Who are our Instructors?
Instructors are ULFA members whose duties typically consist of 80% teaching and 20% service without a research requirement. This distribution varies from Faculty to Faculty and depends on negotiations when contracts are being signed. In addition, a number of Instructors engage in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) and other professional development activities. While these activities enhance the learning environment Instructors are able to provide, they are often not directly recognized. Some Instructors need written permission from their Dean to engage in research or creative activity (e.g., participate in research projects, write articles, books, or poems, or apply for grants). Unfortunately, Instructors are often treated as second-class professors, and their work is not always accorded the level of respect they deserve. Instructors may teach up to 8 classes a year, and many Instructors teach our largest classes at undergraduate levels, generally with lower remuneration than their peers who engage in research. There is a cap on the salary of Instructors at each rank, and Instructors who have achieved their salary cap are not able to receive any further raises.
Teaching Professoriate: addressing Respect and Workload
Many Comprehensive and Research Universities (CARUs) across the country have established an equal and a parallel career path to the traditional research-focussed professoriate. These “Teaching Professoriate” streams for Instructors provide additional respect, and recognise professional development and work on SoTL as valuable endeavours that may take the place of some classroom teaching duties. For these reasons, the University of Lethbridge has lost several excellent Instructors to other universities where a Teaching Professoriate path exists.
ULFA has proposed the creation of a “Teaching Professoriate” stream into which Instructors at the highest rank could be promoted. Unfortunately, the Board team has indicated that this would not be an easy exercise for them, and they have not been prepared to entertain the idea during this round of negotiations. They have proposed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would promise to form a joint committee to consider ways of establishing a Teaching Professoriate career path in future negotiations.
As a small step in addressing workload concerns, ULFA has also proposed several minor modifications to existing language that would make it clearer that Instructors deserve to have their efforts in professional development, SoTL, and their service work valued and acknowledged in evaluations and in assignment of duties. The Board has not moved on any of these proposals.
Instructors deserve to be treated more respectfully by the University of Lethbridge administration. Recruiting and retention of excellent teachers enhances institutional pride and contributes to our ratings as one of the best teaching institutions in terms of student satisfaction, instruction delivery, and student-teacher ratio. Parity, equity, and respect are basic requirements that must be achieved and upheld at the U of L in order to realize the stated mission and vision of being a destination CARU institution in Canada. Instructors’ workload must be revisited for equity purposes, and a Teaching Professoriate path needs to be created for parity, to assist with recruitment, and to reduce attrition.ULFA’s Teaching Professoriate proposal is covered in Articles 2, 12, 15, and 31. The ULFA team presented this bargaining mandate item at the negotiation table on April 8, 2021 and February 4, 2022. A proposed Teaching Professoriate was also the topic of an ULFA Bargaining Town Hall held May 5, 2021.