UWOFA welcomes new president Dan Belliveau

On July 1, UWOFA welcomed Dan Belliveau as president for a one-year term. Belliveau, an associate professor in the School of Health Studies, has been active within UWOFA for a number of years. He served as vice-president in 2017-2018, chair of the Benefits Committee from 2009-2016, has sat on two faculty negotiating teams and has been a member of the Board of Directors. He strongly believes the faculty association plays an advocacy role on behalf of faculty, librarian and archivist members.

"UWOFA acts in part as that buffer between employer and employee, and it's a calming buffer between the two," he said. "It allows us to help our members when they feel stressed, taken advantage of, unsure, and it allows us to express concerns both at a specific individual level to a broader employment-based level to the employer."

Belliveau hopes that the negotiating teams representing UWOFA and the administration can negotiate a new Faculty Collective Agreement by the end of the summer so members can return in September and devote their attention to teaching their students. Belliveau has also made it a personal goal this year to continue developing resources that help members better understand their collective agreements. In particular, he hopes to see more members claiming their employee benefits.

As president, he looks forward to maintaining collegial relationships with senior administrators. Collaborative by nature, Belliveau believes in working together to find common ground which can help resolve issues that may arise. He cites the recent restructuring of Western Libraries as an example of UWOFA's productive relationship with the employer. In that case, UWOFA and the employer negotiated a Letter of Understanding that gave librarian and archivist members flexibility in choosing where they were going to transfer to, and flexible retirement provisions for those who chose to retire during the restructuring process. 

"There are times when we must take a stand, and we do. But we don't need to unnecessarily get in their (the employer's) way just because we have the right to get in the way," Belliveau said. "It helps that the relationship is not always adversarial."

Teaching and Research

At the School of Health Studies, Belliveau and his graduate students are currently working on a project called Leg Up which helps undergraduate students transition successfully from high school to their university studies. Last year Belliveau's team received a provincial grant to expand the program beyond health-related disciplines to Engineering, Biology, and Psychology. Belliveau's team researches the factors that play a role in the successful transition to postsecondary studies, and what university readiness skills students should be prepared with when they are at UWO. This research allows Belliveau to engage with his passion for teaching.

"I enjoy interacting with students, and it is always distressing for me to see students struggle," Belliveau said. "It's satisfying for me to see that we've contributed in some small way to the students feeling better prepared for their entry into what is a very unique and different experience than what they've had before the postsecondary environment. That's what really creates a great deal of satisfaction for me. I really enjoy that."