7th CURAC/ARUCC Annual General Meeting
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Université de Moncton
President Tarun Ghose called the meeting to order at 2:45 p.m. (ADT). He reminded everyone that, while discussion is open to everyone, only one official Delegate or Alternate of each Member Association is entitled to cast a vote.
1. Adoption of the Agenda
John Meyer said that he would have something to present under Other Business. Tarun Ghose said that he would interchange items 8 and 9 on the circulated Agenda.
Alison Scott-Prelorentzos (Alberta) moved, seconded by Peta Tancred (McGill),
that the Agenda, as amended, be adopted.
APPROVED without dissent
2. Approval of the Minutes of the 2008 AGM
Tarun Ghose noted that the Minutes of the 2008 AGM had been available, and asked for any corrections or additions. There being no corrections or amendments,
Sandra Pyke (York) moved, seconded by Tom Poiker (Simon Fraser),
that the Minutes be approved.
APPROVED without dissent
3. President’s Remarks
Tarun Ghose welcomed all present to the 7th AGM. He said that the progress he will be reporting for 2008-09 is not his work, but the work of CURAC as a whole.
On the membership front, we have one new member (Brock University Retirees Association), recruited by John Meyer. Another Association approached us about joining, and we expect to receive their application very soon. A Board member has been working to recruit Calgary retirees, who were among the founders of CURAC’s predecessor organization. Tarun has also been corresponding with retirees at Lakehead University who are working to establish a new organization there. After noting that the Lakehead University Faculty Association is a member of CURAC on behalf of faculty retirees, Tarun invited Brian Phillips of Lakehead to bring Delegates up to date on developments there.
Brian Phillips noted that the Faculty Association at Lakehead is a member of CURAC and has a Professor Emeritus Committee, of which he is a member. Although that arrangement works, a number of people decided that they need an association for all retirees. The new association was created in September, and now has more former administrators than faculty among its ~70 members. Brian is a Delegate representing the Emeritus Committee of the Faculty Association because they were able to support his trip to Moncton. He would like to see one CURAC Member combining both groups, but that remains to be negotiated. Tarun Ghose wished them well.
Tarun Ghose said that another type of possible growth for CURAC is through linkage. We have already formed links with a number of organizations: CARP (described just before the AGM) and AHED ( Academics for Higher Education & Development), which provides opportunities for academics to volunteer overseas. For the last two years, the Board has been discussing forming closer links with CAUT. In April, Peter Russell, Howard Fink and George Brandie had a meeting with Prof. Penni Stewart (CAUT President), Jim Turk (CAUT Executive Director), and Neil Tudiver (CAUT Assistant Executive Director). As a result of that meeting, Tarun recently received a letter from Prof. Stewart outlining the areas in which CURAC and CAUT might interact:
- Links on our Web sites
- Free hosting of the CURAC Web site
- Sharing information for research and briefs
- Reviewing CAUT policies toward retirees
- Access to the CAUT Collective Agreement database
- Working to ensure retirees have access to libraries, research grants and workspace
- Retiree housing
- Benefits and Pensions
Tarun reminded Delegates that the Bargaining Unit in each university or college negotiates pension and benefits, often without retiree input. Forming a link with CAUT can help us to evaluate pension and benefit status and to prevent deterioration in these areas in the future.
CURAC has also negotiated arrangements with Waterloo Insurance (discussed at lunch today) and with the Literary Review of Canada to offer reduced rates to our retirees.
The Pension Committee, chaired by John Meyer, has made submissions to Pension Review Commissions in Ontario and Nova Scotia.
The CURAC Board makes its decisions in meetings at Conferences and teleconferences. Discussions are often lengthy and always animated, but this is a price worth paying in a democratic organization. Tarun hoped that this style of decision-making will continue.
Concerning communication, Tarun praised the quality of our Newsletter, but wondered how widely it is distributed. Tarun lauded Ken Rea’s many efforts to improve communication between CURAC and its Member Associations, but felt that this is still a problem.
Tarun Ghose next suggested that if we want to increase our activities, we will need additional financial resources. He recommended that the incoming Board should take this under advisement.
He concluded this report, his last as President, by thanking the Board and Committee Chairs for keeping him going and for making his term as President so interesting, so full of surprises, and so fulfilling.
4. Secretary’s Report
George Brandie referred Delegates to his written report, already circulated (See Appendix A).
In the Registration Package for this Conference, George had included an “Informal Survey/Sondage Informel” asking Delegates how many CURAC/ARUCC Conferences they had attended. He said that any thriving organization needs a balance between experience and institutional memory on the one hand, and fresh energy and new ideas on the other. The Survey represents a snapshot of where we are; George would leave it to Delegates to draw their own conclusions from the results which he presented (See Figure 1).
Figure 1. Results of the Informal Survey (36 responses)
Some respondents noted that they had been involved in every CURAC Conference AND in meetings of its predecessor organization. George suspected that many for whom this is their first Conference were from the Atlantic region and he hoped that they will continue to be active within CURAC.
George Brandie concluded by expressing special thanks to Francis Weil and the Local Committee for reproducing all of the documents for this AGM on relatively short notice. Applause from the audience confirmed their appreciation of the work of the Local Committee.
5. Treasurer’s Report
Alasdair Sinclair referred Delegates to the Treasurer’s Report already circulated (See Appendix A). Referring to the Financial Statement, he noted that although expenses exceeded revenues by over $5,000 last year, this need not signal a long-term problem. The budget shortfall had two causes. First, despite its overall success, the Montréal Conference was the first one that did not generate a surplus (the budget had anticipated a $2,000 surplus). Secondly, we incurred some unplanned travel expenses in connection with the honouring of four contributors to CURAC. Nevertheless, we still have a positive bank balance of roughly $6,000 and we also have a GIC worth more than $5,000. The Statement also shows that an account has been set up at Queen’s so that expenses there connected with the Secretary’s Office and the Web can be paid from that. Alasdair said that he has the statement signed by Auditor Mike Bradfield, whose text is included on the Financial Statement.
Following the Financial Statement are projections for 2009-10 and 2010-11. We have to include projections for two years because our fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 31 (not from AGM to AGM) so we are already into the 2009-10 year. Each of those projections does include a Conference surplus.
Tarun Ghose suggested that, before proceeding to the Treasurer’s motions, we should have motions to approve the reports already received.
Doug Creelman (Toronto) moved, seconded by John Meyer (Windsor),
that the reports of the President, Secretary, and Treasurer be approved.
APPROVED without dissent
Alasdair Sinclair noted that Mike Bradfield has freely donated his auditing services to CURAC for the past three years, and is willing to continue, if that is our wish.
Alasdair Sinclair moved, seconded by Lois Brockman (Manitoba),
that Mike Bradfield be appointed Auditor for 2009-10.
APPROVED without dissent
Alasdair drew Delegates’ attention to the Travel Subsidy form for Delegates, urging them to complete the form and return it to him before the end of the Conference.
Tom Poiker (Simon Fraser) moved, seconded by Clint Martin (Guelph),
that the financial estimates for the next two years be approved.
Evan Simpson (Memorial) asked why the estimates do not include any income from our agreement with Waterloo Insurance. Alasdair Sinclair said that he anticipates receiving something in January, 2010, but he can’t estimate the amount because this is the first year of the agreement and we have no idea how many CURAC retirees will take out policies with Waterloo Insurance.
John Meyer (Windsor) noted that CURAC’s dues have remained unchanged at $0.50 per member since our founding. He suggested taking a “straw vote” to ascertain the reaction of Delegates to increasing the dues to, say, $1.00 per member, with an upper limit of $400. This could help the Board in its deliberations about proposals for future dues. A Delegate asked whether the minimum fee for small Associations would also increase, and Alasdair Sinclair replied that he would not propose raising the minimum. Lois Brockman (Manitoba) suggested that, rather than having large percentage fee increases from time to time, CURAC should have its fees increase annually in line with increases in the Consumer Price Index. Howard Fink (Concordia) suggested that doubling the fee would, in effect, cover the compounded inflation of the last several years. Tarun Ghose said that a “straw vote” would give a sense of how Delegates feel. By show of hands, 13 Delegates voted in favour of raising the fees, 2 Delegates were opposed, and 3 abstained.
Clint Martin (Guelph) wondered why dues for large Associations are capped. Evan Simpson (Memorial) said that, although he personally supported raising the fees, he had voted “No” in the “straw vote” because he feels that much more discussion is needed at the local level before any change is approved. He worried that, if a compelling rationale were not presented by the Board well in advance of any binding vote at an AGM, a number of Associations might drop their membership, offsetting any increase in revenue.
After this discussion, the motion to approve the financial estimates was
APPROVED without dissent
6. Report of the Nominating Committee
Howard Fink noted that, while the Board may make decisions, ultimately those decisions must be approved by Delegates at the AGM. While the Board has “smiled upon” the slate recommended by the Nominating Committee (See Appendix B), Delegates must elect the Board and the Officers. Candidates are elected to the Board for two-year terms. Part A of the Report lists the Nominating Committee’s recommendations for those to be elected, along with the ex officio members of the Board. Part B lists Board members who were elected at the 2008 AGM and have another year on their terms:
- Joan Cunnington (OCRA)
- Thérèse Leduc (FRUQ President)
- June Panteluk (Alberta)
Howard noted that the proposed Board contains members from across the country.
Howard Fink then listed the Nominating Committee’s proposed slate of Executive Officers:
- President: John Meyer (Windsor) [new]
- Vice-President: John Stager (UBC) [new]
- Secretary: George Brandie (Queen’s) [renewing]
- Treasurer: Alasdair Sinclair (Dalhousie) [renewing]
- Past President: Tarunendu Ghose (Dalhousie) [ex officio]
Tarun Ghose noted that, in addition to the nominations presented by the Nominating Committee, Delegates may also make nominations from the floor. He called three times for any additional nominations as the Executive Officers. There being none, Tarun declared the Executive Officers proposed by the Nominating Committee to be elected.
Howard Fink then listed the Committee’s nominees as Directors-at-Large:
- Chair of LOC for next Annual Conference: Sandra Pyke (York) [ex officio]
- Jack Boan (Regina) [new]
- David Lubell (Waterloo) [renewing]
- Francis Weil (Moncton) [new]
Ron Cosper (St. Mary’s) asked about the number of Directors-at-Large, and Howard said that, if elected, the three nominees would join the continuing Directors and newly elected Officers to make 12 Directors, the number specified in our By-Laws. Tarun Ghose called three times for any additional nominees. There being none, he declared the slate proposed by the Nominating Committee to be elected.
Howard Fink thanked the members of the Nominating Committee, and noted that John Stager did not participate in the discussion of, or vote on, the nomination for Vice-President. He congratulated the new President and Vice-President, and welcomed the new members to the Board.
John Meyer noted that Nominating Committees always face the challenge of finding new members to nominate to the Board, and he encouraged all Delegates to send in names at any time, so that a pool of potential nominees might be established early.
7. Reports of Committees
Tarun Ghose referred Delegates to the Committee Reports, already circulated (See Appendix C), and invited any Committee Chairs who wished to add any comments to do so.
Ken Rea (Toronto) reported that the CURAC Housing Committee has not functioned recently, and its Chair, Anne Piternick (UBC), has long argued that all that is needed is someone to coordinate information about housing developments for academic retirees, of which there have been very few. As a member of the Committee, Ken has heard from Anne that she no longer wishes to be active in this area, and strongly urges that the Committee be dissolved. Ken assumes that the Board will address this matter.
Peter Russell (Toronto), Chair of the Professional Support Committee, reported that the Committee had not met in 2008-09. He reminded Delegates that two years ago the Committee had undertaken a major effort to ensure that the research granting agencies (principally NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR) did not discriminate against people who were retired. The Presidents of all three agencies confirmed that retirees are equally eligible for grants, provided they still have the necessary support of their local institutions. NSERC, the only agency to keep such data, showed that retiree applications had a high success rate, although the amounts awarded were smaller. These results were reported by the Committee at the Windsor AGM in 2007.
Peter Russell went on to say that he had been contacted by a scientist who had been turned down on a renewal of his grant despite having superb letters of support from Canadian and international colleagues. Peter is concerned that, in the present situation of cutbacks, agencies may begin to discriminate in favour of â€œless agedâ€ scholars. Peter is working with the individual in his appeal of the decision. He feels that the Professional Support Committee should act as an ombudsman for colleagues who believe they have faced discrimination from the granting agencies. He invited Delegates to remind colleagues at their home institutions that they should not face discrimination because they collect pensions rather than salaries.
John Meyer (Windsor) noted that Peter Russell had been instrumental in initiating collaboration with CAUT, and felt that those actions also constituted “Professional Support.” Howard Fink (Concordia) added that the Committee has also heard from the Canada Council for the Arts that they too do not discriminate against retirees.
Chester Sadowski (York) pointed out that the institution must be involved in giving research space and supporting the grant application. Alex Murray (York) said that people cannot use the grants they get from York after retirement to attend conferences without presenting a paper or to join academic societies, because (the administration argues) of regulations of the Canada Revenue Agency. Peter Russell said that this is something his Committee should take up and he will get the details from Alex.
Howard Fink (Concordia) said that various matters had kept him from activating the Aboriginal Education Committee in the past year, but he will be reporting in future AGMs.
Alasdair Sinclair (Dalhousie) moved, seconded by Marianne Van der Wel (McMaster),
that the Reports of Â Committees be approved.
APPROVED without dissent
8. Other Business (I): 2010 Conference
Tarun Ghose invited Sandra Pyke, chair of the Local Organizing Committee for the 2010 Conference at York University, to speak about it.
Sandra Pyke invited everyone to come to the 2010 CURAC Conference at York University. York has two associations: York University Retirees Association (YURA), an all-inclusive organization of which she and Nancy Accinelli are Co-Presidents; and the Association of Retired Faculty and Librarians (YUARFL), whose President is Alex Murray. The two organizations have created a Local Organizing Committee, which has proposed a theme for the Conference: “Beyond Pensions and Benefits.” She invited all Delegates to give any member of the York delegation their ideas and suggestions for the Conference. Anyone wishing to make a presentation should contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The 2010 Conference will be held on May 18th, 19th, and 20th, 2010 (Tuesday – Thursday), just ahead of the Victoria Day holiday weekend.
Sandra invited Delegates to pick up literature on York University and to submit their names for a prize draw.
9. Input from Delegates
Tarun Ghose invited Delegates to talk about what CURAC might do for them, or what they might do for CURAC, in the coming year.
Evan Simpson (Memorial) suggested that the members of CURAC would benefit from focus – or re-focus – by the Board. In thinking about the President’s Report in the context of CURAC’s published objectives, he concluded that only one item (linkage with CAUT) is clearly tied to those objectives. CURAC should focus on its published objectives, in order to be able to make a clear case to Associations of what CURAC is and what it does. Tarun thanked Evan for his comments and anticipated that the Board would have a response in the future.
John Meyer (Windsor) noted that he had sent out a survey about two months earlier asking these questions. About 20 responses have been received, and he invited anyone who has not seen or completed it to get a copy from him. 80% of the respondents had put Pension Issues and Health Benefits as their primary priorities. Health Insurance came third (78%), followed by Retiree Facilities (50%), and Advocacy Activities (46%). On the question of what CURAC could do, communication of “best practices” was noted.
10. Report of the 4th Annual Atlantic Regional Conference
Evan Simpson (Memorial) reported that representatives from five Atlantic universities had met the previous day. In comparing notes, they found differences in pension and benefit arrangements among their institutions and felt that being able to hear about good – and bad – practices elsewhere was very valuable. They also had some discussion of problems common to Associations like ours and possible solutions: maintaining contact with a dispersed membership (use Newsletters), recruiting and retaining executives (recruit by personal contact), and dealing with faculty associations who focus on active members.
After lunch (provided by Université de Moncton), they discussed what they wanted from CURAC. The Atlantic representatives were most interested in information and communication among Associations, and felt that CURAC should put more effort there, despite everything that had been discussed in the Report of the Communications Committee. They felt that better highlighting of “best local practices” would be invaluable to all Associations. If CURAC could persuade Associations to pass on accounts of their successes so that they could be shared, this would provide a strong rationale for Associations to maintain their memberships, he felt.
The last topic of discussion was the future of regional meetings. The Delegates felt that the Atlantic Regional Conferences were valuable and should continue. They are looking toward having the 5th Atlantic Regional Conference in Halifax shortly before the Annual Conference at York. Evan thought that similar meetings in other regions might be valuable, and he invited non-Atlantic Delegates to talk to Atlantic Delegates about the value of their Regional Conferences.
11. Other Business (II)
Philip Welch (Dalhousie) worried that, in view of what John Meyer’s survey and the Atlantic Regional Conference had emphasized, having the next Annual Conference focus on things other than pensions and benefits might lead people to stay away. Sandra Pyke (York) said the concerns of Associations had been noted.
Don Wiles (Carleton) said that pensions and benefits were not major concerns for his Association. He thought that CURAC should look at contributing to society at large, specifically to improving the K-12 education system. Howard Fink (Concordia) invited anyone sharing that interest to join his Aboriginal Education Committee.
John Meyer said that the Board, in its meeting following the Conference, will take into account the comments made at this AGM. He also intends to promote more frequent and regular communication with Associations.
In closing, Tarun Ghose noted that there is a wide world, full of problems and challenges, beyond the world of Canadian academic retirees. He welcomed the theme proposed by York for the 2010 Conference and thanked everyone for their participation.
Alasdair Sinclair (Dalhousie) moved, seconded by Marianne Van der Wel (McMaster),
that the Annual General Meeting adjourn.
The Motion PASSED without dissent and Tarun Ghose declared the Meeting adjourned at 4:03 p.m.
Appendix A: Reports of Officers [Word .DOC File]
Appendix C: Reports of Committees [PDF File]