Below are questions and answers related to a number of issues that impact AUFA members as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please return here for updates as the situation continues to evolve, and contact AUFA (using the form below) if you have any other questions.
AUFA COVID Response Fund (Updated August 3)
What is the AUFA COVID Response Fund?
The AUFA COVID Response Fund is a new Acadia charitable fund. Gifts donated to the fund will be directed to the University’s greatest needs in responding to COVID-19 by lessening the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable non-AUFA employee groups.
Why have a new fund?
This is an AUFA initiative and only AUFA members can contribute to the fund. This allows the University to use the fund to support other non-AUFA employees while respecting CRA rules for charitable gifts.
How will the fund activities be reported?
The proceeds will be listed as a free-standing item in Acadia’s schedule of mitigation actions and impacts. AUFA will ask for regular updates on how the funds have been used. AUFA will receive reports on the total gifts received and number of faculty donors, but no information about individual donations.
How do you participate?
AUFA members can opt to give a one-time donation, or sign up for recurring donations or paycheque deductions. We would recommend a monthly donation. This spreads out the donation over the year and allows you to change your donation should circumstances change.
To make a donation as a payroll deduction, you need to complete the form available at: https://www2.acadiau.ca/files/files/Files%20~%20Development/FacultyStaffGiftForm2018.pdf.
Completed forms can be scanned and sent to Cassie Tremain at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you do not wish to give by payroll deduction, you can donate through the on-line donations page:
Potential changes to compensation FAQ (Updated July 30)
Have employee groups on campus other than AUFA been asked about making financial sacrifices? (Updated July 30)
- Yes, other groups on campus received requests to forgo cost of living adjustments to their salaries.
- SEIU took a membership vote where 94% of the membership rejected the proposal.
- As a non-unionized employee group, the request was not put to a vote of AUPAT membership.
- (July 27 Update) On July 24th, the administration announced that senior administrators would be taking a 6 days of unpaid furlough.
- (July 30 Update) On July 29, via an email from the University President to the campus community, it was announced that “the six-day unpaid furlough will be extended to all SEIU and non-unionized employees.” He added that “The impact of the six-day unpaid furlough represents an approximate 4.3 per cent gross reduction per pay period during the six months this mitigation initiative will be in place.”
- As of Thursday, July 30, AUFA has not received a similar official request from the University Administration.
- AUFA is currently working with the Advancement office to set up the means by which AUFA members can individually donate money that will be directed towards mitigating the effects of the Administration’s pay cuts to other Employee groups on campus.
- AUFA has asked the administration for detailed financial and budget numbers that justify the salary reductions that they have requested. As of July 30, we have not received any answers to these questions. These budget questions can be found here.
How is the compensation of AUFA members determined?
Has the administration reached out to AUFA executive to request changes in members' remuneration?
Yes, the Provost & Vice-President Academic reached out to AUFA executive to forgo the cost of living adjustment for this year.
How would this proposal change the compensation of AUFA members?
- In practical terms, this would mean that step increases will still take effect, but salaries would be calculated using the July 2019 – June 2020 salary grids.
- The negotiated 1.4% grid increase reflected in the corresponding July 2020 – June 2021 salary grid would not take effect for the last year of the 15th collective agreement.
- There was no mention in the proposal about what would happen after the year was up.
How did the AUFA executive respond to this request? (Updated July 27)
- AUFA executive did not sign the request and informed the administration that such request would require a membership vote.
- The executive also requested more detailed financial information and expressed willingness to discuss financial voluntary measures once the information is received.
- (June 30 update) On 25 June 2020, we received a response from the VPA to some of our questions regarding financial information. That letter can be accessed here.
- (June 30 update) We have followed up by asking for a copy of the actual budget approved by Acadia’s Board of Governors and are waiting for a response.
- Based on advice from legal counsel, AUFA executive’s position is firm that ANY decisions impacting members’ remuneration must be discussed and voted on by members.
- (July 24 Update) On July 3, the executive received from the VPA/Provost the budget summary that was presented to the Board of Governors. At that July 3 meeting, we were told this was not a public document, so could not be shared without Board permission. We asked if permission could be sought from the Board to share the document with AUFA members and were told “no.” The AUFA executive determined that, even with the information in the budget summary there was not enough evidence to support the Board’s compensation request.
- Even though the AUFA executive didn’t endorse the BoG request, we thought it was important to bring it to the members. On Tuesday, 14 July, the AUFA executive held a meeting with the membership to discuss the Administration’s request to forego the cost of living adjustment,
- Based on that meeting and discussion, along with subsequent written feedback from members, the AUFA executive determined that there was not enough support from the membership or detailed budget information to proceed with a vote on this matter.
- (July 27 Update) We have presented the administration with an MOA that would extend the deadlines for decisions around sabbaticals, leaves and retirement.
- These extensions would allow faculty the option of choosing to take a sabbatical, leave, retirement before the start of classes in September.
- The administration is hesitant to sign this MOA, citing a lack of interest in these options.
- Members who are interested in taking one of these options should contact AUFA.
- They should also contact their unit head/director to discuss the implications of taking a leave.
- These extensions would allow faculty the option of choosing to take a sabbatical, leave, retirement before the start of classes in September.
CLT Hiring “Chill” FAQ (Updated July 24)
What are CLTs and why are they necessary?
- Contractually Limited Term (CLT) positions are full-time or half-time positions of varying lengths (up to 36 months) that are used to replace faculty on leave or to provide flexibility in the delivery of academic programs.
- The 15th Collective Agreement stipulates that the number of professorial CLT positions at Acadia for the duration of the contract shall be no less than 20 (10.08.1).
- CLTs are expected to engage in teaching, research, and service activity during their contract.
- Many departments on campus depend on CLTs to teach essential, core classes, and the pedagogical, research and service work that CLTs engage in have become essential to the health and culture of some departments and programs due to the non-replacement of tenure-track positions.
What’s going on with CLT hiring at Acadia for 2020-2021? (Updated July 24)
- CLT positions for 2020-2021 have been authorized and recommendations for hire have been completed after following all of the procedures in Articles 10, 43 and 50.
- The VPA–who has the authority to approve such positions–has yet to sign off on most of those hiring recommendations
- On April 30, 2020, Chris Callbeck (Acadia CFO) confirmed that a “hiring chill” had been imposed, meaning that–due to current uncertainties in fall term enrolment–pauses were being implemented in hiring processes to determine whether or not such hirings would take place.
- On June 1, 2020, President Ricketts sent an email which stated that “”We have curtailed all non-essential spending until further notice.” While the VPA clarified that CLTs were not included in this “non-essential spending” category during one of the recent Town Hall discussions, the “hiring chill” and its relation to budgeting concerns suggests otherwise.
- The 15th Collective Agreement stipulates that the number of professorial CLT positions at Acadia for the duration of the contract should be no less than 20 (10.08.1).
- Currently there are only 11 CLTPs (permanent CLT positions) in place, meaning that 9 positions are still required to meet the terms of Article 10.08.
- On June 24, 2020, we learned that the ‘chilled’ CLTs will be offered 5-month contracts, which is in the great majority of cases significantly shorter than the positions advertised. We are seeking legal advice as to whether this change in the terms of the offers is allowed under the Collective Agreement.
- (July 24 Update) During the week of July 6, CLT positions that were authorized previously were approved and contracts have now been offered.
- Additional CLT positions are 5 month, with the possibility of an extension to the originally posted term (9.5 or 12 month) upon review by the VPA in November.
How has/will this CLT “hiring chill” affect AUFA members?
- CLT employees are members of AUFA, and several of the six “chilled” positions are current members. Some were already told by their unit Head that they have been recommended for the position.
- While CLT positions are never guaranteed until a contract is issued and signed, a number of potential CLT hires are now in limbo regarding their employment status for the fall. The collective agreement states (10.08) that CLT appointments begin on August 1 for 9.5-month and 5-month terms (and a month before classes start for other terms), waiting that long to confirm employment leaves these AUFA members
- at a significant disadvantage regarding preparation time for teaching fall courses
- in a situation of greater employment precarity and uncertainty than they already experience as contractually limited appointments. Some members need to make relocation decisions based on these positions
- A significant number of departments are still in a situation where they are unable to plan for the upcoming year because of uncertainties about the filling of essential teaching positions that deliver core aspects of their curriculum
- There are academic units on this campus that are at a high risk of becoming unable to deliver their programs as presented in the Academic Calendar because of inadequate faculty resourcing related to the CLT “hiring chill”.
- Many classes that these approved CLTs would be teaching in fall 2020-2021 are already full with enrolled students and waiting lists.
- This chill presents a real crisis for academic units that depend on CLTs, and will create problems that go well beyond the short-term need for budgetary assessment relating to COVID-19 impacts.
But won’t the “hiring chill” save money in these uncertain times?
- There are many ways to save money. Freezing essential teaching, research and service positions while still committing millions of dollars to deferred maintenance (for example) is a clear sign that the current pandemic spending and saving budget is problematic and needs some essential reworking. More specifically, imposing a “hiring chill” on already authorized positions:
- violates the 15th Collective Agreement (which requires at least 9 professorial CLT hires this year),
- puts some academic programs into significant jeopardy,
- weakens Acadia’s academic offerings overall,
- will result in the cancellation of many courses in which students have already registered,
- and thoughtlessly disrupts the lives of a number of people who have dedicated or were planning to dedicate their time to this institution, even if only in a limited contract capacity.
- When planning for the future of this institution, instead of diminishing the numbers and salaries of the workers who give Acadia students their education, it would be prudent to preserve and strengthen the integrity of the academic experience at the heart of the “Acadia Experience.”
- The delay in approving the positions adds to the anxiety of individuals and departments but will not save money, as the contracts still have to be paid, regardless of when they are approved and signed.
Acadia and a Mixed Delivery Model for Teaching FAQ (Updated July 24)
What model for fall 2020 teaching has been passed by the senate? (Updated July 24)
On June 15th, 2020, the Acadia University Academic Senate passed the following motion:
Motion that Senate endorses a mixed delivery model for the 2020-2021 academic year. Acadia courses will, at the discretion of faculty, occur in virtual, face-to face/on-campus, or blended format, using either synchronous or asynchronous delivery, subject to the most rigourous interpretation of provincial health and safety regulations. Moved by Dale Keefe, seconded by Ann Vibert.
(July 24 Update) A new Fall 2020-2021 timetable was implemented on Tuesday July 14. The VPA’s message to faculty regarding the new timetable included the following updates: “The course timetable now reflects the Fall/Winter 2020 course format delivery methods. Timetable changes have also been made to facilitate structured entry and exit practices and accommodate necessary cleaning protocols between classes. Please familiarize yourself with the changes to your courses and timetable to tailor your learning experience to your circumstance and needs.”
What does this Teaching Model mean for AUFA members?
This means that AUFA members can individually determine how they plan to teach in the fall. This decision might be informed by conversations had at the departmental/school/unit level, but each faculty member has the right to determine for themselves how they will deliver their courses.
I’m concerned about the safety and capacity of the classroom that has been assigned for my course. What can I do? (Updated July 24)
The current classroom assignments for fall courses will severely restrict the type of face-to-face classroom activities that can occur. Faculty need to plan accordingly, and/or ask for new classrooms by contacting the Registrar’s Office.
How do I get help with moving my course(s) online?
If I feel pressure to come to campus to teach, what can I do?
The Senate motion states that this choice is “at the discretion of faculty.” This means that if you consider coming on campus to teach to be unsafe for you or pedagogically unsound for your courses, then you are not required to do so. Should you feel pressure to do so, we recommend that you contact a member of the AUFA Grievance Committee, or the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee.
What role does my department/school/unit have in determining which courses should/should not be taught in-person?
The Senate motion stipulates that individual faculty have control over this decision. You are empowered by this motion to make this choice yourself. AUFA will support your right to choose for your own circumstances.
Has the administration released details of its modelling and assumptions concerning the number of students who will arrive on campus in September? (updated 2 july)
On June 11, the AUFA Executive asked the Administration for more details of its financial modelling and assumptions concerning the students arriving on campus in September.
On June 25, the Vice-President (Academic) and Provost provided the following estimates: “Undergrad enrolment 3,097 average of two terms (2,729 average domestic, 368 average international). The most likely scenario assumes that we have a mix of on-campus, blended and remote offerings, that approximately 1,100 students will stay in residence, approximately 1,700 will stay off-campus (approximately 2,800 in person), there will be 100 new international students studying remotely, and 250 returning international students (mostly in person). The assumption is that there will be 3,150 students in the fall and 3,050 in the winter (approximately 3,100 average for the two terms).”
Return to Campus Plans FAQ (Updated July 30)
What protocols have been put in place for accessing campus during the summer and returning to campus in the fall? (updated july 23)
The guidelines for employees can be found here:
and the Campus Reopening Framework is here:
Is AUFA doing anything else to ensure members' safety and rights? (Updated July 30)
- (July 27 Update) We have presented the administration with MOA regarding working conditions, per course contracts, health protocols, etc.
- This MOA protects the faculty’s right to choose the mode of delivery for their courses, to protect precedence, and ensure faculty safety.
- (July 30 Update) On July 30, the University Administration felt it was not necessary to sign our proposed MOA on working conditions, leaves, etc. AUFA will continue to push this request, as it is absolutely necessary to sign an MOA on working conditions since the new working conditions contradict what is stated in the 15th Collective Agreement.
COVID-19 and the Academic Workplace: FAQ
Still have questions? Please contact us!
The Communications Committee, under the direction of the AUFA Executive, takes responsibility for the contents of the Pandemic FAQ. We encourage your contributions (letters, articles, article summaries, and other pertinent information). Anonymous material will not be considered for publication; however, under special circumstances, the AUFA Communication Committee may agree to withhold the author’s name. The Communications Committee retains the right to edit and/or reject contributed material.