March 17, 2020
Message from the Association President
I am impressed with all of the creative and sensible ways in which you are determining how to complete the term. Clearly we are more technically competent than we might have thought. And our dedication to our students was never in doubt.
I have received a number of questions related to the COVID-19 situation. I have answered some of you individually, but I wanted to write to all of you on a few subjects of general importance. This is a long email, but it addresses a number of important issues related to the current crisis, and short-term changes to policy arising from it.
Planning for Moving Courses Away from Face-to-face Delivery
As Jamie’s Friday email indicated, you will need to send your plans as to how you will complete your courses to your students and your Chair/Director by Thursday, March 19. However, you do not need to request approval for your plans from your Chair, although they can of course provide advice and suggestions. Also, the re-scheduling of exams is an ongoing process, and exact exam dates do not have to be finalized by Thursday. Contact Susan Lewis, AVP Academic Planning, if you have questions on this matter.
The Faculty Association proposed to the Administration that they delay the deadline for Unit Standards, so units would not feel the need to hold meetings to discuss and ratify the Standards in the current climate, and so that they would be able to make these important decisions in a less stressful context. I am pleased to let you know that the Administration has agreed to a new deadline of October 19, 2020 for completing Unit Standards (assuming that the situation improves by or before that date).
Since the completion of Unit Standards can now be put on hold until the situation improves, there should be much less need for department meetings at this time. I very much encourage units who have other urgent reasons to meet before the end of term to consider holding virtual meetings. If in-person meetings are still being held, you should be aware that the University has indicated that you are not required to attend any meetings—committee meetings, department meetings, or hiring meetings—in person. If in-person meetings do go ahead, faculty members and librarians have the option to join in by phone, Skype or other virtual means. If you choose not to attend in person, I hope you will be able to attend virtually so that your unit can complete any important end-of-term business that cannot wait. If your Dean or Chair is not aware of this university-sanctioned emergency response practice, please refer them to Faculty Relations, or if you prefer, you can contact the FA directly.
While this issue is particularly crucial for those with underlying health issues, or who have contact with family members who face such issues, attending meetings remotely is a university-sanctioned option available to all FA members. The Association is not telling Members what to do, but is simply reminding you that, given the University’s COVID-19 protocols of social distancing, you have the right to decide for yourselves on these matters.
As part of the agreement with the Administration to move the deadline for Unit Standards to October, the Association and the Administration have agreed that Group B (Faculties of Humanities, Science, Medical Science, Business, Law, Education) will not move to the new salary evaluation system (as Unit Standards will not be complete) in the Spring of 2020. Their salary evaluation will instead be the same as the one laid out in the Collective Agreement for Group A (HSD, Social Science, Libraries, Fine Arts, Engineering) for Spring 2020. This means that, rather than going through the salary evaluation process this spring—which is not possible in the current environment—Association Members in all faculties (both Group A and Group B) who received CPI in the last salary round will receive CPI at the higher level mandated in the new CA (minimum of $2800, depending on rank and years in rank; see Appendix S (p.191) in new Collective Agreement). Recently hired faculty members will also receive CPI. As was already agreed for Group A, those in Group B Faculties who received 2.5 MIs or more in the previous salary evaluation round will receive a PPI of $1000 in July of 2020 (CA 50.20).
Salary evaluations for Group B, that could not be done in Spring 2020, will be done no later than December 15, 2020. These salary evaluations will reflect work done in the four years up to December 31, 2019, and will use the salary evaluation policy in the Unit Standards to assess eligibility for CPI and PPI for July 1, 2021. For Group B, there will then be a new round of salary evaluation in Spring 2022, based on the work done in the four years up to December 2021. As previously agreed, Group A will go up for salary evaluation under the Unit Standards in Spring 2021.
Since the University is aware that the recent move from face-to-face course delivery could impact both CES response rates and the nature of students’ responses on the CES, the University administration and the Faculty Association have agreed to the following adjustments relating to the use of Course Experience Surveys for the Winter 2020 term:
- The Winter 2020 Course Experience Survey results will not be sent to Chairs/Directors/Deans;
- Faculty may continue to access their Winter 2020 results online through Blue and may, if they wish to do so, include the results in their submissions for faculty evaluation processes; otherwise the CES results for the Winter2020 term will not be considered in evaluative processes under the CA.
I realize that this is a lot of material to digest. There are also a number of other issues related to the COVID-19 changes. Your Chair or Director was briefed on many of these yesterday at a virtual meeting with the Emergency Response Group and the Association, so if you have questions, I encourage you to ask them for guidance.
And of course, you can always consult with the Association. If you are seeking the assistance of our staff and volunteers, I would just like to remind you to contact them by email to set up a meeting by phone, Skype or other virtual means, rather than an in-person meeting. Our staff have been given the option of working from home at this time if they so choose.
I hope you can keep yourself, your loved ones and our community calm and safe in these difficult times. Thanks for all that you do.
Wishing you all the best,
President, University of Victoria Faculty Association