SJAC Update

PDAD&C #59, 2014-15

 To:  Principals, Deans, Academic Directors, and Chairs
 From:    Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost
 Date:  January 29, 2015
 Re:  SJAC Update

As you will recall, a Special Joint Advisory Committee (SJAC) was established with representatives of the University of Toronto administration and the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) to discuss potential changes to the University’s Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the Governing Council and UTFA. We are very pleased that representatives of UTFA and the University administration recently reached a tentative agreement.

The MoA governs the relationship between the University and UTFA and has served U of T and its faculty and librarians well since 1977. The MoA has helped us to become one of the world’s top research universities while protecting individual faculty rights.

In establishing SJAC, our goal was to find the right balance between changes that advance us to ever greater heights as one of the world’s pre-eminent public universities and preserving the foundations on which the University has been built. We believe that we have achieved that balance in a collegial manner. The tentative agreement improves upon our processes and policies while respecting the autonomy and flexibility of individual faculty members.

Following ratification by UTFA’s Council, the proposed changes are now proceeding through the University governance approval process. In anticipation of approval by the Governing Council, we are now preparing for implementation and are pleased to provide here a brief overview of the matters agreed upon during the negotiations.

(1) Strengthened collegiality among the University, faculty and librarians

Our faculty’s voice will continue to help us maintain our global standards and meet and overcome future challenges. The tentative agreement establishes two additional mechanisms for collegial involvement by faculty and librarians – a new facilitation and fact-finding process for making changes to certain policies that significantly affect the work of our faculty and librarians, and a new Policy and Procedures for Faculty and Librarians on Academic Restructuring that will apply when proposals arise for certain types of restructuring of academic units.

(2) Giving greater flexibility and autonomy to faculty members

The SJAC process has allowed us to evaluate our policies in order to ensure that excellence in tenure appointments continues. The timeline to tenure has been increased from five to six years. Faculty who have undergone a successful review will be offered a term with a workload adjustment to respond to the recommendations from their review and to prepare for tenure. It will continue to be possible for faculty to request an early tenure review.

(3) Recognizing excellence in all its forms

We are able to attract the very best faculty and librarians in the world. Our faculty and librarians could go anywhere, but they choose to build their careers here. To recognize this excellence, professorial ranks and titles have been established for teaching-stream faculty. These dedicated faculty members bring to U of T superlative teaching skills, creative educational leadership, and successful innovations in teaching that enhance undergraduate and professional graduate education.

Our office is already engaging regularly with faculty and librarians to answer queries and highlight changes and amendments to these various policies and procedures. Throughout the coming months we will make more resources available on the Provost’s Office website and in the Bulletin. And, in February and March, information sessions will be held across Faculties and departments.

Once again we are delighted at this outcome. The process shows that by working collegially we can continue to build upon the reputation of our university, ensuring that it remains a great place to work and maintains its position as one of the world’s pre-eminent public universities.

For more information about the SJAC process, I encourage you to visit http://uoft.me/proposals. In addition, more information for faculty and an FAQ can be found at http://www.faculty.utoronto.ca/academic-life/tenure/changes/.

I will continue to keep you apprised on the approval process and the information sessions. As always, I welcome your comments directly to me at provost@utoronto.ca.