Over the past month, I have been involved with the following issues:
The TRUFA Communications team—Jack Massalski, Martha Solomon, Star Mahara and I—have been planning for the next FPSE Open the Doors Day of Action on March 21st. This outreach will focus on the impact on TRU of the nearly 20% (after inflation) cuts to Ministry of Advanced Education funding of the post-secondary system:
Provincially, FPSE has been doing polling and information calling to target provincial constituencies—including Kamloops—and focusing on the need for post-secondary education to be a vote-determining issue for the May 9th provincial election.
In addition, the committee has undertaken a revamp of the trufa.ca website, which is ongoing.
As reported to the membership after bargaining concluded last year, TRUFA was unable to have TRU administration address the chronic salary anomalies that affect long-time TRU faculty who had achieved Full Professor status before 2006, and some faculty who were promoted in the immediate aftermath of us achieving university status. In the meantime, many new faculty had been placed at the top of salary steps, creating a disturbing situation in which some Associate Professors are earning more than Full Professors.
On March 2nd, Lloyd Bennett and I met with 9 of the affected members and discussed some options for addressing this situation. One task that TRUFA has undertaken is to do a six-year analysis of initial salary placement levels (2010-2016) to determine the extent of the problem. This analysis, additionally, may reveal the possibility of gender-based discrepancies in initial salary placements.
The February 21st resignation of Dean Gaisford led to many questions from Faculty of Arts Chairs about budget. The Provost again re-iterated her claim that administration is being transparent about budgets and that academic units were not being asked to make cuts for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. However, despite repeated requests for detailed budget information over the past five years, the VP Finance has not complied. TRUFA will, once again, raise this issue at the next Consultative Committee meeting on March 22nd.
The Provost has appointed Sandra Vermeulen to serve as the Interim Dean of Arts until approximately April or July 2018 before a new Dean is selected. TRUFA had proposed an LOU on the appointment of interim Deans and Associate Deans at bargaining, a proposal that was rejected by the admin negotiating team. Now, the Provost is interested in resurrecting this proposal. That’s good news, since having an interim Dean appointed without any faculty input for as long as 18 months is not appropriate. That issue, too, will be discussed on March 22nd.
On March 3rd and 4th, TRUFA VP Star Mahara and I attended a conference focused on university governance issues, organized by our colleagues at CUFA-BC, which represents faculty at the five BC research universities. Star and I will prepare a more formal report for the Executive and the membership over the next week, but I wanted to provide you with some highlights.
Here are the topics discussed:
Both Star and I felt that this was an extremely worthwhile conference, particularly since we heard from a broad range of both faculty and administrators from across Canada. Some key messages we hear included the conflict between the “corporate university” and the university as a “community of scholars”; the role of faculty associations in relation to collegial governance, and the ‘false dichotomy’ of unionization (seen by some as fostering an adversarial relationship between faculty and administration) and collegiality (necessary for constructive shared governance).
At the next TRUFA / TRU Consultative Committee meeting on March 22nd, TRUFA will be raising the following issues:
“Sustainable Parking Framework”
On February 28th, VP Finance and Administration, Matt Milovick, announced what he called “the most significant change to the parking allotment and rate structure since 2013.” He added, “we are committed to ensuring clear and frequent communications throughout the process.” TRUFA was never consulted on this plan, and the announcement came as a complete surprise to most TRU faculty. One long-time faculty member of the TRU Parking Committee resigned in the face of a failure to consider faculty perspectives when it came to developing parking policies. TRUFA will be raising this issue with TRU senior administrators and attempting to find a way that faculty needs can be appropriately addressed. Many faculty have already expressed their views and their concerns, but TRUFA would like to hear from as many of you as possible so that we can bring your perspective to administration on this issue.
As I indicated in my March 14th e-mail to all TRU faculty, the plan, which was not made available widely, has been of great concern to department Chairs, individual faculty members (including Canada Research Chairs and Librarians), Student Union staff and some academic administrators. Along with many of you, I have not seen any of the plans, but those who have responded with letters and e-mails to President Shaver and other senior TRU administrators. Fortunately, President Shaver has decided to suspend the proposed plans for the House of Learning until such time as suitable consultation has been completed.
TRU Librarians have pointed out that this proposal would reverse more than ten years of planning for the TRU Library, and imperil the ability of the Library to meet the educational and research needs of both students and faculty. I know that the Chairs of the three departments whose faculty would have to vacate their offices if this plan is adopted—Mathematics & Statistics, Computing Science and Tourism—are working on their responses. And two Canadian Research Chairs, both of whom were appointed to meet one of TRU’s five academic foundations — Aboriginal, local and global cultural awareness — have expressed their fears about the impact this plan may have on their ability to fulfill their mandates. Thank you to all who have contacted TRUFA and publicized your reactions. TRUFA will, of course, be working with senior administration to ensure far-reaching consultation.
Submitted in solidarity,
Tom Friedman, TRUFA President