Report: UTM Academic Affairs Committee - January 13, 2020

Council Chamber, Room 3130, William G. Davis Building, UTM


To the Campus Council,
University of Toronto Mississauga

Your Committee reports that it held a meeting on January 13, 2020 at 4:10 p.m. in the Council Chambers, William G. Davis Building.

Steven Short (Chair), Ian Orchard (Acting Vice-President & Principal), Amrita Daniere (Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean), Heather Miller (Vice-Dean, Teaching & Learning), Fatima Abdelgadir Elkendari, Mitchell Bonney, Laura Brown, Marc Dryer, Amanda Facciol, Miquel Faiq, Ulrich Fekl, Alexandra Gillespie, Monika Havelka, Shelley Hawrychuk, Sanja Hinic-Frlog, Rosa Hong, Sebastian Malek, Rhonda McEwen, Pascal Michelucci, Diane Matias, Ashley Monks, Lorretta Neebar, Chester Scoville, Adwet Sharma, Kayla Sousa, Meghan Sutherland, Steve Szigeti, Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, Jaimal Thind, Mihkel Tombak, Ziyaad Vahed, Xing Wei

Non-Voting Assessors:
Yen Du (Program and Curriculum Officer), Mark Overton (Dean of Student Affairs)

Laura Taylor (Vice-Chair), Kent Moore (Vice-Principal, Research), James Allen, Sultan Akif, Randy Besco, Brett Beston, Patrick Braszak, Alexandru Cioban, Sherry Fukuzawa, Nathan Innocente, Konstantin Khanin, Anna Korteweg, Michael Lettieri, Teresa Lobalsamo, Sara Malhotra, Andrew Nicholson, Andrea Olive, Andreas Park, Esteban Parra, Diana Raffman, Lindsay Schoenbohm, Andrew Sepielli, Alison Syme, Rebecca Wittmann, Xiaodong Zhu, Samra Zafar

In Attendance:
Habon Ali (Vice-President Equity, UTMSU), Len Brooks (Director, DIFA), Miguel Cabral (Campus Council member), Jackie Goodman (Manager, Orientation, Transition & Engagement, Centre for Student Engagement)

Cindy Ferencz Hammond (Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council), Alexandra Waters (Governance Coordinator, UTM)

  1. Chair’s Remarks
    The Chair welcomed members to the first meeting of the year and noted that the nominations for elected positions on Academic Affairs Committee opened on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 and would close on Friday, January 17, 2020. The Chair reviewed the available positions for each constituency on the Committee and encouraged those who were interested to submit nominations by the deadline. The Chair advised members to contact Ms Cindy Ferencz Hammond, Deputy Returning Officer if they had any inquiries about the available positions and the nominations and elections process.
  1. Enrolment Report
    The Chair invited Ms Lorretta Neebar, Registrar & Director of Enrolment Management, to provide an overview of undergraduate enrolment statistics at UTM. Ms Neebar reported that the UTM undergraduate student population was approximately 15, 424 students, with a proportion of 26% international students. For 2019-20, overall enrolment targets had been achieved, with an incoming international student population at 29%. She discussed the most common countries of citizenship of the undergraduate student population, and noted that China, India and Pakistan were the countries with highest representation. Statistics demonstrated that in 2019-20, approximately 66% of incoming international students attended educational institutions in Canada prior to their attendance at UTM, which included high schools and other post-secondary institutions.

    Ms Neebar stated that the number of entrance award recipients continued to rise, and in 2019, the scholarship award structure was revised such that the lowest qualifying admission range (88%-89.9%) was eliminated and the funds were redistributed to the remaining, higher admission ranges. She noted that there was a greater representation of international students among scholarship winners compared to their representation across the general undergraduate student population, as 41% of those that received entrance scholarships 2018-19 were international students, and 37% in 2019-20. She further added that a significant number of students eligible for renewable scholarships continued to be successful in achieving them. Lastly, Ms Neebar discussed the graduation rate and noted that Universities reported their graduate rates based on the six-year statistic, which was 67.3% at UTM. Ms Neebar noted that compared to other similar institutions in the Province of Ontario, UTM continued to have a strong graduation.

    A member inquired if the upward trend in admission averages could be attributed to grade inflation in Ontario high schools. Ms Neebar acknowledged that grade inflation was partly a contributing factor, but noted that analysis of retention rates was an important measure of the quality of the student population. The University of Toronto and UTM had some of the highest retention rates in the Province, which suggested that good quality students were admitted to the University.

    In response to a member’s question about the portion of students that did not graduate, Ms Neebar indicated that students who transfer out cannot be accounted for in the statistic, but acknowledged that this portion of students were difficult to track because the appropriate data collection methods were currently not in place. All universities in Ontario recently began tracking Ontario Education Number data, which would provide more information regarding the whereabouts this portion of the student population in future.

    A member asked about whether the University tracked if students’ declared program interest at entry into their studies coincided with their program at graduation. Ms Neebar stated that as part of the implementation work of the Academic Plan, this kind of data had been analyzed. The data demonstrated that approximately 50% of students graduated in a different program area than where they began at the University. She further noted that students’ self-declared interests upon applying to the University were not an accurate reflection of their chosen paths once they arrived.

    A member commented on the increasing proportion of international students that attended Canadian high schools prior to UTM, and asked about the possible contributing factors of this trend. Ms Neebar stated that these students were not eligible for domestic tuition rates, but added that some families believed studying in Canada provided an advantage, as students would be acclimated to the culture, and some believed it would be easier to gain admission to the University. She noted that international students were actively recruited by high schools.

    In response to a question about graduation rates, Ms Neebar stated that programs with higher admission criteria, deregulated programs, and those with a more lockstep structure, exhibited faster graduation rates. She noted that international students also tended to graduate at a faster than average rate.

    A member expressed concern that students were confused about which programs they were admitted to based on the wording of their letters of admission. Ms Neebar stated that most of the wording within admission letters was determined by Enrolment Services. She explained that incoming students were admitted to first-year studies in a given subject area, not to a particular program and that the UTM Office of the Registrar has made efforts to describe that difference in their letters. Ms Neebar noted that the issue of what’s included in admission letters is currently under review and she hoped that it would be clarified in the future.
  2. Program Closure: Diploma in Investigative & Forensic Accounting (DIFA)
    The Chair invited Professor Len Brooks to present the item. Professor Brooks noted that in its 15 years of operation, there were approximately 300 DIFA graduates. The DIFA program was suspended in 2017 with the creation of the Master of Forensic Accounting (MFAcc), which was created as a response to the evolving landscape of the industry and the subsequent need to upgrade material. The three remaining DIFA students would be given until 2022 to complete the program, and would have the ability to do so through the MFAcc program. Consultations were conducted with DIFA graduates, which resulted in support for the shift towards the MFAcc program. It was noted that individuals in the field were often required to have a master’s degree in order to advance in the field, which made MFAcc a program of interest.

    A member inquired about the length of time it would take for a student transferring between programs to complete the extra four credits. Professor Brooks noted that the four credits plus the capstone project, if started in January, could be completed by August of the same year.

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried,


    THAT the proposed closure of the Diploma in Investigative & Forensic Accounting (DIFA) at the University of Toronto Mississauga, as recommended by the Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean, Professor Amrita Daniere, in the proposal dated December 11, 2019, be approved with an anticipated program closure date of April 30, 2022.
  3. Program Closure: Specialist in Interactive Digital Media
    The Chair invited Professor Rhonda McEwen, Director of the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology (ICCIT), to present. Professor McEwen reported that interest in the program initially met expectations when it was introduced in 2011, but interest gradually declined and the program failed to attract qualified candidates. She noted that there was a discrepancy between students’ expectations of the hands-on experience the program would offer and the level of experience the program was actually able to deliver. As a result, the program was administratively suspended in 2017, which did not impact any students as none were enrolled.

    In response to a member’s question, Professor McEwen noted that the ICCIT learned much from the experience as it provided a deeper understanding of students and their needs, and of working with partners. Similar future programs would benefit from these lessons.

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried,


    THAT the proposed closure of the Specialist in Interactive Digital Media offered through the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and the Faculty of Information, as recommended by the Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean, Professor Amrita Daniere, in the proposal dated November 28, 2019, be approved with an anticipated program closure date of June 30, 2020.
  4. Minor Modification: Undergraduate Curriculum Changes: Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences
    The Chair invited Professor Heather Miller, Vice-Dean, Teaching & Learning, to present the item. Professor Miller began with changes affecting all three of the divisions. She stated that two new foundational writing courses would be introduced in all three divisions, which were developed based on recommendations of the Foundational Writing Skills Working Group Report to advance progress on goals within the Academic Plan. The first set of writing courses introduced would be housed in the Institute for the Study of University Pedagogy Extra-Departmental Unit (EDU), would be based on content applicable to all disciplines and would be included as prerequisites to academic programs as they opted in, beginning with selected programs in the Departments of Visual Studies, Anthropology, and Chemical and Physical Sciences. Other changes proposed across all divisions applied to the utmONE courses, primarily the return to a focus on 100-level courses.

    Proposed changes in the Humanities included 274 course changes across 40 different programs, and the introduction of 44 new courses. The changes primarily consisted of clarity changes, such as changes to program requirements, course descriptions and course names. A number of new courses were also introduced.

    Proposed changes in the Sciences included 51 program changes and 71 course changes. She noted that some departments experimented with alternative qualifications for entry to programs, which included an enhanced focus on specific courses deemed by the department to be relevant to particular programs, and a shift away from CGPA requirements. She noted that changes predominantly served to improve the delivery of programs and included many new course offerings

    Proposed changes in the Social Sciences included 36 program changes and 122 course changes. This included changes to enrolment criteria for program entry in the Anthropology Social Science (Arts) programs and the ICCIT Major and Professional Writing & Communication Major and Minor Programs, which imposed minimum grade requirements in specific courses rather than CGPA requirements. Other changes included updates to course descriptions, changes to pre-requisites, and changes to course names for the purpose of clarity. Additionally, the introduction of new half-credit courses increased flexibility for students in terms of their program requirements.

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried,


    THAT the proposed Humanities undergraduate curriculum changes for the 2020-21 academic year, as detailed in the respective curriculum reports, be approved.

    THAT the proposed Sciences undergraduate curriculum changes for the 2020-21 academic year, as detailed in the respective curriculum reports, be approved.

    THAT the proposed Social Sciences undergraduate curriculum changes for the 2020-21 academic year, as detailed in the respective curriculum reports, be approved.
  1. Other Business
    There was no other business.
  2. Report of the Presidential Assessors
    The Chair invited Professor Amrita Daniere, Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean, to present her report. Professor Daniere reported that upcoming items of business included the Department of Geography name change, which would more accurately reflect the business of the Department. She also noted that changes to the graduate curriculum in the Master of Management & Professional Accounting (MMPA) would be presented at a future meeting, as well as changes to the Master in Urban Innovation Program.
  3. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report 34 – October 28, 2019
    Report number 34, from the meeting of October 28, 2019 was approved.
  4. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting
    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  5. Date of the Next Meeting – Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.

The meeting adjourned at 5:17 p.m.

January 14, 2020