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CAUT Bulletin Archives

April 2004

Landmark Academic Freedom Decision at UBC

"We won." Two simple words left on Professor Mary Bryson's voice mail in February 2004 summed up an epic struggle to protect academic freedom, defend faculty control over course material and assert union bargaining rights.

Canadians at Odds with Ottawa Over Tuition

Nearly four in 10 Canadians are very concerned about the cost of university and college tuition, a major national poll concludes.

Forced Retirement

Victor Catano (President's Column, Bulletin, Feb. 2004) has raised some critical issues concerning faculty employment. These include the separation of teaching and research, the hiring of contract professors and the option of ending mandatory retirement to help alleviate the looming shortage of qualified teaching faculty.

Almanac Disappoints

I am writing to express my disappointment with your recent Almanac of Post-Secondary Education in Canada. The idea behind this publication is great. One of the most important tools for bringing about progressive change to an institution is detailed information about the status quo. What I am concerned about is what has been left out of the compilation.

Early Years Key to Career Earnings

Business lore has it that Sam Bronfman, when asked what he thought was the greatest invention in modern times, replied, "compound interest." There is no doubt Bronfman, if given the choice between a penny placed in a savings account whose value doubled every day thereafter for a year, versus $100,000 cash in hand at the end of a year, would have chosen the penny. We should be as astute as Bronfman when it comes to devising our own salary structures.

Performance Lessons

The most recent book on the collapse of Enron Corp. and the scams that led to that debacle (Bethany McLean & Peter Elkind, The Smartest Guys in the Room, 2003) points out that Enron executives were devotees of merit pay based on performance indicators.

Feds Fail PSE

CAUT is warning that last month's federal budget will not improve access to Canada's universities and colleges.

'Star' Search Skews Hiring Process

In his President's Column (Bulletin, February 2004), Victor Catano raised a number of important issues related to the crisis that awaits academia as more and more professors retire in the coming decade. In particular, I want to address one specific aspect - the shortage of qualified candidates/ faculty. This concern has surfaced now and again through various media sources and in corridor talk. It creates a continuing strain on hiring committees. However, this concern is a myth unsupported by hard statistics.

The Killed, the Injured Should Not Be Forgotten

It is estimated that one out of 16 Canadians will become ill or injured in their place of work this year. Some will carry the effects for the rest of their lives. Many will lose their lives due to workplace accidents or occupational illnesses.

Victory! Bishop's University, Faculty End Dispute

A tentative agreement reached March 21 ended a seven-day strike called by the Association of Professors of Bishop's University.

Feds Force Cancellation of Academic Conference

An academic conference at the University of Ottawa was abruptly cancelled last month after permission for five key participants to enter the country was mysteriously withheld by the Canadian government.

Supreme Court Affirms Copying Rights

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on March 4 that photocopying published materials for personal research use is protected under "fair dealing" provisions of the Copyright Act.

Moving a Mountain

In Moving a Mountain: Transforming the Role of Contingent Faculty in Composition Studies and Higher Education, policymakers, academic administrators, and both tenure-stream and contingent faculty focus on the field of composition as they address this question in case studies, local narratives and analyses of models for ethical employment practices. Reporting and reflecting on situated efforts to redress the counter-productive conditions in which part-time and non tenure-track writing faculty are too often asked to teach and students are too often asked to learn, the contributors present and evaluate a range of proactive strategies for change in the context of both local conditions and broader considerations: recent economic trends, labor patterns and ideological debates. Volume editors Eileen E. Schell and Patricia Lambert Stock position these initiatives in a historical context and project future trends and issues surrounding the work of part-time and non tenure-track faculty. Despite their different political stances, institutional settings and reform agendas, the contributors argue persuasively why it is in the academy's best interest to reconsider the roles and rewards it has offered to contingent faculty.

Read This! Why Books Matter

Why are books disappearing from English classrooms? In a society dominated by two-dimensional electronic images, outcomes-based curricula and standards test, some departments of education no longer require the teaching of longer literary forms. In Read This! Why Books Matter, teachers, parents, poets and writers boldly analyze the forces erasing literature from the English classroom, and passionately testify to the irreplaceable role of books in education and in life.

Discussion of University Governance Needed in Canada

How should universities make decisions? Given the significant higher education reforms that have taken place in many countries, the shifting role of the university in the face of new social and economic demands and the dramatic expansion of enrollment in many jurisdictions, it is not surprising this question is receiving considerable attention in the higher education research literature. University governance has become an important issue for policymakers, institutional leaders and the university community.