Report: UTM Campus Council - January 26, 2021

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Via Virtual Meeting

REPORT NUMBER 45 OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO MISSISSAUGA CAMPUS COUNCIL

JANUARY 26, 2021


To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto

Your Council reports that it met on January 26, 2021 at 4:10 p.m. in a Virtual Meeting Room.

Present:
Samra Zafar (Chair), Shashi Kant (Vice-Chair), Alexandra Gillespie (Vice-President & Principal), Brian Lawson (Vice-Chair, Governing Council), Sultan Akif, Hassaan Basit, Mitchell Bonney, Dario Di Censo, Ivana Di Millo, Bryan Du, Sanja Hinic-Frlog, Robert Gerlai, Shelley Hawrychuk, Sameer Lal, 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:
Laura Cocuzzi, Imre Gams, Mitra Yakubi

In Attendance:
Christine Capewell (Executive Director, UTM Budget, Planning & Finance), Lorretta Neebar (Registrar & Director of Enrolment Management), Chad Nuttall (Director of Student Housing & Residence Life, Vicky Jezierski (Director, Hospitality & Retail Operations ), Antonia Lo (Assistant Director, Student Services & Ancillaries)

Secretariat:
Cindy Ferencz Hammond (Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council), Emma Thacker (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 update of the nominations and elections period for the UTM governance bodies for 2021.

    The Chair then invited Mr. Brian Lawson, Chair of the Working Group on Governance Oversight of Capital Projects, to provide an update on that group’s work. Mr. Lawson explained that the Working Group had been created by the Chair of the Governing Council in the fall of 2020. The group’s task had been to enhance governance oversight of capital projects with the goal of giving the administration the necessary flexibility to plan and execute capital projects on an expeditious and commercially effective basis. He noted that another important goal had been to provide members of the respective governance bodies, including UTM Campus Council and its bodies with the necessary information, opportunities for discussion and approval capabilities to ensure that they can fulfill their fiduciary obligations with respect to capital projects. The group had been reviewing and has proposed changes to the Policy on Capital Planning and Capital Projects, which may result in proposed revisions to various Terms of Reference of governance bodies, such as the Business Board. The proposed revisions to the Policy itself are expected to enter governance consideration in Cycle 4.
  2. Registrarial Services in the Pandemic and Enrolment Update

    The Chair invited Ms Lorretta Neebar, Registrar and Director of Enrolment Management to present.

    Ms. Neebar explained that in 2003, when UTM had separated from the Faculty of Arts & Science, the UTM Office of the Registrar had provided all of its services through paper based processes. The Office’s philosophy had been focused on putting students first, with the motto of “online instead of in line.” Since then, all paper based registrarial services have been migrated to an electronic format and have been enhanced. In 2017 the Office started to develop a new version of many of these electronic tools, with the goal of connecting the entire campus. These services were primarily focused in the beginning on advising notes for students as well as referrals across academic and student services departments. At the start of the pandemic, the UTM Office of the Registrar moved their in person triage to an email triage system, so that rather than lining up for general inquiries, advising or other services, students were able to contact the office through email. With the existing online service measures in place, it was easier to transition to offering these services continuously during the pandemic.

    Ms Neebar explained that during the pandemic email was not a sustainable way to triage student issues because of the sheer number of emails received each day. As a result, in August of 2020, her office moved to using “Service Now”, a modification of a system already in use by Information, and Instructional Technology Services (I&ITS) for managing internal service ticketing. Her team was able to pivot an existing project focused on developing an internal ticketing system into a student facing system called “Ask the Registrar”. This meant that students now had access to the UTM Office of the Registrar 24 hours a day in terms of submitting requests, easier access to articles and other information and to connect with the advising team and book their own appointments. Ms Neebar extended her thanks to staff in I&ITS for their assistance. She added that these systems have not only provided better access to students, but has allowed her Office to have concrete data on service demand.

    Moving to the enrolment report part of her presentation, Ms Neebar, noted that her presentation encompassed undergraduate student headcount, which included part-time students and other special students that were not normally counted in other such reports. She reported that new student intake was smaller this year than was the target, but overall headcount was very strong due to high retention, with 15,503 undergraduate students, as of November 1, 2020. With respect to international student intake, the numbers were lower than the last two years..

    With respect to domestic undergraduate student intake, Ms Neebar explained that more students than had been the case in previous years, had chosen to go to other universities, based on data from the Ontario University Application Centre. She speculated that this may be, in part because of the online learning environment offered and without having to incur the expense of living away from home. Some students had also elected to defer their offer of admission for a year. Regarding international student intake, Ms Neebar noted that the Faculty of Arts & Science made many more offers and had a very high international student intake, which may have affected UTM numbers. However, she noted that overall, UTM’s international student enrollment for new intake was still strong, at 32%.

    Ms Neebar continued her presentation with data on country of citizenship and noted that a large proportion of UTM’s international students, 744, came from Canadian institutions.

    Ms Neebar reported that overall admission averages stayed high, at 85.6% for Ontario High School Students and that the quality of the current intake was strong. She further showed a breakdown of scholarships and noted that UTM had been able to attract very high quality students.

    With respect to the graduating class, Ms Neebar noted that in June 2020, UTM had 2064 graduates, the highest number so far in UTM’s history. Speaking to the cumulative graduation rate, Ms Neebar noted that UTM had made some progress in bettering these rates, in part due to measures taken by the Office of the Vice-Principal Academic & Dean, the Student Affairs office and the Office of the Registrar through outreach programs to increase retention.

    A member asked how UTM compared to other similar institutions with respect to the graduation rate. Ms Neebar explained that UTM’s graduation rage among the Arts & Science undergraduate divisions was slightly lower. This was due to graduation rates being higher in cohorted programs like Engineering and in those programs where the admission bar was higher. She added that UTM was comparable in its graduation rate to other similar institutions and noted that much work was being undertaken through focused outreach to help students graduate.
  3. Report of the Vice-President and Principal

    Professor Gillespie addressed three topics in her report, all with the shared theme of hope.

    Wellbeing in a Pandemic

    Recognizing the shared challenges that the pandemic has created as well as the unequal burden they place on different people, groups, and contexts, UTM, with the leadership of the Office of Communications, is launching the Battling Burnout video series. With participants representing staff, faculty, librarians, and students, the video series aims to validate the sense of stress that the UTM community faces, to acknowledge that stress affects different people in different ways, and to share strategies for making the pandemic feel less isolating. The first installment, featuring Professor Gillespie has already been posted on the UTM website.

    To further support projects for mental health and engaging the UTM community in a participatory approach to wellness, Professor Gillespie announced that she would be hosting a mental health retreat. The retreat would provide an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and librarians, to discuss U of T’s new Mental Health Framework and consider an action plan that would enable the University community to thrive.

    The Vice-President & Principal also reminded members that the next UTM Town Hall, which was scheduled for February 2, would feature Professor Sal Spadafora, Special Advisor to the President and the Vice-President and Provost on COVID-19.

    ACT Building & Sustainable Planning

    The Vice-President & Principal reported that plans for the proposed ACT building had been shared through conversations with local neighbors, municipal officials, and campus stakeholders. Pending governance approval, ACT will house Indigenous Studies, Computer Science, Visual Art, and Robotics. She noted that these conversations have helped highlight the environmental focus of ACT’s design: the building will sit amid the trees apart from ecologically sensitive areas; it will exceed the sustainability standards for LEED gold certification; and it will enable efforts in environmental regeneration and soil biodiversity. UTM’s new Sustainability Plan, along with the soon-to-be updated campus Master Plan, all contribute to the goals of reducing GHG emissions by 37% by 2030 below UTM’s 2005 baseline, and to become a carbon neutral or negative campus by or before 2050.

    Professor Gillespie added that in addition to housing an Indigenous centre in the proposed ACT building, ongoing consultations with Indigenous leaders, have stressed the need for dedicated Indigenous spaces at UTM, on the model of Indigenous House at the University of Toronto Scarborough and First Nations House at the University of Toronto St. George campus.

    Principal’s Priorities: Key Initiatives

    Professor Gillespie, concluded her report by providing an update about UTM’s planned campus-wide strategic planning exercise in fall 2021. Her plan was to establish a flexible framework open to future change around the priorities of enabling excellence in student and faculty research; developing inclusive communities and sustainable spaces; and inspiring academic innovation and student success. She emphasized that she welcomed suggestions about initiatives to consider and opportunities to pursue. Recently, she shared a list of fifteen major initiatives in development, in areas ranging from data science to population health, from video game studies to child mental wellbeing with faculty at departmental meetings, to seek feedback.

    Professor Gillespie reported that another project, related to her priorities on local research, campus and municipal engagement, and Indigenous relations, had been an oral narration project, which plans to tell a larger story of place, reaching beyond 1967 to earlier histories of the land on which UTM now sits. She noted that she looked forward to sharing more about this inspiring project and to receiving the perspectives and input from members as the visioning exercise progressed.

    A member asked about the financial need of students during the pandemic and what the university was doing to support students in that regard. Professor Gillespie reported that UTM had been highly focused on addressing the needs of students and had contributed $18.1 million in 2020-21 to the U of T student aid budget and had also awarded UTM students more than $8.1 million in emergency COVID-19 grants. She added that the University was also focusing on creating awareness of financial aid services and on collecting appropriate data to show where and how those needs could be more effectively met. In this realm, the Vice-President & Principal noted that she was collaboratively working with other leaders in the Peel Region and through the Mississauga Board of Trade to address these issues.
  4. Operating Plans: UTM Service Ancillaries for 2021-22

    The Chair invited Saher Fazilat, Chief Administrative Officer, to present the item.

    Ms Fazilat began her presentation by thanking the heads of the ancillary departments and their staff for being flexible and being able to adjust their operations during the pandemic to minimize the negative impacts. Pointing to the Service Ancillary Review Guidelines (SARG), she pointed out that due to the effects of the pandemic, the Parking ancillary could not operate without subsidy, provide for capital renewal, nor contribute 10% to operating reserves as it had in previous years.

    Addressing the overall statement of reserves, the CAO noted that in student housing and in hospitality services, a balanced budget and a small surplus is shown, whereas in the parking ancillary, there is a deficit. She then provided an overview of the consultations with various advisory committees between September and November of 2020, that had occurred in preparation of the ancillary budgets, including the Student Housing Advisory Committee, the Food Services Advisory Committee, the Residence Housing Dining Committee and the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee, all of whom were in support of the budgets as presented to this Committee.

    Turning to forecasted revenues, Ms Fazilat reported that revenues had been much lower than anticipated and noted that while in a normal year, the ancillaries would have continued to work on the capital renewal with respect to improving their facilities, this year and for the near future, savings had to be achieved by forgoing some of these planned activities.

    Addressing the Student Housing and Residence Life ancillary, the CAO explained that until October of 2020, the department was not allowed to bring in international students because of travel restrictions and that approximately 50% of students cancelled their residence commitment. Plans for the ancillary for 2021-22 are based on the return to 80% occupancy in fall of 2021. The plan going forward was to maintain housing stock in good condition, with a balance between revenues available and capital renewal. Ms Fazilat referred members to schedule 6 of the item documentation, which detailed the proposed increases for each residence area, noting that for most areas, the proposed increases were under 4 to 7%.

    Moving to Hospitality & Retail Services, the CAO reported that the ancillary had been able to re-deploy some of their staff to other departments at UTM, and thus able to avoid most temporary lay-offs. The proposed budget for the ancillary is based on the assumption of a 2.6% inflation in food prices. The ancillary will also be in the process of considering a new food service contract in 2021. Hospitality Services was assuming Cafeteria Revenues would return to 75% of pre-pandemic levels in it planning. Referring members to schedule 6 of the item documentation for a detailed breakdown of proposed increases, meal plans were increasing approximately 3% on average.

    Discussing the parking ancillary, Ms Fazilat noted that the ancillary was assuming that parking demand would return to 50% of pre-pandemic levels for the fall of 2021. The parking operation would continue to accumulate a reserve balance for the proposed ACT building parking structure. Referring members to the detailed rate breakdown in schedule 6 of the item documentation, parking rates were proposed to increase by 3% as in previous years, with no increases planned for the pay and display machines on campus.

    The Chair of the Campus Affairs Committee provided a report of the discussion that occurred at that meeting.

    Given the yearly increase in residence fees, a member asked what that increase might be several years beyond the current proposed increase and how that might affect student access. The CAO noted that affordability had always been considered throughout consultations with students and then invited Mr. Chad Nuttall, Director of Student Housing & Residence Life to contribute. Mr. Nuttall explained that his team did a ten year modeling of rates, but the focus was normally on a 5-year period. He noted that in the recent past, the residence area had done a rate differentiation analysis and implemented differential rates, resulting in lower rates for those residences that were aging or in need of renovations. At the same time, he noted that demand for new or renovated spaces was very high and that the operation was self-funded.

    On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

    YOUR COUNCIL APPROVED

    THAT SUBJECT TO CONFIRMATION BY THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

    THAT, the proposed 2021-22 Operating Plans and Budgets for the UTM Service Ancillaries, as summarized in Schedule 1, the service ancillary capital budgets as summarized in Schedule 5, and the rates and fees in Schedule 6, as recommended by Saher Fazilat, Chief Administrative Officer, in the proposal dated December 1, 2020, be approved, effective May 1, 2021.
  5. Reports of the Presidential Assessors

    The Chair invited Mark Overton, Vice-Principal Student Services and Dean of Student Affairs to provide an update on the development of compulsory non-academic incidental fees, which the Committee would be considering at its next meeting, in February. Mr. Overton noted that these fees were compulsory fees for students and the process by which they were developed fulfilled an agreement signed by the University of Toronto and its representative student governments ensured student input on proposals to change these specific non-tuition fees.

    This process resulted in the formation of Quality Service to Students or QSS, which meets regularly to explore the most efficient and effective delivery of student services on the UTM campus. QSS had 10 advisory groups this year including health services, athletics and recreation, the Career Centre, the shuttle service, the International Education Centre, and the Centre for Student Engagement. These groups were convened by the directors and managers of the relevant services with student government representatives, and any other interested students. They have been meeting in those groups to develop operating plan proposals for the coming year, along with their related costs and associated fees. Mr. Overton noted that the process recently concluded, and the proposals along with the advice from QSS would be presented to this body’s next meeting for governance consideration. He referred members to documentation showing the proposed compulsory non-academic incidental fees, and noted that in two areas there were no increases proposed. He reported that all the proposed fees were supported by QSS and that these fees remained well below the levels we would be allowed to seek without students’ endorsement. He also explained that like in 2020, the administration may not to charge the full approved amounts depending on how the pandemic impacts students.

    In response to a member’s comment about the importance and availability of the UTM Shuttle Bus, Mr. Overton explained that it was anticipated that it would return when a significant number of on-campus courses and students resumed.


CONSENT AGENDA

On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

YOUR COUNCIL APPROVED

THAT the consent agenda be adopted and that Item 9 - Report of the Previous Meeting, be approved.

  1. Report on UTM Capital Projects – as at November 30, 2020
  2. Reports for Information
    1. Report 45 of the Agenda Committee (January 18, 2021)
    2. Report 44 of the Campus Affairs Committee (January 12, 2021)
    3. Report 39 of the Academic Affairs Committee (January 11, 2021)
  3. Report of the Previous Meeting

    Report number 44, dated November 16, 2020, was approved.
  4. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting
  5. Date of the Next Meeting – Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at 4:10 p.m.

    The Chair reminded members that the next meeting of the Council was scheduled for Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at 4:10 p.m.
  6. Question Period

    There were no questions for the administration.
  7. Other Business

    There was no other business.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:44 p.m.

January 27, 2021