Hello everyone! To everyone new to OCAD University: welcome. And to everyone returning: welcome back.
A lot has been happening over the summer, starting with Christine Bovis-Cnossen leaving for Thompson Rivers University (in the interior of British Columbia) and the announcement from Gayle Nicoll that she won’t seek renewal as Dean of Design, and we’ll need to consider the implications of those changes. Also, we’ll be going back into bargaining this year, and we’ll be circulating info shortly about meetings for each labour category. So, I’ll be sending out a few updates over the next week or so. But for today, I’ve got three items:
Professional Development Opportunity Fund discontinued
Yesterday, the Employer announced the discontinuation of the Professional Development Opportunity Fund. What does this mean? Historical, two funding sources have been available to Tenure-Track, Tenured and Continuing Faculty as well as Technicians and Academic Counsellors to defray costs of research and creative production. One is the Professional Development Fund, which is funding guaranteed through the MoA. This funding currently is $1,000 per year for TT, Tenured and Continuing Faculty, and $350 per year for permanent Technicians and Academic Counsellors. This funding remains in place.
Confusingly, a second funding source—the Professional Development Opportunity Fund—covers the same kinds of expenses but is competitive and not guaranteed by the MoA. Last year, I think the maximum people were getting from this fund was about $500, and this is the funding that’s been discontinued.
While not surprising, this development disappointing, since the Employer takes every opportunity to trumpet its research support. (And when this money disappears shortly after Sara Diamond gets a $58,000 per year boost in her post-presidential remuneration, it just emphasizes questions about the Employer’s priorities.) Ultimately, we want to see the PD Funds in the MoA continue to go up, but in the meantime I encourage you to urge the Senators in your area to raise this matter at Senate, and to support them at Senate when they do.
Teaching Intensive Faculty
As many of you know, late last year we referred a grievance to arbitration regarding what we believe to be unfair contracts for many TIS faculty. Initially, this arbitration was scheduled for January 2016. However, we’ve been able to take advantage of some cancellations to get this moved up to September 11, 2015. Of course, there’s no way to know what will happen at that time, and it may still be 2016 before we get this resolved. But the fact that the Employer is willing to talk is a positive development.
It being the start of fall semester, it’s time for my annual reminder to sessional instructions regarding the notorious Article 16.1.6 of the MoA. In short, you should contact us if all of the following three conditions apply to you: (1) you’ve taught five or more half-credit courses; (2) a course that you taught as a sessional the last time it was offered is now being taught by another sessional; and (3) you weren’t interviewed for the opportunity. (It doesn’t matter if you’re not currently at OCAD.) Just to be clear: they don’t have to hire you, but they do have to short-list you.
Also: remember that, as a sessional, you are contracted only for teaching and teaching-related duties (which means course prep, grading, that sort of thing). Often, however, sessionals find themselves drawn into committee work and other service duties. It’s understandable how this happens: sessionals are valuable, experienced contributors to our community. However, if you’re on a committee as a sessional, everyone is getting paid to be there, except you.
In general, the way to deal with this is to refuse to participate. However, there may well be times when you want to participate: it’s an interesting committee, you have directly relevant expertise, and so on. In that case, talk to us about trying to work out something that gives the school the benefits of your insights while being fair to you. It’s early days yet with this sort of thing, but we have had some luck in this regard recently so it’s at least worth a chat.
That’s it for now. I’ll be back soon with news about the lead-in to negotiations and other things we’ve been working on over the summer. In the meantime, thanks to all of you who dropped by our table during orientation, have a great week and a terrific start to the semester, and please get in touch if we can help.
PS – In case you missed it, here’s McSweeney’s “First Faculty Meeting of the Year Bingo Card.” I’m sure it’s good for the second faculty meeting as well. Or any faculty meeting, really.