Annual General Meeting
5 May 2020
The annual general meeting of the Faculty Association will take place virtually this year due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. Please click here for the agenda and the link to join the meeting via Zoom.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via email with any concerns or questions. Please stay safe and healthy!
Dear MUFA members,
Let me echo the statements we’ve been seeing from our university leaders: THANK YOU for all that you are doing during this crisis. The last week has not been easy. It definitely feels much longer than a week, and so much has changed in that time. But the McMaster community remains strong and supportive, and I know that will continue as we work through these crises.
But now it’s the weekend (in case you’d lost track of the days like I had). It’s time to pause and look after yourself for a couple of days. Sleep in. Read a book (for fun). Get outside in the sunshine that’s forecast. Hang out with your family, or maybe get some alone time if you’ve had too much family lately. Cook a meal. Listen to music. Play some music! Dance like no one is watching…. it’s just your kids, and they’re embarrassed of you anyway, so you might as well milk it.
We’ll be back at this on Monday, from our homes, in our new configurations and with our newly-found expertise in technology. Let’s get ourselves rested and relaxed and ready for the new week.
And, as usual, go wash your hands.
Please note that from March 16th to March 20th the MUFA Office will only be open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. If you require any assistance please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond as soon as we can.
Stay safe and take care,
From all of us at MUFA
The fast-moving crisis and response at McMaster
Alison Sills, MUFA President
I started planning this article in the morning of Thursday March 12th. At that point, the word at McMaster was the university was working in a ‘business as usual’ mode, but please wash your hands a lot. By lunch time, I was providing comments on a plan to cancel classes and exams a few weeks hence, and before dinner, the Ontario government closed all elementary and secondary schools until April 5th and our prime minister was in self-isolation. And this morning, we learned that all face-to-face classes and exams are cancelled for this term.
No matter where we are in this crisis, there are a few overarching principles that should guide our response, both individually and as an institution. Here is my personal summary:
- Panic isn’t helpful. Vigilance and preparedness are. Extra toilet paper won’t help, unless you run out of Kleenex. Soap and water are really good ideas.
- The health of our community is the top priority. We’ll need to be flexible in a whole bunch of ways to keep that community healthy. It isn’t ideal to cancel exams and reweight marks in a course at the last minute. But it can be done carefully and thoughtfully. We can find a way to provide students with a reasonably accurate assessment of their performance in our courses, without being unduly proscriptive or hard on the students. Fortunately this flexibility is already built into our course outlines with the Extreme Circumstances clause. You should do whatever makes the most sense for your course and your students.
- Communication is key. This is always true, but even more so during a crisis. Communicate with your students and colleagues often, and make sure that your information is accurate and up to date. Reach out to people you trust and ask questions (email@example.com…. Just saying).
- All changes will likely increase our workload in the short term, and may pose additional problems for anyone with a need for accommodations. In addition, many of us are now juggling child care needs at a time when groups are not recommended. Or we have aging parents who may be hit harder by this virus, and who may not live near Hamilton. A crisis is a stressful time. Remember point #2: the health of our community includes YOUR health. Give yourself the permission to also be flexible in your own life. Do what you need to get through this, and make use of the many resources that McMaster can provide.
- After this crisis is over, we will need to continue to be flexible. Our research may suffer as we turn our attention to other things right now – our chairs know they may need to provide a little more support when they’re writing up our tenure report. Our students may not have quite the background you expect when they appear in your course next year – spend a little more time bringing them up to speed.
On the positive side, maybe we’re learning some useful things during this crisis. Maybe we’ll find some cute online resources that will help our teaching. Maybe we’ll finally work up those notes in PowerPoint. Maybe we’ll discover that WebEx meetings are great and we can reduce our carbon footprint. I know we’ll find that the McMaster community is tight-knit and supportive, and that we’ll get through this together.
Now go wash your hands.
SMA3 Town Hall
On Monday, February 10th MUFA hosted a SMA3 Town Hall with special guests President David Farrar, Acting Provost Susan Searls-Giroux, Associate Vice-President Linda Coslovi, and Acting Vice-President Research Karen Mossman.
The Ontario government is moving to a system which ties funding to our performance on specific metrics, and away from a funding model that was primarily based on the number of students. Many people joined us for an information session about the new model, the metrics and implementation, and what impact these changes could have on the look-and-feel of the university.
If you were unable to attend the session in person, you can now access the presentation online.
New External Tuition Bursary Process
The new external tuition bursary process is now live. Please see the these documents from HR for details. The summary is that there is a two-stage process: you must submit an application by *MARCH 30, 2020* and then final receipts by September 30, 2020. If you miss the March deadline, you will not be eligible for the benefit for the 2019/20 academic year.
The submission happens through Mosaic (Employee Self Serve –> External
Tuition Bursary Form –> a specific Microsoft Form with additional login)
and at this stage, requires proof of registration of your dependent/spouse in a
university or college program. Proof of payment and payment information will be
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
MUFA ad-hoc Committee on Student Evaluation of Teaching Report
In 2019 the McMaster University Faculty Association created a committee to perform a student evaluation of teaching. The committee, comprised of faculty and students (undergraduates and graduates) met in the first months of 2019, circulated a draft report early spring, sought feedback from various groups on campus and published a final version in December.
This exercise provided important feedback from faculty and students on the evaluations used to assess teaching and learning outcomes at McMaster University and suggested to replace the current quantitative questionnaire by three tools to assess the learning experience of students: a formative tool to be used during the term (preferably mid-term), known as “stop-start-continue”, a summative tool, based on focus groups, collecting qualitative comments through a collective discussion at the end of the course, and reflexive tool, based on a survey questionnaire addressed to graduates to collect information at the program level.
We are now seeking feedback on these recommendations through a series of town hall meetings, to take place this month (January 21 and 29). Please see the information at the following link:
MUFA General Meeting
Friday, December 6th, 2019
(Gilmour Hall, Room 111)
The meeting package can be obtained by clicking here.
External Tuition Bursary for dependents & spouses of
MUFA members, effective July 1, 2019
The Joint Administration/Faculty Association Committee
Remuneration Agreement of March 13, 2019 included the creation of a fund to be
used to reimburse tuition payments for dependents & spouses of MUFA
members. MUFA has been working with Human Resources to formalize the
administration of this pool. We expect the details to be finalized shortly
after July 1, and therefore would like to provide the following information to
our members at this time:
- This is a tuition reimbursement program. Payments will be made once a year for the previous academic year. Payments from the fund for the 2019/20 academic year will likely be made in late 2020. Eligible tuition paid on or after July 1, 2019 will be included in the 2019/20 payment.
- Documents such as receipts for tuition payment or the student’s university/college statement of account will be required. The due date for such documents for the 2019/20 academic year will likely be in Fall 2020.
- There will be a maximum cap on the amount of tuition that can be reimbursed to an individual student in an academic year, likely $2000. The amount that will be reimbursed to each student will depend on how many applications are received, and could be less than the maximum cap.
- Eligible tuition payments will likely include: university courses taken for credit leading to an undergraduate or graduate degree at an accredited Canadian university other than McMaster, and courses in a formal program of study leading to a degree or diploma at an accredited Canadian community college.
- Many of the other eligibility requirements will follow those of the internal McMaster tuition bursary program where relevant.
MUFA and Human Resources apologize for the delay in
finalizing the administration of this fund, and will provide full details of
the process as soon as possible.