Report: University Affairs Board - September 30, 2020

Via Virtual Meeting



September 30, 2020

To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto

Your Board reports that it met on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, at 4:30 p.m. via virtual meeting with the following members present:

Andrew Szende, Chair; P.C. Choo, Vice-Chair; Sandy Welsh, Vice-Provost, Students; David Newman, Voting Assessor; Olivia Batt; Harvey Botting; Neil Chakraborty; Stephane Martin Demers; Reshma Dhrodia; Susan Froom; Avrum Gotlieb; Sandra Hanington; Syeda Hasan; Ian Peter Hutson; Ira Jacobs; Joseph Leydon; Ron Levi; John F. Monahan; Sandhya Mylabathula; Ann Perry; Tayyab Rashid; Salvatore Spadafora; Christine Sutcliffe; Linh Tran; Marium Vahed

Non-Voting Assessors:
Desmond Pouyat, Dean, Student Affairs, UTSC
Anne Macdonald, Assistant Vice-President, Ancillary Services
Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity
Meredith Strong, Director, Office of the Vice-Provost, Students and Student Policy Advisor

David Walders

In Attendance:
Rosalyn Figov, Chief Operations Office, Office of the Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity
Cheryl Gibbs, Assistant-Director, Office of the Vice-Provost Students
Joshua Mitchell, Director, Real Estate
Micah Stickel, Vice Dean, First Year, FASE


  1. Chair’s Opening Remarks

    The Chair introduced himself and welcomed members and guests to the meeting. He then introduced the Vice-Chair, P.C. Choo, Professor Sandy Welsh, the Senior Assessor, as well as David Newman, the Voting Assessor to the Board. Members of the Board then introduced themselves.
  2. Reports of the Senior Assessor

    Professor Welsh offered updates on the following matters:

    Orange Shirt Day

    Professor Welsh noted the importance of the Orange Shirt Day initiative to honour the Indigenous children who were sent away to residential schools and to learn more about the history of those schools. She noted that the University’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives, in partnership with First Nations House, held a virtual event in support of this national initiative.

    National Dialogues

    The University was joining other Canadian universities on October 1 and 2 to facilitate a national conversation to develop concrete actions for change in higher education and in our communities. The National Dialogues were organized as a series of national forums focused on addressing equity and inclusion in Canadian post-secondary education. The first discussion would focus on anti-Black racism and Black inclusion in Canadian higher education.

    Student Demographic Data Collection

    Professor Welsh reported that the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students (OVPS) would be launching an undergraduate survey aimed at collecting demographic information from registered students. The purpose of the survey was to enhance the University’s diversity efforts by gaining a more accurate understanding of the student body. The data would be used to support the development of strategic outreach and recruitment initiatives focused on underrepresented groups, to enroll students with diverse backgrounds, and to develop and maintain programs that responded to the needs of current students. The survey would be voluntary, and completion of the survey would have no bearing on registration status or academic progress.

    Professor Welsh described the development of the survey, including a comprehensive review of the questions that would be included. OVPS and Enrolment Services would be working together to develop a communication plan, which would include a comprehensive website, to promote this new initiative to students.

    Launch of Student Mental Health Virtual Agent (NAVI)

    Professor Welsh shared that the Student Mental Health Virtual Agent, NAVI for short, had been launched and would function as an anonymous wayfinding tool that would be available 24/7. NAVI, which used IBM’s Watson Assistant and spoke to 48 broad topics, was aimed at supporting the Report and Administrative Response to the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health, specifically around developing consistent wayfinding for mental health programs and services. NAVI was developed with input from over 30 subject matter experts from across the University and had been tested by 100 students and 50 staff, faculty, and administrators. Currently, NAVI was aimed at highlighting institutional resources on each campus, along with some off-campus resources, including 24/7 crisis lines. There were plans to continually enhance the tool to speak to more topics, and to explore the possibility of including divisional-or college-specific resources.


    Profession Welsh began her COVID-19 update by highlighting actions that had been taken over the summer, noting that all planning was guided by the advice of government and public health authorities. Over the summer, the University prepared for a gradual return to campus, with as much on-campus activity as was practical, sensible and safe. The Incident Leadership Team was disbanded and Professor Vivek Goel, in his new role as Special Advisor to the President and Provost, was now leading the University’s operational response to the pandemic, assisted by a small dedicated team and a tri-campus Response and Adaptation Committee. Time-sensitive and COVID-19 related research continued through the early stages of the pandemic and additional research was also restarted. The summer had also been spent auditing the University’s buildings, reconfiguring spaces, and determining the appropriate occupancy levels and use for hundreds of classrooms and other spaces. As far an enrolment in summer courses, there had been broad interest in summer course offerings.

    Professor Welsh then highlighted the following specific initiatives:
    • UCheck: a simple way for all members of the University community to do a symptom self-assessment before they came to campus or left their residence room. The portal had been developed in partnership with Thrive Canada.
    • Masks: the Policy on Non-Medical Masks and Face Coverings and been introduced and approved by governance and two masks were provided to every member of the University community across all three campuses.
    • Student Arrivals: the University was supporting students entering Canada and needed to quarantine for 14-days, by providing transportation from the airport, accommodation, meals, daily wellness check-ins, and virtual programming. To date, 966 students had registered in the programs and 859 had completed their 14-day quarantine period.
    • Dashboard Launch: the dashboard would provide a report of cases in the University community and on each campus, and would be updated each week.
    • COVID-19 Emergency Grants: A total of $6.5M in COVID-19 Emergency grants had been disbursed to almost 6,000 distinct students since mid-March.

Non-Tuition Incidental Fees

Turning to non-tuition incidental fees, Professor Welsh reminded members that some incidental summer fees had been reduced given the extraordinary circumstances and to reflect the online nature of the programming. In addition, fall incidental fees had been reduced prior to assessment of fees, and reflected variances in services offered and fees charged on each campus. The reductions were as follows:

• St. George: Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) Sports & Recreation fee was reduced by 30%.; Hart House fee was reduced by 20%; Student Life fee was reduced by 10%.
• UTM: Athletics and Recreation fee was reduced by 25%. KPE Sports & Recreation fee was reduced by 30%.; Hart House fee was reduced by 20%; Student Services fee was reduced by 35% (reduction included the fee for the shuttle service’s suspension).
• UTSC: Athletics & Recreation fee was reduced by 40%; KPE Sports & Recreation fee was reduced by 30%.; Hart House fee was reduced by 20%; Student Services fee was reduced by 25%.
• Fees for some student societies had also been reduced and monthly service charges billed on ACORN for tuition and non-tuition fees were suspended as of March 26, 2020.

Campus Activities

Professor Welsh then highlighted some of the activities and initiatives that had been undertaken across all three campuses:

• Hart House: launch of Virtual Hart House, which had offered hundred of hours of original synchronous and asynchronous programming spanning all areas of the arts, dialogue and wellness; since September, in addition to offering virtual fitness classes, the Hart House Fitness Centre had been open to students 7 days a week on a modified basis.
• KPE Sports and Recreation: online programming and virtual fitness and performance training was implemented in April and there were hundreds of on-line opportunities; fitness centres had reopened in a limited fashion beginning in September; in June, the Pride and Trans flag was raised in a virtual ceremony; a panel was held on anti-racism and mental health.
• Student Life, St. George: services continued to be offered, both in-person and remotely; this included programming targeted for international students; virtual programming and services had been developed across all programs and services.
• Student Life, UTSC: all services were transformed to on-line offerings and had also been operating with limited in person access since September. This included the Health and Wellness Centre.
• Student Life, UTM: all services were operating almost fully online, with on-campus presence since September through a shared 'info booth' offering referrals to services.

Fall and Winter Planning

During the fall term, the number of people on campus would continue to be limited. Almost 90 percent of undergraduate students were enrolled in online courses and public health directives on class sizes and gathering limits were being followed. About 10 percent of undergraduate students would have at least one in-person course during the fall term, particularly where the students needed in-person activity to graduate, such as labs.  Study space and online library services continued to be available.

In terms of enrolment, based on registrations to date, overall enrolment levels were roughly in line with last year. However, it was too early to draw firm conclusions. It was hoped that this basic picture would continue to hold, though it was too early to draw firm conclusions.

Turning to the winter term, Professor Welsh noted that some faculties and divisions had announced their plans for the winter and all faculties and divisions were being encouraged to post a page on their website regarding their plans.

Finally, Professor Welsh noted that she would be taking a six-month research leave from Oct 1 – March 30, 2021 and that during that time, Professor Micah Stickel, would be Acting Vice Provost, Students. In addition, Meredith Strong Director of the Office of the Vice Provost Students and Student Policy Advisor, had agreed to step into student-focused COVID-19 role until June 30, 2021. Melinda Scott would be assuming the role while Meredith was on secondment.

The Chair then invited Professor Kelly Hannah-Moffat to offer her Assessors Report.

Professor Kelly Hannah -Moffat noted that questions had been submitted in advance by a member on the topics of contracting in/contracting out for custodial services at the University and on equity concerns related to Campus Police. She began by noting that employment matters were within the purview of the Business Board, according to the Terms of Reference of that Board. She did note, however, that there had been no lay-offs in custodial services as a result of COVID-19 and that the University did contract out for certain services, including certain custodial services, as it was not feasible to meet the needs of the University with internal staff exclusively.

Turning to Campus Police, there were ongoing efforts to review and monitor the delivery of services, operations, recruitment and hiring practices. Campus Police also had robust internal processes to review these and other matters, and had engaged with partners within the University, especially the Office of Human Resources and Equity to ensure the services provided met the needs of the University community. Professor Hannah-Moffat also noted that Campus Police had partnered with CAMH to provide additional assistance and guidance to address mental health concerns on all three campuses.

In the discussion that followed, questions were raised about the student demographic data collection, student consultation in the review of Campus Police services as well as additional resources for graduate students as a result of COVID-19. Regarding student data collection, Professor Welsh confirmed that participation by students was strictly optional, and that the there were well-developed safeguards built into the initiative to address privacy and confidentiality. Going forward, approaches to encourage greater participation in the initiative would be explored.

Turning to Campus Police, Professor Hannah-Moffat confirmed that concerns raised by students regarding the services provided by Campus Police were taken into account when those services were reviewed. The University was also open to exploring additional opportunities for student input regarding Campus Police services.

Finally, regarding support for graduate students, Professor Welsh noted that the School of Graduate Students (SGS) had undertaken a number of initiatives to support graduate students, including additional mentoring and tuition waivers. Professor Welsh noted that she would advise the Dean of SGS that questions regarding graduate supports had been raised.

The Chair thanked Professors Welsh and Hannah-Moffat for their reports.

  1. Discussion: Board Orientation

    The Chair referred members to the orientation videos which had been provided to members in advance of the meeting. One of the videos described the unicameral structure of the University, while the other was designed to provide an overview of where UAB sat within governance at the University, as well as key elements of its Terms of Reference and areas of responsibilities. He encouraged members who had not yet had the chance to view the video to do so.

    Professor Welsh noted that throughout the year, a number of items from the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students, would be brought forward to the Board during the year.

    There were no questions from members regarding the orientation materials.
  2. Establishment of University Development and Campus Services (UDCS) as an unincorporated business ancillary

    Ms Anne Macdonald, Assistant Vice-President of Ancillary Services, noted that the establishment of the new business ancillary came out of a desire to address the 4 Corners Strategy and was part of a plan to review the various components of ancillary services (residential, parking operations, etc.) to create a “joint” business ancillary, that would include the real estate portfolio. UAB would continue to participate in the Service Ancillaries Review Group and would still be asked to approve fees charged to students (such as for student residence and meals), with concurrence would be sought from the Business Board. There would be periodic updates to the Board on the 4 Corners Strategy.

    In reply to a question submitted in advance, Ms Macdonald reiterated that UAB would continue to play an instrumental role in the review and approval of ancillaries relating to students and rates charged to students. The Chair confirmed that these fees and any other matters that previously were presented to UAB would continue to be presented to UAB for consideration before being considered by the Business Board.

    The Chair thanked Ms Macdonald for her comments.
  3. Equity Diversity and Inclusion Report, 2019

    Professor Hannah-Moffat noted that the Annual Report was being presented for information to the Board. She introduced members of the Office of Human Resources and Equity who were in attendance and recognized them for their continued dedication. She noted that she would be pleased to take any questions on the Report.

    A member asked a question regarding staffing within the Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office as well as in Indigenous Initiatives Office. Professor Hannah-Moffat noted that there were plans to expand the resources in these offices, including hiring full-time staff. She also noted that many divisional offices had expanded their equity initiatives as well. In reply to another question, Professor Hannah-Moffat noted that while anti-racism training was not mandatory across the University, many departments were mandating participation. The Office of Human Resources and Equity would continue to strongly encourage all members of the community to take the training.

    The Chair thanked Professor Hannah-Moffat for her Report.
  4. Summer Executive Authority: Annual Report on UAB Approvals

    The Chair reported that there were no approvals under Summer Executive Authority that were within the purview of the University Affairs Board.
  5. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report 218, May 21, 2020

    The report of the previous meeting was approved.
  6. Business Arising form the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  7. Date of the Next Meeting: Tuesday, November 24, 2020

    The Chair confirmed that the next meeting of the Board would be held on November 24, 2020.
  8. Other Business

    There were no items of other business.

    The Board moved in camera
  9. Appointment: Warden of Hart House

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried

    It was Resolved

    THAT Mr. John F. Monahan be reappointed for a second term as Warden, Hart House beginning October 1, 2020, until September 30, 2025.
  10. Appointment: University Affairs Board Striking Committee 2020-21

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried

    It was Resolved

    THAT the following be appointed to the University Affairs Board Striking Committee for 2020-21:

    Ms. Sandra Hanington (Lieutenant Governor in Council)

    Mr. Harvey Botting (alumni)

    Professor Salvatore Spadafora (teaching staff)

    Mr. P.C. Choo (administrative staff)

    Ms Olivia Batt (student)
  11. Appointment: Chair, Council on Student Services 2020-21

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried

    It was Resolved

    THAT Susan Froom be appointed Chair of the Council on Student Services, effective immediately and until April 30, 2021.

    The meeting adjourned at 6:46 p.m.

October 5, 2020