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Power of Many: Take Back Ontario Conference

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On March 25, the Ontario Federation of Labour is hosting a province-wide conference in Toronto that will bring together labour leaders, activists, and community allies. At the conference, participants will develop strategies for mobilizing our workplaces and communities to more effectively push back against the regressive agenda of the Doug Ford government.

This one-day conference will roll out the OFL’s full campaign strategy and outline plans for a series of escalating actions leading up to June 7, the one year anniversary of the provincial election. The conference will feature engaging speakers and the launch of new organizing and educational tools.

The conference will provide a good opportunity for faculty to connect with other university and education labour leaders and plug in to a broader campaign to protect good jobs and education quality in Ontario.

Anyone interested in attending can register online for only $25.

QUFA ratifies a new collective agreement

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The Queen’s University Faculty Association has ratified a three-year agreement with the Queen’s University administration. Members of QUFA also voted yes in the consent vote for the conversion of the pension plan to the University Pension Plan. If the UPP is created, the expiry of the Collective Agreement will move from April 30 to June 30 of 2022. The negotiations for the renewal of the Collective Agreement and the University Pension Plan consent vote were tied together because of the proximity of the expiry of the Collective Agreement and the consent vote. The Association achieved across-the-board salary increases comparable to other faculty associations. Other achievements included harmonization of the normal retirement date, recognition of Queen’s service for the unreduced early retirement option of the UPP, offsets for UPP contribution increases, and voluntary phased retirement as well as enhanced post-retirement benefits such as drug cards for retirees.

OCUFA’s 157th Board of Directors meeting

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On Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, February 10, OCUFA held its second Board of Directors meeting of the 2018-19 academic year. Over the weekend, board members discussed the organization’s current priorities – good jobs, university funding, and capacity building – with a focus on challenges to the postsecondary sector under the current government. During a special lunchtime reception on the Saturday, board members and colleagues celebrated the winner of OCUFA’s Lorimer Award, which recognizes those who have improved the terms and conditions of employment of Ontario university faculty through bargaining, and the winners of the Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction, which recognizes faculty whose work has improved the lives and working conditions of academics who are Indigenous, women, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, living with disabilities and/or belong to other historically marginalized groups.

Reflecting on Indigenizing Ontario universities

A special talk was presented by David Newhouse, who is Onondaga from the Six Nations of the Grand River community near Brantford, Ontario, was the first Principal of the new Peter Gzowski College at Trent University and Chair of the Department of Indigenous Studies. He is also an Associate Professor in the Business Administration Program. He presented on reconciliation and indigenization in the context of Ontario universities, including on the hiring of indigenous faculty, and his talk was followed by a lively discussion in which board members engaged Newhouse on the substantive topics in his presentation.

Celebrating excellence in teaching and promoting equity

A special luncheon ceremony celebrated the recipients of OCUFA’s awards.

Steven Bednarski, professor at St. Jerome’s University won the 2018 Lorimer Award.
Established in honour of Doug and Joyce Lorimer, who were instrumental in advancing faculty association collective bargaining in Ontario, the Lorimer Award recognizes individuals who have worked to protect and promote the interests of Ontario’s academic staff through collective bargaining.

Over the past ten years, Steven has played a pivotal role as a negotiator or chief negotiator in four rounds of bargaining. With a remarkable sense of solidarity, Steven has fostered a sense of community, both on the team and within the broader association membership. His capacity for research, sharp intellect, meticulous record keeping, and generosity is well known among his colleagues at St. Jerome’s and across.

Susan Hillock, associate professor at Trent University and Lianne Leddy, assistant professor at Wilfrid Laurier University both won the 2018 Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction.

The award, sponsored by OCUFA’s Status of Women and Equity Committee, recognizes faculty whose work has improved the lives and working conditions of academics who are Indigenous, women, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, living with disabilities and/or belong to other historically marginalized groups.

Professor Leddy is a mentor to Indigenous students and an ally to other faculty and staff. She is widely respected for her knowledge and expertise and has served as the Indigenous Studies Program Coordinator for three years, was a member of the Indigenous Research Ethics Conference organizing committee, and actively supports other departments and programs in the university with their efforts to incorporate Indigenous curriculum.

Professor Hillock is the founding director of the Department of Social Work at Trent University. In her work, she uses a feminist lens to explore gender, sexuality, and anti-oppression training in social work. She has worked tirelessly to engage Trent staff in discussions of equity in terms of gender and queer equality. In particular, she has focused on recruitment, hiring, and retention of faculty and staff, as well as the recruitment and retention of students

The next OCUFA Board of Directors meeting will be held May 25-26, 2019.

Worldviews lecture: Truth and Reconciliation in higher education and the media: What are the responsibilities? What is needed to overcome the legacy of colonialism?

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Mark your calendars! On Tuesday, March 19th, 2019, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, the Center for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education-University of Toronto, the Ryerson School of Journalism, Inside Higher Ed, and University World News will be hosting the fifth annual Worldviews Lecture on Media and Higher Education.

Truth and Reconciliation in higher education and the media: What are the responsibilities? What is needed to overcome the legacy of colonialism?

Speaker: Tanya Talaga

In 2015, the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was released, resulting in many universities and media outlets attempting to address the report’s calls to action. There are concerns that the initiatives undertaken have been ad hoc and do not address the ongoing legacy of colonialism.

Join us for an engaging talk by Tanya Talaga about the legacy of cultural genocide in Canada and her hope for a more inclusive and equitable future. Her talk will be followed by a panel of media professionals and academics (including Hayden King, Yellowhead Institute and Susan Hill, Centre for Indigenous Studies, University of Toronto). The discussion will further explore issues of reconciliation in the media and higher education.

Date and time: Tuesday, March 19, 2019, 7pm to 9pm.

Location: The Catalyst at FCAD, Ryerson University, 80 Gould Street – RCC 230, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5B 2K3

Registration: This is a free public event but advance registration is required.
For more information and to register (coming soon!) please visit: http://worldviewsconference.com

The Worldviews Lecture is organized by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, the Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education at the University of Toronto, and the Ryerson School of Journalism. It is made possible with the generous support of the Academica Group, Inside Higher Ed, and University World News.

Fairness for Contract Faculty Social Media Day of Action

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On Monday, February 11, faculty, staff, students, and community members across Ontario participated in OCUFA’s annual social media day of action in support of fairness for contract faculty.

The day was a tremendous success. The hashtag #Fairness4CF was heavily used by community members to voice their support for fairness for contract faculty.

This year’s social media day of action highlighted the fact that issues facing tenure-stream faculty and contract faculty issues are two sides of the same coin, namely the lack of investment in postsecondary education.

The chronic underfunding of postsecondary education has meant that tenure-stream faculty often face challenging workloads. This is especially true as contract faculty teach 58 per cent of all courses at Ontario’s universities. They are hired on precarious short-term contracts and are only compensated for teaching, not research or service work. Hiring full-time tenure-stream faculty instead of precariously employed faculty would ensure fairness for contract faculty and spread the workload more equally among all academic staff.

OCUFA would like to thank faculty, staff, students, and community members across Ontario for their support of the fairness for contract faculty campaign.

Students and Educators hold press conference at Queen’s Park

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On Tuesday, February 19, OCUFA participated in a press conference organized by the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario at Queen’s Park. OCUFA Vice-President Rahul Sapra joined a panel of speakers including Nour Alideeb, Chairperson of CFS-Ontario; Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario and RM Kennedy, Chair of the College Academic Division of OPSEU. The panel focused on the adverse effects of the government’s recent changes to the student assistance program (OSAP), the tuition fee cut without an increase in core funding for colleges and universities, and the attack on students’ rights.

The speakers shared their concerns about the government’s pattern of decision making without consulting sector stakeholders. The speakers noted that the January 17th announcement is a direct attack on student governance, representation, and voices and will make postsecondary education in Ontario less accessible.

The press conference also marked the launch of the “We The Students” campaign. To find out more about the campaign and the upcoming events and actions click here.

OCUFA Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching Working Group Report

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The report of the OCUFA Working Group on Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching (SQCT) has now been released. Prompted by increasing reports of the misuse of results and the harassment of faculty through anonymous comments, and by suggestions in the policy community that SQCT scores be used as university “performance” metrics, OCUFA established the working group in 2016 to examine these issues.

Please read the full report and summary by clicking here.

Ryerson Faculty Association awarded contract extension by arbitrator

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The Ryerson Faculty Association has been awarded a two-year contract extension by Arbitrator William Kaplan with an expiry of June 30, 2020. The arbitrator’s award included sector comparable salary increases. The arbitrator also awarded the faculty association funds for the provision of retirement benefits and to address the gender pay gap, as well as a voluntary retirement incentive. Finally, The arbitrator directed the parties to meet and discuss the issue of teaching stream, on a no prejudice basis, prior to the next round of bargaining.

Support Ontario students in their call for action

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The Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario has launched a letter writing campaign to tell Doug Ford, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton, and MPPs that the government’s attack on students’ unions and student rights does not represent the interests of students or faculty.

This campaign is in response to the Ford government’s decision to cut tuition fees by 10 per cent without increasing funding to universities, revert back to 2016-17 OSAP levels which rely heavily on student loans instead of grants, and to undermine student rights and student unions by making ancillary fees, including student fees, optional.

To add your voice to this important initiative, you can send the letter here.

Call for nominations: 2018-2019 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 the 2018-2019 awards is May 24, 2019.

Please submit your nomination through OCUFA’s secure online submission system as a single PDF file. Submission address: https://awards.ocufa.on.ca

Wilfrid Laurier University professor honoured with OCUFA’s Award of Distinction for advancing and promoting equity

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TORONTO, February 8, 2019 – Lianne Leddy, an assistant professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, has won the 2018 Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction, presented by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA).

The award, sponsored by OCUFA’s Status of Women and Equity Committee, recognizes faculty whose work has improved the lives and working conditions of academics who are Indigenous, women, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, living with disabilities and/or belong to other historically marginalized groups. 

“It is clear that Lianne’s leadership has greatly improved the lives and working conditions of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff, and faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University and beyond,” said Cathy Chovaz, Vice-Chair of the Status of Women and Equity Committee. “Her dedication is inspiring as she contributes incredible amounts of time, energy, and expertise towards the advancement of equity.”

As a mentor to Indigenous students and an ally to other faculty and staff, Professor Leddy is widely respected for her knowledge and expertise. She served as the Indigenous Studies Program Coordinator for three years, was a member of the Indigenous Research Ethics Conference organizing committee, and actively supports other departments and programs in the university with their efforts to incorporate Indigenous curriculum. Dr. Leddy has been instrumental in the creation and administration of a program at Laurier called the Indigenous Knowledge Fund. This fund provides financial and logistical support for faculty to bring Indigenous knowledge holders to speak to their classes, which has greatly increased Indigenous content taught across the university.

 “OCUFA is committed to advancing and protecting the personal, professional and academic interests of women in the academy,” said Gyllian Phillips, President of OCUFA. “That is why we are so thankful for Lianne Leddy’s leadership, and so proud to present her with this honour for her exceptional commitment and contributions to the struggle for equity.”

Professor Leddy will receive her award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 9, 2019.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 29 faculty associations across Ontario.

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To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact:
Ben Lewis, OCUFA Communications Lead
416-306-6033 | blewis@ocufa.on.ca

Trent University professor honoured with OCUFA’s 
Award of Distinction for advancing and promoting equity

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TORONTO, February 8, 2019 – Susan Hillock, an associate professor at Trent University, has won the 2018 Status of Women and Equity Award of Distinction, presented by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA).

The award, sponsored by OCUFA’s Status of Women and Equity Committee, recognizes faculty whose work has improved the lives and working conditions of academics who are Indigenous, women, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, living with disabilities and/or belong to other historically marginalized groups. 

“Susan has shown an inspirational motivation to make a difference in the lives of her co-workers and her community,” said Cathy Chovaz, Vice-Chair of the Status of Women and Equity Committee. “She has been steadfast in her commitment to equity throughout her career through her research, service work, and advocacy.”

Professor Hillock is the founding director of the Department of Social Work at Trent University. In her work, she uses a feminist lens to explore gender, sexuality, and anti-oppression training in social work. She has worked tirelessly to engage Trent staff in discussions of equity in terms of gender and queer equality. In particular, she has focused on recruitment, hiring, and retention of faculty and staff, as well as the recruitment and retention of students. Susan organized a campus-wide “Queering the Academy” campaign with the goals of making the campus climate more welcoming and inclusive for all community members. 

She is currently working on the first Canadian textbook about teaching sexuality in higher education, with a focus on queer sexualities, boys, masculinities, sexualities, sexuality and disability, and Indigenous views on sexuality.

“OCUFA is committed to advancing and protecting the personal, professional and academic interests of women in the academy,” said Gyllian Phillips, President of OCUFA. “That is why we are so thankful for Susan Hillock’s leadership, and so proud to present her with this honour for her exceptional commitment and contributions to the struggle for equity.”

Professor Hillock will receive her award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 9, 2019.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 29 faculty associations across Ontario.

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To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact:
Ben Lewis, OCUFA Communications Lead
416-306-6033 | blewis@ocufa.on.ca

St. Jerome’s University professor honoured with Lorimer Award for outstanding work advancing faculty rights

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TORONTO, February 8, 2019 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is pleased to announce that St. Jerome’s University professor Steven Bednarski is the recipient of the 2018 Lorimer Award. This honour recognizes individuals who have worked to protect and promote the interests of Ontario’s academic staff through collective bargaining.

“Steven fought tirelessly to improve the working conditions of faculty at St. Jerome’s University,” said Gyllian Phillips, President of OCUFA. “The gains made under Steven’s leadership have been inspirational and have greatly benefited both full-time and contract academic staff at St. Jerome’s.”

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.

Over the past ten years, Steven has played a pivotal role as a negotiator or chief negotiator in four rounds of bargaining. With a remarkable sense of solidarity, Steven has fostered a sense of community, both on the team and within the broader association membership. His capacity for research, sharp intellect, meticulous record keeping, and generosity is well known among his colleagues at St. Jerome’s and across. 

“OCUFA is extremely proud to recognize the exceptional individuals whose commitment to the bargaining process is improving the working conditions of professors and academic librarians,” said Phillips. “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 contributions and leadership of those who work tirelessly to ensure faculty have the protections and resources they need to thrive.”

Steven Bednarski will receive his award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on February 9, 2019.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 29 faculty associations across Ontario.

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To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact:
Ben Lewis, OCUFA Communications Lead
416-306-6033 | blewis@ocufa.on.ca 

OCUFA report reveals systemic discrimination and harassment in use of university student questionnaires

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TORONTO, February 6, 2019 – A new report published by a working group of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations exposes substantial issues with student questionnaires on courses and teaching (SQCTs), including endemic bias and systemic discrimination. These end-of-term student questionnaires are common practice at universities across Canada.

The report finds that student questionnaire scores fail to accurately reflect teaching quality and that their results are not suitable for determining faculty pay, promotion, tenure, or contract renewal. Student questionnaire results are skewed by many factors outside an instructor’s control, including class size, time, subject, and the professor’s race, gender, or accent. Additionally, the report finds that current SQCT practices facilitate the harassment of faculty, compromise educational quality, and are not an appropriate metric for determining university funding levels.

“Faculty understand that student feedback is vital for improving teaching and course development,” said Gyllian Phillips, President of OCUFA. “But, as this report clearly demonstrates, using student questionnaires to evaluate faculty performance is counterproductive and harmful, and it raises serious equity questions. The goal of student questionnaires should be to inform a better understanding of the teaching and learning experience, not to penalize faculty for their class size, instructional innovations, gender, or skin colour.”

The report is one of the most exhaustive of its kind in Canada and examines the methodological, research ethics, and human rights implications of student questionnaires. It finds that:

  • Women, racialized, and LGBTQ2S+ faculty, as well as faculty with disabilities, receive lower scores than their white male colleagues. Using SQCTs to determine pay and promotion risks marginalizing these equity seeking groups even further, impacting their career prospects and limiting academic diversity.
  • It is impossible to adjust SQCT scores to account for their bias.
  • Anonymous SQCT comments are regularly used to target faculty members with abusive, harassing, and harmful comments.
  • Students are not adequately informed about how SQCTs are used, or how their information can be shared.
  • Using SQCT scores to evaluate teaching discourages innovation and undermines student learning.

“Given the serious problems with student questionnaires detailed in this report, it is evident that universities must stop using these questionnaires to make decisions about promotion, tenure, or the reappointment of contract faculty,” said Phillips. “Instead, our universities should invest in more effective and accurate, qualitative methods for evaluating teaching, particularly peer evaluation. The government should abandon any idea of using these flawed metrics to determine university funding levels – research has clearly shown that SQCT metrics not only don’t work, they perpetuate inequity.”

The report proposes several recommendations for refocusing student questionnaires so they can be used to improve student learning and education quality. First and foremost, the report recommends limiting the use of student questionnaires to formative purposes to provide instructors with student feedback on how to improve their teaching and course development. The report also recommends using peer evaluation, where trained faculty members audit classes and evaluate instructors.

Putting these principles into practice will require resources and the willingness of both the provincial government and university administrations to support faculty and students and invest in the effective evaluation of teaching as a vital component of the academic mission.

OCUFA thanks the members of the working group for their hard work in putting together this comprehensive report. The full report can be downloaded here: https://ocufa.on.ca/assets/OCUFA-SQCT-Report.pdf

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 29 faculty associations across Ontario.

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To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact:
Ben Lewis, OCUFA Communications Lead at 416-306-6033 or blewis@ocufa.on.ca
Michael Conlon, OCUFA Executive Director at 416-306-6030 or mconlon@ocufa.on.ca