Report: UTM Academic Affairs Committee - September 14, 2021

Via Virtual Meeting Room


SEPTEMBER 14, 2021

To the Campus Council, University of Toronto Mississauga

Your Committee reports that it held a meeting on September 14, 2021 at 3:10 p.m. via a Virtual Meeting Room.

Laura Taylor (Chair), Sanja Hinic-Frlog (Vice-Chair), Alexandra Gillespie (Vice-President & Principal), Rhonda McEwen (Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean), Heather Miller (Vice-Dean, Teaching & Learning), Steven Short (Acting Vice-Principal, Research), Varouj Aivazian, Sultan Akif, Maelis Barre, Andreas Bendlin, Ilia Binder, Randy Besco, Brett Beston, Laura Brown, Tracey Bowen, Jill Caskey, Rosa Ciantar, Ruth Childs, Laura Cocuzzi, Michael deBraga, Margarida Duarte, Marc Dryer, Bryan Wenchao Du, Margarida Duarte, Tamara El-Aydi, Ulrich Fekl, Sherry Fukuzawa, Jacob Gallagher Ross, Philip Goodman, Richard Greene, Monika Havelka, Shelley Hawrychuk, Rosa Hong, Tanjim Hossain, Nathan Innocente, Shashi Kant, Irenius Konkor, Maggie Ku, Helen Kula, Irenius Konkor, Michael Lettieri, Ashley Monks, Rhonda McEwen, Emmanuel Nikiemma, Michael Nixon, Gerard Otiniano, Andreas Park, Esteban Parra, Gurpreet Rattan, Christoph Richter, Mev Saiyed, Adriano Senatore, Jumi Shin, Areesha Siddiqui, Alvin Stanislaus, Dunia Stanojevic, Steve Szigeti, Jaimal Thind, Soo Min Toh, Ron Wener, Daniel White,

Non-Voting Assessors:
Yen Du (Manager Academic Programs, Reviews & Quality Assurance), Lorretta Neebar (Registrar & Director of Enrolment Management), Mark Overton (Dean of Student Affairs)

Laura Cocuzzi, Andrea Olive, Lindsay Schoenbohm, Andrew Sepielli, Meghan Sutherland, Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, Leigh Revers, Weiguo Zhang

In Attendance:
David Palmer (Vice-President, Advancement), Gillian Morrison (Assistant Vice-President, University Development), Andrew Stelmacovich (Executive Director, UTM Office of Advancement), Tad Brown (Counsel, Business Affairs & Advancement), Andrea Kwan (Office of the Vice-President & Provost), Lee Bailey (Chair, Academic Appeals Subcommittee), Lisa Devereaux (Manager, Academic Integrity)

Cindy Ferencz Hammond, Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council; Tracey Gameiro

  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members to the first meeting of the Academic Affairs Committee for the 2021-22 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 2021-22

    At the invitation of the Chair, Professor Rhonda McEwen, Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean, and Professor Heather Miller, Vice-Dean, Teaching & Learning, provided overviews of their portfolios and their priorities for 2021-22.

    Professor McEwen reported that the Office of the Vice-Principal Academic & Dean added two new special advisors, one on Equity Deserving Groups in Science, Technology, and Mathematics, led by Judith Poë, Professor Emerita from the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences, and the second in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion led by Professor Negin Dahya from the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology. These positions would connect into existing work in that area by multiple UTM units. She reported that the Vice-Dean, Graduate Studies portfolio has been expanded to include Postdoctoral Affairs and will be led in an Acting capacity by Professor Bryan Stewart.

    Reporting on priorities for the upcoming year, Professor McEwen, addressed the Undergraduate & Graduate Student Educational Experience Report recommendations and noted that her office would be focused on implementing the tri-campus report’s recommendations in the coming months. Other priorities of the office included reviewing issues of equity within the faculty area and overseeing faculty growth with 34 planned searches, which was an increase over last year’s searches. Academic Integrity would be another area of focus and her office would be examining the significant rise in cases during the pandemic. Systemic and pedagogical factors such as remote learning would be considered. Professor McEwen noted that another area of focus was to embed equity diversity and inclusion within all functional areas managed by the Dean’s office.

    Another area of priority was the Provostial review of UTM, which would be done in conjunction with the Offices of the Dean of Student Affairs, the CAO, and the Chief Librarian. Professor McEwen also noted that the current Academic Plan was due to be completed this year and acknowledged the work of Professor Amrita Daniere, the previous Vice-Principal Academic & Dean with respect to the development and execution of the Plan thus far.

    To conclude her presentation, Professor McEwen reported on fall 2021 course delivery, noting that the total number of courses with at least one in-person delivery component was 213, out of a total number of 791 courses. There had been 15747 students enrolled in at least one online course, with 8702 students enrolled in a course with at least one in-person delivery component. Professor McEwen noted that informed by regular contact with and guidance from Peel Public Health, UTM’s approach was to transition back to in-person campus operation in January of 2022.

    A member commented that he found the goal of returning to in-person instruction in January of 2022 to be a heavy-handed approach, which would put a strain on the cohesion of the university. He urged administration to have further discussions with faculty and follow up on surveys about what would be in the best interests of the institution as well as students with respect to pedagogy. He noted that remote instruction could be very effectively delivered and had been greatly improved over the past year. Professor McEwen acknowledged the member’s comment and noted that UTM had been relying on existing expertise on remote instruction guided by UTM’s Teaching and Learning Collaboration (TLC), which meant examining the pedagogy and advantages of going remote for certain courses. However, she reported that most students much preferred in-person instruction. She added that discussions would continue to strive for the right balance of in-person versus remote instruction. Professor McEwen noted that she would communicate about this with the UTM community on a regular basis and she expected to have more concrete information on this issue in October.

    The Vice-President & Principal also responded, noting that if the University decided to fundamentally change existing modes of delivery, it would involve moving new courses and program revisions through governance. She also acknowledged that this might be a slow process but was one of vital importance for broad community consultation and quality assurance. She emphasized that UTM would be adhering to guidance from Peel Public Health and would be closely monitoring readiness to return for January 2022.

    The Chair called on Professor Miller, Vice-Dean Teaching & Learning to present her portfolio. Professor Miller noted that the biggest parts of her portfolio encompassed the following three areas: academic continuity, ongoing curricular support for proposals for academic change and comprehensive support for UTQAP external reviews of existing programs and units. In addition, her office would also be focusing on the continuation of the rollout of the foundational writing skills and the beginning of the numeracy skills initiatives, which are unique in Canada and have received world-wide attention for their innovation. Other areas of priority for her office included undergraduate and graduate curriculum review and renewal, review of UTM’s undergraduate degree level expectations, and working on UTM’s curriculum mapping initiative, all in partnership with the Associate Dean, Undergraduate.

    Professor Miller reported that with respect to the major undergraduate curriculum review projects, which is a tri-campus process, consideration would be given to permanently designing some courses to be online in accordance with provincial level quality assurance requirements. She explained that the University was certified as an in-person university and to change this on a non-emergency basis was a major change in pedagogical design. The University was awaiting guidance from the Province on this issue.
  3. Bicentennial Campaign Priorities

    The Chair invited Mr. David Palmer, Vice-President, Advancement to present and noted that the presentation was available online to those listening to the webcast.

    The presentation discussed the framework for gifts and donations at the University of Toronto in the context of academic priorities and the Provostial Guidelines on Donations (updated in 2021). Mr. Palmer also shared with members the planning and consultation process and reviewed the benefits and opportunities of a campaign. Seven themes provide the campaign’s platform to advance the University’s commitment to inclusive excellence. They are: Next Generation, Healthy Lives, Sustainable Future, Equitable Cities & Societies, Creativity & Culture, Vanguard of Discovery, and Bold Innovation.

    The presentation included the following highlights:
    • The University’s previous Boundless campaign, was extremely successful, providing more than 4000 scholarships and bursaries, pushing total support for student aid over $1 Billion in endowments;
    • During the pandemic, the University’s solicitation volumes remained on par with its four- year average to annual funding or major gifts and grew significantly in terms of principal gifts;
    • The Bicentennial campaign would advance a wide range of priorities for equity, diversity, & inclusion, and transformative capital projects and research priorities;
    • The campaign would support the implementation of 84 marquee and institutional strategic initiatives, many of which represent partnerships across divisions and campuses;
    • Gifts would only be accepted for academic priorities that were approved by the Provost at the recommendation of Principals and Deans in accordance with established academic planning procedures and in accordance with the Provostial Guidelines on Donations;
    • The campaign had two main goals: 1 million instances of alumni engagement, and $4 Billion in donations, which would be achieved across two phases (quiet and public);
    • The campaign would be the largest one in Canadian history;
    • A virtual public launch was planned for late fall 2021, by which time, the goal was to have achieved $1 Billion of the fundraising goal.
  4. Revisions to the UTM Academic Appeals Sub-Committee Terms of Reference

    The Chair invited Ms Cindy Ferencz Hammond, Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council, to present the item. Ms Ferencz Hammond explained that the proposed changes to the Terms of Reference arose from an increase in the overall number of UTM departments and academic units. As such, the total number of teaching staff within the Subcommittee pool was proposed to increase from 15 to 18 to align with the number of academic units. Further to this, it was proposed to increase the number of undergraduate students in the pool from two to four, to allow for more flexibility in meeting scheduling and to ensure that student members of the Subcommittee were able to participate. The remainder of the changes were minor updates in language and to clarify process.

    Members had no questions.

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried, YOUR COMMITTEE RESOLVED

    THAT the proposed revisions to the UTM Academic Appeals Subcommittee (AAS) terms of reference, dated May 31, 2021, be approved, effective September 15, 2021.
  5. 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 referred members to the materials posted in the governance portal and stated that the main theme in the proposed curriculum changes was that they were cross-disciplinary in nature. She noted that many departments also took the opportunity to do curriculum mapping and review their program requirements. The foundational writing program continued to be added to more and more departments, including most recently majors and specialists in Computer Science and Political Science, and all disciplines in the department of Chemical and Physical Sciences.

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried, YOUR COMMITTEE RESOLVED,

    THAT the proposed Humanities, Sciences, and Social Sciences undergraduate curriculum changes for the 2022-23 academic year, as detailed in the respective curriculum reports, be approved.
  6. Divisional Undergraduate Curriculum Committee Terms of Reference, UTM

    The Chair invited Professor Heather Miller, Vice-Dean, Teaching & Learning, to present. Professor Miller reported that recent changes to the Terms of Reference reflected updates that brought the document in line with changes to the organizational departmental structure of UTM and to staff of the UTM Office of the Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean.
  7. Divisional Graduate Curriculum Committee Terms of Reference, UTM

    The Chair invited Professor Heather Miller, Vice-Dean, Teaching & Learning, to present. Professor Miller reported that the Divisional Graduate Curriculum Committee was an advisory committee of the Vice-Principal Academic & Dean (VPA&D). The function of the committee was to receive and review proposals for minor modifications to existing graduate programs; to advise the Curriculum Committee Chair and VPA&D on the content, quality, and feasibility of proposed curricular changes; and to recommend proposed changes move forward for approval by this Committee. She referred members to the recently adopted Terms of Reference on the governance portal, detailing purpose, membership, and roles, as well as responsibilities and process.


On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED
THAT the consent agenda be adopted and that Item 8 - Report of the Previous Meeting, be approved.

  1. Calendar of Business, 2021-22
  2. Report of the Previous Meeting

    Report number 41, dated May 3, 2021, was approved.
  3. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting
  4. Date of Next Meeting – October 20, 2021 at 3:10 p.m.

    The Chair reminded members that the next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for October 20, 2021.
  5. Other Business

    There was no other business.

The meeting adjourned at 4:42 p.m.

September 16, 2021