Pauline Phipps’s Story

Posted February 24th, 2015 By OCUFA

History and Women’s Studies, University of Windsor

My proudest teaching moment:

My proudest moment was being a recipient of the OPUS teaching award in March, 2014. I very much enjoy teaching and helping students to succeed and so, this was a wonderful tribute.

Over my fifteen years of teaching, I have had the privilege of watching some of my students excel: gaining the SSHRC and OGS, entering doctorate programs, and publishing their research.

Students are an important part of my job.

My greatest research accomplishment:

My greatest research accomplishment is the publication of my biography titled, Constance Maynard’s Passions: Religion, Sexuality, and an English Educational Pioneer 1849-1935, which is forthcoming with the University of Toronto Press in June 2015.

How I use my knowledge, research skills and teaching ability to improve my community:

I was honored to be invited to deliver a Plenary about my research topic, Constance Maynard, at Queen Mary University of London, London UK, in November 2012. This Symposium celebrated the recent digitization of some of Maynard’s archives, which are housed at Queen Mary University of London.

The Symposium also facilitated the opportunity for scholars and young doctorates to submit original work for a special ed. in the Women’s History Review, which is forthcoming, May 2015.

The challenges I face in my work:

My biggest challenge is developing my research with a heavy teaching load of six classes a year.

Joe Boivin’s Experience

Posted February 24th, 2015 By OCUFA

Biology, Nipissing University

My proudest teaching moment:

I supervised a fourth year thesis project for three students who approached me because of their experiences with me as their instructor. It was a unique teaching experience, since my role was not focused on delivering curriculum, but was instead to promote and encourage their creativity. The group created an information and marketing campaign about the environmental/health impacts of products in the cosmetics industry. The campaign received a positive write-up on The David Suzuki Foundation website, they gave an award-winning presentation at Queen’s university, met with various entrepreneurs in the cosmetics industry, including a meeting with an entrepreneurial expert at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. My proudest moment was listening to the students during a CBC radio interview as they answered question after question in a very composed and informed manner. It was an enlightening experience to work alongside students as they improved their skills of communication and acquired knowledge on a topic with which they held a genuine passion.

How I use my knowledge, research skills and teaching ability to improve my community:

A community organization, whose purpose is to maintain and protect a local conservation area, approached Nipissing University with a question, “why had the beavers living in the conservation area’s wetland suddenly disappeared?” Students in a third-year forestry and environmental science course designed studies, conducted sampling, completed analyses, and reported their findings as part of their coursework. Aware of the “real world” implications of their effort, students went above and beyond (including sampling in -30C weather) to ensure that they could stand behind their work. Over 30 members of the community and media (television, radio, and newspaper) attended their final presentation.

Anya Hageman’s Story

Posted February 24th, 2015 By OCUFA

Macroeconomic Policy, Population Economics, Queen’s University

My proudest teaching moment:

My proudest teaching moment comes when I see students able to discuss current issues in economics and demography in an informed way without relying on jargon.

The challenges I face in my work:

Working as an adjunct has been perfect for me. It has given me extra time for parenting, church, and community work.

Urvashi Soni-Sinha’s Experience

Posted February 24th, 2015 By OCUFA

Women’s Studies/Labour Studies, University of Windsor

My proudest teaching moment:

There are many instances and moments in teaching that I feel proud about. These relate to times when my students display enthusiasm in learning and engage and participate in class. I feel particularly honoured when students express how the courses I teach on Women and Globalization and on Work and Equality have transformed their perceptions of Women’s roles in societies and sharpened their connectedness to global women.

My greatest research accomplishment:

I have published in several peer reviewed journals including Feminist Economics, Qualitative Research, Contribution to Indian Sociology, Global Labour, Journal of Gender Studies, Organization, and Gender Work and Organization. My proudest moment was when my paper entitled “Intersectionality, Subjectivity, Collectivity and the Union: Perceptions of the ‘Locked-Out’ Hotel Workers in Toronto, Canada”, 2013 was chosen as one of the top nine papers on Diversity and Organization, published in the journal Organization over the last twenty years. This was part of the 20th Anniversary celebration of the journal Organization.

How I use my knowledge, research skills and teaching ability to improve my community:

I have engaged extensively with debates on social justice, and equity in my research and teaching and have built connections and liased with community groups. I am a co-investigator for a Social Science and Humanities Research Council Partnership Project five year grant entitled “Closing the Enforcement Gap: Improving Employment Standards Protections for People in Precarious Jobs”, which has been awarded funding of $2 million in March 2013. As a Board member of Worker Education Centre I have been involved in supervising community outreach and education.

The challenges I face in my work:

There are several challenges I face as a sessional faculty. There is the uncertainty of the number of courses to be taught which would vary from term to term. There is little recognition and invisibility of ones’ research contribution.

Scott Mattson’s Story

Posted February 24th, 2015 By OCUFA

Psychology, University of Windsor

My proudest teaching moment:

The one that made me feel both a lot older and very proud was when a first year student (in my course)told me that, “although you probably wouldn’t remember,” she had accompanied her mother to my class (with my permission) when she was 10 years-old. I did remember as her mother asked in order to stimulate her young daughter’s interest in going to university. The icing on the cake was when her older sister told me that I was the first professor in her academic career where she first cared more and solely about learning as opposed to what scores she got. (Needless to say and regardless, her marks were at the top of the class.)

My greatest research accomplishment:

As part of my doctoral internship I developed a roughly 300 page, eight module Sexual Health Clinic Orientation Manual for a public health unit and use by new employees, seasoned nurses, and students doing their clinical placements. The manual is also being used by several local non-profit agencies who work in sexual health and with sexual communities. I am very proud to report that one of my former students, with no public health background, was able to use it and its contents to land a job in public health communications. His interviewers were floored by how much he knew about public health and were prepared to hire him on the spot. After he thanked me, I asked him how much he had known before he read the manual. His reply? “Absolutely nothing.”

How I use my knowledge, research skills and teaching ability to improve my community:

Much of my research and community work, including my dissertation, has been on the experiences of LGBT youth. Through that work and with local nonprofit agencies, I was able to assist a brave young man and a concerned community in a long fight to establishing the first Gay-Straight Alliance in Windsor. On my last day packing up as Director of Health Promotion and Community Education for a local nonprofit organization–almost out the door, with a milk crate full of books and torchère lamp in hand–I checked my voicemail one final time. The last message was from a mother thanking me for the work I had done, explaining–while her voice cracked and tears were expressed–that it broke her heart to see what her son and his friends had to go through at school. Now that they would have somewhere to turn and institutional support, she just had a to take a moment to express her gratitude for her son and his friends. I was extremely honoured. Needless to say, I had to delay and put everything down in order to wipe my eyes.

The challenges I face in my work:

* Not having dedicated, unshared office space to meet with students and less than completely antiquated technology for doing work. Twenty minutes is a long time to wait for a computer to boot.
* Not having the permanence to do any planning beyond one or two months in terms how many courses or what I will or might be teaching.
* Late, last minute appointments.

Fear and Insecurity Among Canada’s Contract Professors

Posted February 23rd, 2015 By OCUFA

The fear, insecurity, poverty and inequality faced by Canada’s contract faculty was highlighted in a CBC Sunday Edition episode titled “Class Struggle”. The show discussed how these “highly qualified and poorly paid” faculty members are an essential part of universities that administrations don’t want to talk about.

Although this documentary highlights ongoing tension between contract and tenured professors, OCUFA has found tenured professors often champion issues faced by their contract colleagues.

Many adjunct professors interviewed for the show voiced their doubts of ever making it into a tenured position. The “experience paradox” is an unfortunate reality for many contract faculty, where the more experience they have teaching leads to a decreased chance of ever becoming tenured. This is because many contract faculty, who are paid on a course-by-course basis, sacrifice researching time to take on more classes.

Contract faculty also struggle with a lack office space, limited time with students, unpaid service and research responsibilities, and are more vulnerable to student course evaluations. These issues – compounded with a lack of job security, benefits and fair wages – makes contract instructors feel as though they’re exploited by their employers, said Kimberly Ellis-Hale, a contract instructor at Wilfrid Laurier University.

“We really are subsidizing much of what goes on. We teach 55% of bums in seats at Laurier and we get 3.2% in terms of our salaries, no benefits. I don’t think that that’s fair or right or responsible. I go in, I do my job, I’m committed to the students that are at my university, I’m committed to the process, I take pride in doing a job well and I try not to do it on the backs of anybody else. I think that the administrators of our university need to perhaps take the same kind of approach.”

This discontent has led to an ongoing struggle affecting everyone on campus. Tension between faculty and administration and between contract and tenured professors have students caught in between. Ken Coates of the University of Saskatchewan spoke to the CBC about how students react to contract professors’ job insecurity:

“Sessionals are like a constant infusion of new blood, of new energy, of new vitality. It’s hard for the students to take a class with one professor and think, ‘That’s the best German Studies class I’ve ever had’… and they come and say, ‘I want to take a class with you next year.’ ‘Well, I’m sorry I don’t have a job next year’… ‘Well, where are you going?’ ‘I don’t know, I can’t find anything else.’ Students are baffled by this.”

Listen to the full show here.

The Income Gap Between Tenure and Adjunct Professors

Posted February 23rd, 2015 By OCUFA

The significant income gap between Canada’s tenured and adjunct professors was profiled by CBC Radio’s Project Money. The show focused on contract professors’ working conditions and how these conditions affect their students.

The income gap between full-time professors and contract faculty members isn’t specific to only one region or province. It’s estimated that contract professors do about half of all university teaching in Canada, according to the CBC.

Erin Black of the University of Toronto’s history department discussed her personal experience as a contract faculty member:

“Sessionals often need to access employment insurance benefits because the nature of our work is such that we’re hired on a course-by-course basis. The insecurity that I have as a sessional lecturer where I never know how much work I’ll have or whether work that I’ve been consistently able to rely on (is) just going to disappear, it’s extraordinarily stressful. I’ve experienced full blown panic attacks.”

Elizabeth Hodgson, a tenured professor at the University of British Columbia, discussed the sharp contrast in working conditions between tenured and contract professors. Unlike their full-time colleagues, contract faculty have less job security, lower pay and no benefits. Students with contract professors are greatly affected by these issues, she said:

“The problem for students has to do with the fact that they count on faculty not just to teach their courses but also to provide them with mentoring and guidance and a kind of support for their own ambitions… People who are teaching in short term contracts are under enormous stress. They’re marking 400 papers a term at three different institutions and they’re racing from class to class to class. They can’t contribute to the development of a curriculum in a department, they can’t add their to administrative decisions. And all of those things affect the quality of the programs students are getting.”

The entire show can be listened to here.


Ontario faculty are high performers, according to new study

Posted August 26th, 2014 By OCUFA

Professors and academic librarians are welcoming a new study that highlights their impressive teaching and research accomplishments, as well as their many contributions to the social and economic vitality of Ontario. The report, Faculty at Work, was released today by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU).

“This report is the first serious attempt to examine the work of faculty at Ontario universities,” said Kate Lawson, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). “We know that professors and academic librarians work hard for students and produce real benefits for our province, and we are pleased to see this fact confirmed by the COU report.”

The study reveals that, on average, Ontario awards more degrees and receives more external research funding per full-time faculty member than the rest of Canada. The research also shows that the vast majority of faculty – at all ranks – are teaching undergraduate students and producing important research outputs. However, this impressive record of productivity has come at a high personal cost.

“As enrolment has ballooned at Ontario universities, hiring of full-time professors has not kept pace,” said Lawson. “This means serious workload pressure for individual faculty members. If we want Ontario’s teaching and research accomplishments to continue, it will be necessary to hire more full-time profs and librarians to keep up with student demand.”

The report, part of a multi-year project on academic work, makes important contributions to understanding the activities of full-time faculty. However, it does not address the challenges faced by the growing ranks of part-time and contract faculty at Ontario universities. These individuals are shouldering a heavy teaching load while struggling with low job security, inadequate resources, and poor access to benefits.

“This report is an important first step in a broader conversation around the work of professors,” said Lawson. “We hope the next phase of the project will be a thorough examination of precarious faculty in our universities, and how we can improve their working conditions. As this report makes clear, faculty are a valuable resource for Ontarians. It is important we give all of them the support and resources they need to excel.”

The full report can be accessed here.

We Teach Ontario’s student video contest a big success

Posted February 24th, 2014 By OCUFA

The We Teach Ontario student video contest closed this week after engaging more than 1000 people in exploring and celebrating the incredible things that happen when we connect research and teaching at Ontario’s universities.

Our first place winner is Brittany Dunbar of Brock University, told us about her journey to become a masters student in kinesiology thanks to the inspiring research and teaching of Dr. Brian Roy. Second place goes to a team of current and former Laurentian University students: Taylor Danyluk, Stephanie Gilmour, Laura Kernen, Charles Dollin, Jeremy Johnston, Zachari Miller, and Caitlin Lembo. Their video highlights English professors Dr. Tom Sol, Dr. Sylvia Hunt, and Dr. Tom Gerry, explaining how these profs used literature to change their perspectives and their lives. Melissa Dick from Carleton University earned third place by sharing her story of her professor Dr. Michael Pisaric who supported and encouraged her to pursue her own research in biology.

Watch all three videos below:


Grand prize winner Brittany Dunbar will attend the OCUFA Future U conference  next week where the three top videos will be screened. The Future U conference will provide an opportunity to contemplate the universities that we would like to see in the future and chart a path to achieving that vision. Keep checking the We Teach Ontario Facebook page and Twitter feed for more stories about the exceptional things that Ontario’s professors do in classrooms and in the community. Thank you to all the contest entrants and those who voted! When you spread the word, you help keep teaching and research connected at Ontario universities.

We need educating professors, not just “teaching” professors

Posted October 1st, 2013 By OCUFA

Over at the Globe and Mail, University of Waterloo professor James Skidmore has an interesting piece about the difference between a “teaching” professor and an “educating” professor. For Skidmore, teaching revolves around short-term goals and the transmission of information. Educating, on the other hand, involves enriching a student and preparing them to be creators of knowledge. As Skidmore notes,

An educating professor doesn’t teach the subject; she educates the student. This requires understanding the student not as a consumer of subject matter, but as the product of an educational process.

This type of education requires professors who are engaged with their fields, prepared to connect students with the latest discoveries and ideas. This leads to a deeper, more meaningful education that prepares students to be leaders and creators. Again, Skidmore hits the nail on the head when describing the important role of scholarship in this process:

If we want to re-establish the true worth of our universities, we don’t need teaching professors, we need educating professors – scholars who are dedicated to educating a generation able and willing to transform our society for the better.

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