Report: UTM Academic Affairs Committee - September 15, 2020

Via Virtual Meeting Room


SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

To the Campus Council,
University of Toronto Mississauga

Your Committee reports that it held a meeting on September 15, 2020 at 3:10 p.m. via a Virtual Meeting Room.

Laura Taylor (Chair), Sanja Hinic-Frlog (Vice-Chair), Alexandra Gillespie (Vice-President & Principal), Amrita Daniere (Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean), Heather Miller (Vice-Dean, Teaching & Learning), Kent Moore (Vice-Principal, Research), Andreas Bendlin, Randy Besco, Mitchell Bonney, Laura Brown, Jill Caskey, Laura Cocuzzi, Marc Dryer, Bryan Wenchao Du, Margarida Duarte, Ulrich Fekl, Sherry Fukuzawa, Jacob Gallagher Ross, Philip Goodman, Monika Havelka, Shelley Hawrychuk, Rosa Hong, Nathan Innocente, Stuart Kamenetsky, Shashi Kant, Irenius Konkor, Michael Lettieri, Rhonda McEwen, Diane Matias, Andrew Nicholson, Jay Nirula, Andreas Park, Esteban Parra, Mev Saiyed, Adriano Senatore, Alvin Stanislaus, Steve Szigeti, Jaimal Thind, Mihkel Tombak, Ron Wener, Daniel White

Non-Voting Assessors:
Yen Du (Program and Curriculum Officer), Lorretta Neebar (Registrar & Director of Enrolment Management), Mark Overton (Dean of Student Affairs)

Sultan Akif, Jenny Siliang Cui, Konstantin Khanin, Ashley Monks, Emmanuel Nikiemma, Andrea Olive, Gurpreet Rattan, Aanchal Raza, Lindsay Schoenbohm, Andrew Sepielli, Ekam Singh, Meghan Sutherland, Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi

In Attendance:
Saher Fazilat (Chief Administrative Officer), Luke Barber (Director, Information & Instructional Technology Services), Tammy Cook (Executive Director, Facilities, Management & Planning)

Anwar Kazimi, Deputy Secretary of the Governing Council
Cindy Ferencz Hammond, Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council
Alexandra Di Blasio, Governance Coordinator

  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members to the first meeting of the Academic Affairs Committee for the 2020-21 academic year. She introduced the Committee’s Presidential Assessors and new members.
  2. Office of the Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean: Key Portfolio Challenges and Priorities for 2020-21

    At the invitation of the Chair, Professor Amrita Daniere, Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean, and Professor Heather Miller, Vice-Dean, Teaching & Learning, provided overviews of their portfolios and their priorities for 2020-21.

    Professor Daniere discussed the various portfolios within her office and the implementation of the Academic Plan. She reported that sustainability initiatives continued to be a priority in terms of academic planning, research, and the physical environment at UTM. She reported on the progress of writing and numeracy initiatives, and noted that Professor Ruth Childs on loan to UTM from OISE had been appointed the Interim Director of the Institute for the Study of University Pedagogy (ISUP), and would oversee the hiring of five additional faculty. Areas of focus for the coming year included experiential learning opportunities, faculty growth and renewal, with 29 searches planned for 2020-21, and diversity initiatives. Professor Daniere noted that six Indigenous faculty had been hired at UTM in the past three years and discussed that, in the future, these faculty will take the lead on the creation of more formal programming, such as a potential Minor in Indigenous Studies. Lastly, Professor Daniere provided an update on fall course delivery, and noted that of the 807 courses offered in the fall term, 71 have an in-person component of delivery.

    Professor Miller reported that academic continuity was the primary focus of her portfolio amidst the pandemic. The Office continued to provide curricular support toward proposals for academic change, which included new programs, major modifications of existing programs, certificate programs, and the creation of extra-departmental units (EDUs). Professor Miller stated that the first set of foundational writing courses had been introduced in certain subject areas this semester, and roll-out of these courses would continue across other departments over the next six years. She reported that Professor Fiona Rawle, Associate Dean, Undergraduate, assisted teaching staff to adapt to the new online and in-person learning environment, and continued to provide targeted feedback on teaching grants. Professor Jeremy Packer, Associate Dean, Graduate, assisted with the shift to virtual delivery of graduate programming and workshops and continued to develop graduate research video abstracts for graduate students’ online presence.

    A member inquired if sustainability initiatives were considered alongside external considerations. Professor Daniere stated that procurement, both locally and globally, had been considered at length by the Sustainability Advisory Committee. She stated that UTM would publicly pledge its commitment to sustainability and demonstrate its progress through participation in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), which is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.
  3. Campus Fall Re-Entry Planning and Preparation – Information and Instructional Technology Services (I&ITS) and Facilities, Management and Planning (FMP)

    The Chair invited Ms Tammy Cook, Executive Director, FMP, and Mr. Luke Barber, Director, I&ITS, to present. Ms Cook reported on the various measures taken in the physical campus environment to protect against the spread of COVID-19. She reported that all public spaces and classrooms on campus had been mapped to calculate occupancy rates that would allow for two metres of physical distancing, and seating has been blocked with plastic wrapping or removed to ensure that individuals maintained distance while seated. Signage, directional separations and plexiglass barriers had been installed, and personal protective equipment (PPE), including sanitary wipes and sanitizer, were made available. She further reported that the UTM Readiness Committee had managed the campus’ Mask Distribution Program. Mr. Barber discussed measures related to classroom infrastructure amidst the shift to hybrid and remote learning. Among the many supports undertaken, he reported that classroom equipment had been refreshed, including the installation of professional cameras, remote support capabilities were upgraded, the campus’ Zoom license capacity was increased and security features were enhanced, and support capabilities with other interfaces had been improved. Mr. Barber stated that the I&ITS Service Desk had created over 300 knowledge-based articles to support members of the UTM Community. Mr. Barber also reported that UTORid activations were a particular current focus and it was estimated that these would be completed by the week of September 21st.

    A member inquired if an inventory of PPE was maintained in the event of increased demand of the supplier base. Ms Cook reported that a two-month supply was maintained, and inventory was taken daily across the three campuses in the event that resources would need to be shared.

    In response to a question about occupancy rates for classrooms, Ms Cook stated that each room had been mapped and the capacity was calculated to ensure that two metres of physical distancing could be maintained. The occupancy level of each room on campus was posted, and more classrooms had been prepared than would be required based on course enrolment numbers.

    In response to a question about physical distancing in outdoor spaces, Ms Cook reported that markings had been painted on fields to encourage distancing, and outdoor seats had been wrapped or removed so that distance would be maintained while seated. Any outdoor activities would be planned within the approved gathering limits set by the Province. Ms Saher Fazilat, Chief Administrative Officer, stated that Campus Police would patrol the campus and guidance monitors would be hired to monitor study spaces and to remind individuals to wear masks.

    Several members expressed their appreciation for the work done to ease the transition to the remote learning environment.
  4. Revisions to the UTM Academic Affairs Committee Terms of Reference

    The Chair invited Mr. Anwar Kazimi, Deputy Secretary of the Governing Council, to present. Mr. Kazimi provided an overview of changes to the Terms of Reference for the Committee as a result of recommendations from the Report of the 2020 Committee to Review the UTM and UTSC Campus Councils, which was approved by the Governing Council at its June 25, 2020 meeting. He explained that a change is being made to membership, such that full-time and part-time undergraduate constituencies would be combined, with no change to the total number of seats. This would not preclude an outcome whereby there were students from each of these constituencies, but it is hoped that it would increase the likelihood that no student seats would go unfilled, which sometimes occurred within the part-time student constituency. This change would be reflected in the in the Election Guidelines 2021. Another change pertained to the addition of two EDU:As, the Institute for Management and Innovation (IMI), and ISUP. The addition of these two units resulted in two additional ex officio Chairs and two additional elected teaching staff members added to the membership of the Committee. Finally, given the internal focus of the AAC, the appointment of community members from the Campus Council to the AAC has been reduced by one, allowing for some flexibility in the assignments of Campus Council community members.
  5. New Program: Major in Cinema Studies, UTM

    The Chair invited Professor Jill Caskey, Chair, Department of Visual Studies, to present. Professor Caskey stated that the area of Cinema Studies experienced growth in both student interest and faculty since the Minor was introduced in 2010. The proposed Major was unique in that it would focus on broad social and aesthetic contexts, and that subject matter would include any moving image media, which was considered central to the way in which communities have been shaped. The Major would be located within the Department of Visual Studies, and existing faculty within the department would contribute to the program, which would build on their research strengths. Interdisciplinary approaches to cinema would be highlighted and courses would be cross-listed with other units, including the Department of Language Studies and the Department of Historical Studies. Professor Caskey noted that the structure and variety of courses within the Major fit well within the goals of the Academic Plan.

    A member inquired if any sponsorships or funding had been secured through organizations for experiential learning opportunities for students. Professor Caskey stated that there had been significant discussions regarding internships within local organizations, such as the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the Canadian Film Board. She stated that many faculty members were closely connected to film screening and production communities, and that such opportunities would continue to be pursued.

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried,


    THAT the proposed Major in Cinema Studies, recommended by the Vice-Principal Academic & Dean, Professor Amrita Daniere, and described in the proposal dated August 20, 2020, be approved, effective September 1, 2021.
  6. Minor Modification: Undergraduate Curriculum Changes: Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences, UTM

    The Chair invited Professor Heather Miller, Vice-Dean, Teaching & Learning, to present. Professor Miller stated that changes in the Humanities were proposed for three programs and 130 courses, which included 38 new courses. Changes were primarily attributed to new faculty and program updates. Professor Miller stated that as an example, Classics had undertaken a sizable review of its program delivery model and many changes stemmed from this review.

    Changes in the Sciences included two program changes and 72 course changes, which primarily consisted of modifications to existing courses, such as updates to ensure courses remained relevant. She reported that changes in course requirements were proposed in Computer Science to prepare for the future introduction of the foundational writing skills program.

    Changes in the Social Sciences included five program changes and 69 course changes. The most notable change pertained to the modification of the Introduction of Economics (ECO100Y5) course from a full-year course into two half courses (Principles of Microeconomics, ECO101H5 and Principles of Macroeconomics ECO102H5). Professor Miller explained that this change was advantageous to students, such that if students performed poorly in one semester of the course, they would not lose an entire year’s worth of work.

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried,


    THAT the proposed Humanities undergraduate curriculum changes for the 2021-22 academic year, as detailed in the respective curriculum reports, be approved.


    THAT the proposed Sciences undergraduate curriculum changes for the 2021-22 academic year, as detailed in the respective curriculum reports, be approved.


    THAT the proposed Social Sciences undergraduate curriculum changes for the 2021-22 academic year, as detailed in the respective curriculum reports, be approved.
  7. Proposed Changes to the Divisional Undergraduate Curriculum Committees’ Terms of Reference

    The Chair invited Professor Heather Miller, Vice-Dean, Teaching & Learning, to present. Professor Miller reported that changes to the Terms of Reference pertained to membership, and reflected the two new EDU:As, IMI and ISUP, that were approved in spring of 2020.
  8. Calendar of Business, 2020-21

    The Chair referred members to the Calendar of Business and advised that the document was available and updated regularly on the Office of the Governing Council website. She encouraged members to review the Calendar on a regular basis and consult with the Secretariat if they had any questions about forthcoming items.
  9. Other Business

    There was no other business.
  10. Reports of the Presidential Assessors

    The Chair invited Ms Lorretta Neebar, Registrar & Director of Enrolment Management, to provide an update on enrolment trends. Ms Neebar stated that there had been very strong enrolment and retention in the summer semester, which could be contributed to increased accessibility of courses amidst the shift to remote learning. There had been a 20% increase in enrolment which led to a 25% increase in Full-time Equivalents or FTE. Furthermore, she stated that there had been a 40% decrease in suspensions, which could be partially attributed to changes in grading practices in March that allowed for increased credit/no credit and withdrawal options.

    In terms of new intake, Ms Neebar reminded members that changes would take place until the official so-called November 1 count. There had been a decrease of new intake of approximately 8%, which was primarily attributed to a shortfall in the domestic enrolment target. International student enrolment remained strong. She stated that the areas of Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, Commerce and Life Sciences, which typically met their enrolment targets, had been highly impacted by this shortfall. The Institute for Communication, Culture, Information and Technology and the Social Sciences were also affected. She stated that due to the increased accessibility of education in the online environment, it was possible that more students accepted offers outside of the Greater Toronto Area than in the previous year.

    In terms of overall enrolment, Ms Neebar reported that UTM had the highest enrolment to date. While there were fewer first-year students than expected in 2020-21, this year saw the highest level of student retention. She reported that there had been increased mobility of students across the UofT campuses; there was an 80% increase in students taking at least one course at another division, and a 135% increase in students at other divisions enrolling in courses at UTM.

    A member inquired if students were enrolled in more than five courses per term given the online learning environment, and mentioned long waitlists for certain courses. Ms Neebar stated that this trend would be analyzed after September 22, which was the final date to add and drop courses. Professor Daniere noted that there had been an increase in enrolment in certain departments two years prior, and it was possible that the waitlists could be attributed to those students working their way through their undergraduate degrees.

    In response to a question about admissions averages and program of study requirements in Computer Science, Ms Neebar stated that GPA requirements for admissions fluctuated year-to-year depending on program demand, and standards for enrolment in programs of study were at the discretion of the departments. The Dean added that the Computer Science program was indeed very competitive and noted that a follow-up program had been developed whereby staff contacted those students who were not able to be admitted into the program and counseled them on other program opportunities that would be a good fit with their academic goals.
  11. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report 37 – May 4, 2020

    Report number 37, from the meeting of May 4, 2020 was approved.
  12. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  13. Date of the Next Meeting – Monday, October 26, 2020 at 3:10 p.m.

The meeting adjourned at 4:57 p.m.

September 16, 2020