Frequently Asked Questions - Governing Council

It is the senior governing body that oversees the academic, business and student affairs of the University.
The Governing Council was established by the University of Toronto Act, 1971. Prior to July 1, 1971, the University had a Senate, that dealt with academic affairs, and a Board of Governors, that dealt with business affairs.

Decisions of the Governing Council have an impact on the daily life of members of the university community, and include approval of:

  • Academic programs
  • Budgets
  • Capital expansion
  • Employment policies
  • Fundraising
  • Research policies
  • Student life
  • Tuition fees

50 members drawn from faculty, staff and students of the University as well as members of the community at large:
The President and Chancellor of the University serve by virtue of their positions (ex officio)

  • 18 appointed members
    • 16 individuals appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council
    • 2 senior administrators appointed by the President
  • 30 elected members
    • 12 teaching staff
    • 8 alumni
    • 8 students: 4 full-time undergraduate, 2 part-time undergraduate, 2 graduate
    • 2 administrative staff

The members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council normally serve for three-year terms, as do elected alumni, teaching and administrative staff. Students are elected for one-year terms; the senior administrators appointed by the President also only have one- year terms. Members may serve for a maximum of 9 consecutive years.

It meets approximately 6 times per year – once every 4 to 6 weeks.

Meetings are normally scheduled on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

Typically, four of the regular meetings are held in the Council Chamber at Simcoe Hall on the St. George Campus, one is held in the Council Chamber at the University of Toronto Mississauga and one is held in the Council Chamber at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

The meetings are usually completed within 2 hours of the starting time.

Yes. Meetings are usually held in open session.
Some portions of the meetings may be held in camera, which means that only members of the Governing Council, staff from the Office of the Governing Council, and other individuals whose presence is considered to be necessary by the Executive Committee or the Council to facilitate the Council’s work, may attend.

Members oversee the management of the University and ensure that the decisions that are made by the Council are in the best long-term interests of the University

An effective member of the Governing Council:

  • is informed about issues and process
  • asks relevant questions
  • exercises their vote

Consult the Governing Council website, or contact the Governing Council Office by phone at 416-978-6576 or by email at

Yes. You may apply to be considered for a position as a co-opted or appointed non-Governing Council member of a Board or Committee.

They are individuals who are appointed to a Board to fill positions not assigned to members of the Governing Council. In the case of Committees, they are positions not filled by members of the Governing Council and/or the parent Board.

The Academic Board, Business Board and University Affairs Board each have co-opted members. Co-opted members of the Academic Board may be members of one of its standing committees – the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs and the Planning and Budget Committee.

A request for co-opted members is distributed widely within the University in March. Each Board has a Striking Committee that considers the applications received, and makes recommendations regarding membership on the Board or Committee.