Report: UTSC Academic Affairs Committee - October 21, 2021




October 21, 2021

To the Campus Council,
University of Toronto Scarborough,

Your Committee reports that it met virtually, on October 21, 2021 at 3:10 p.m., with the following members present:

Present: Gillian Mason (Vice-Chair), Wisdom Tettey (Vice President and Principal), William A. Gough (Vice-Principal Academic & Dean), Irena Creed (Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation), Jamie Donaldson (Vice-Dean Recruitment, Enrolment & Student Success), Katie Larson (Vice-Dean, Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs), Mary Silcox (Vice-Dean, Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies), Syed Ahmed, Beheshta Ali Dad Khan, Corinne Beauquis, Glenn Brauen, Shelley Brunt, Elyse Caron-Beaudoin, Curtis Cole, Marc Fournier, Connie Guberman, Angela Hamilton, John Hannigan, Irmi Hutfless, Daniel Lysak, Sharlene Mollett, Karen McCrindle, Michelle Ramnaraine, Malaika Rashid, Laura Risk, Paulina Rousseau, Larry Sawchuk, Michelle Silver, Sofia Suleman, Jinny Tsang, Phil Triadafilopoulos, Kenneth Welch, Marco Zimmer-De Iuliis

Non-Voting Assessors: Annette Knott, Varsha Patel, Shelby Verboven

In Attendance: Naureen Nizam, Heather Seto, Melissa Pullara

Regrets: Sonja Nikkila (Chair), George Arhonditsis, Sandra Bamford, Shadi Dalili, Suzanne Erb, April Franco, Barry Freeman, Vina Goghari, Paula Hastings, Joseph Hermer, Faizah Islam, Thembela Kepe, Margaret Kohn, Neil ten Kortenaar, Patricia Landolt, Hugh Laurence, Randy Lundy, Michael Molloy, Juvenal Ndayiragije, Mahinda Samarakoon, Sonja Sedivy, Michael Souza, Liana Williams, Jessica Wilson

Secretariat: Emma Thacker (Secretary), Tracey Gameiro


  1. Chair’s Remarks

Ms Gillian Mason, Vice-Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, welcomed members. It was noted for members that Professor Sonja Nikkila (AAC Chair) had an unavoidable conflict, and as such Ms Mason would Chair the meeting.

  1. Minor Modifications to Undergraduate Curriculum, UTSC

The Chair invited Professor Katie Larson, Vice-Dean, Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs, to present the item. Professor Larson explained that the new courses were proposed to be taught in the 2021-2022 academic year (winter session). The curriculum changes were proposed from the Department of Historical & Cultural Studies and the Department of Management, each with two new courses.

On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,


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

Members had no questions.

  1. Sessional Dates

The Chair invited Dr. Curtis Cole, Registrar & Assistant Dean Enrollment Management, to present the item, noting for members that Dr. Naureen Nizam, Associate Registrar and Director of Systems & Operations, was in attendance for questions. Dr. Cole provided an overview of the sessional dates for 2022-23, which included information about the examination periods and reading weeks. Dr. Cole’s service as Registrar and contributions to the University of Toronto Scarborough community were recognized by the Committee, who wished him well in his retirement.

Members had no questions.

  1. Update: Curriculum Review Process

The Chair invited Professor Katie Larson, to present the item. Professor Larson provided some context for the Curriculum Review, in relation to the UTSC Strategic Plan – Inspiring Inclusive Excellence. The Working Circle was ongoing and had been working on the Review since the fall of 2020. Professor Larson’s presentation included the following highlights:

  • The Curriculum Review Process had a circle-based approach, drawn from Indigenous practices.
  • Key Priorities: to ensure that UTSC’s commitment to inclusion, Indigeneity, and anti-racism was reflected across programs and embedded in the pedagogical approaches and supports.
  • The approach recognized the importance of intersectional experience, including gender, sexuality, and disability, including recognition of accessibility and mental well-being.
  • Based on preliminary survey data, slightly less than one in three UTSC courses include equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI)-related content. A relatively small number of EDI related courses appeared to consider Black or Indigenous ways of knowing. Of UTSC’s 1911 courses, 550 (29%) had an EDI component. Only 97 (5%) had a component relating to Black or Indigenous knowledges.
  • Faculty survey and departmental input yielded further information about courses whose titles may not obviously reflect this content but where the pedagogical framing or materials used did. Members were in the process of cross-checking that data.
  • Several examples of emerging recommendations were shared, including one regarding the proactive embedding of an equity-based, accessible, anti-racist, and anti-colonial lens at the forefront of the curriculum planning process.
  • New fund (Pedagogies of Inclusive Excellence) would be available in the future, and would be dedicated to inclusive, accessible, holistic, and anti-racist curriculum and pedagogical development.

Members thanked Professor Larson for her leadership with the Campus Curriculum Review.

  1. Report of the Presidential Assessors

The Chair invited Professor William Gough, Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean, to present his report. Professor Gough provided an update on the upcoming Winter 2022 term, noting that UTSC was still planning for a largely in-person course delivery, and that while the Province would not require social distancing in the classroom, everyone must be masked. Requirements in research spaces had also eased. As per the Province’s direction, the University had implemented a vaccine mandate, with a very high compliance rate. Courses with over 200 students enrolled would have two options: 1) remain in person with a web capture, 2) have lectures online with other elements (e.g., labs/tutorials, exams) in person. Web options would be prioritized for 200+ enrolment courses and those with identified accessibility needs. Should instructors become ill, procedures from pre-pandemic would guide options and process. Faculty continued to discuss and explore the use of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), for course design to optimize teaching and learning for students. Those with an approved vaccine exemption were required to complete regular testing. UCheck was also required. Should there be a surge in cases, the University was poised to respond accordingly.

The Chair invited Professor Irena Creed, Vice-Principal, Research & Innovation (OVPRI) to present her report. Professor Creed reported that effective Oct 15, 2021, research labs that met the definition of ‘instructional space’ would operate at full capacity, without social distancing, but with masks required. UTSC research labs met and were exceeding ventilation requirements. Safety checks of all research labs were planned to be completed by the end of October. Decisions regarding the capacity of labs would be left to Department Chairs and the Directors of Research Institutes. There were plans to develop research policies in the following areas during this academic year: core research facilities on campus; research clusters, centres, institutes; and community engagement.

A member asked about participation for upper year seminars. Professor Gough responded by saying that absenteeism was not a new issue, it was just anticipated to be higher in the upcoming session, and so there were mechanisms in place to address absenteeism (e.g., participation marks). In addition, some classrooms would be equipped with technology to facilitate various modes of participation. Professor Larson added that it was important to consider how participation was defined. She provided several examples of alternative options to participate and noted that UDL approaches to curriculum could support a range of student and instructional needs. Several learnings had come out of the pandemic regarding online and hybrid modalities that should not be lost.

A member asked if there was any data on student preferences for course delivery. Professor Gough commented that there had been a range of responses to online learning. For example, those registered at AccessAbility Services had benefited greatly from asynchronous learning. Professor Larson added that there had been some surveying, with results reflecting that student preferences were fairly evenly divided: 1/3 preferring online; 1/3 preferring in-person; and 1/3 preferring in-person complimented by online.

A member asked about the exam schedule. Dr. Cole explained that the Registrar’s Office had to wait for a certain volume of course drops to occur, to avoid exam conflicts, before the schedule could be released.

  1. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 52 – September 13, 2021

The report of the previous meeting was approved.

  1. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.

  1. Date of Next Meeting – January 10, 2022 at 3:10 p.m.

The Chair advised members that the Committee would meet again on Monday, January 10, 2022 at 3:10 p.m.

  1. Other Business

No other business was raised by members.

The meeting adjourned at 4:34 p.m.