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KFacts: The KFA, Research, & Scholarly Activity. Part I: Funding

By Mark Diotte, Member-at-Large

One of the questions often brought to the Kwantlen Faculty Association office is, “what is the KFA position on research and scholarly activity?” The response is clear: the KFA supports faculty member research and fair compensation for this work according to the Collective Agreement.

The work of the Faculty Association has led to numerous supports and protections for faculty member research and scholarly activity in our Collective Agreement. Some of the most significant forms of support are the stable funding sources of Article 16.05 Faculty Professional Development Fund, Article 14 Educational Leave, and Article 16.01 Professional Development.  

Article 16.05 the Faculty Professional Development Fund

Based on information from 2016-present, approximately $350 000 to $400 000 is available each year to fund the Faculty Professional Development Fund. The fund, also known as the “.6 fund,” is “set at point six of one percent (.6%) of regular and non-regular faculty salary for the institution based on the nominal roll as of January 1 of the previous fiscal year.”

All faculty members are eligible to apply for this funding, with applications accepted 3 times per year: February 1, June 1, and October 1. The online application and further information can be found at https://www.kpu.ca/research/internal-funding-opportunities/06-faculty-pd-fund as well as in Article 16.05 of the Collective Agreement.

The Faculty Professional Development Fund (the “.6 fund”) was successfully negotiated in the 2004-2007 round of bargaining as Letter of Understanding #12 and brought into the main body of the agreement in the 2010-2012 Collective Agreement.

Since 2004, the purpose of this fund has been to maintain and develop “faculty members’ professional competence and effectiveness” while assisting faculty to “remain current and active in their discipline and program.” One of the explicit examples provided in the agreement is “[l] leave from teaching for Research and/or Scholarship.” In other words, scholarly activity and research are included under the umbrella of professional development insofar as they help faculty remain current and active in their area.

It is important to note that this funding was negotiated through collective bargaining and “costed” against the agreement during that round. Thus, this money did not come out of the existing KPU university budget per se, but was negotiated by the KFA bargaining team on behalf of faculty members out of the total money available for collective bargaining.

The main benefit to having the Faculty Professional Development Fund in the Collective Agreement is stability. For example, in 2019, former Provost Dr. Sal Ferreras issued a memo that stated, in part, “I am informing you that at the present time we cannot commit any funding to support any new research projects that entail any level of matching funds, release time and any other contribution commitments from KPU until the end of this fiscal year, March 31, 2019.” In contrast to the university financial position at the time, the .6 fund was untouched as a negotiated pool of money for faculty member professional development because it is protected within our Collective Agreement. Over the years, the KFA has put forward a number of proposals to increase the .6% to a higher percentage in order to reflect the changing costs of professional development and scholarly activity, yet there has been little appetite to increase this funding on the part of the Employer.

Article 14 Education Leave

Similar to the .6 fund, Education Leave at KPU is a crucial provision of the Collective Agreement for supporting faculty member research and scholarly activity. The fund allocates “an amount equal to 1.6% of the regular and non-regular type 2 faculty members’ salary budget…to pay the cost of replacing faculty members on educational leave.”

While the total value of the Education Leave fund varies, there were a total of 13 Ed Leaves awarded in the 2018-19 Academic Year. According to KPU administration, sixty-eight leaves have been awarded since 2014 for a total of 113 semesters of leave for faculty members during this period.[1] The value of this fund is easily several hundred thousand dollars each year.

All regular faculty members are eligible to apply as per the guidelines set out in Article 14 of the Collective Agreement and on the HR Sharepoint site: https://our.kpu.ca/sites/hr/training/FacultyEdLeave/SitePages/Home.aspx

Education Leave has been part of the agreement as far back as the 1988-1991 Collective Agreement. As with all benefits and improvements to collective agreements, it was also costed against the agreement at establishment—meaning that it would have been a priority of our membership that was funded out of the total money available for collective bargaining.

In the bargaining round leading to the 1998-2001 Collective Agreement, the parties agreed to include “research and/or publication of research (through electronic, print or media)” under the list of activities that Educational Leave may be used for. With that small change, research joined other scholarly and professional development activities as a protected provision under Educational Leave in the Collective Agreement.

Article 16.01 Professional Development Committee Funds

The fund, available to all faculty members, provides $700.00 for each full-time equivalent member with unused monies carried over to the subsequent year. In some areas, the use and pooling of funds results in the ability to access significantly more than $700.00 per member for activities such as travel to international conferences. Further information can be found in Article 16.01 of the Collective Agreement and under the yourkfa.ca “Resources” heading.

As with Educational Leave, the funding available to Professional Development Committees has been part of professional development funding through the Collective Agreement as far back as the 1988-91 agreement.

As per Article 16.01 if the current Collective Agreement:

Each Professional Development Committee has the responsibility of promoting, within the group, activities to enhance the academic, technical, and educational standards of the programs/disciplines…

          […]  

In addition, each Committee has the responsibility of drawing up guidelines for the disbursement of professional development funds and receiving from the faculty members’, applications for the use of such funds. These guidelines shall include that the proposed activity will be of benefit to the faculty member and the Employer.

This wording has remained unchanged since 1988 and clearly indicates that this funding is controlled by the PD groupings through their PD committee. These committees have significant autonomy, and they fund requests ranging from books and software to a wide range of research and scholarly activities depending on the terms developed by the individual committee.  

In the bargaining round leading to the 2014-19 Collective Agreement, two increases were negotiated to PD committee funding: from $550 to $625 as of January 1, 2017, and to $700 as of January 1, 2019.

 

As mentioned in my introductory statement, these three funding sources—of Article 16.05 Faculty Professional Development Fund, Article 14 Educational Leave, and Article 16.01 Professional Development­—represent a significant pool of stable, protected, and negotiated funding for professional development, research, and scholarly activity at KPU. In total, these three funds likely approximate more than a million total dollars per year that have been negotiated for faculty members by the KFA.

Part II of this article will focus on the work that the KFA has done to protect faculty member research and scholarly activity on one hand while making funding sources more accessible on the other.

If you have any questions or comments about this topic, please contact me.

For recent news and updates, please visit our KFA members site at https://yourkfa.ca/

Current as of the 2014-2019 KPU-KFA Collective Agreement

 

[1] Some faculty members have a one-semester leave; some members have a two-semester leave.

 

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