During the fall semester, a group of nine professors from five faculties wrote a letter to the Vice-President Academic and Provost regarding workload. This letter, which you can read here, aimed to bring the increasing workload of professors to his attention and requested that he rectifies the situation. In particular, the letter called for the hire of more support staff, emphasizing that support staff members are overworked as well. We are now in a position to provide you with an update on this collective action.
Distributed with the support of the APUO, the letter garnered remarkable support: 354 regular professors and four librarians (with gender parity), i.e. nearly one-third of the APUO membership. This number is all the more impressive as many assistant professors mentioned that they did not sign the letter for fear of delaying or jeopardizing their promotion – which conveys a worrying message about the work environment at the University of Ottawa. Thus, only 35 of 228 assistant professors signed the letter, compared to 159 of 313 associate professors, and 157 of 328 full professors.
The letter was sent to the Vice-President Academic and Provost on December 11 and was acknowledged by him on December 13. On January 30, three of the authors of the letter met with David Graham (Vice-President Academic and Provost), Sylvain Charbonneau (Vice-President Research), and Marc Joyal (Vice-President Resource). The authors reported on the situation and reiterated the importance of a rapid and concrete response to the problems described in the letter. On February 6, at a meeting of the Joint Consultation and Communication Committee (article 5.7 of the Collective Agreement) attended by David Graham, APUO representatives reiterated that members are very concerned with the increased workload and that they expect the administration to take swift and concrete action to improve the situation.
On February 8, in his reply to the letter, the Vice-President Academic and Provost thanked the authors for their contribution to the University administration’s reflection and wrote the following:
As we have told you, we are currently undertaking an in-depth review of our administrative services to make these support activities more flexible, streamlined and improved. The question of the role and size of support staff will undoubtedly arise in the context of this review, including whether our numbers are insufficient or how our staff are distributed and deployed within our academic and administrative units.
The APUO thanks David Graham for taking the time to meet with and listen to the authors of the letter. Under Allan Rock’s administration, the letters from APUO members were often unanswered.
That said, the Vice-President Academic and Provost’s response offers nothing concrete in the short term. In this context, we recently asked David Graham that the review be conducted in a transparent manner, with a known timeframe, and in cooperation with the various unions on campus. We are awaiting for his response. Please rest assured that we will continue to work on this issue in close collaboration with the authors of the letter. We will inform you of any significant developments. In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
The APUO executive