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.