual harassment. In the absence of effective precautions, moving the questionnaires online only facilitates this kind of threatening behaviour.

Student questionnaire results can compromise educational quality

Student questionnaires can provide important feedback about the student experience in a course, but not necessarily about a faculty member’s teaching performance. Determining whether a professor is conducting class according to student expectations is not the same as assessing how well students are learning in that class nor whether effective instructional methods have been used. Innovation in the classroom often results in lower SQCT scores even when it improves learning outcomes. If the employment status of faculty is tied to the results of these questionnaires, professors are incentivized to gain favour with their students and make course work less rigorous. That compromises the integrity of courses. Contract faculty are especially vulnerable in this scenario, as many have to reapply for their jobs each term, and the results of these questionnaires could be used to determine whether they are hired again.

Student questionnaire results should not be used to determine university funding levels

With the Ontario government’s intention to expand the portion of provincial funding based on performance indicators in later rounds of Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMA), it is important to be clear that student questionnaire ratings have no more place in allocating funding than they do in setting tuition fees, as proposed in the UK. The aggregation of ratings would compound the effect of biases and would not provide reliable indicators of program quality or respect qualitative differences between programs or institutions. It would ultimately penalize universities for achieving faculty diversity, instructional innovation, and true challenge and long-term learning for students.

Conclusion

Student feedback is important, but the purpose of student questionnaires on courses and teaching should be to help faculty develop their teaching, not to undermine their standing as employees, subject them to harassment, or punish them for factors outside of their control.

CUFA BC Conference on University Governance

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On March 3 and 4, OCUFA co-sponsored and attended a national conference on university governance hosted by the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia (CUFA BC). The event, “University Governance in the 21st Century: Meeting the Challenges of Openness, Accountability, and Democracy,” sparked important exchanges between faculty, staff, and university administrators about policy challenges and best practices for supporting collegial governance.

The role of faculty and faculty associations in realizing good university governance was a central theme. Since faculty knowledge of governance processes cannot be assumed, several speakers motivated for more education to support effective engagement. Discussions about leveraging university governance processes to close the gender gap, address sexual violence, and indigenize the academy also raised the important challenge of recognizing and valuing the disproportionate amount of work taken on by women and indigenous faculty members in efforts to achieve these goals.

Animated discussions about the role collective bargaining plays in supporting collegial governance recognized the potential to strengthen and clarify good governance practices in collective agreement language. Although a few participants voiced the possible limitations of an adversarial process for promoting collegiality, the keynote speaker, University of British Columbia President Santa Ono, struck a chord when he stated that faculty associations are a key partner in shared governance, both as unions and because they can articulate the broader interests of faculty across the institution.

One underlying issue identified is the shrinking complement of full-time faculty who struggle to find the time to take on the service work involved in good governance. In addition, the contract faculty full-time faculty are being replaced with are often not represented on governing bodies or compensated for the service work they do take on.

Throughout the conference, participants expressed concern about the increasing secrecy and corporate approaches utilized by Boards of Governors. This was accompanied by discussions about the narrowing role of Senates at many institutions and strategies for reviving them to ensure they are respected and effective academic decision-making bodies.

Several speakers reviewed the legislative and legal backdrop for collegial governance, leaving the audience with some helpful takeaways. These include that Boards of Governors’ fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the university should not be used to silence board members. In fact, it was suggested that there exists a positive duty of care and loyalty to speak out if a board’s agenda is getting off track.

CUFA BC is planning to develop a publication based on the conference presentations. For the full agenda, list of speakers, and copies of select presentations visit the conference website.

Faculty solidarity lunch at Western University sets stage for 2018 bargaining

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On Friday, March 10, more than 100 faculty members at Western University came together for a solidarity lunch hosted by the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association’s contract faculty committee. Supported by OCUFA, the lunch was a unique and creative event that provided an opportunity to build solidarity leading up to bargaining in 2018.

At the event, University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) President Ann Bigelow highlighted the misplaced priorities of the Western administration. She asked why their incredibly wealthy employer puts money before people and why the university, which claims to provide the best student experience, puts more effort into evaluating research than supporting teaching.

Bigelow, UWOFA’s first president who is a contract faculty member, pointed out that it takes a minimum of 14 years for a professor in a full-time contract position to earn the right to beg for a limited term appointment – an appointment with no end date. “There so many people like me who have been here a very long time and have demonstrated a commitment to the university,” said Bigelow, “Why won’t the university return that commitment? It’s just not right.”

In acknowledging the challenges ahead, OCUFA President Judy Bates referenced OCUFA’s Countdown to Strong program for faculty associations in bargaining, stating that, “if you organize early, if you are committed to face to face communications and if you come together in collective action, you can overcome these obstacles.”

After a few short speeches, attendees settled in for a delicious lunch and made new friends, as a featured comedian took to the stage. The performance sparked lots of laughter, and brought cheer to those in the room.

The faculty solidarity built at this event will be important in the coming year, and there is a hope that future work will build on the success of this event.

This article originally appeared in OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week, please subscribe.

Are books ready for the dustbin of history?

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Are books a condition of our labour? Do we need libraries with stacks and physical collections? Recent discussions within libraries across the country have highlighted faculty anxiety and displeasure with the fate of university libraries, as cuts are made to purchasing and operating budgets, collections culled, and the very nature of acquisitions transformed by changes in the methods of conducting and disseminating our research. Are libraries not an intrinsic part of our working conditions? How can we teach a student about the history of slavery, for example, if they do not have access to a wide range of interpretive sources that reflect changes in the writing of history over time? How can we encourage students to seek out many different kinds of evidence and to ask new and innovative questions, if libraries do not offer a variety of materials from a variety of different time periods? How can we encourage students to be venturesome and curious if they can no longer browse shelves? Those of us at smaller institutions long ago gave up the idea of having a ‘research’ library, but we do need very basic book collections, as well as collections of government documents and other sources that have not been digitized and, in fact, may never be. Without these, our teaching will be impoverished and our students’ learning will too.

Faculty are genuinely concerned with finding the best balance of resources for our libraries, but some feel consultation has been rather meager. On the one hand, the availability of material online and digitally has brought an array of new resources for teaching and research to our faculty and students; this has enriched our teaching, expanding the materials we can work with and opening up new doors of teaching possibility. However, faculty in the Humanities and Social Sciences are also facing severe cuts to book budgets, despite the fact that monographs remain a key form of the dissemination of our research. Not all books are available as e-books and students use e-books differently than hard copies – endnotes are obscured, browsing is discouraged. Moreover, existing hard copies of books may remain available only as hard copy for a long time.

All these issues have been highlighted recently at Trent University, where renovations to the library are not only necessitating a shut-down and relocation of the library for a year (May 2017 to May 2018), but a plan to cull the print collection by 50%. 250,000 items will be discarded. The figure is rather staggering. Figuring out how to do this, how to make selections, has been a difficult conversation, with some faculty believing that the university is moving too quickly and should explore storage or other solutions rather than de-accessioning books bought with taxpayer and donor money. While the Trent library is being made into what some tout as a “library of the future,” existing collections will find their way to abandoned retail outlets for storage for one year. Archives and rare books will be moved to former Shoppers Drug Mart store downtown and the circulating collections will go to a former Giant Tiger store, with requests for off campus holding.

The controversy over the sad fate of books made its way into the local newspaper. Seven million dollars in federal funds were secured (for an estimated 14 million dollar or more project) to renovate the library, to fix long-standing maintenance issues and create new spaces for “innovation.” On two floors, there will be study and meeting spaces dedicated to specific areas that the university wishes to highlight, such as entrepreneurship, ageing, and Indigenous studies. These will be designated the Bata Research and Innovation Cluster.

When concerns were expressed about the loss of books, Trent President Leo Groake was quoted in the local Peterborough Examiner as saying libraries cannot just be “museums for old paper” (PE, Oct 12, 2016). He pointed out that paper books are being replaced with digital ones (some truth to that) and that “Students these days – they’re in the digital age.” Some were not amused by the glib dismissiveness of the book as a key part of university learning. After some concerns were expressed, the president was given a column in the paper to qualify his remarks and do some damage control. “I do not believe that books are out of date. At the same time, I do think that libraries are changing; that this will reduce the room for books; and that it is a change for the better.” The move to digital books, he argued, was opening up space “for meeting others, and for interacting, intersecting, researching and collecting and analyzing data.” (PE, Oct 28, 2016) However, his statement belies a critical point: it is not only books that have been digitized that will be discarded in this process. Instead, it will include works no longer considered “relevant” at this particular point in time.

Faculty remain concerned. Discarding 50% of a library’s physical collection will have an impact on faculty, students, and members of the broader community. Moreover, materials considered irrelevant today may be useful tomorrow, and innovative ideas may be sparked by a book that has not been examined in twenty years. The idea that only dinosaur faculty want books while modern ones are into digital resources creates an unnecessary dichotomy and, furthermore, obscures the fact that materials subjectively deemed “un-useful” are in jeopardy. The letter below was sent to the president to try and persuade the administration that better solutions might still be found. Must the reconceptualization of libraries entail significant losses to physical collections? What possibilities and opportunities are lost if we do not preserve the library’s physical collections? For many of us, the consequences of not preserving, enhancing, and maintaining both digital and physical collections are deeply troubling.

Post contributed by Janet Miron and Joan Sangster, faculty members at Trent University.

The following letter was sent to the President concerning the library:

Dear President Groake,

I respectfully send you this letter, which is supported and endorsed by the Department of Anthropology, the Executive Committee of the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies, and the School for the Study of Canada. We would like to express our concern for the physical collection of Bata Library and the university’s plan to discard a sizable portion of it.

For years, many of us have struggled to accept declining library budgets for the purchasing of books. To meet our research and teaching needs, we have had to weigh carefully which books to request for purchasing. We have done our best to cope with this challenge and to try to mitigate the effects as much as possible; we have accepted this situation with the belief that some sacrifice was necessary for the university’s fiscal health. Nevertheless, this has been a demoralizing experience for many of us, one that has taken a toll on our research and our teaching.

However, we now are not only facing the prospect of not replenishing and building our collection, but the substantial reduction of what many of us feel is an already meagre and inadequate collection. A whopping 50% of the library’s physical collection, an estimated 250,000 sources, slated for removal. We feel the library’s collection, built with tax-payers’ dollars and private contributions, is a fundamental part of the university’s well-being. If discarded, this crucial part of our library and our university could never be restored again. If the materials are replaceable, the cost would be in the millions of dollars. In light of the increasing recognition of Trent as a research and teaching institution of higher learning, why would we discard a part of our library that is important to many of us, one that directly contributes to our ability to achieve those very things we are so proud of?

At this moment, faculty have been “invited to provide feedback” on the deselection of the library’s physical collection, to identify materials that we need for our research and teaching. How can some of us reasonably do this? In five years, two years, even one year, the books and printed documents we need will change, possibly very dramatically. How will this affect our research? How will our students write research papers, which often require them to employ books or printed materials that have not been digitized? It is not simply recently published monographs and digitized sources that many of us need. We need older materials from decades ago, books that help us to understand how thinking, approaches, and foci have shifted and, thus, offer crucial direction to and foundations for our own research and teaching. Many of us want our students to know how scholars have written about topics in the past and how scholarship has changed. Doing so opens up thinking about where we need to go next and what new questions need to be considered. How can students do this with only a small selection of books in the library? How can we evaluate printed sources for their “value” today and predict what will be important to future generations of researchers and students? Books and other printed materials have both intrinsic and extrinsic value, and we feel strongly that it is in the university’s best interest to preserve the library’s collection, this body of knowledge, and to protect future endeavours and insight. Discarding half of our physical collection will undermine the research and teaching possibilities for many.

A library is a repository that offers manifold possibilities for researchers and students, but it should not be assumed that a repository is a stagnant, stale, or un-dynamic place that simply holds materials and gathers dust. Rather, it is that very repository that allows many of us as academics and students to ask new questions, to find relevance in a government report, collection of poems, monograph, or other source that has not been used for twenty years, to see things in a different light, to contextualize our research questions and findings, and to be creative and curious about the world around us. A Canadian geology book from 1920 may seem “un-useful” today, but tomorrow’s researcher may find it relevant for its list of Anishinaabemowin place names. For many of us in the humanities or social sciences, we need books and other printed materials, and we need to preserve them. Libraries and their physical collections form a vital part of our research methods.

Not only are many of us dependent on physical materials, but we also need the stacks of a library. Serendipity is one of the most exciting, rewarding, and fruitful possibilities offered by a library, the ability to browse the shelves and be distracted by a book that simply catches one’s eye. This part of research fosters inquisitiveness, reflection, curiosity, and open-mindedness. Retrieving a library book often entails much more than finding one specific book; it entails the discovery of other sources on nearby shelves that offer critical context, insight, or perspective, a process that cannot be replicated by on-line searches or is greatly limited when confined to only digitized materials. Many of us cannot solely rely on the digital world. For research and pedagogical reasons, we depend on a library, a library that is filled with books and not simply chairs and tables in a wired environment. It is very easy to find the latter if one so wishes in an urban setting. For many of us, we cannot do our research, teach, and develop ideas without a library and its physical collection. We do not have other university libraries to turn to in the Peterborough region, a dependency on inter-library loans is problematic, and digital resources, while important, are limited in many fields of research.

We urge you to reconsider the decision to discard half of our library collection and to find a solution that does not entail such loss. For many of us, our library’s physical resources are foundational to our work.

Sincerely,  Janet Miron, Department of History

Letter Endorsed by:
The Department of Anthropology
The Executive Committee of the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies
The School for the Study of Canada

Increasing solidarity among university workers

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The opportunity for improvements to labour law presented by the provincial government’s ongoing Changing Workplaces Review is bringing university workers together. Faculty are advocating for equal pay and access to benefits for contract workers, food service workers are fighting for a $15 minimum wage, and custodial staff want an end to the contracting out and contract flipping that erodes their working conditions.

On February 14, Valentine’s Day, university workers joined with students on more than ten university campuses to spread love and advocate for change. Under the banner of the Fight for $15 & Fairness, university workers and students are united in calling on the government to deliver positive changes as soon as possible. Thousands of signatures of support have now been gathered on Ontario campuses.

This was one area of focus at CUPE Ontario’s university workers conference, which took place from February 23 to 26. OCUFA attended the event as part of ongoing efforts to foster solidarity between different groups of workers on campus. Many shared and important issues were addressed, including pensions, underfunding, fair wages, and the worrying growth in part-time, contract and casual positions.

Faculty hold annual advocacy day at Ontario Legislature

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On Wednesday, 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 who have universities in their region. These included the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Deb Matthews, Progressive Conservative Advanced Education Critic Lorne Coe, and New Democratic Party Advanced Education Critic Peggy Sattler.

In their meetings, faculty focused on four priorities they want the government to take action on, including:

  • investing in faculty renewal to replace retiring professors and keep pace with student enrolment;
  • improving working conditions for contract academics through recommendations made to the Changing Workplaces Review;
  • creating a new, independent agency to collect and disseminate data about the province’s postsecondary education system; and
  • addressing the declining state of governance transparency and accountability at Ontario’s universities.

After a long day of engaging meetings, faculty, MPPs, and their staff gathered at a special reception to continue their conversations. The reception showcased large posters detailing the research of several professors who were on-hand to discuss their work’s importance for furthering knowledge and innovation in Ontario.

Many faculty were also active on social media, reporting back on their MPP meetings and the issues discussed. For a twitter review of the day’s meetings, click here.

Algoma contract faculty reach tentative agreement

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The Algoma University Faculty Association has reached a tentative agreement with the university on behalf of its contract faculty. This good news comes after months of bargaining and just days before the union would have been in a legal position to strike. The agreement is the result of a principled position at the bargaining table and strong support from Algoma’s students and the broader community. It will be put to a ratification vote in the coming weeks.

Twitter day of action to support fairness for contract faculty

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On March 3, faculty, students, staff, and concerned citizens from across Ontario will engage in a day of action on Twitter to raise awareness about the need for fairness for contract faculty. This work will build on the momentum generated during last fall’s Fair Employment Week.

Throughout the day, university and college community members will be invited to send their Boards of Governors a message about their priorities for the institution, including improving contract faculty working conditions and the quality of education offered to students.

All faculty members at Ontario universities are invited to participate! For more information, contact your faculty association or OCUFA’s Engagement and Campaigns Coordinator .

Others who want to join in the fun should make sure they use the hashtags #OurUniversity or #OurCollege, and #Fairness4CF.

Algoma University doesn’t reach agreement with contract faculty

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Contract faculty at Algoma University are one step closer to a strike after a long day of conciliation failed to result in an agreement. While frustrating for those working hard at the bargaining table, recent events have shown that Algoma’s contract faculty are organized and the public is on their side.

In advance of the conciliation session, faculty, students, staff, and community members showed their support for Algoma’s contract faculty by sending over 293 letters to the university’s President and the Chair of the Board of Governors. The letter demands the university avoid a strike by providing contract faculty with a fair deal. To send your own letter of support, click here.

The local Labour Council showed its solidarity by meeting with contract faculty and making it clear that the workers in Sault Ste. Marie would stand with faculty if job action is necessary. Contract faculty representatives also met and briefed local provincial candidates for the NDP and Conservatives, both of whom expressed a desire to see a deal reached and a strike averted.

Despite a blizzard, contact faculty and students leafleted together in support of Sault Ste. Marie’s part-time library staff. Precarious workers, regardless of sector, are standing together in the struggle for better working conditions and good jobs. Even students understand that, by standing up for workers’ rights now, they are improving their chances of a having a good job when they graduate.

With the support of the community, and a strong, principled position at the bargaining table, contract faculty at Algoma are prepared to walk of the job unless the university meets their fair and reasonable demands.

For more information and media coverage about the great work Algoma’s contract faculty have been doing, see the links below.

Queen’s professor honoured with Lorimer Award for outstanding work on behalf of Ontario’s faculty

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TORONTO – Allan Manson, a retired professor from Queen’s University, has won the 2016 Lorimer Award, presented by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA)

This honour recognizes individuals who have worked to protect and promote the interests of Ontario’s academic staff through collective bargaining.

“Allan’s tireless persistence, sense of fairness, and commitment to improving the lives of his fellow members not only gave the Queen’s University Faculty Association its first collective agreement, it built a foundation for decades of progressive organizing,” said Judy Bates, President of OCUFA. “He has a remarkable understanding of the importance of strong member communication and campus solidarity.”

The Lorimer Award was established in honour of Doug and Joyce Lorimer, who were instrumental in advancing faculty association collective bargaining in Ontario. Winners of the award all share the Lorimers’ commitment to advancing Ontario’s university system through strong faculty associations and fair collective agreements.

In his time at the Queen’s University Faculty Association, Professor Manson was the Chief Negotiator of four collective agreements and, through his work at the bargaining table, solidified a constructive relationship between the university administration and the faculty association.

“OCUFA is extremely proud to recognize the exceptional individuals whose work as part of the bargaining process improves the working conditions of professors and academic librarians,” said Bates. “High quality education and vibrant campus communities are built on the foundations established by these collective agreements. Through the Lorimer Award, we recognize the outstanding contribution and leadership of those who work tirelessly to ensure faculty have the protections and resources they need to thrive.”

Professor Manson will receive his award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 11, 2017. 

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 28 faculty associations across Ontario.  For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at http://www.ocufa.on.ca.

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For more information, contact:

 Ben Lewis, Communications Lead at 416-979-2117 x232 or

OR

Mark Rosenfeld, Executive Director at 416-979-2117 x229 or

Brescia professor wins OCUFA’s Award of Distinction for improving working conditions for academic women

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TORONTO—Helene Cummins, an associate professor at Brescia University College, has won the 2016 Status of Women Award of Distinction, presented by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA).

The award, sponsored by OCUFA’s Status of Women Committee, recognizes women who have improved the lives and working conditions of academic women and, by extension, their colleagues, families, and communities.

“Helene has been a beacon of leadership for academic women at Brescia University College and across Ontario,” said Melissa Jean, President of the Brescia Faculty Association. “She has been a consistent, strong, and supportive voice, with a deep understanding of the historic and current issues faced by working women in the province.”

Professor Cummins has been a vocal and inspiring voice in her community. When Brescia’s internal governing council considered eliminating the institution’s Equity Committee in 2015-16, she rallied faculty and staff to convince the council of the committee’s critical importance. As Chair of OCUFA’s Status of Women Committee, Professor Cummins travelled across Ontario to hear from women about their experiences working in the academic profession. Drawing on this experience, she worked tirelessly to educate faculty associations and universities about the persistent inequities that women in the academy continue to face and to identify solutions to address these challenges.

“OCUFA is committed to advancing and protecting the personal, professional and academic interests of women in the academy,” said Judy Bates, President of OCUFA. “That is why we are so thankful for Helene Cummins’ leadership, and so proud to present her with this honor for her exceptional commitment and contributions to the struggle for equity.”

Professor Cummins will receive her award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 11, 2017.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 28 faculty associations across Ontario.  For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at http://www.ocufa.on.ca.

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For more information, contact:

 Ben Lewis, Communications Lead at 416-979-2117 x232 or

OR

Mark Rosenfeld, Executive Director at 416-979-2117 x229 or

Call for submissions: 44th Annual OCUFA Teaching and Academic Librarianship Awards

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OCUFA is proud to celebrate outstanding achievement in teaching and academic librarianship at Ontario universities. Anyone within the university community can nominate a faculty member or librarian.

Award recipients are selected by an independent OCUFA committee made up of faculty, librarians, and student representatives.

Deadline for nominations for 2016-2017 awards: May 26, 2017.

Please submit your nomination through OCUFA’s secured online submission system as a single PDF file.

Upcoming events will build faculty solidarity

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Did you know that OCUFA has a contract faculty and faculty complement committee?

The goal of the committee is to develop solidarity between tenured faculty and contract faculty. We face so many challenges on our campuses, including issues of governance, equity, and the terms and conditions of employment. These problems cannot be solved in isolation – they require all faculty to work together in solidarity.

The committee formed in 2014. A year later, awareness of contract faculty issues increased dramatically with strikes at both the University of Toronto and York University, which saw over 10,000 teaching assistants and contract faculty walk off the job. In 2016, OCUFA held an international conference on precarious academic labor, leading the way and highlighting new scholarship in this area.

This year, the committee is focused on supporting events on several campuses. The objective is to bring together tenured and contract faculty for a mixture of advocacy, awareness building, and fun. The events will feature a comedian, music, as well the type of conversation that will help develop networks on campus and build greater solidarity within the faculty association.