VP-Education: An ED-ucational Overview of the VP Academic Position

Anson Chen - VP Education
Posted on: June 18, 2016

Hello everyone! Your friendly VP Education here. You know what’s funny? My calendar. I’m booked out for 6 meetings in the week following the writing of this article, but no meetings have been scheduled in the last 2 weeks. In lieu of actual updates this week, I thought I could tell you about the VP Academic role.

As you may or may not have heard, there will be a by-election for one last open executive position. Nominations for VP Academic are open from June 27 to July 3; campaigning will take place between July 4 and 8. If you are interested in bettering the quality of learning at Waterloo, and would like to take on a role at the Executive level that impacts all undergraduate students, this might be a good fit for you.

What is the VP Academic?

I’m not here to give you the official spiel; you can find that at the Executive Review Report, here (https://www.engsoc.uwaterloo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ERC-Report-Final-Report.pdf).

Instead I want to tell you what it is from the perspective of someone who’s done it for 14 months.

The VP Academic is the VP Education, re-branded. Essentially all the other VP positions got re-named, so this one got a titular overhaul too. Same as the VP Education now, everything the VP Academic does will go toward two very broad goals: to make it easier for engineering students to learn things, and to make it easier for engineering students to get jobs.

What committees do they sit on?

The VP Academic achieves those two goals in two ways: representing Engineering students on 8 committees, and managing EngSoc’s academic- and co-op related services. Below is a list of the committees:

  1. Co-op Working Group (Faculty)

  2. Faculty Undergraduate Studies Council (Faculty, obviously)

  3. WatPD Engineering Curriculum Committee (Faculty)

  4. Co-operative Student Council (Feds)

  5. Education Advisory Committee (Feds)

  6. Senate Undergraduate Council (University)

  7. Co-operative Education Council (University)

  8. Teaching Award Committee (EngSoc)

The VP Academic will spend 1-6 hours a week advocating on behalf of students at meetings involving these groups. This usually evens out at about 3 hours per week. The VP should be consulting students prior to the meeting if important agenda items are identified, but a lot of the time, this involves the VP speaking on the spot to things that arise and concern students. For example, the suggestion of including work term report marks in official averages came up last term. I had a pretty good idea how people felt about this already, and spoke for students against the suggestion.

Mostly, you are the student voice of reason among groups that largely consist of faculty members and CECA staff. And these groups welcome your input; most of the time, they genuinely don’t know what students are thinking and might propose things in ignorance of that perspective. That’s what you’re there to offer insight on. E.g. adding more support for WEEF TA’s for critiquing first year resumes? Good! Adding clauses on course outlines preventing students from sharing course material with other students? Bad! Both are real examples.

What directorships do they manage?

VP Academic is “officially” in charge of Career Fair and Course Critiques. What they “really” take on can be divided differently amongst execs. This term I took on the Exam Bank as well as a work term rating initiative. The A-Society VP Education took on the Student Services Commissioner directorships. Your directorships are not set in stone, as long as they’re somewhat related to those 2 goals I talked about.

What makes someone a good candidate?

Being passionate about changing the quality of education at Waterloo for the better. Not being afraid to speak up when you see opportunities for that change, because opportunities will be thrown at you. Having some experience with EngSoc, and being willing to commit time each week to meetings, both with committees and Executive/Council.

Being currently in 2nd-year or higher, being on-campus for both Winter and Fall 2017.

Don’t worry about public speaking or finding the words, that’ll all come. It did for me. :)

If you have any further questions, shoot me an email at vpeducation.b@engsoc.uwaterloo.ca. Hope to see you run!