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Academic Freedom and Tenure and Policy Officer

Department: Faculty Association Effective Date: June, 2014

USG 11

35 hr/wk

Reports to:

FAUW AF&T Committee Chair

Executive Manager (for HR administrative reporting purposes)            

General Accountability

The Academic Freedom and Tenure and Policy Officer Role

The Academic Freedom and Tenure and Policy Officer manages two complementary roles in the Faculty Association.  As Academic Freedom and Tenure Officer, the incumbent reports to, and works closely with, the Academic Freedom and Tenure (AF&T) Committee Chair on all matters involving faculty terms of employment and labour relations concerns, and provides administrative leadership for the Committee’s role in the implementation of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between FAUW and the University and of policies relevant to the terms and conditions of employment of faculty.  As AF&T and Policy Officer, the incumbent is responsible for conducting research, providing analysis and strategic advice, and developing and proposing policy and MOA language revisions to the AF&T Chair and to the members of the FAUW Board of Directors. In all matters the AF&T and Policy Officer will preserve the historical perspectives and decisions as the institutional memory for the Association on employment and labour relations, the MOA, policy and procedural matters. Where appropriate, the AF&T and Policy Officer will consult with the FAUW Executive Manager about prioritizing workload and coordinating projects to maximize the efficiency of the FAUW Office.

It is essential that the AF&T and Policy Officer, along with the AF&T Chair and the FAUW Board of Directors, cultivates effective collaborative relationships with senior administration and faculty and staff across all academic and service units to facilitate productive problem and conflict resolution.

Nature and Scope

FAUW and AF&T Committee Nature and Position Scope

The Faculty Association is recognized by the University of Waterloo as the sole representative of all regular faculty members with regard to terms and conditions of employment.  FAUW currently represents over 1150 faculty members and has three full-time employees. The Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee plays a crucial role in the Association by assisting individual faculty members in their interaction with the University as their employer. The Committee includes an appointed Chair and several members, all of whom are faculty volunteering their service, where membership on the Committee varies from year to year, and the Academic Freedom and Tenure and Policy Officer who provides leadership and continuity.

Faculty members typically seek assistance when they have a complaint, a dispute, a concern, or a question, for instance about an annual performance review, tenure and/or promotion, discipline, academic misconduct, intellectual property, salary, teaching assignment, sick or other leave, disability, medical accommodation, health and pension benefits, the actions of a colleague in an administrative role, or the application of the Memorandum of Agreement or a policy. Often matters can be resolved by providing information (about established practices, the Memorandum of Agreement and relevant policies, etc.) or via informal discussions, providing guidance and support to involved parties, and by advocating on behalf of the member(s).  Occasionally matters may involve a formal dispute resolution process, such as a grievance or arbitration.

The AF&T and Policy Officer and Chair of the AF&T Committee are the initial points of contact for new cases, manage cases jointly, and provide relevant policy and MOA interpretation, analysis of situations, strategic advice, coaching and support throughout the period of concern.  Support sometimes extends to initiating proactive collegial, consultative and collaborative measures, advocating on behalf of the member with senior academic and other administration, including the Director, Conflict Management and Human Rights Office.  The AF&T and Policy officer is required to manage certain cases independently, and keeps the Chair informed of progress. Complex cases expected to continue over a prolonged period of time may be assigned by the AF&T Committee Chair to a Committee member who will serve as Academic Colleague to the faculty member, providing advice and support, with the Chair and AF&T and Policy Officer available for consultation and intervention.

The work of the AF&T Committee involves highly sensitive and confidential matters requiring timely responses related to dealing with people in situations of stress. The amount of work facing the AF&T and Policy Officer, the Committee chair and Committee members at any time is somewhat unpredictable and volume and intensity fluctuates with the academic cycle and evolving employment and labour concerns; processes are often regulated by the MOA or policy deadlines. 

In many cases successful resolution of a dispute involves establishing and maintaining effective communications and relationships while representing FAUW and the AF&T Committee, so it is crucial that the AF&T and Policy Officer maintain a productive working relationship with people across the university at multiple levels of administration, as well as externally.  External connections include the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), and other Canadian faculty associations.  The work requires a solid understanding of the university’s highly collegial, democratic and complex organizational structure and governance, the Memorandum of Agreement, university policies and procedures including employee benefits, relevant arbitrations, human rights cases, and labour law.

FAUW is continuously engaged in an ongoing process of discussion and negotiation of policy and practices relevant to the terms and conditions of employment of faculty, primarily through the Faculty Relations Committee.  Effectively managing this role involves significant research and preparation.  Since the members of the FAUW Board, who are members of the Faculty Relations Committee, are volunteers and often do not have prior experience with academic employment and labour law issues it is especially important that the FAUW staff, and in this case the AF&T and Policy Officer, have the capacity to effectively carry out research, and to provide pragmatic advice and recommendations.

Statistical Data

Specific Accountabilities

Major Duties, Key Accountabilities

Key Job Skills, Abilities and Personal Characteristics



Working Conditions