Student Life

From the world of advertising to the classroom

Marketing professor Peter Elenakis talks about his career and teaching methods

If you’ve ever taken one of Peter Elenakis’s marketing classes, you’ll probably agree that they aren’t like your typical John Molson School of Business course. Sure, his classes have lectures, assignments, exams—but they also contain something you wouldn’t expect from a business course: improv lessons.

For Elenakis, doing things differently helps students to get out of their comfort zones and see the business world in a different way. He said he brings in someone from Montreal Improv to work with the students in his MBA class once a semester, and it allows them to think more creatively.

“A bunch of these students are professionals and are used to a corporate environment and a certain way of doing things,” Elenakis said. “Doing the improv lesson allows them to accept other people’s ideas and also become better presenters.”

As Elenakis explained, presentations are a large part of the business world, which demands that students become expert presenters when pitching an idea. One of the methods Elenakis uses to make his students better at giving talks is to bar them from using PowerPoint.

“Surprisingly, the last few semesters that I’ve been doing this, the presentations without PowerPoint are better than the ones with PowerPoint,” Elenakis said. “I had one student sitting next to me say, ‘It’s not that good with the PowerPoint. We prefer without.’”

While teaching marketing courses at Marianopolis in Montreal before his time at Concordia, Elenakis noticed students were reluctant to present freely and express their ideas comfortably. At the time, Elenakis was doing improv at Second City in Toronto and noticed that improvising improved his presentation skills and his ability to think creatively. That’s when he decided to bring those skills to the classroom and taught his CEGEP students improv, before eventually bringing improv into his classes at Concordia.

Throughout his career, Elenakis has had other experiences with improv and acting. While working in the field on various marketing campaigns, Elenakis got to be in some TV commercials.

Elenakis said he was in a Rub A535 commercial and also got to play a bartender in a Johnnie Walker Whiskey ad. When asked about how he got to star in these commercials, Elenakis’s answer was simple: “We needed an extra and couldn’t afford anybody else.”

Elenakis’ presentation and improv skills aren’t the only tools he brings to the classroom. He also brings years of experience in business, which began all the way back in his college years, when he decided he wanted to go into advertising.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

It was his love of pop culture and television shows like Bewitched that piqued his interest in the field and eventually led him to business school at McGill University.

“As I went to business school, I fell into marketing, and there was a lot of pop culture and entertainment associated with it, so I liked it,” Elenakis said.

After graduating, Elenakis took time off to travel, before looking for a job in advertising. He sent out 50 CVs and called up every company he sent one to. Instead of asking for a job, he asked if the companies had any insights they could give him about the business world.

These conversations led to interviews ,which, after a while, led him to his first job in the industry. Elenakis has worked in Montreal and Toronto at companies like J.W. Thompson, Leo Burnett, Taxi, Cossette and a small media company called Mediavation.

At the beginning of his career, Elenakis got to work on big projects with some of the world’s most recognizable brands. However, as he explained, he had more of a junior role when starting out.

“I was an assistant media planner, so my job was to get information and determine where they should be spending their money,” Elenakis said. “I was working with Kraft at the time, and I got to look at their budget and see where they could allocate funds.”

Two other big projects Elenakis worked on were with Kellogs and Nintendo. With Kellogs, he worked in the product development department. At the time, the company was trying to position itself in the world of breakfast cereal.

After doing some research, they realized people were no longer sitting down to eat a bowl of cereal in the morning, so they developed on-the-go cereal bars.

“Foods like bagels and muffins were increasing in sales, so we had to figure out how to make our product on-the-go,” Elenakis said. “That’s when we took our Special K cereal and put it into a bar format.”

With Nintendo, Elenakis was originally in charge of their games division and licenses. Before moving on from the company, Elenakis got to partake in the launch of the Nintendo 64 in 1996, a console people still play to this day.

He explained that the biggest challenge in launching the Nintendo 64 was the supply coming out of Japan. Nintendo considered Japan and the United States to be their two biggest markets, while Canada was their third-largest. This meant Elenakis and his colleagues needed to find a way to generate demand, but not too much, because there wouldn’t be enough supply to appease increased demand.

“At that point, Nintendo was the primary sponsor of the Much Music Video Awards, so we paired up with them and launched a promotional campaign,” Elenakis said. This generated the perfect amount of excitement, and the launch of the console went as planned.

Now, Elenakis focuses his attention on small to medium-sized businesses as a media consultant. These companies are typically looking for advice on how their brands should grow and what their message should be when advertising products.

As Elenakis explained, the big difference between working with large companies and small ones is budget restrictions. However, bigger budgets don’t always make the job easier.

“Bigger budgets mean you can do a lot more, but it also means the approval process takes a lot longer,” Elenakis explained. “With small companies, you have to be more resourceful, but things get done quicker because you’re dealing with the owner or president directly.”

While talking about what makes a successful marketing campaign, Elenakis explained that strong insights into a product and how it relates to the consumer’s needs and desires is a recipe for success. Elenakis cited “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign by Dos Equis as an example.

“That campaign functioned on a very simple insight,” he explained. “When guys go out to the bar, they want to seem interesting, otherwise the girl won’t talk to them.”

For Elenakis, the ad worked off a simple premise, but successfully communicated to their target demographic. This is what makes a marketing campaign work.

Elenakis helps coach JMSB students for case competitions. Photo courtesy of Peter Elenakis

In addition to teaching and working with small businesses on the side, Elenakis is also involved with JMSB case competitions as a coach. These case competitions involve a group of business students who are given a situation, whether it’s about finance, marketing or administration, and they must come up with a solution. They then present their idea to a large group where they are judged against other schools.

In these competitions, the teams have about five hours to put together their 20-minute presentation. According to Elenakis, these case competitions are a great way for students to get practical experience.

“It teaches them how to solve a problem, come up with a creative solution, put together a presentation and then present it in front of the judges,” Elenakis said. “It’s a great skill set that they end up learning.”

As a part-time professor, one of the challenges he faces that full-time teachers don’t, is that he’s not always sure if he will be given a class to teach each semester. As he explained, there is no consistency, so it’s harder for him to make a schedule and plan around the courses he teaches. For instance, last fall semester, Elenakis wasn’t given a class.

Despite this hardship, Elenakis has never had a hard time getting what he wants or needs for a class.

“Anytime I ask people for stuff, I get it. There hasn’t been any hesitation, so I’d say it’s been pretty good,” he said.

While he didn’t get to teach this past semester, Elenakis enjoys his job as a professor and watching students grow and learn. As the years have gone on, he has seen students make the jump from the classroom to the professional world.

“One of the great things about teaching is seeing your students progress and going where they want to go,” Elenakis said. “I’ve seen students who wanted to get into advertising and investment and got into it and are now successful. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing that.”

Feature photo by Alexander Cole


CUPFA and Concordia reach a consensus

New collective agreement enacted retroactively, to expire on Dec. 31, 2017

After two and a half years of negotiations, the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association (CUPFA) and the university’s administration signed a new collective agreement on Nov. 10. However, it will only be in effect until Dec. 31, 2017, because it retroactively fills the void since the last collective agreement expired on May 1, 2015.

According to Patrice Blais, CUPFA’s vice-president of grievances and collective agreement, the new agreement addresses many issues the association brought to the negotiating table, such as the pension plan and online courses for part-time faculty members. Concordia spokesperson Mary-Jo Barr said the university wishes to represent a united front with the union with regards to the collective agreement.

Although negotiations began in May 2015, they were slowed down by a number of factors, including administrative changes in both parties, a replacement of the university’s vice-provost—the chief negotiator for faculty relations—and a CUPFA election, Blais explained. The process was also slowed because the two parties re-wrote most of the collective agreement rather than simply making a few amendments.

Among the association’s goals for the new agreement was a decrease in the number of credits required for part-time faculty to be given access to benefits, including a pension plan, sick leave and a comprehensive health plan. The previous agreement set the minimum at 50 credits of seniority, but that requirement will be lowered to 45 credits in the new agreement.

The previous collective agreement also did not have any guidelines as to how part-time faculty members could implement extra duties, which are tasks such as academic advising, course coordination and supervising graduate students. These tasks offer more work opportunities, according to Blais, which is important to CUPFA. However, Blais told The Concordian that extra duties were previously done by full-time faculty because of the lack of criteria for part-time faculty. The new collective agreement has clear-cut parameters for the implementation of extra duties by part-time faculty, including a remuneration model for such tasks.

Another significant change to the collective agreement is the modernization of paternity leave, as the previous agreement did not include paternity benefits. “Fathers will be able to get complementary benefits the same way that mothers do,” Blais said about the new agreement. This amendment allows fathers who are part-time faculty members to receive an income from the school during their five-week paternity leave, Blais explained. This amounts to 93 per cent of their regular salary, which is in line with last year’s adjustment to the Quebec parental insurance plan.

While Blais stated that improvements were made in the new agreement, CUPFA focused on pressing issues. “I am happy we’re going into a second round of negotiations [for the next collective agreement] because there are issues that still need to be addressed,” he said.

One of the issues CUPFA will be keeping an eye on are course cuts within the university. According to Blais, approximately 150 courses were eliminated because of government budget cuts and a decrease in enrollment three years ago after admission letters were sent out late.

In the 2016-17 academic year, approximately 80 courses were added to the list of those offered to part-time faculty. “We expect that with an increase in enrollment […] and voluntary retirement, it will lead to more work opportunities,” Blais said.

“It’s the end of a long process of negotiation and hard work, but the party doesn’t last very long,” he added. During the negotiations for the next collective agreement CUPFA will table an application process for online courses with part-time faculty, as these courses are structured differently than in class course.

Parallel to the negotiations about the collective agreement, CUPFA had discussions with Concordia about representation within the university. The association is demanding the creation of a part-time benefits committee, specifically for health benefits, and a non-voting seat with privileges in the university senate. These two demands have passed all the internal steps of approval and will be addressed at the board of governors meeting on Dec. 5.

Graphic by Alex Hawksworth


Campus Equity Week for part-time job security

CUPFA holds awareness campaign for part-time faculty

Last week, the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association (CUPFA) held its 2017 Campus Equity Week, a week-long awareness campaign highlighting the difficulties many part-time faculty members face within the university.

Erik Chevrier, CUPFA’s chair of internal mobilization, headed the campaign’s organization and conception. Chevrier explained that the goal of the week was to inform people about the particular struggle of part-time faculty members who don’t have guaranteed positions within the university.
This year’s awareness campaign was focused on job security. According to Chevrier, few students know about the specific conditions that affect part-time faculty members, such as how they must re-apply every semester to teach their courses at Concordia and how it can take them up to 10 years to be eligible for health benefits.

Recently, according to Chevrier, part-time faculty members have been offered fewer courses.

According to Chevrier, since the 2012-13 academic year, 26 of the 50 departments that offer part-time positions have reduced the amount of courses offered to part-time faculty members. This has resulted in a total of about 431 fewer courses available to part-time professors.

Some of the most extreme examples Chevrier gave were from the sociology and anthropology departments, which went from offering approximately 92 courses in 2012-13 to 34 this school year. The geography, planning and environment department also saw a drop of almost 30 courses over the same period—from 74 to 46.

For professors who rely on these jobs as their main source of income, it can be extremely stressful to live without job security. Chevrier said he wanted the campaign to be fun and engaging, so CUPFA created short quizzes for students to fill out. The association also encouraged professors to take some time during their classes to give students the quiz. It featured little-known facts about part-time faculty at Concordia, such as how about 57 per cent of the university’s courses are taught by part-time professors.

According to Chevrier—who teaches courses for the political science, sociology and psychology departments—the quiz was very well received by students who were both surprised and concerned by how little they knew about part-time faculty working conditions.

“We teach quite a few courses. With that in mind, we should be respected like others at Concordia University as well,” Chevrier said.

The awareness campaign also included three short videos featuring students from the Arts and Science and Fine Arts faculties, as well as the John Molson School of Business, explaining what part-time faculty members brought to their classes. Many part-time professors actively work in their fields, which Chevrier said can bring a real-world perspective to the classroom and enhance students’ learning experiences.

“Looking forward, we want to be respected as equals, as professors,” he said. “We want to be recognized as colleagues.”

Campus Equity Week is organized under an international body called the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor (COCAL), a network of groups that advocate for better treatment and working conditions for university part-time faculty, such as adjunct and part-time professors. Universities across Canada, the United States and Mexico each hold their own Campus Equity Weeks as part of COCAL’s international campaign.

Photo by Gabrielle Vendette


Instability of work is cause of stress for Concordia’s part-time faculty union

New collective agreement will reduce number of credits necessary for health care coverage

Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association (CUPFA) chair of communications Laurie Milner left a tenure position at Vancouver’s Emily Carr University of Art and Design for a part-time faculty position at Concordia.

It’s a unique situation, she admitted, but she “wanted other things in life, other than being inside one academic community.” While being a part-time faculty member allows her to work outside the university, it is also a lot more unstable than working full-time.

“The stresses for a part-time faculty member can be pretty high in terms of job security,” Milner told The Concordian. That’s because part-time teachers apply for courses at the beginning of every year, no matter how long they’ve been working at Concordia. Milner said part-time faculty often start with only three or six teaching credits a year, the equivalent of just one or two classes.

This issue is compounded by the fact that CUPFA members are only eligible for health care coverage after 50 credits of seniority, a condition agreed upon in their last collective agreement signed in April 2012.

Milner said “part-time faculty often [don’t] have coverage for nine to 10 years” because of that condition.

The union’s new collective agreement with the school—which has to be approved by Concordia’s Board of Governors—will reduce the number of credits necessary to obtain coverage from 50 to 45. The health care plan includes access to psychologists and other mental health professionals.

In a statement, Concordia University vice-president of services Roger Côté said the agreement between both sides was a “representation of the teamwork and positive contributions of all parties.”  Milner said CUPFA members are happy with the agreement, but wished the number of credits to qualify was even lower.

CUPFA’s chair of communications added that the topic of mental health has been discussed in the Department of Studio Arts’ appraisal committee where Milner said departments do a “very intensive self-reflective analysis of where we are and where we want to be.”

The topic of mental health was also discussed in a Fine Arts Faculty Council Steering Committee by the faculty’s dean, Rebecca Duclos. Milner said “she was very happy […] it was raised as one of the issues we should focus on more.”

Duclos was a part-time faculty member herself at Concordia and eventually became the dean of graduate studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before returning to Concordia in August 2015.

Milner, who described Duclos as “sensitive to part-time [faculty],” said department chairs and deans have a big influence. “It’s possible that you have a chair who is not particularly sensitive or supportive of part-time faculty, and they set things up in ways that suddenly exclude you from courses that you’ve been teaching for a very long time,” Milner explained.

According to Milner, the university has lost about 100 part-time faculty members in the last 10 years because of the increase in limited-term appointments or LTAs.

These positions are described by the Concordia University Faculty Association as appointments “limited to a stated term and which carries no implication that the appointee [will] be reappointed or considered for tenure.” Milner told The Concordian that LTAs have a heavy workload which consists of six courses in their first year and seven in their second and third, which pales in comparison to the workload of part-time faculty members.

“If [part-time faculty] have been there awhile, they’re not only losing money—they’re losing the health insurance if they had it, they lose their access to the library to continue their research,” Milner said. “So the stakes are so high for people.”

Photo by Alex Hutchins


Part-time faculty spearheads workshops

CUPFA workshop discusses research by part-time faculty and the challenges they face

Six Concordia part-time faculty members discussed their research, projects and experience as educators in Reframing Pedagogy, the first of six Microlink workshops on Friday, Oct. 29.

The workshops, held at Concordia’s Sir George Williams campus and hosted by the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association (CUPFA), are meant to encourage dialogue and feedback between faculties.

The speakers included French studies instructor Louise-Marie Bouchard; Yosra Dali, Sonia Di Maulo and Pamela Gunning and Jesse Hunter from the department of education; and Francine Tremblay, from the department of sociology. There was a small audience of Concordia instructors. After each presentation, the speakers welcomed spirited discussion..

Some of the work shared included Bouchard’s recently published book, L’art de la pensée, which challenges common perceptions of creative thinking, and Gunning’s research on ESL education and collaboration between teachers in Quebec schools. Hunter’s research on creative thought was also discussed, as well as Tremblay’s study on millennial students and disengagement.

Photo by Ana Hernandez.

While the workshop focused on topics pertaining to education and pedagogy, both presenters and attendees did not shy away from discussing the controversies surrounding part-time work at Concordia and other post-secondary institutions. Dali shared the results of her case study of three part-time staff members outside of Concordia, each of whom had experienced feelings of isolation and a lack of organization from an administrative standpoint. She also described the fear her study’s participants felt regarding job security.

“[A study participant] was asking, ‘Am I going to have a session next year?… Will I have to go back to teaching at the high school level? Will I have to go back to telemarketing?’ [These instructors] are living from session to session,” Dali said.

Dali’s findings prompted conversation with the audience, with some members agreeing that part-time staff members do face administrative difficulties, while others felt isolation wasn’t a problem at Concordia, since there is a relatively high number of part-time faculty members. “It’s different [at Concordia],” said Hunter. “Part-time staff [are] the lifeblood of the university.”

Photo by Ana Hernandez.

Tremblay’s presentation on millennial students and disengagement in post-secondary studies also prompted an engaged conversation among attendees. At the beginning of her study, Tremblay had expected to find that technology was a major factor in “disengagement,” but she later concluded that this was misrepresenting the problem. She found that many students are disengaged because they are extremely stressed and facing a competitive job market after graduation. Students understand that they will likely need further education after a bachelor’s degree, and as a result they are less in engaged in subject matter and more focused on passing, graduating and finding a job as quickly as possible. “Students today are extremely stressed and extremely anxious,” she said. “They cannot project themselves in the future, and the competition today is fierce.”

Many professors in attendance agreed with this sentiment, voicing both sympathy for students and frustration with their lack of engagement in recent years.

CUPFA is hoping this enthusiastic, engaging dialogue will continue at its upcoming workshops, scheduled once a month between November and March.


CUPFA launches Campus Equity Week

Concordia’s part-time faculty association invites students to learn about their cause

The Concordia University Part-time Faculty Association (CUPFA) just launched this year’s Campus Equity Week, which will be going on from Oct. 24 to 27, to shed some light on the unequal treatment of the university’s part-time faculty.

Lorraine Oades, the association’s vice president of professional development, said this week is about acknowledging part-time faculty members and the value they bring to the university. CUPFA is asking the university to allow part-time faculty to be paid for doing supervisory and administrative work at Concordia, in addition to their teaching duties.

“We want to create a system that is fair for this part of the faculty,” said Oades. “We are not asking for a huge amount of money, we just want to fill in some gaps.”

Oades, a part-time studio arts professor, is deeply concerned with the work of part-time faculty members that goes unacknowledged and unpaid for. “For example, students will ask us if we can supervise independent studies,” she explained. “We will say most of the time no because this is a full-time faculty job which is a reason [full-time professors] get a higher pay.” She added, however, that there are some part-time professors who agree to offer this help to students but are not rewarded for it.

In past years, Campus Equity Week was only a low-key, one-day event. This year, however, CUPFA is setting up a kiosk for four days, rotating in different buildings on the Sir George Williams campus. To promote the event, the association released a few video profiles created by part-time faculty member, Monique Moumblow, to showcase the hard work of these teachers. “This is the first year that everything falls into place,” said Oades.

Another issue CUPFA will be sharing with students during the eventful week is their concern with limited-term appointments (LTAs). Professors with LTAs are limited to teaching 18 to 21 credits per year. “The LTAs replace the full-time faculty but they don’t know the students as well,” said Oades. “It is very difficult for them, for example, to write a quality letter of reference if they know very little of the students.”

CUPFA’s voice is gaining strength, and members will continue negotiating with the university for their demands after Campus Equity Week. According to Oades, many full-time teachers already support the cause, and some deans are also very enthusiastic about it. “It’s the upper administration that needs to be convinced, and that’s what we’re trying to do with this campaign,” Oades said.

CUPFA’s kiosk is currently set up  in the EV building. They will also be present on Tuesday in the Hall building, Wednesday in the MB building and Thursday in the VA building, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Students and staff can speak with members of the association, get a free coffee card and pick up a flyer for more information on CUPFA.

Note: Two changes have been made to this article after publication to ensure accuracy of the information. The Concordian regrets the errors.


Part time faculty come to a deal

CUPFA announces short-term contract agreement with university

Concordia University’s Part-time Faculty Association (CUPFA) has reached a tentative, one-year agreement with university officials in a deal that leaves both sides happy but signals much work in the future.

David Douglas, CUPFA’s president, explained how the current negotiations were the end result of prolonged discussions not simply within CUPFA itself but between all the faculty and staff organizations at the university.

“All the labour agreements of the last couple of years were settled at the time when [we began ours],” Douglas said.

As a consequence, CUPFA was the last to be wrapping things up, effectively making them out of step with the other organizations. Now, with another deadline looming in May 2015 for the next round of negotiations, CUPFA is preparing to go back to the table.

“At a certain point it became difficult for either our side or their side to contemplate life after May — it just became simpler to settle what we could, which is what we’ve done, and then re-open fully, essentially in the same cycle as everybody else,” said Douglas. “All of those contracts are coming up in May — this is the timeframe for us.”

Normative issues — or remuneration aside from pay, like benefits — featured heavily in the negotiations.

“We figured if we’re at the table we might as well be on the table,” he said of the worry about job security, pensions, and research commitments in an era of cuts.

Douglas said concerns coming from what his group considered an insufficient follow-through of last year’s collective agreement drove the need for a fuller agreement this time around and a better implementation of terms.

Speaking of the university’s latest initiative, the Voluntary Departure Program, Douglas said: “We were certainly aware of the budget austerity climate [and] we were given a specific information session about the Voluntary Departure Program, which doesn’t really affect us, [though] we didn’t really know it was coming.”

The program seeks to give a lump-sum payment to staff who voluntarily leave, and is expected to save the school millions of dollars annually.

“I think at some level, when you take away staff, there’s an inevitable impact or reflection on student life and faculty life,” said Douglas on the effects the program may have on his association. He said the last round of budget cuts lowered  membership by about 5 per cent, mostly from a contraction of teaching schedules.

“Because cuts came midyear, really the only sort of possibility was to cut the courses that part-time faculty were teaching,” explained Douglas.

When it comes to suggestions about how Concordia may save additional money, CUPFA suggested a restriction on limited-term appointments (LTA), a system by which faculty is recruited on a limited contractual basis — effectively, temporary tenure.

“There are some necessities to LTA [sic] appointments, but we feel that it’s been enlarged over the last few years to our detriment. I think we’re cheaper than LTA, so if you want to cut the budget, I think cutting temporary appointments that are more expensive than part-time faculty is not a bad place to start.”

He said that as soon as matters are clarified and the final text is rewritten to better reflect the new situation and ratifications, the public will have access to the full details of the deal. He expects this to be completed in several weeks.

“We’re certainly working as hard as we can to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s.”

“There are things we had to leave on the table [and] priorities we could not realize, but there are other things that we will be able to answer in the interest of our members.”

Limiting present priorities has allowed for future discussion over what is to be brought up and what issues will be re-opened come May, Douglas said. Such matters will be something to be brought up with CUPFA members soon.


CUPFA’s MicroTalks launches this month

On behalf of the Concordia University’s Part-time Faculty Association (CUPFA), the first Microtalks event of three to come this school year, which consists of six-minute talks presented by part-time faculty, will be launched and open to students on campus Tuesday Oct. 22.

Taking place in the EV building on the sixth floor in the department of Design and Computation Arts, MicroTalks will explore and educate, with visual and verbal material, various topics of interest sought out and researched by part-time faculty members.

“The primary goal of the MicroTalks is to promote and share part-time faculty research with other part-time faculty members, full-time faculty and students, in order to create an engaged discussion around [what] part-time faculty are up to outside of the classroom,” said CUPFA Vice President Lorraine Oades.

“Too often students, faculty and the administration forget that part-time faculty are engaging in cutting edge research and we wanted to highlight the diversity and achievements of our members.”

Oades, who has been preparing the MicroTalks project for the past year, is excited for it to begin next week.

“I began officially organizing the MicroTalks series this summer with Donna Nebenzahl, from journalism, and Alison Loader, from computation arts and design, who are co-ordinating the MicroTalks with me,” she said. “We started meeting in early June and met regularly throughout the summer.”

Each MicroTalk event will have a specific theme around which all participating part-time faculty will focus their six-minute talks. The theme for the first event is control and identity.

This theme, as written in the MicroTalks press release, will address the “often invisible forces of power we face every day as twenty-first century global citizens living in a rapidly shifting and often uncertain terrain. The presenters explore various mechanisms of control, how they shape us as individuals and at times circumscribe our future.”

During the event’s two hour timespan, students will hear and learn from a variety of part-time faculty members focusing on and interpreting diverse areas of expertise such as sociology, painting and drawing, religion, urban planning, business technology management, design and computation arts, intermedia/cyberarts and more.

This week’s event will feature 10 different part-time faculty members. The reasoning behind the specified six-minute talks derives from the presentation style called PechaKucha in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each — a format that keeps presentations concise, fast-paced and powers multiple-speaker events.

“We wanted to create a series of high-energy interdisciplinary evenings, each of which would focus on a specific theme,” said Oades. “There will be a question and answer period at the end of all the presentations, which we hope will develop into a real dialogue between the audience and the individual presenters.”

The MicroTalks project will also allow students the opportunity to find out more about their instructors and introduce themselves to areas or disciplines they aren’t already familiar with.

The second MicroTalks event will take place Jan. 21, focusing on a theme of light and landscape, and the third on Feb. 25, with a theme of community and culture.

The first MicroTalks event will take place Oct. 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in EV 6.720, 1515 St. Catherine St. West.


CUPFA President steps down, steps into role on BOG

After two decades at the helm of the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association (CUPFA), Maria Peluso is stepping down as president. Having also worked with the Inter-Union Council and countless committees and advisory boards on behalf of students, staff, faculty and the community at large, Peluso has been a constant in the Concordia community.  Peluso has earned a reputation for excellence “through her fierce dedication to the betterment of the institution she cherishes and the community she has nurtured through teaching, advocacy and influencing public policy,” says René Lalonde, former president of the Concordia University Union of Support Staff – Technicians Union.  What does her “stepping down” from her presidential role at CUPFA mean for Concordia? It means Peluso will be “stepping up” to dealing with problems at the prevention stage instead of at the intervention phase.

“I feel that it is time for me to accept a new role, to provide an ounce of prevention instead of a pound of cure in the policy process,” Peluso explained. “One of the places to enhance our institution’s mission is alongside the other members on the board of governors, a group of dedicated individuals; volunteers who are offering their own diverse expertise.” Thus Peluso will be continuing her work as a member of the Board of Governors, the highest decision-making body that influences public policy and the day-to-day lives of the Concordia community.

There is no doubt that her institutional memory, as a result of over 30 years with Concordia, will help provide context to important discussions. “Maria is first and foremost an educator and mentor,  she has helped guide and teach all of us in the union movement as well as students, of the importance of accountable, universal and just policy implementation. I know she will continue to advocate for that at the Board level too,” said Lalonde.

Although her colleagues in the union movement will miss her at their table, (as will CUPFA members),Peluso feels CUPFA is in excellent hands with her successor, David Douglas,  “[He] shares the view held by part-time faculty and others on the role of CUPFA and “unions” – when required to defend members as a union, and to also safeguard the interests of the University community as an association. CUPFA’s two roles are not mutually exclusive, nor confrontational. Dave is a team leader, one who seeks harmony and who is solution-based as a thinker.”

Peluso’s commitment to the values of diversity, sustainability, and integrity, are critical components of her make-up. “Maria is a force of nature, aimed at ensuring responsible, ethical management and enhancing Concordia’s reputation as an example of how society should function,” says Lisa Montgomery, a former executive with the Concordia University Support Staff Union.  “Maria is no armchair intellectual; she has a proven track record as an applied political scientist of public administration and public policy, a known federalist and solid advocate for government accountability. Her love of Concordia’s faculty, staff and students is in real-time.”  Montgomery believes that Peluso will bring a wide-variety of experience in organization, conflict resolution and relationship building to her continued roles within Concordia.


Part-timers don’t grow on trees

What Concordia needs is a feel good story about an administrator rescuing a group of students from a burning building.

The last thing this university needs is for all of the school’s part-time professors to go on strike. Not only would that put yet another black mark on Concordia’s reputation, but for those who have taken classes here know, it would cripple most programs at the school.

Since the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association voted last Sunday in favour of a strike mandate by 95 per cent, discussions taking place at the negotiating table seem to have heated up substantially.

A collective agreement is something this union is entitled to and the fact that, last time around, it took seven years to negotiate one is not a point of pride for anyone.

There are a lot of part-time professors at this university and if last year’s McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association’s strike is anything to go on, things could get ugly, fast.

There are more than 800 part-time faculty members teaching at Concordia according to CUPFA President Maria Peluso.

We don’t know about the rest of you, but crossing a picket line on the way to class is not the way we like to start the day. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that if CUPFA did decide to strike, Concordia’s other recent mistakes would pale in comparison.

So where do we go from here? Concordia doesn’t have a great record with collective bargaining and now with this majority vote, CUPFA has a powerful bargaining chip.

Currently, the deal that the university is trying to push upon members of CUPFA includes parts about isolating salaries from other universities at Montreal, imposing restrictions on retirement and leaves, and restructuring the seniority system.

We students know that part-time professors already have it pretty rough. When your teacher is holding office hours in a cafe down the street because they don’t have another option, that’s a sign that these people probably deserve more for the work they do.

Part-timers work hard and don’t deserve to be treated like dirt because their contracts leave them vulnerable or exposed. If they feel that the university might not be operating in good faith, then that is a serious concern which they obviously believe is worth striking over.

To the university administration, we say this: swallow your pride and get ready to grin and bear it because we don’t want our professors on the picket line any more than you do. They are reasonable people and if Concordia can offer them a reasonable deal, then this nightmare can be avoided. Faculty members are more important to this university than the administration likes to believe and if CUPFA isn’t happy, you better believe no one will be.


A majority vote for strike

CUPFA  members met at a special general assembly on Sunday. Photo by Madelayne Hajek

The Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association voted 95 per cent in favour of an unlimited strike mandate should collective bargaining negotiations fail.

CUPFA held a special general assembly Sunday to discuss options to pressure the administration at Concordia to forego amendments to the collective agreement.

The most recent contract expired Aug. 31 and part-time faculty members are not content with the proposal offered by the university.

“I’m urging all members to stand with the union behind the strike mandate,” said Robert Campbell, a part-time professor in accounting at the John Molson School of Business. “When I saw what they were offering us, I said ‘I can’t believe this’ and it’s just unacceptable.”

In March, the association requested that Concordia issue a protocol in order to agree on how to proceed and sign a new collective agreement. Following nine separate meetings between administration and CUPFA, a protocol was signed on July 8.

Negotiations were supposed to continue in August, however, Concordia decided to restructure the terms of the current collective agreement much to the dismay of CUPFA. The restructuring was unanimously rejected but the university is still pushing forward with the plan.

“What they want is to rewrite every article in our collective agreement,” said Patrice Blais, vice president of the collective agreement and grievance. “They want to continue to fix things that aren’t broken.”

Concordia’s deal proposed to isolate and de-link salary rates from other post-secondary institutions like Université de Montréal and Université du Québec à Montréal which means their salaries would not change despite what is happening at sister universities. Furthermore, the university wants to impose restrictions on retirement and leaves, as well as having control over the hiring process of applicants vying for a part-time position, benefits and course evaluations. The university also wants to restructure seniority standing with a point system that would see current senior positions devalued.

One of the concerns emphasized by CUPFA was the volume of grievances filed by professors during the last collective agreement. The negotiating team argued that the massive increase in grievances is due to Concordia not respecting aspects of the agreement since 2009.

According to David Douglas, chair of communications, 21 grievances were filed this year so far and he expects as many as 30 complaints to be submitted by the end of 2012.

Douglas believes the time to pressure the university’s collective bargaining committee is now. CUPFA is not willing to head to the bargaining table for an extended period as they did for their last contract. It took seven years, from 2002 to 2009, for two parties to reach a settlement and sign a contract.

“Our experience has been one of delay with the university. Last time around we were very polite, they asked can we put you off for a period of time and we said yes,” Douglas told The Concordian. “We don’t have faith in the approach that the university is taking.”

If the university and the union are unable to achieve a negotiation in the near future, CUPFA’s mandate to strike has the potential to paralyze Concordia with over 800 part-time professors teaching at Concordia now. For the time being, however, the impending strike remains a pressure tactic only.

“What we are focusing on is to keep negotiating. CUPFA has every right to take a strike mandate if they want and this does not mean they are on strike,” said university spokesperson Chris Mota. “We want to keep working towards a contract that can be done sooner rather than later and continue to negotiate.”

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