The Need for Rational Job Titles in the Educational Leadership Stream

Bargaining Updates 2019
Educational Leadership Stream

We are all familiar with the titles associated with the research professoriate: Assistant, Associate, and full Professor. UBC’s “Educational Leadership” stream has titles that are quite a bit less tidy. In 2010 we entitled the final rank in the then-new Educational Leadership stream “Professor of Teaching,” but the first and second ranks in that stream don’t have matching titles.

We’ve been trying to fix that. The “Instructor” titles are a holdover from the pre-2010 teaching stream. (We no longer have a tenurable teaching stream. Lecturers, who now fill the role of a teaching stream, are not tenurable). In 2010, the Parties agreed to change the old teaching stream to the current Educational Leadership stream we have now, in which EL faculty are doing serious scholarly work in educational leadership: hence the “Professor of Teaching” designation.

So our proposal in the last two bargaining rounds has been simply to follow the informal suggestion of the UBC administration back in 2010 to update the titles for the first two EL ranks from the anachronistic Instructor → Senior Instructor → Professor of Teaching to the more fitting progression Assistant Professor of Teaching → Associate Professor of Teaching → Professor of Teaching. Since we have already agreed on the “Professor of Teaching” designation, we see this as a rationalization of what has now become an odd mix of old-style and new-style titles.

EL Stream (Current) EL Stream (Proposed) Research Stream
Instructor Assistant Professor of Teaching Assistant Professor
Senior Instructor Associate Professor of Teaching Associate Professor
Professor of Teaching Professor of Teaching Professor


But in this bargaining round we have run into a snag. While the UBC team has indicated some openness to tidying up titles along these lines, they have not yet agreed to adopt our proposal. Instead, the employer is arguing that they cannot agree to these rationalized titles unless we agree to subordinate that decision to the UBC Senate. 

We were confused by this argument, as the Board and not the Senate is the party with whom we are bargaining. UBC’s team said at the bargaining table that it has something to do with the Senate’s task of monitoring who counts as a faculty member only when determining eligibility to vote and run for Senate or BoG. The University Act states, in this context of voting/elections, that:

“faculty member” means a person employed by a university as an instructor, lecturer, assistant professor, associate professor, professor, or in an equivalent position designated by the senate.

UBC seems to have the impression that a) these updated titles would not be considered to be included in the meaning of the Act by any reasonable interpretation; b) that Senate might refuse to recognize these revised titles and thus deliberately disenfranchise some TTF faculty members in Senate/BoG elections; and c) that any proposal we agree to at the negotiating table needs to be held hostage to these two possibilities. 

We disagree. The titles of our ranks are bargained elements of the Collective Agreement, and the technical question of how Senate will choose to either interpret the current terms or affirm the new titles (as they did in 2012 for “Professor of Teaching”) as equivalent for elections is up to Senate. The Collective Agreement is between the Faculty Association and the Board of Governors, and that is a crucial legal and structural principle on which we rely. We have had overwhelming support and encouragement from our members to rationalize the titles in the Educational Leadership tenure-track stream over the last two bargaining rounds, and so we have a mandate and a right to reach agreement on this issue or to let you know that the administration has refused to agree to these titles. The Senate election-eligibility issue is for us nothing more than a red herring.

However, since reaching agreement on this issue really does matter to our members, we have offered a compromise to the administration:  that we delay the implementation of the new titles until 2020. This would give Senate time to act as it sees fit in accepting titles eligible for Senate/BoG elections. 

The UBC administration has so far rejected this compromise as well.

So that is where we stand at the moment. The titles of our ranks are spelled out in the Collective Agreement, so this is the Faculty Association’s business in negotiation with the University. The Senate does not have the right to decide what someone’s job-title is. We are not convinced that there is any issue at all with the University Act, but if there is, our proposal — to negotiate a title change effective next year — would solve it. It is time to give our Educational Leadership faculty the scholarly titles they deserve.

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