Report 390


December 4, 2017


G.B. (“the Student”) v. the Toronto School of Theology (“TST”) and Graduate Centre for Theological Studies (“GCTS”)

Hearing Date(s):

October 31, 2017

Committee Members:

Professor Hamish Stewart, Senior Chair
Professor Avrum Gotlieb, Faculty Governor
Ms. Mama Nii Owoo, Student Governor


Mr. Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances


For the Student Appellant:

Mr. G.B. (the Student)
Professor Donald Wiebe, Representative for the Student

For the School of Theology:

Mr. Robert A. Centa, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP

In Attendance:

Professor Elizabeth Smyth, Vice-Dean, Programs, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto
Professor Jaroslav Skira, Director, Eastern Christian Studies Program, Associate Professor of Historical Theology, Regis College

Student appeal from a decision of the Academic Appeals Committee (AAC) of the Graduate Centre for Theological Studies (GCTS) of the Toronto School of Theology (TST), dismissing his appeal from a decision of the acting Director of the GCTS, removing the Chair of the Student’s Ph.D. supervisory committee.

The Chair of the Student’s Ph.D. supervisory committee had been removed by the acting Director of the GCTS because he refused to be appointed as a member to the GCTS. The acting Director of the GCTS was exercising her authority pursuant to Paragraph 32 of the Memorandum of Agreement between the University of Toronto, the TST, and the TST’s Member Institutions (in effect as of July 1, 2014), the TST’s Guidelines for Graduate Faculty Appointments (at p. 2) and the GCTS’s Graduate Conjoint Degree Handbook (at p. 1) which collectively provide that all faculty members engaged in conjoint graduate degree programs do not automatically have teaching and supervisory privileges. Faculty members must be approved by the TST Director, and be appointed as members of the GCTS. This policy is consistent with the policy at the School of Graduate Studies’ (SGS) policy that provides that no-one may serve as a Ph.D. supervisor or on a committee unless they are a member of a graduate faculty and approved by the SGS. The Committee held that these policies are clear on their face and do not permit individuals who are not members of a graduate faculty to serve on doctoral supervisory committees. The Committee found that the acting Director applied the relevant policies correctly. The Committee went on to comment that while it is possible that a policy that is clear on its face that it permits no discretion might, in practice, be applied with a measure of discretion, they found no evidence that the SGS or the TST exercises any discretion with respect to their policy on membership in a graduate faculty. Appeal dismissed.