Management of Canada Research Chair Allocations

Recruitment Process

The recruitment and appointment process of Canada Research Chairs at Western University is governed by the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) Collective Agreement where the appointee is a full-time Member with a Ph.D.  The appointment process of a clinical academic (MD) is governed by the document Physicians Appointed in Clinical Departments or Clinical Divisions of Basic Science Departments. 

The provisions, which have been developed and implemented to ensure a fair and transparent recruitment process for full-time positions at Western, including Canada Research Chairs, is outlined in the UWOFA Collective Agreement Employment Equity article and includes stringent requirements for faculty recruitment.  Appointments and Search Committees are required to conduct a comparison of the applicant pool using available data (provided by the Office of Faculty Recruitment and Retention) which is reflective of the applicant pools for similar positions elsewhere in Canada prior to short-listing applicants.  If the comparison reveals a significant under-representation of a designated group, the committee must undertake further efforts to attract candidates from the designated group before short-listing candidates from the applicant pool.  The committee must also provide a report to the Provost on the search that describes the search process and information regarding the diversity of the applicant pool for approval.  If the Provost is not satisfied a fair and transparent search process has occurred, the recruitment will not proceed.

The process outlined in the Collective Agreement aligns with the principles of the CRCP requirements for Recruiting and Nominating Canada Research Chairs.  Internal recruitment resources have been developed to assist committees in understanding the requirements.

Advertising requirements to ensure representatives of the Four Designated Groups (FDGs) are made aware of the position are outlined in the Collective Agreement, as well as the requirement to include a statement in the advertisement encouraging members of the FDGs to apply.    Advertisements for CRCs encourage individuals who have experienced legitimate career interruptions to explain the impact that career interruptions have had and to submit a full career or extended CV.  For those individuals applying for a Tier 2, advertisements reference the Tier 2 justification process available through the CRCP and are encouraged to contact Western’s Research Services for assistance.  CRC committee members are provided training to ensure individuals with alternate career paths are not disadvantaged.

The process outlined in the collective agreement aligns with the principles of the CRCP Requirements for Recruiting and Nominating Canada Research Chairs. Internal recruitment resources have been developed to assist committees in understanding the requirements. 

Clinical Academic appointments for a Canada Research Chair are not governed by the UWOFA Collective Agreement, however, to ensure a fair and transparent recruitment, the search or appointments committee would be expected to follow the process outlined in the Collective Agreement.

Recruitment and nomination of Canada Research Chairs for internal recruitment are advertised in accordance with CRCP requirements, with the  requirement that eligible candidates must hold an academic appointment at Western. 

Recruitment of a Canada Research Chair for an emergency retention for an internal candidate would be done in accordance with the CRCP Guidelines for Recruitment and Retention.

Allocation and Approval of Canada Research Chairs

The Canada Research Chairs Steering Committee is responsible for managing the allocation of CRC chairs at Western.  The committee is currently comprised of three individuals: Vice-President and Provost; Vice-President, Research; and Vice-Provost, Academic Planning, Policy and Faculty.    As determined by the Canada Research Chairs Steering Committee, the process of allocation of Western Research Chairs may be made through the annual planning process at Western or through initiatives specifically aimed to increase diversity. 

If allocations are to be made through the annual planning process at Western, the CRC Steering Committee invites Faculties to propose research priority areas for allocations of CRCs that align with the scholarship/research priorities of Western and/or areas of priority in the Faculty Academic Plan and Western’s CRC Equity, Diversity and Inclusion plan.  These proposals are submitted, with Faculty academic plans and budgets for the next fiscal year, in November of each year.  Proposals are sought for CRC allocations currently vacant or becoming vacant during the next 24 months through the completion of the second term of the current chairholder. The proposals are reviewed by Western’s CRC Steering Committee and allocation decisions are made in February. 

To increase the diversity within our Canada Research Chairs, and as directed by the CRC Steering Committee, Faculty plans for academic 2018-19 and beyond, were directed to address the feasibility of recruitment of a sizable and diverse applicant pool for each CRC allocation proposal as this is now an explicit criterion in the assessment of allocation.   

To assist Western in achieving its targets in designated groups as set by the CRCP, the CRC Steering Committee allocated up to 14 CRCs to be filled as a special program under the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 2019-20.  The special call was open to the designated groups where Western had not met or was at risk of not meeting targets.  These groups included women, persons with disabilities and Indigenous people. In 2020-21 a second cluster of up to 12 chairs was allocated based on broad strategic research priorities across the University and those searches are currently underway.  In 2021-22 a mini-cluster of 3 CRCs has been allocated for Indigenous scholars and discussions are underway for the strategic re-allocation of chairs which are coming vacant to meet both equity and strategic research needs.

Corridors of Flexibility

Western will continue to use the opportunity provided by the CRCP through the “corridors of flexibility”, in our management of CRC allocations in an effort to create opportunities to attract a broad and diverse pool of applicants.

Renewals and Phased-Outs

Renewals

Twelve months in advance of the end of first CRC term, the academic unit(s) will be directed to determine with the chairholder whether a second term of either a Tier 1 or Tier 2 Chair should be pursued.   If seeking a second term, the academic unit(s) conducts an assessment of academic performance based on:  productivity and scientific achievements  during Term 1; a research plan for the second term which identifies how diversity within the research program will be achieved; evidence of research impact on the Unit’s Academic Plan and the University’s Strategic Research Plan.    The assessment must take into account any special considerations that may have occurred such as leaves, delays in start-up, and other reasons that may have impacted research productivity.  Based on the assessment conducted by the academic unit(s), the unit(s) provide a recommendation to the Steering Committee on the outcome of the assessment no later than 10 months prior to the end of the term.

The Steering Committee reviews the recommendation and makes a determination no later than 9 months prior to the end of the term regarding renewal. To facilitate submission of the strongest possible re-nomination package, Western’s Steering Committee reviews the application on both the institutional and CRC criteria.  The academic unit(s) and chairholder are required to demonstrate the performance justified the investment; funds have been used appropriately and in accordance with the original application; and, the academic unit(s) and chairholder have delivered on their commitments. 

If renewal is recommended the academic unit(s) will be required to work with the chairholder to submit a re-nomination package for the next nomination cycle and before the end of the term of the Chair.  If renewal is not recommended at the academic unit(s) level, the unit notifies the Steering Committee. 

If the Steering Committee reviews a positive recommendation and makes a determination a second term will not be recommended, the chairholder will be notified with reasons for the decision.  The Chair will be available for reallocation (as per the process above) to fill the chair at the end of the current chairholder term. This would also occur if a unit does not make a positive recommendation on renewal.

Phase-Outs

The Steering Committee oversees the phase-out of a CRC.  Should a phase-out occur, the following steps would be used:

  • 1) The Steering Committee would determine if a vacant chair could be allocated for the phased out chair and would use available corridors of flexibility where necessary.
  • 2) Faculties would be asked to review and evaluate the research productivity of existing relevant chairs within the unit using a committee of peers and recommend to the steering committee which chair should be phased out.

Advancement

It is not the norm at Western for a Tier 2 chairholder to be nominated for advancement into a Tier 1 Chair. All CRC Chair searches, both Tier 2 and Tier 1, follow the allocation and search processes described above (either external or internal). On a rare occasion, Western may advance a Tier 2 chairholder to a Tier 1 Chair.  This will occur:   i) if the CRC Steering Committee has determined that the field of research of the Tier 2 chairholder is a priority for allocation of a Tier 1 Chair; and ii) the allocation of the CRC meets EDI objectives, the recruitment would be conducted as an internal search.      Under those circumstances, we will nominate the advancement candidate by the nomination deadline and early enough to ensure that the funding decision may be made prior to the end of the term of the Tier 2 Chair, as per CRCP guidelines.

Reallocations

All vacant Chairs are returned to the Steering Committee for re-allocation.  Proposals for re-allocation are adjudicated via the criteria articulated under paragraph 3 of the section on Allocation and Approval of Research Chairs (above).  This re-allocation consideration occurs regardless of whether the vacancy occurs through the completion of two terms, non-renewal after the first term, resignation or retirement of a current chairholder. The Chair can be re-allocated to any discipline or Faculty and the Steering Committee will consider utilizing the corridors of flexibility to assist Western in meeting its targets.

Reallocations are planned well in advance for those Chairs expected to become vacant after completion of a second term and, in this usual circumstance, proposals are solicited through the annual planning cycle as described in paragraph 2 under the section Allocation and Approval of Research Chairs.  There is a shorter planning horizon for Chairs which vacate unexpectedly and, rarely, proposals may be considered by the Steering Committee out of sequence with the annual planning cycle.

Level of Support

All chairholders are given protected time for research through the alternative workload provision of the UWOFA Collective Agreement.  The alternative workload for CRCs is standardized in most situations, with the majority of CRCs receiving a 50% reduction in their teaching load to create protected time for research.   There are some exceptions although research protected time is retained.

For all new chairs, a minimum level of a salary stipend for each Tier of chair will be provided throughout the term of the chair.      

Training and Development Activities

In keeping with the requirements of the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP), Western has created and delivered an equity training program that emphasizes the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion both at Western and within the CRCP. This training highlights the University’s best practices in employment equity and communicates the expectations for fair and transparent recruitment and selection processes. Through the training, individuals are sensitized to the potential negative impact of career interruptions on a candidate’s record of research achievement (noting in particular that individuals from the four designated groups are more likely to experience career interruptions). As such, individuals are instructed on how to ensure that the necessary safeguards are in place to address this issue. 

Western’s Equity and Human Rights Services (EHRS) designed the equity training, which was facilitated with the assistance of the Office of the Vice-Provost (Academic Planning, Policy and Faculty). As part of this training program, the University also incorporated the CRCP’s Unconscious Bias Training Module as a mandatory requirement. This training has been delivered to Academic Leaders and Administrators, as well as faculty members involved in the recruitment and nomination processes for CRC chair positions. This training will be on-going as new CRC-related committees are formed and/or new leaders and administrators are engaged and is updated as required.

While Western’s Equity and Human Rights Services has been actively engaged in developing and delivering this training, Western has also appointed faculty members from across campus to serve as equity representatives on CRC-related committees. These equity representatives have received additional training and support from the Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, which is akin to a train-the-trainer model. As such, these representatives deliver the equity training directly to committees and also participate as a committee member in all stages of the CRC recruitment and selection process. While they participate as non-voting members, they are acting on behalf of the Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion to ensure that equity matters are considered throughout. In their role, they also act as a resource to committees with respect to sharing equity-related information and/or available data.

The Faculty Collective Agreement has added a requirement for the inclusion of a committee member who will be designated as an Equity Representative on all Appointments committees, Search committees, Promotion, Tenure and Continuing Status committees, Annual Performance Evaluation and and Chair/Director Selection committees.   This extends beyond CRC committees and supports our objective to ensure equity training is provided in recruitments.  To facilitate this requirement, additional training during the summer and fall of 2019, 2020 and 2021was conducted and open to all members of these committees. 

Additionally, an online training module on ‘Leadership Recruitment at Western’ was developed in 2019, which includes a special focus on EDI-related best practices in hiring. 

In addition to the training listed above, Western’s Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion also provides training and education workshops on equity, diversity and human-rights to the campus community on request.