The Ombudsperson's 1999-00 Annual Report is an informative and helpful document. The Ombudsperson discusses office operations and lists issues arising from her caseload. The following administrative responses to many of her recommendations arising from these issues are made in accordance with the direction made by Governing Council that the Administration provide an annual response to the Ombudsperson's Report. Several points that receive attention here have been ongoing, and illustrate the University's continuing progress in addressing and resolving areas of concern.
A) Recommendations in Follow-up to Previous Year's Annual Reports
Recommendation 1: The administration looks forward to the Report of the Dean's Task Force on Postdoctoral Fellows, and will work with SGS to develop an appropriate appeal process.
Graduate Students' Supervision
Recommendation 2: Over the course of this current academic year, divisions will review their Guidelines for the Assessment of Teaching Effectiveness in Promotion and Tenure Decisions. The Provost's Office intends to bring forward some changes in the Guidelines for review by the Academic Board, and the matter of the evaluation of graduate student teaching and supervision will be addressed in this context.
Recommendation 3: SGS has indeed rescheduled the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) survey, and expects to administer it this autumn through its Office for Graduate Education Research (OGER). OGER expects as well to begin this autumn or winter with the administration of an exit survey for Ph.D. recipients, which will gather student opinion about their graduate experience. Once in place, this survey will be issued routinely to all students completing the Ph.D. degree.
Timeliness: Petitions, Appeals and Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters
Recommendation 4: The Provost's Office has begun to plan training sessions for the divisions on the administration of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, and will address the question of timeliness with the divisions. Part of the exercise will involve a divisional review and analysis of administrative resources, and the feasibility of guidelines for timeliness will be discussed with those who are charged with the administration of the Code.
B) Recommendations in Progress
Students in Residence
Recommendation 5: The Office of Student Affairs has agreed that the "letters of agreement" will be tabled at Residence Don Training Workshops and at the meeting of the Network for Effective Student Service through Information Exchange (NESSIE).
The Vice-Provost, Students, will work with the Office of Student Affairs to consider how best to engage the Deans of Students and appropriate Principals in a discussion of these "letters of agreement".
Academic Counselling and Information Resources
Recommendations 6(a), (b): The Office of Student Affairs will pay attention to the effective distribution of the "information pamphlet series"
The Office of Student Affairs will evaluate the information series pamphlets prior to revision, and the revised series will be made available on the Office of Student Affairs Web site.
Individuals with Disabilities
Recommendation 9: The Office of Disability Services has recently been externally reviewed, and the issue of communication features heavily in the recommendations. We will be implementing these recommendations as we move the services into the Robart's Library in early 2001.
Issues Affecting Staff Members: Teaching and Administrative
Recommendation 11: The Administration encourages members of PDAD&C to distribute the memorandum on harassment within their units as appropriate, and will include this item in its orientation sessions for new academic administrators.
C) Other Recommendations
The Role of Graduate Co-ordinators
Recommendation 7(a): SGS has regularly made use of experienced graduate co-ordinators in its orientation of new co-ordinators, and expects to do so again this autumn. Establishing "best practice" seminars, in particular focussed on themes, is a good idea, and the only obstacle in the path of launching such seminars immediately is the press of other business. SGS will certainly consider doing this.
Recommendation 7(b): Graduate co-ordinators and departmental chairs regularly consult with the associate deans of SGS, as well as senior SGS staff, on all manner of issues. The associate deans of the SGS divisions, in turn, regularly bring to meetings of their executive committees issues of general importance, or ones that frequently arise.
Recommendation 8: SGS has recently placed the relevant information on graduate fees on the SGS website, including a breakdown of fees payable by students in the final year of the Ph.D. program. Last year, SGS introduced a fairer system than that which previously obtained, allowing final year students to pay pro-rated monthly fees up to the point of completion. (It may well be that the introduction of this new arrangement caused some confusion when it first began operation.) Students who have questions about fees should contact the Office of Student Services at SGS and submit a written request, outlining their difficulties or objections to fees assigned. When students get into financial difficulties, we encourage them to apply for a SGS bursary and/or financial counseling.
Issues Affecting Staff Members: Teaching and Administrative
Recommendation 12: The University is currently developing policies for non-unionized staff that will address the issue of conflict/grievance resolution. The process of policy development is being carried out by the Vice-President, Administration and Human Resources in consultation with the Human Resources Management Board and informed by a series of focus groups among non-unionized administrative staff.
The Administration would like to thank the Ombudsperson, Mary Ward for her high standard of work. We will continue to respond to areas of concern that she may encounter as we work to ensure that the University of Toronto's policies and practices are second to none.
Back to the 1999-2000 Report.