TRUFA President’s Report to the Membership
I hope that all of you hard-working TRU faculty have had the opportunity for some quality time away from the challenges and stresses of work during this summer.
Since the tumultuous month of April, in which we held an historic non-confidence vote in senior administration and elected a new TRUFA Executive at our AGM, the following four months have been spent attempting to restore a level of constructive engagement with administration, and work on strategic priorities for the 2016-2017 academic year. In addition, during that period I met with, or spoke on the phone to, or engaged in an e-mail exchanges with faculty members seeking information or advice.
My figurative ‘door’—in fact, my email@example.com e-mail account—is always open for consultation, questions, concerns, even venting if required. I would like to invite—in particular—new faculty members to contact me with whatever concerns they might have, or if they would just like to learn more about TRUFA. You can book an appointment with me through TRUFA’s confidential administrative assistant, Marian Griffin, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250.374.3040.
A brief synopsis of activities:
- In May, TRU administration resumed monthly Labour Management consultative committee meetings with TRUFA after a hiatus of more than one year. They also committed to having the Provost attend, something that had not occurred in the previous few years. This committee, mandated under the BC Labour Code, is a forum for raising issues of mutual concern and seeking solutions before more formal processes, such as grievance. Despite some continuing resistance on the part of administration to address certain issues—in particular, those related to academic decision-making—the meetings have allowed for the resolving of some important issues and provides for important regular contact between TRUFA and senior administration.
- Also in May, ten TRUFA members attended the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC’s Annual General Meeting and Convention. See the FPSE AGM report in this month’s newsletter.
- In June, members of the TRUFA Executive held a two-day strategic planning retreat. Our FPSE staff representative, Weldon Cowan, presented an overview of the duties and responsibilities of TRUFA Directors. The specific roles and reporting duties of constituent representatives (those elected to represent each Faculty or School) and TRUFA reps to FPSE committees were outlined. The majority of the retreat time was spent on strategic planning, including communications both internal and external, campaigns (including FPSE’s Open the Doors, a joint funding of TRU campaign with TRUSU, and TRUFA initiatives around governance). The final session of the retreat focused on relations with external organizations, including FPSE, CUPE 4879 (TRU support staff), TRU Student Union, TRU Open Learning Faculty Association, CUFA-BC (which represents five BC universities), CAUT, the Canadian Labour Congress and the Kamloops & District Labour Council.
- In June, as well, I attended the FPSE President’s planning retreat. Much of the retreat focused on the Open the Doors campaign, whose aim is to make post-secondary education a key issue in the 2017 provincial election. TRUFA will be promoting the campaign through the TRU Back to School BBQ on September 9th, and other “Days of Action” in October. Presidents heard from former MLA Elizabeth Cull about how to influence public policy effectively. On that note, I will be appearing before the BC Legislature’s Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services on September 20th when they meet in Kamloops. Finally, given TRUFA’s motion regarding the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s Call to Action, I was asked to serve on an ad hoc FPSE sub-committee on Decolonization and Reconciliation, tasked with supporting educational initiatives around the TRC recommendations.
- In July, along with the Provost, I conducted a tenure and promotion workshop attended by about 60 faculty members.
- In August, after discussions started in 2009, TRUFA and TRU administration finally concluded negotiations on important revisions to Article 6, the tenure and promotion language in the Collective Agreement. See the accompanying article with highlights of these revisions.
- On August 30th, TRUFA VP Star Mahara and I met with the Executive Committee of the TRU Board of Governors, a long-awaited meeting originally committed to by Board chair Paul Dagg soon after the non-confidence vote in April. TRUFA presented a blueprint to Governors that would allow for faculty to move beyond the mistrust and low morale in senior administration that led to the non-confidence vote, and restore a constructive working relationship with administration. The key points of the blueprint are
- Strengthening the academic governance model at TRU so that faculty and academic administrators are full partners
- Re-asserting the primacy of governance bodies in all academic decision-making
- Acknowledging the importance of faculty expertise and perspectives through respectful engagement and meaningful consultation in all University academic matters
- Promoting accountability and transparency as guiding principles for professional interactions
Both Star and I also emphasized the importance of the University recognizing TRUFA as an important partner and stakeholder in the planning and operations of TRU. We told Governors that TRUFA’s mandate, beyond responsibility for negotiating and administering the Collective Agreement, is to represent the professional interests of all TRU faculty and work toward maintaining high quality education for our students.
Here are some highlights of what to expect in the near future:
- On September 5th, TRUFA will have a booth at the annual Kamloops & District Labour Council’s Labour Day picnic at McDonald Park on the North Shore. Any TRUFA members are welcome to help staff the booth. I would also invite those with children to take advantage of the kid-friendly and kid-entertaining events.
- On September 9th, TRUFA will have a booth at the annual TRU Back to School BBQ. Our booth will be highlighted by activities for students around the Open the Doors post-secondary education campaign.
- Later in September, regular bi-weekly meetings of the TRUFA Executive resume. If you have issues that you’d like your rep to raise at the Executive, please let them know. The list of TRUFA Executive members and their roles can be found in this month’s newsletter and at trufa.ca.
- In October, TRUFA will continue to promote the Open the Doors campaign with “Days of Action” encouraging faculty, students, administrators and support staff to sign the post-secondary education pledge. For further information about the Open the Doors Campaign please see the article in this month’s newsletter and visit http://www.openthedoors.ca/.
- On a date to be determined—probably in late October—TRUFA will hold a general faculty meeting. At the Executive retreat, members felt that holding at least one general faculty meeting each semester will allow for appropriate reporting and discussion of key issues.
Tom Friedman, TRUFA President