Documentation for Meetings of the Governing Council and its Boards and Committees

1. Meetings of the Governing Council and its Boards and Committees

Any member of the Governing Council is welcome to attend any meeting of a Board or Committee, provided the meeting is not in camera. A schedule of all Board and Committee meetings is distributed after the Executive Committee and Governing Council meeting dates have been approved. The schedule is available here. Any subsequent revisions to the meeting schedule are reflected on that website.

2. Distribution of Material

The Governing Council is the final authority with respect to the policies and the major issues affecting the University. In order to ensure that members have adequate time to read and reflect on matters before them, and in some cases to consult constituents, a target date for distribution of meeting documentation is set for seven days prior to a regular meeting. Non-confidential meeting material is posted on the Governing Council website, for electronic access via web links (URL) in the agenda, and is sent to members who request a paper copy of the agenda package. Confidential material is distributed through the campus mail system for members with University addresses, and by regular Canada Post delivery to other members.

Members are informed by email or fax when material has been posted to the web and distributed. If a package of material has not been received within two working days of the announced distribution time, members are encouraged to contact the Governing Council Office (416-978-6576 /

Material that becomes available after the distribution of the agenda package is distributed electronically prior to the meeting, and copies are available at the meeting. Some confidential material, for example, documentation for senior appointments, is distributed to members at the meeting, and time is provided for members to review the material before it is presented and discussed.

3. Documentation for Board and Committee Meetings

The Office of Governing Council’s Document Management System is designed to avoid sending members more than one copy of any document. Thus members are advised to retain their Board or Committee documentation in an active file until the Committee or Board: (a) has met and (b) has made its report to the Board (if a Committee), the Executive Committee and the Governing Council.

If you are not a member of a Board or Committee, but you wish to attend a particular Board or Committee meeting, please visit the Board and Committee section of the Governing Council website to review the documentation for a particular item or for the entire meeting, or call the Office of the Governing Council for an agenda package.

4. Board and Committee Reports

Reports of Committee meetings are prepared for the Boards to which the Committees report. These reports are available on the Governing Council website when they are forwarded to the next level of governance.

The official record of a Board meeting is the report to the Governing Council. Each report normally includes both items approved or recommended for approval and items reported for information. For the Academic Board, there may be items approved by the Board that require the confirmation of the Executive Committee. Items for information are not usually discussed at the Governing Council meeting, but members may raise any questions at the Governing Council meeting under the agenda item titled "Reports for Information".

Reports of the Committee or Board often contain a number of appendices that include documentation for non-confidential items recommended for approval to the next level in governance, and for non-confidential items approved by the Committee or Board.

Because Committee or Board members will have received these documents with their agenda material, they will not receive second copies as appendices to their reports. It is for this reason that Committee and Board members are advised to retain their full agenda packages in their active files until after the report has been presented to the Governing Council.

5. Documentation for Governing Council Meetings

Because all items coming before the Governing Council for approval are first seen by one of the Boards, and/or the Executive Committee, the Board reports represent the primary documentation for the Governing Council meeting. The Executive Committee reviews all of the business coming to the Governing Council and sets the Governing Council agenda. Its report is distributed along with the Governing Council agenda and posted to the Governing Council website.

6. Governing Council Minutes

Governing Council minutes are sent for information to the next meeting of the Executive Committee, and are available on the website as part of the material for the Executive Committee meeting. They are sent to the Governing Council for approval at its next regular meeting.

7. Other Information

The Office of the Governing Council maintains a repository of information concerning matters that have come before the Council. In addition to the paper files stored in the Office and the material noted above, a number of documents are available on the Governing Council website, including:

  • The University of Toronto Act, 1971;
  • By-Law Number 2 of the Governing Council, detailing meeting procedures and rules of order;
  • Approved policies;
  • Information about elections to the Governing Council and to the Academic Board;
  • Information about Judicial Affairs.

Members are invited to consult with the Secretary of the Governing Council or the Board and Committee secretaries if they would like historical background or information about current policies or the background of a particular matter.

8. Confidentiality of Documents

The following guidelines are used with respect to the confidentiality of documents. These guidelines apply to all persons who receive classified Governing Council documents or who attend closed or in camera meetings of the Governing Council or its Boards or Committees. These guidelines govern the handling of documents in standard University meeting and circulation contexts and should be applied consistently unless exceptional circumstances, such as legal requirements, specifically require otherwise.

Documents include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Agendas;
  • Minutes/reports of meetings;
  • Proposals for approval;
  • Recommendations for appointments to senior administrative positions;
  • Recommendations for appointments to Boards and Committees of the Governing Council;
  • Recommendations for appointments to external bodies;
  • Recommendations for expulsion from the University;
  • Annual reports;
  • Reports of assessors;
  • Proposed real estate transactions;
  • Salary and benefits proposals;
  • Press releases.

Subject to the restrictions noted below, all members of the Governing Council and its Boards and Committees should feel free to consult with members of their constituency on matters to come before the Council or its Committees. However, members of the Governing Council should always be mindful of their duties as trustees of the University whose key responsibility is the well-being of the University as a whole, rather than serving a particular constituency or group.

Classified documents may be marked confidential, strictly confidential, privileged and confidential, or restricted.

8. (a) Unclassified or Public Documents

The majority of documents distributed to the Governing Council and its Boards and Committees are public documents. Meeting agendas, reports and agenda items are available on the Governing Council website.

Notice of the distribution and availability of meeting documentation is sent to members of the Board or Committee as well as to a supplementary mailing list that includes campus- wide groups such as the Students’ Administrative Council (SAC), the Association of Part- time Undergraduate Students (APUS), the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU), Erindale College Students’ Union (ECSU), the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU), the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA), and the United Steelworkers of America (USWA); campus media; the Toronto-based press; and members of the University community who have asked to receive such notification.

Members may bring a laptop computer to meetings of the Governing Council and its Boards and Committees, and access material on line during the meeting. The Council Chamber provides both hard wired and wireless connectivity access. Members who wish to bring a laptop computer to the meeting to access documentation from the web are asked to advise the Governing Council Office in advance of the meeting so that a seat can be reserved for them at one of the access sites and a staff member can be on hand to connect their


8. (b) Confidential

A document that is marked as confidential may be discussed only among members of the particular body to which it has been addressed, and the senior administrative officers attached to that body.

Most confidential documents become public once the recommendation contained therein has been approved and the action taken is included in the minutes of the Governing Council or in the report of the Committee or Board. However, some documents remain confidential. Examples of documents that are not made public include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • names of unsuccessful candidates who are considered for committee or board assignments;
  • documentation for academic administrative appointments, external appointments, and senior appointments
  • recommendations for expulsion from the University;
  • recommendations for honorary degrees, in the event the recommendation is not accepted by the Governing Council or the offer is not accepted by the individual. Names of those receiving honorary degrees are not made public until the President announces the individual’s acceptance of the honorary degree.

In the case of namings, which are circulated to members of the Governing Council on a confidential basis, the naming usually becomes public when approved by the Committee on Naming or, in some cases, by the Executive Committee. However, on occasion, a naming will be held in strict confidence until a public announcement has been made.

8. (c) Restricted

Restricted documents may be discussed by members within their particular constituency but not made public. This classification has been used rarely.

9. Classification of Documents

Documents are classified, in the first instance, by the originator, or the appropriate Committee or Board secretary, in consultation with the Committee or Board Chair. This classification may be modified by the Committee or Board, by the Executive Committee, by the Governing Council, or by the Chair of the Governing Council. Classifications are removed by the same officers. Holders of classified documents will be notified of the removal or modification of the classification.