TRUFA President’s Report to the Membership
Here are some of the key issues on which I have been working over the last few weeks:
Fair Funding for TRU Campaign
One of the important goals identified by the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators’ Open the Doors campaign leading up to the May 2017 provincial election was encouraging whichever party assumed government to conduct a review and revision of the post-secondary institutions’ funding formula. Those faculty who were at UCC in 2004/2005 will remember that our former administrators told government “give us the name ‘University’ and we will not ask for additional funding.” The result has been 12 years of per-student funding that has not met our institution’s expanded mandate, including research and graduate studies. In addition, as a ‘regional’ university, TRU has not been able to fulfill our legislative mandate under the TRU Act to serve the educational needs of the entire region. Underfunding has left TRU unable to provide our Williams Lake campus with sufficient resources, and ‘storefront’ delivery of Adult Basic Education (ABE) and other foundational courses in smaller centres—Lillooet, Lytton, Barriere, Clearwater—has been reduced. On the Kamloops campus, underfunding has meant a gradual increase in class size—particularly troubling since national student surveys over the last few years have identified “small class sizes” and “opportunities to interact with professors” as the number one reason students choose TRU. Aside from larger class sizes, the current funding formula has resulted in fewer course offerings, pressure on student support services, and fewer permanent faculty.
In order to convince government that a revised funding formula is needed, TRUFA has undertaken the following initiatives:
- Gathering petitions from students, staff, faculty and community members, which will be presented to our two Kamloops MLAs. Thanks to the TRUFA Communications Committee which has staffed booths at the Labour Day Picnic, the TRU Welcome Back barbeque, and TRUSU Clubs Day;
- Presenting later this month to the Standing Legislative Committee on Finance and Government Services, an all-party committee that makes recommendations for the 2018-2019 provincial budget to be tabled in February;
- Along with other FPSE locals, lobbying the new Minister of Advanced Education, Melanie Mark, during the fall.
While the new provincial government is facing unprecedented demands for the funding of new programs, I know that post-secondary education has been identified as a priority in its role of promoting strong economic opportunities and in reducing social and financial inequalities. TRUFA will work alongside the TRU Student Union and their “Fund the Future” campaign and TRU administration in convincing the government that increased investment in TRU is good public policy.
On Wednesday, October 4th from 11 am to 1 pm, the TRUFA Communications Committee will have a “Fair Funding for TRU” booth on Student Street in Old Main, soliciting signatures on petitions. If you are able to help staff the booth, please let Marian Griffin know (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thank you.
TRU / TRUFA Consultative Committee
The TRUFA Table Officers meet with senior TRU administrators monthly to discuss issues of mutual concern. At the most recent meeting on Wednesday, September 20th, TRUFA put forward the following:
- Promoting an agreed-upon procedure for ensuring faculty input into interim Associate Dean and Dean appointments;
- Incorporating changes to maternity benefits in the Employment Insurance program into our Collective Agreement;
- Finalizing the department Chair and Coordinator release algorithm;
- Populating the “Workload Best Practices” joint committee mandated by the Collective Agreement. This committee will examine the following:
- Explore how various departments match teaching and disciplinary expertise to their workload needs;
- Explore tools and planning resources used to develop and document workload; and
- Examine and determine the effective accommodation of sabbaticals, leaves and agreed upon weighting factor.
- Raising concerns expressed by faculty about the new parking regime, including the challenge for those faculty whose work requires them to leave the campus and return during their work day, and those who come to campus on a part-time basis.
Welcoming and Orienting New Faculty
The TRUFA Executive has approved a bigger role for TRUFA in orienting new faculty to TRU. TRUFA has always presented at new employee sessions organized by TRU Human Resources, and this year, at a new faculty session organized by the Centre for Learning and Teaching; however, the Executive felt that TRUFA should be doing more to educate new faculty about their rights and about the role that the Faculty Association plays in the life of the University. I have asked for the names of new faculty—all those hired within the past couple of years—so that we can invite them to a welcoming event in October. If you are a new faculty member or you know of new faculty members in your department, please contact me at email@example.com.
Over the next few months, I will be representing TRUFA in the following meetings/conferences:
- FPSE Presidents’ Council—bimonthly meetings of the 19 faculty associations representing 10,000 faculty at BC colleges, special purpose teaching universities, and TRU;
- CAUT Western Regional Meeting—an opportunity to share information and strategy with faculty associations representing all universities in Western Canada;
- BC Federation of Labour’s “Union Renewal” Conference, focusing on how unions can promote diversity and inclusion, and can meet new challenges in the workplace;
- FPSE Governance Conference—an opportunity to strategize around promoting faculty activism on university governance bodies, and planning to lobby government on potential legislative changes to ensure a strong faculty role in academic decision-making;
- CAUT Council—a bi-annual meeting of all faculty association representatives from across Canada, representing some 65,000 university and college faculty members.
If you have any questions about any of the above, please contact me.
Tom Friedman, TRUFA President