MAUT Newsletter | McGill Association of University Teachers | December 2021

 

Thoughts from the President

Dear MAUT members, although I have sent you many emails during the past months this is actually the first MAUT Newsletter since I started my term as President, and I am very grateful to our new VP-Communications Prof. Lena Simine from bravely jumping in, even though she has only been at McGill for two years and I'm sure has a million other things that she needs to do to advance her research and teaching. Thank you Lena! This just illustrates how much MAUT depends on volunteers. Yes sometimes it is hard and frustrating, but if you care about how the university runs, about your working conditions and helping your colleagues then it is also very rewarding. So, next time we run elections for Council or Executive, or if you asked to serve on an MAUT committee, please pitch in!

 

It has become a truism to say that the past two years have been tough, and that we have had to adapt our working practices in ways that we had not even considered before. The pandemic has created a great deal of fear and uncertainty, not just about our own health and that of our loved ones, but also in regard to not being quite sure what is coming next. Like all organizations, the university has had to move quickly to adapt and I, like many of us, appreciate the great efforts made by the administration, and particularly the members of the now disbanded Emergency Operations Committee (EOC) to maintain campus safety while continuing our educational and research mission. The MAUT Presidents have met regularly with the Provost and members of his team throughout the pandemic and have been able to use these opportunities to relay your concerns and suggestions. However, rapid change is usually not consistent with a collegial and considered governance process, and MAUT has made it very clear to the administration that as the situation becomes more stable we expect Senate to resume its essential role in considering all aspects of university governance that impact academic activities. The creation of the Ad Hoc Committee on COVID Academic Planning and Policies represents a good step in that direction, but we need to remain vigilant in protecting our shared governance model. And that goes back to my first point - shared governance can only work when we are all engaged in it, in whatever way we can, whether at departmental, faculty or university level. Once again, pitch in!

 

Andrew Kirk

MAUT President


 

 

The Administrative Overload Project

 

Three years ago we polled you, our members, to learn of your experience with 'Administrative Overload'; those are the tasks that you are required to do at McGill that take away from time that you could be spending on teaching, research or service. We heard from many of you with examples of day-to-day inefficiencies and frustrations. Since then, MAUT has been chipping away at this mountain of red tape on your behalf.

 

One major recent success has been the acceptance by the university of digital/scanned signatures and digital copies of receipts for expenses claims. We are meeting regularly with the Provost and members of the university finance and administration team to address more of these issues.

 

Current targets include reducing the restrictions on computer purchases at McGill and providing simpler access to the balance in your Professional Development Fund. On Friday, November 19, we were promised that, by February (if not sooner) that computer purchases from research funds would be exempt from the requirement of purchasing only through Le James. The university will now create a pilot project that explores ways to make it easier to find your professional development fund balance.

If you have other examples of red tape at McGill that are frustrating you, or badly designed or confusing processes, please reach out to us at maut@mcgill.ca.The more (painful) detail you can provide the better.

 

Andrew Kirk

MAUT President


 

 

Recent developments in the Faculty of Law

 

Recently MAUT was made aware that a majority of professors in the Faculty of Law had voted to form an association that would be seeking certification as a union. Members of the Association of the McGill Professors of Law (AMPL) approached MAUT requesting our agreement for them to seek CAUT and FQPPU resources to help them in this legal process (our agreement was necessary since CAUT and FQPPU currently see MAUT as the sole representative of academic staff at McGill). This request prompted a very heated debate within MAUT Council, culminating in a motion which was passed at a special meeting of Council on November 16th:

 

"MAUT is aware of the existence of the Association of McGill Professors of Law - Association McGillienne de professeur.e.s de droit (AMPL-AMPD), and that a petition for certification has been filed with the Administrative Labour Tribunal to represent McGill’s law professors.

 

While MAUT has not yet decided its position on the merits of AMPL-AMPD's attempt to seek certification, MAUT does not oppose AMPL-AMPD seeking assistance from the FQPPU or its member associations, CAUT or its member associations, or other organizations disposed to assist AMPL-AMPD, on the understanding that AMPL-AMPD will indemnify MAUT pro rata for support it receives from any organization to which MAUT pays dues."

 

MAUT supports the right of all faculty members at McGill to determine how they would like to be represented and will work with AMPL if they are successful in obtaining certification. This debate of course raises a number of very significant questions for MAUT cannot ignore. Over the coming weeks and months MAUT Council will focus on the implications of this move. If you would like to provide input please write to us at maut@mcgill.ca.

 

Andrew Kirk

MAUT President


 

 

 

 

 

MAUT Campus Lunch held October 28, 2021

 

After an 18-month absence from the university, MAUT held its first in-person social event on campus this past October offering a complimentary hotdog lunch. The late fall weather was perfect for reconnecting with one another and meeting new faculty staff. With warm smiles, high spirits and plenty of conversations, a sense of community engagement was ostensible.

 

The MAUT Membership Committee is looking forward to organizing more events in the New Year and we welcome you to participate. Stay tuned…

 

Jo-Anne Watier

Administrative Officer, MAUT


 

 

 

All I want for Xmas is… Daycare

 

I had my first child when I was an Assistant Professor and my second child when I was an Associate Professor. I had my children in a university where the daycare was at the end of the hall close to my laboratories. The ease of access made all the difference in my return to work. It was not only dayCARE for my child, but it was dayCARE that allowed me and my spouse to be productive and decreased our chances of absenteeism.

 

My Xmas wish is that McGill invests in the type of daycare that all its members deserve.

 

Where are we now? McGill’s current childcare access does not meet current childcare needs. We currently have 210 on-campus spaces (110 Downtown, 60 MacDonald, 40 SSMU Daycare). Even with the prospect of adding additional spaces through private daycare (+ 80-120), this is not enough to meet the demand. The waitlist at on-campus daycares exceeds 500 children!

 

How do we compare? In 2020 MAUT sponsored a study on daycare at McGill, and we now have the results. This effort was led by former Council member Lisa Munter (Go Lisa!). This study demonstrates clearly that McGill lags compared to 35 comparable institutions around the world. In fact, 60% of comparable institutions offer subsidized childcare to staff and faculty, whereas McGill does not. McGill has 21% fewer childcare spaces per total staff, student and faculty on average. As a specific example, McGill has 31% fewer childcare spaces per staff, student and faculty than the University of British Columbia.

 

The main conclusion from this study is that daycare implementation will reduce employee turnover and absenteeism and should be worth at least $2.3M to the University and its faculties.

 

Why do it? Of course, we should have great daycare because we care about offering a reasonable work life-balance to our community. But beyond this altruist desire, it makes economic sense to push for on-campus childcare since it is known to promote:

  1. A reduction in employee absenteeism, which would create millions in economic value for the University;
  2. A reduction in employee turnover that can generate millions in cost savings;
  3. Promotes significant economic benefits by improving diversity.

 

Let’s take a specific example related to absenteeism. The MAUT sponsored study demonstrates that in 2019 across several faculties to cost of absenteeism was roughly $179K$. The present value economic benefit of a 25% reduction in absenteeism would represent roughly 3M$ savings, 6M$ if the rate could be reduced to 50%.

 

How can we do it? We need to start knocking on doors… a lot of doors. Within McGill we need to advocate at Senate for funding from each of the faculties and at the higher institutional level. We need to reach out to funding group such as the Office of Sustainability. We need to convince McGill officials to reach out to the broader McGill alumni and past donors. Finally, we can also investigate borrowing the funds from financial institutions.

 

MAUT is committed to pursuing this issue and there is lots of good will on the side of the University so let’s get on board and do it! If you are interest in getting involved, please reach out to MAUT, we need your help.

 

Janine Mauzeroll

MAUT Past President


 

 

RAC is Back!

 

The Retiree Affairs Committee (RAC) has resumed its two main activities this semester.

 

1. We have had 3 presentations. We decided to stay with Zoom for the winter. All MAUT members as well as retirees receive invitations to these events. The next dates are January 18, February 15, and March 15, from 1:00 to 2:30 PM. The January presentation topic is Medically Assisted Dying. The February topic is being decided. Our March presentation will be on Differences among Climate Models (but the Facts are Clear!). Prof. Leon Glass coordinates our presentations, and Dr. Joan Wolforth works with Jo-Anne Watier of the MAUT Office to oversee the Zoom connection. Please mark your agendas to join us.

 

2. The Bridge Club is on again at the refurbished Faculty Club. If you enjoy playing bridge, come and join McGill retirees every second Tuesday afternoon in the Maude Abbott Lounge. Our Bridge Club is open to active MAUT members, the McGill University Retirees Association, and friends. Five rounds of approximately 30 minutes each are played, and following the Chicago bridge style, one changes partner every fourth hand. Coffee, tea, and snacks are included.The game is scheduled for Tuesday December 14 at 1:00 pm. (Lunch is optionally available at the Club starting at 11:45 AM.) Don’t miss it! For more information and to join, please communicate with Sylvia Sklar at sylvia.sklar@mcgill.ca.

 

In other initiatives, the MAUT Retirees section is especially looking for ways to reach out to members who are receiving or providing caring commitments, and to find ways to resume additional in-person events at the Faculty Club. Your suggestions are always welcome. RAC is also directly represented by its Chair on MAUT Council and the Committee keeps a watchful eye on staff benefits that continue into retirement.

 

McGill retirees may keep their connection to MAUT for the grand sum of $25 for 5 years, and this includes free membership in MURA (the McGill University Retirees Association) which offers a wide range of complementary activities.

 

Bruce Shore,

Chair, MAUT Retiree Affairs Committee

bruce.m.shore@mcgill.ca

 

 


 

 

 

Course delivery for Winter 2022

 

At its last meeting Senate was presented with a motion that outlined the terms of reference for course delivery in Winter 2022. These in turn had emerged from discussions of the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on COVID Academic Planning and Policies and also from MAUT’s advocacy that we should have greater control in how we deliver our courses. As many of you are aware, the terms of reference recommended that instructors who wished to include up to 20% of remote teaching in a course that would otherwise be delivered in person should be able to do so without seeking special permission. However it also made provision for each Faculty to set its own rules, which might be necessary for accreditation reasons etc. It also charged each Faculty to set up a process to review proposals from instructors who wanted to deliver more than 20% of their course remotely.

 

In advance of the Senate meeting several of you wrote to MAUT to describe the efforts that were made during the pandemic to create innovative remote teaching material and had seen both pedagogical benefits when compared to 100% in-person, and also improved student teaching evaluations. You had voiced a concern that some Faculties already appeared to be setting the 20% remote content as the upper limit, regardless of the demonstrated pedagogical benefits. MAUT raised this concern before and during Senate, and we were pleased to hear from the administration that the university is genuinely open to pedagogical innovation and that all proposals will be fairly considered.

 

The proof will of course be in the pudding, so please keep us informed as to the outcome of your requests. Finally, although MAUT's position remains that Faculty Councils (rather than just Deans) should have a say in this decision, it was heartening to see that the motion and ensuing discussion re-affirmed Senate's role in the choice of modes of instruction.

 

Andrew Kirk

MAUT President


 

 

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