‘We must be able to accommodate a different knowledge approach’: Ron Babin
Resolving the issue of how to promote Indigenous professors is still an unanswered question at Ryerson, according to Ted Rogers School of Management professor and Ryerson Faculty Association president Ron Babin.
“Ryerson is currently in the process of determining how to hire, tenure and promote Indigenous professors,” Babin said.
“As much as we profs are required to do research, Indigenous knowledge will be different. We must be able to accommodate a different knowledge approach,” he said.
Babin added that the university is “a little late” in translating the Indigenous model of learning into the university’s traditional human resource practices for faculty.
To qualify for tenure, pre-tenure faculty are assessed in terms of their demonstrated capacity for, achievements in, and commitment to teaching, service and scholarly, creative and research activities.
When pre-tenured assistant professors become tenured faculty, they are automatically promoted to the role of associate professor. For promotion to the rank of professor, a faculty member normally must accumulate at least five years of full-time experience as an associate professor.
According to the Board of Governer’s Report from June 2019, Ryerson administration and the RFA have a joint committee that is currently “consulting with Aboriginal faculty to find the wise practices in hiring and retaining Aborginal scholars, elders, traditional knowledge seekers and fluent language speakers.”
Hayden King, the Indigenous education adviser to the dean of the Faculty of Arts, says he’s “concerned that the pace of change is relatively slow.”
“I think that we have really supportive university leadership. The provost is really supportive, most of the deans are really supportive, and of course the Indigenous community is on board,” said King, who is also director of the Yellowhead Institute research centre.
“But I think in some cases, non-Indigenous faculty are concerned that there is an emphasis on hiring Indigenous faculty and creating unique tenure standards for Indigenous faculty and so we’re in this unique circumstance where, for the first time, we have supportive senior leadership and supportive senior administration, (but) we don’t necessarily have the wide-spread support of faculty members for these kinds of changes.”
According to Babin, the RFA is taking steps to resolve these issues. It has established working groups and workshops, and is studying how other universities in Ontario, including Trent University and Laurentian University, have implemented changes.
“We’re learning from others. We’re a little late, but we’re committed,” he said.