As I mentioned in my previous note, we’re into performance review season, and people have had some follow-up questions about that. So I want to address those queries, and discuss a few other current issues about Senate governance, union affiliation and disability accommodations.
Warning: there’s quite a bit of MoA-speak in what follows (especially around performance reviews). So you may want to pour yourself a glass of wine before proceeding-or take this note to bed for nighttime reading if you’ve got a touch of insomnia. Anyway, item the first:
1) Performance reviews: Must faculty participate in performance reviews? It’s tricky, but the MoA does provide for disciplinary action if you don’t submit a report. Article 188.8.131.52 lists submitting Annual Reports as a “Basic Expectation,” and Article 24.3.7 states that if the review committee finds someone does not meet basic expectations, “the Committee shall refer the matter to the Dean of Faculty for disciplinary action.” Certainly, OCADFA would take issue with a Member being disciplined for not submitting annual reports if they otherwise met or exceeded basic expectations. But the possibility is there, however remote.
A second question we’ve had is about signing the reviews. This issue isn’t part of the MoA. However, our understanding is that signing the review indicates that you have seen it, not that you agree with it. And, if you disagree with it, you can attach a letter to the review to that effect, and appeal. (Article 24.3.13) And of course if the appeal process does not satisfy you, you can bring it to our attention.
What if, however, you’re not opposed to submitting reports or signing reviews, but it doesn’t seem worthwhile? Our thought is that it’s useful to do, for two reasons. First, it’s a record of your contribution to the University. So, regardless of whether it seems worthwhile in the short term, it could come into play if you later apply for sabbatical or promotion of rank or some other change. Second, from OCADFA’s perspective, we’re interested in the gaps between what committees recommend and what merit increases people get. So, more people participating means more data for us, which could be useful down the road.
And that leads to my final point: the role of committees. Here, the MoA is clear: “The Performance Review Committee shall recommend career and merit progress increments based on each faculty member’s performance review…” (24.3.6) So, while a later article states that “the total number of steps awarded shall not exceed 1.2 times the number of faculty members eligible for career progress increments” (24.3.11), meeting that target is not the responsibility of the review committee. To the contrary, the review committee makes a recommendation regarding each person’s merit increase based on a review of his or her performance.
It seems that some administrators are suggesting the opposite, so I’ll repeat what I said previously: if you are on a performance review committee and your dean or associate dean says that you cannot award 2.0 or 1.5 merit increases, that is potentially a violation of the MoA, and we would like to know about it.
2) Senate Governance: Some of you have heard about a joint meeting between the Senate and the Board of Governors that occurred a few weeks ago, ostensibly to clarify the areas of responsibility of these bodies.
This clarification took the form of a presentation by a lawyer named Terrence Carter, who essentially summarized the contents of an opinion letter that he had been retained by the Board to write on this question. I won’t go into detail, but I will say that his basic argument was that the Senate has no power over anything.
However, in consultation with our lawyers, we have been thinking a great deal about the distribution of governance over the last few years. In that context, and based on their considerable expertise in the area of university governance, our lawyers strongly disagree with the Carters opinion. They feel that, in general, its conclusions are supported neither by the language of the OCAD University Act nor by the relevant case law. In fact, in important ways, the Carters opinion directly contradicts the Act’s description of the powers of Senate. I can’t say much more than that at present, but I want to emphasize that Carters’ attempt to limit radically Senate’s powers is far from the open-and-shut case that his presentation and report suggest, and we will be monitoring the situation closely to see that the Board does not use the Carters opinion as justification to overstep their jurisdiction.
3) Union affiliation: I’m pleased to say that this conversation is back on track. The committee met a few weeks ago to do a little more groundwork around process, ensuring that the conversation is inclusive, and so on, and we’ll be coming back to you with more information about that in the coming weeks. I think we’ve got a great group, with representatives from across the University, and ranging from sessionals and other contract instructors, to academic staff, to tenured greybeards like me. So it will include a diverse range of perspectives, which I think will be helpful in the coming discussion.
4) Disability Accommodation: In the context of increasing awareness of how health issues, both transient and chronic, can affect your ability to do your job, employers now have a legally-mandated responsibility to be responsive to those challenges. Some of you have, in the past, been frustrated by the Employer’s lack of responsiveness on this score. So I want you to know that some of our members recently have had successes in this area. Therefore, if you or someone you know has been stymied previously in an attempt to get an accommodation even with appropriate documentation, I urge you to try again. Contact Connie Reid in our office (Conniereid@ocadu.ca) or Cathy Cappon in Diversity and Equity (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let us see what we can do.
In closing: if you got this far, thanks for reading and please reward yourself appropriately. Thanks also for everything you do, each and every day, for the quality of education at our university.