Conversations with Faculty I: Educational Leadership Stream

I have been meeting with groups of faculty on the Okanagan campus in an effort to better understand the issues these colleagues face.  I have had several such meetings and will report out on them once the conversations they generate with the UBC Administration are far enough along to discuss some of the responses I am getting when I raise issues from these meetings.

The first meeting was with a group of faculty in our Educational Leadership Stream (often called a teaching stream at other institutions).

The following will appear in the upcoming Okanagan Bulletin.

I have been doing a lot of listening to UBCO faculty in the past few months. Academic Administrators, both on the Okanagan campus and down on the coast on the Vancouver campus, have been engaging with me on the issues that you have raised.

When I started inviting groups of members to lunch meetings at UBCO, I knew that I would learn a lot, but I had no idea how passionately our members would share their stories and concerns in these conversations. Some issues are local to the Okanagan campus, but some of the concerns raised need to be addressed in the broader University. I have been discussing your issues with the President, the DVC and the Provosts, all of whom have been responsive.

For the first conversation, I invited those in the Educational Leadership Stream (Instructors, Senior Instructors, and Professors of Teaching) to discuss their issues. These faculty members, who tend to be appointed as singletons or doubletons in departments at UBCO, have vastly different experiences from members in the professoriate, and from those in this stream on the Vancouver campus.  Addressing their concerns seems as much in the hands of the faculty as the Administration.

Collegial governance is an important theme for my presidency and the ways in which our colleagues work with one another to make decisions is as much a part of collegial governance as are the ways that Deans and the President interact with us.

For those in the Educational Leadership Stream at UBCO, there is a mysterious “80:20” rule that erroneously defines their work as 80% teaching and 20% service. (This seems to have come from a memo from the previous Provost.) There are two problems with this rule: (1) there are no percentages in our Collective Agreement to define the workload distribution for any rank, and (2) this rule ignores the added component of “educational leadership,” which is not the same as service, and which is a key component on which faculty in this stream are judged for tenure and promotion.

Moreover, there seems to be a lot of confusion over what is meant by “educational leadership.” In some cases, Instructors have been told not to worry about educational leadership until they are working towards promotion to Professor of Teaching, whereas it is a part of their job from day one.

The SAC Guide has had a working definition of educational leadership for several years (see page 50).  Since most faculty members eventually have responsibilities related to the hiring and tenure and promotion of our colleagues in the Educational Leadership Stream, we should each take the time to understand educational leadership activities so that we can  judge fairly our colleagues in these key collegial processes.

As someone who teaches a subject (mathematics) that many people find confusing, I know that good examples can be important.  This is probably true for understanding “educational leadership” – even a list of activities can be made clearer by some good examples. For pre-tenure Instructors, this may mean having a mentor and seeing examples of CVs and dossiers of successful colleagues in this stream. (Such examples of CVs and dossiers are likely to help faculty who are asked to judge this work, as well.)

Many of our colleagues in the Educational Leadership Stream also feel excluded from the decision making in their departments. Many feel undervalued and that they are treated as lesser faculty members (and, in fact, dislike the term “Educational Leadership Stream” and the titles Instructor and Senior Instructor). Because so many feel isolated in their departments – how can they speak up safely when they are the only one? – I am left wondering how well their colleagues understand how they feel. I can’t imagine any of us intending to treat any of our colleagues thus.

There are some ways in which our Collective Agreement directly supports the inclusion of Instructors/Senior Instructors/Professors of Teaching in departmental governance. For example, the Head must consult with representatives from each of the eligible ranks (and all of these are eligible ranks) in the Merit and PSA process. As another example, departmental workload guidelines should be developed collegially, with participation from members of all ranks.

My advice to Heads (and Deans): If you are making a decision that affects those in a particular rank, consult those who hold that rank.  (Promotion and tenure is a notable exception, but the collegial processes for this are defined in our Collective Agreement.)

As we reported on February 12th in our Bargaining Blog, when the new Collective Agreement is settled, all tenured and tenure-track faculty members in a department will be eligible to serve on the departmental standing committee for initial appointments. This means that those in the Educational Leadership Stream will be eligible to vote on the appointment of their new colleagues, regardless of the rank to which a candidate is appointed. Thus, initial appointments will be collegially determined and departments will need to adjust procedures to incorporate this change.

The Faculty Association will work with Educational Leadership Stream faculty at UBCO to build a network. This network will give these colleagues a chance to work together to support each other and to find a stronger voice for their issues on campus. Already there are strong leaders in this group working on this network, which bodes well for its success.

There were other issues that came up in this meeting, and I will report on responses I have had from the Administration directly to those in the Educational Leadership Stream in a separate communication. I want to be able to give them detailed information on each issue they raised.

If you have any comments on this or any other issues, please send them to me at

This entry was posted in Governance, UBC Okanagan. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *