Thursday, September 3, 2020
Dear academic staff members,
I am pleased to be sending you the third update in the Provost’s Academic Staff Update series, designed to help keep you informed about initiatives, processes, resources and events at the University that impact and relate to your working life in the academy. Previous updates can be found here.
Interest Arbitration Award: 1.7% across-the-board increase
As most of you are aware, the University and the Faculty Association received an interest arbitration decision awarding an across-the-board increase of 1.7%, retroactive to July 1, 2019. In his decision, the arbitrator recognized the University of Calgary’s recent growth in stature among other U15 institutions.
We are working hard to implement the increase as soon as possible. Given the complexity of processing pay retroactively, this will take some time, and we want to ensure accuracy. We expect all eligible academic staff members will receive their retro pay on the first pay period in October 2020. Updated Schedules A and B of the Collective Agreement will be posted on our website here. If you have any questions about this at all, please contact your HR Academic Advisor or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reminder: Technology requirements for students
Earlier in August I sent an email about technology requirements for students so they can engage successfully in the learning experiences you are planning for the upcoming year. If you have not done so already, I encourage you to review that email. Student technology requirements are also posted online. Please note that each of these technologies may not be required for every course, and/or may be used in different ways. As course instructors, you may decide on the combination of these technologies that helps you deliver your courses most effectively. Please be sure to include the full technology list – or a subset, as appropriate – in your course outline so students can clearly understand the requirements for your course.
As previously noted, IT has bulk-purchased equipment such as webcams and headsets that can now be acquired using the PER (Professional Expense Reimbursement) program. Contact IT at email@example.com for details.
I am attaching the classroom protocols for those of you teaching face to face this term. We ask for your attention to the protocols in ensuring a healthy environment for all. I have also attached two slides that highlight safety guidelines for students that can be used during your first class.
We have received several questions about plans for Winter Term. A decision on plans for the winter term will be made by September 18th. Announcements will be made shortly thereafter.
Thank you! (and a request)
We are grateful for all the work that you are doing to ensure a positive student and staff experience in the upcoming term. I know the past few months has been an exceptionally busy time for everyone – and I acknowledge, recognize, and value the work you have done. I have had a chance to meet new incoming academic staff, support staff, and graduate students. Next week we will welcome our new undergraduate students. In spite of all the difficulties of the last few months – there is still a sense of excitement around the start of a new academic term. I hope all of you share that excitement!
Finally – we have an individual responsibility to take care of ourselves, and a collective responsibility to take care of each other. Please follow the health guidelines that have been set by our experts – and collectively we will get through this!
Have a terrific term – stay safe and healthy!
June 30, 2020
Dear academic staff members,
As you may recall, earlier this month I sent you the first email in our new series of updates designed to help keep you informed about initiatives, processes, resources and events at the University that impact and relate to your working life in the academy.
Given Covid-19’s continued impact on University operations and the necessary decision that a majority of Fall 2020 courses will be delivered remotely, I recognize that the Fall 2020 term is more than business as usual. We are so appreciative of all the work that has been done in the Faculties and Departments to date. Understandably, many of you have questions and concerns about how the Fall term will proceed, and how your work may be impacted. I am writing today to answer some of these questions and address concerns, and to inform you of a Memorandum of Agreement reached between the Governors of the University of Calgary and the Faculty Association that relates to some of these issues.
Academic Freedom and Intellectual Property
Some of you may be wondering whether the remote delivery of courses will impact academic freedom and intellectual property.
I want to assure you that the principles of academic freedom remain as a key cornerstone at the University of Calgary. I refer you to the definition of Academic Freedom set out at Article 6 of the Collective Agreement. We have no intention of limiting the scope of these principles. Indeed, we appreciate and recognize that the principles of academic freedom are part of what enable you to continue to expand and develop your teaching and scholarly work, thereby contributing to the University’s commitment to providing rich, world-class learning experiences and research and scholarship.
In addition, the University’s Intellectual Property Policy has not changed and is in effect. This Policy is available on our website here, and it will continue to apply to all teaching materials developed and used for remote delivery of Fall 2020 courses.
Our agreement with the Faculty Association restates our commitment to the principles of academic freedom and confirms that the Intellectual Property Policy continues to apply as noted above.
As was the case for the Winter 2020 term, student feedback through the Universal Student Ratings of Instruction will be collected for Spring/Summer and Fall courses; however, we will only release this feedback to course instructors. Feedback will not be released to department heads, associate deans or deans unless you, as the course instructor, provide prior approval. This is included in our agreement with the Faculty Association.
I also want to take this opportunity to let you know that some interim changes to the current USRI questionnaire and reports, recommended by the USRI Working Group and approved by GFC, will be announced early this upcoming Summer term. These changes are the result of the early work of the USRI Working Group – and based on improvements identified through the external environment.
Supports for Remote Course Delivery
We are continuing to offer support to assist in the transition of courses to remote delivery. The Taylor Institute will continue to provide significantly expanded course offerings related to remote delivery of courses. As I have noted previously, we have been pleased to see a record number of you have been engaging in these courses, and we hope you will continue to do so.
We’ve also hired Learning and Technology Coaches to support you. We anticipate that there will be an additional provision of support (up to $1.2 million dollars) for the fall term. These dollars will be available to aid with coaching, graduate student support, and for assessment. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.
Access to Facilities and Equipment
We want to ensure we facilitate your ability to deliver remote courses effectively. If you require access to facilities to film lectures or if you require certain equipment, please work with your Department Head or Dean to determine what arrangements may be made. We will review your individual circumstances, including those with barriers to accessing campus, and evaluate your needs to ensure appropriate accommodation. Please note that access to facilities will be subject to Re-Entry Protocols and Lab and Office Workspace Safety Plans.
If you become ill with Covid-19 and are unable to work, you should advise your Department Head or Dean, who will work to make arrangements to accommodate your absence. You will continue to have access to your Sick Time benefits as provided for in the Collective Agreement. We have also agreed with the Faculty Association that all Sessional staff with appointments for the Fall 2020 term who become ill with Covid-19 after the beginning of the Fall 2020 term will continue to receive full salary and benefits for the duration of their illness or until the expiry of the Fall 2020 term, whichever occurs first.
As you know, some academic staff will be returning to campus to provide in-person instruction for Fall 2020. We understand that some of you, particularly those that are immune-compromised or living with people who are immune-compromised, will have concerns about returning. If you have these concerns, please advise your Department Head or Dean so that we can work to assess the best approach to accommodate these issues.
We recognize that many issues associated with the pandemic will continue to pose challenges to your ability to work. If you require accommodation for childcare or eldercare obligations, please advise your Department Head or Dean. We want to be flexible and ensure we make reasonable and appropriate arrangements to accommodate your needs in this regard. You will also continue to have access to the applicable leaves provided for in the Collective Agreement.
I also know that many of you will be worried about future personal assessments during this very odd time. As you know, we very early on worked with the Faculty Association to make quick decisions on issues like extending the tenure clock and making allowances for people on leave or about to take a leave. We have spoken with the Faculty Association briefly about assessments on a few occasions – but before we make decisions, we would like to have some idea of how long the current health crisis may last. So – we think a conversation about merit, for example, is premature at this time. I want to assure all of you though, that working with the Faculty Association we will develop a process that takes into account what we have all been through over the past few months – and what we will go through into the Fall term, to ensure that people are treated fairly in the next assessment round.
I again want to thank you for all that you are doing during this difficult time. It has been remarkable to see what has been accomplished as a collective, despite all of the issues all of us are going through. I am amazed – and tired! – on a day to day basis. I could not imagine though going through this with a better group of people – thank you!
Monday, June 8, 2020
Dear academic staff members,
I am pleased to be sending you the first in a periodic series of updates designed in the spirit of engagement and transparency to help keep you informed about initiatives, processes, resources, and events at the University that impact and relate to your working life in the academy. The Provost’s Academic Staff Update will be sent throughout the academic year and posted on our website here.
Town Hall Highlights
Thank you to those who attended the recent Town Hall for academic staff, where we discussed actions taken and plans to address and respond to the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on University operations, academic staff, and course delivery. For those of you who were not able to attend, I’ve provided some highlights below.
Very soon after the move to remote course delivery in the Winter term, we worked in collaboration with the Faculty Association of the University of Calgary to negotiate an agreement providing for an automatic one-year deferral of the tenure and promotion application process for academic staff holding tenure track appointments (academic staff are not required to take the deferral if they wish to apply in the normal course).
Our agreement also provided for early access to the 2020/2021 Professional Expense Reimbursement entitlement and deferral options for those academic staff members who were on a Research and Scholarship Leave (RSL) or who had planned on an RSL starting in July. We will be meeting with the Faculty Association again in the fall to discuss further adjustments that may be required to support academic staff as the pandemic continues.
We know that many of you may be wondering about merit assessment given the pandemic’s impact on your teaching and research. We understand that each of you will have faced your own unique challenges as it relates to your ability to perform work over the assessment period, and we intend to ensure that everyone is treated fairly. We plan on considering this matter further with the Faculty Association, once we have a more complete picture of the impacts.
To support your move to remote course delivery, we provided approximately $300,000 in additional funding for Graduate Assistants in the Winter term, and close to $1,000,000 for the Spring/Summer terms. We are working on and will be providing funding for additional Graduate Assistant support for the Fall term as well.
The Taylor Institute has significantly expanded its course offerings to provide training and support for academic staff transitioning to remote course delivery. We have been pleased to see a record number of you have been engaging and participating in these courses. In addition, we hired 10 Learning Technology Coaches to support academic staff in their move to remote course delivery for the Spring/Summer and Fall terms. More information about the services these Coaches provide can be found here.
Tenure and Promotion Update – Evaluation Criteria and Faculty Guidelines
As many of you are aware, the Tenure, Promotion, and Renewal declaration period is open until June 15, 2020, and applications are due September 1, 2020. The General Faculties Council (GFC) holds the authority to establish the evaluation criteria and set the academic standards for tenure, promotion and renewal, and can delegate the creation of Faculty Guidelines to Faculty Councils to ensure the distinctive aspects of various disciplines are addressed in the application of the criteria. As such, evaluation criteria are outlined in the GFC Academic Staff Criteria and Processes Handbook (the GFC Handbook) and the Faculty Guidelines applicable to your faculty or department.
It is important to be aware that existing Faculty Guidelines are currently undergoing revision, though no substantive changes to the criteria are being made at this time. The existing Faculty Guidelines refer to prior collective agreements and the APT and GPC Manuals which are no longer in force. Most of these provisions are now located in the GFC Handbook. In addition, existing Faculty Guidelines reference tenure, promotion, and assessment processes and committees which have since been amended and codified in the current Collective Agreement.
As such, I have requested through the Deans that Faculty Councils update their Faculty Guidelines to ensure their references are up to date and in line with the current Collective Agreement and GFC Handbook; these documents take precedence. As soon as the Faculty Guideline revisions are complete, the updated versions will be posted to replace the existing documents posted here. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact your HR Academic Advisor.
Moving forward, and subject to GFC approval, it is expected that a new GFC Handbook will be in place for the next tenure and promotion cycle. A working group co-chaired by the Deputy Provost and Faculty Association representative Francine Smith and including academic staff and representatives of the Faculty Association, is working on recommendations for revisions to the GFC Handbook. The recommendations are expected to be submitted to GFC for approval in the coming academic year. Once approved, Faculty Councils will proceed to revise Faculty Guidelines based on the revised criteria in the GFC Handbook.
Collective Bargaining Update
The current Collective Agreement between the Faculty Association and the Governors of the University of Calgary expires on June 30, 2020; however, we have agreed with the Faculty Association to postpone bargaining until September 2020. As such, the terms of the current Collective Agreement will continue to apply until a new Agreement has been ratified by both parties.
The crisis management team continues to work through a number of re-entry and safety plans for our campus. We anticipate that these will be finalized within the next two weeks. These plans will then be shared broadly with the members of SLT and the campus community. Plans will then be developed for each unit, and then people will gradually return to campus. This will be done in conjunction with city, provincial and federal health guidelines and directives. We understand that some of you, particularly those that are immune-compromised or living with people who are immune-compromised, may not want to return to campus in the immediate future, and we understand. Please work with your Department Heads and Deans on any accommodations that may be required.
With regards to the Fall Term, all teaching plans were submitted by the Deans as requested by May 31st. A small team in the registrar’s office is now checking those plans to ensure that we have not inadvertently created “hot spots” in different areas of the campus where it will be difficult to maintain public health guidelines, in particular social distancing in hallways as students and staff enter and exit classrooms. A small team from the Provost’s Office will then be reviewing this material early next week, and the schedule will then be finalized and announced. For further information on COVID-19 related material, please refer to our website here.
Thank you for all that you are doing during this difficult time. I recognize that it has not been easy – that many of you are care-givers for both young and old, and that the lines between work and life have blurred considerably. I also realize the toll that this has taken on collective and individual mental health. We appreciate all that you are doing – and hopefully look forward to seeing you sometime in the near future.