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The Role of an Academic Colleague

When you need help, one question to consider is whether to contact a UWOFA representative or to rely on an Academic Colleague. The answer depends on the situation.

An Academic Colleague is defined in the Collective Agreement as a faculty member, librarian or archivist from the university who may attend proceedings in support of a colleague. This is a very wide range of possible people. The Academic Colleague may assume the role of a listener, advocate, witness or presenter but cannot provide legal counsel. There are other roles an Academic Colleague may play: observer, note taker, referee, calming influence, or trusted friend. Crucially, an Academic Colleague is identified and recruited by you, and does not involve UWOFA in an official role.

An Academic Colleague can provide invaluable support to you, and UWOFA wants you to use one where appropriate. However, there are times when you should instead be turning to a UWOFA representative for assistance, specifically when you want to ensure compliance with the Collective Agreement or when the Collective Agreement requires representation by UWOFA.

UWOFA representatives are familiar with the terms and conditions of the Collective Agreement. They are aware of processes that should be followed and they will assist you in understanding the issues. In addition, UWOFA representatives understand how the university addresses Discipline, Discrimination and Harassment, or Academic Fraud and Misconduct complaints. They can guide you through a troubling situation and provide advice on how best to handle it.

Consider the following situations that raise the question of whether to use an Academic Colleague or a UWOFA representative.

Scenario #1

My Chair has asked me to attend a meeting to discuss Workload. I am nervous and I do not want to go to the meeting alone because I have a strained relationship with my Chair.

Best choice: Academic Colleague

Scenario #2

I have a probationary appointment and I need to get my file together to submit an application for promotion. I want to submit a comprehensible file and I don’t know exactly how to do it.

Best choice: Academic Colleague

Scenario #3

I have been notified that I am being investigated for Academic Fraud and Misconduct.

Best choice: UWOFA representative

Scenario #4

I have been asked by my promotion and tenure committee to submit additional information to support my application for promotion and tenure.

Best choice: UWOFA representative

If you have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact UWOFA’s Professional Officer, Cindy Cossar-Jones at ext. 86960 or


Content last updated by Cindy Cossar-Jones, UWOFA Professional Officer: February 2018