Report: UTM Campus Council - November 16, 2020

Via Virtual Meeting


November 16, 2020

To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto

Your Council reports that it met on November 16, 2020 at 4:10 p.m. in a Virtual Meeting Room.

Present: Samra Zafar (Chair), Shashi Kant (Vice-Chair), Alexandra Gillespie (Vice-President & Principal), Mitchell Bonney, Laura Cocuzzi, Dario Di Censo, Bryan Du, Sanja Hinic-Frlog, Robert Gerlai, Shelley Hawrychuk, Joseph Leydon, Jay Nirula, Laura Taylor, Kathleen Yu, Ziyaad Vahed, Ron Wener

Non-Voting Assessors: Amrita Daniere (Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean), Saher Fazilat (Chief Administrative Officer), Mark Overton (Vice-Principal, Student Services & Dean of Student Affairs)

Regrets: Sultan Akif, Hassaan Basit, Ivana Di Millo, Imre Gams, Sameer Lal, Mitra Yakubi

In Attendance: Christine Capewell (Executive Director, UTM Budget, Planning & Finance), Ellen Hodnett (University Ombudsperson), Lorretta Neebar (Registrar & Director of Enrolment Management)

Secretariat: Cindy Ferencz Hammond (Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council), Kristi Gourlay (Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council)

  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the meeting of the Campus Council and provided an overview of the available positions for the UTM governance bodies for 2021. She noted that invitations had been sent out to a governance information session conducted by Ms Cindy Ferencz-Hammond, the Deputy Returning Officer, which was scheduled for Tuesday, November 24 at 10:00 a.m. She encouraged those interested in attending the session to contact her.
  2. Report of the Vice-President and Principal

    Professor Gillespie began her report by noting that UTM had been refining its already robust systems with respect to COVID-19 and coordinating its responses between all of the relevant offices, such as Environmental Health and Safety, Human Resources, Department and Unit Chairs, Principal Investigators, communications and custodial staff. She extended her thanks to all of these areas at UTM for their excellent work in dealing with the small number of cases UTM had dealt with since early October. She reported that all those who had been affected had since recovered. She added that recently, on the advice of Peel Public Health, UTM had gradually reduced the amount of in-person activity on campus. Almost all courses were now offered online, with the exception of those courses where the educational outcome of the course necessitated some in person contact; in these cases, UTM is continuing to offer some limited and very carefully controlled in person teaching. Professor Gillespie explained that the recent shift for Peel Region from an orange to a red classification had almost no impact on campus activities, since UTM had already restricted its activities accordingly. The only impact of the new regulations had been on the planned on campus offering of COVID-19 testing, which now had to be cancelled.

    With respect to UTM’s recent interactions with the City of Mississauga, Professor Gillespie reported that positive progress had been made on working with the City and the Mississauga Board of Trade on the Mississauga Economic Recovery Group.

    Reporting on Provincial matters, Professor Gillespie discussed the recent Ontario budget announcement, which saw some commitments to universities such as micro credentialing and other funding initiatives. Universities were still waiting for more detailed news about the support that the Provincial government would provide universities, all in a context of a current tuition freeze and that has had significant implications for the budget.

    Professor Gillespie continued her report by noting that her team had been preparing an action plan in response to the University of Toronto Mississauga Student’s Union (UTMSU) on their Education for All Campaign and was looking forward to continuing to partner with the student group in addressing key issues.

    Professor Gillespie concluded her report by highlighting the recent Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) retreat and as a result would be planning to announce some specific initiatives with respect to Black, Indigenous and racialized faculty, and to some extent, research students over the coming weeks. She also noted that there would be continued focus on identifying key priorities for both the immediate term and longer term planning around mental health supports and the well-being of the UTM community, as the pandemic continued to affect everyone.
  3. Status Report on UTM Campus Strategic Priorities

    At the invitation of the Chair, Professor Alexandra Gillespie, Vice-President and Principal and Professor Amrita Daniere, Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean, gave a presentation that outlined the status of the strategic priorities of the campus.

    With respect to the timeline of budget development, Professor Gillespie noted that in November, UTM would be discussing its budget plans with the Provost and the Vice President of University Operations, and would receive approval of its enrollment plans in the budget in February of 2021. The University’s institutional budget would then proceed for governance consideration and it, along with the UTM campus operating budget would then be presented for information to UTM governance bodies.

    Addressing enrollment intake for 2020 to 2021, the target intake had been a total of 3842 undergraduate students broken down into 2662 domestic and 1147 international students. In terms of variance from those targets, the estimated actuals were at 2367 domestic students, a variance of 295 and 1124 international students, a variance of 56.

    Moving on from enrollment to faculty recruitment, Professor Gillespie reported that in alignment with UTM’s academic plan implementation, 29 searches would be conducted, across all disciplines. Faculty hiring would be focused in some key areas, which aligned with strategic priorities and included Medicinal Chemistry, Robotics, Indigenous Studies Critical Digital Humanities, Population Health, and South Asian Civilizations. There would be continued focus placed on improving the diversity and recruitment of faculty members. She noted that her office was looking forward to implementing the recommendations that arose out of an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion retreat, which occurred last week, as well as supporting a BIPOPC faculty action plan, which included some targeted funding to support faculty success.

    Professor Gillespie next focused on the status of research planning, noting that a formal strategic planning exercise would begin in 2021, and UTM would promote fundamental research across seven clusters that had been identified in the Excellence, Innovation, Leadership, the University of Toronto Strategic Research Plan 2018-23. UTM would also promote its role in tri-campus strategic initiatives such as the Digital Humanities Network, the School of Cities, and Medicine by Design, while also looking to implement new strategies to increase UTM and U of T's share of tri-council funding, and looking for more investment in research from both industry and philanthropy.

    With respect to the campus capital plan, Professor Gillespie explained that a campus master planning exercise would be moving into the consultation phase and the UTM community would be invited to provide feedback to a Draft Master Plan. UTM had completed the Davis Building Meeting Place revitalization project, and was moving forward on capital projects, including the Science building, the Student Services Commons, the Arts, Culture and Technology Building, a new residence and the Robotics Laboratory Environment. Finally, UTM was also participating in conversations with indigenous members of its community and indigenous communities beyond UTM about Indigenous place making at UTM.

    The presentation was continued by Professor Amrita Daniere, Vice-Principal Academic and Dean.

    She reported that a draft sustainability strategic plan had been completed and would be presented to the Vice-President and Principal in the coming weeks. She noted that one of the highlights in the plan is the recommendation of a cluster hire of five faculty who specialize in different areas of sustainability. Also planned was UTM’s participation in its first Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), which is overseen by The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and is a process that involves ranking and monitoring the progress of academic institutions on sustainability over time.

    Professor Daniere next discussed writing and numeracy initiatives, which had been a fundamental core of UTM academic plan, and reported that a new Extra Departmental Unit A had been created, in the form of the Institute for the Study of University Pedagogy or ISUP. Four new faculty had been hired to teach exclusively for ISUP, with seven more planned this year.

    Professor Daniere noted that last year also saw some important hires: in Robotics, and new Indigenous faculty in Historical Studies. In addition, the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (ICCIT) was planning on introducing a new program called Technology, Coding and Society and planning on moving its Digital Enterprise Management Program, fully out of Sheridan College to UTM.

    Professor Daniere reported that in terms of experiential learning opportunities, UTM had been able to offer a variety of courses with experiential education as their core operating principle, and has continued to incorporate such material taught in the virtual classroom. While the number of experiential learning placements in physical settings has been seriously affected due to COVID-19, there had been a good proportion of virtual experiential learning opportunities.

    To conclude her report, Professor Daniere noted student retention would be an important focus in the coming year. The Office of the Registrar, in conjunction with the Office of the Dean of Students, planned to create a student advising initiative that would provide more comprehensive, cohesive and supportive academic advising.

    In response to a member’s question about how the Province’s performance based funding would affect the University, Professor Daniere explained that the Province had stepped back on its desire to enforce performance metrics and was not planning to implementing budget cuts or reallocations for the next two years.

    In response to a member’s question about the nature of UTM’s plans for faculty hires, Professor Daniere reported that all 29 planned hires were permanent, full-time positions, some from retirements and some from growth plans, with a combination of tenure and teaching stream positions. She also noted that UTM would continue to strengthen its current practices for equitable hiring, and noted that the campus had been very successful in increasing the number of diversity faculty hires in recent years.
  4. Impact of COVID-19 on Enrolment and Budget

    The Chair invited Ms Christine Capewell, Executive Director, Planning and Budget to present. Ms Capewell noted that there had been a large variance in domestic enrollment as illustrated in the previous presentation, in conjunction with a shortfall in international enrollment. She noted however, that international shortfall had not been as extensive as predicted. To demonstrate the financial impact of COVID-19 on UTM’s operating budget, she showed the predicted financial impact of the enrolment shortfall from 2021 until 2025-26, as the cohort moved through to graduation. At the same time, summer enrollment had been substantially over target, and so that provided a positive variance, amid the negative numbers shown. She explained that the loss of other revenue mostly consisted of the ancillaries of residence and parking, and while these ancillaries were not part of the UTM operating budget, parking could not afford to repay its loan to the UTM operating budget in the current year, and parking and residence would most likely require additional loans to continue to operate. At the same time, there had been significant investments in teaching costs to support a transition to an online learning environment and scholarship support and student aid spending. Other increased costs arose out of spending on personal protective equipment, signage and quarantine costs. Ms Capewell noted that as a result, the total impact on the UTM budget in the current year was $12 million and with impacts that lasted through a five year period, there was a projected net impact of $15.3 million.

    Ms Capewell continued her presentation with plans to address the financial impacts of COVID-19. There would be savings due to delays in both faculty and staff hires. She noted that UTM had been very successful in redeploying staff across the campus and was currently resuming a more regular filling of existing and new positions. With respect to central UTM budget savings, these were comprised of contingencies, and other savings, which had been identified through delays in some infrastructure projects. UTM also undertook to review the plans of all its capital projects, and made adjustments where possible in costs and timing of projects. Overall, UTM had a plan in place to address COVID-19 impacts.
  5. Report of the University Ombudsperson for the period July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020 and Administrative Response

    At the invitation of the Chair, the Ombudsperson, Professor Emeritus Ellen Hodnett, highlighted some of the content of her Report. She reported that the number of individuals who had sought the assistance of the Office in 2019-20 had increased from the previous year, from 288 to 341, and that the increases occurred across the categories of undergraduate and graduate students and administrative and teaching staff. For UTM, cases had increased from 15 to 40 during the same time period. She noted also that contact from individuals outside the Office’s jurisdiction had dropped and suggested that all of these changes might be due to the Office’s new communication strategy. She reported that, as in past years, the most common actions taken by the Office had been providing information and referrals, and that cases seemed to be either quite uncomplicated or quite complex.

    Professor Emeritus Hodnett noted that all of her recommendations were straight forward and focused on the theme of communication. She expressed her satisfaction with both the administration’s acceptance of her recommendations and their proposal of concrete actions to implement them. She noted that while she had drafted her recommendations before the pandemic hit, they were even more relevant now given the heavy reliance of the University community on communication via websites and email.

    She reported that she had reviewed seven cases managed under the University-Mandatory Leave of Absence Policy and, like last year, it was clear to her that every case had been handled fairly and compassionately, with strict adherence to the Policy.

    Professor Emeritus Hodnett concluded her remarks by observing that the Review of the Office of the Ombudsperson was imminent, followed by the search for and appointment of her successor. She noted her confidence in the current Ombuds Team and her anticipation of a smooth transition.

    The Chair thanked Professor Hodnett for her yearly reports and for her service as the University Ombudsperson.
  6. Reports of the Presidential Assessors

    The Chair invited Saher Fazilat, Chief Administrative Officer, to provide updates on the development of the service ancillary budgets as well as on the Campus Master Plan.

    Ms Fazilat noted that the ancillary budgets would be presented for governance consideration in the next cycle of the Committee, starting with the Campus Affairs Committee’s January meeting. All of the ancillary budgets were currently in the consultation phase of their budget development, and these advisory committee meetings were going well despite the financial effects as described in the previous presentations. She noted that budgets for the ancillaries in general and especially Hospitality and Retail Operations had been affected negatively and her team would be adjusting these operations accordingly. She would provide a detailed budget presentation on these ancillaries at the next meeting of Council.

    With respect to the development of the campus master plan, which is updated every ten years, the CAO reported that the project was moving well and since March, a firm had been engaged that offered online consultation with both the internal and the external community. Virtual consultations were nearing an end and a draft plan would be submitted wide comment and then a final plan would be submitted for governance consideration in the spring of 2021.


  1. Report on UTM Capital Projects – as at October 31, 2020
  2. Reports for Information
    1. Report 44 of the Agenda Committee (November 5, 2020)
    2. Report 43 of the Campus Affairs Committee (October 22, 2020)
  3. Report of the Previous Meeting
    Report number 43, dated October 6, 2020, was approved.
  4. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting
  5. Date of the Next Meeting – Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at 4:10 p.m.

    The Chair reminded members that the next meeting of the Council was scheduled for Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at 4:10 p.m.
  6. Question Period

    There were no questions.
  7. Other Business

    A member noted her appreciation for the onboarding process as a new member of Council and on the remarkable work of the UTM leadership team and thanked the UTM administration for their thorough reports to governance.

The meeting adjourned at 5:36 p.m.

November 17, 2020