Frequently Asked Questions - Planning and Budget Committee

The Planning and Budget Committee is one of the four standing committees of the Academic Board (the other standing committees are the Academic Appeals Committee, the Agenda Committee, and the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs).

The Committee’s responsibilities are stated in its terms of reference. In general terms, the Planning and Budget Committee is responsible for:

  • policy on the organization of planning;
  • statements of the University’s mission or general objectives;
  • statements of multi-year University principles and objectives for academic planning;
  • guidelines for divisional academic plans;
  • statements of general divisional objectives;
  • enrolment plans and policies;
  • long-range planning and/or (operating and capital) budget guidelines;
  • recommendations with respect to the Policy on Endowed and Limited Term Chairs, Professorships, Distinguished Scholars and Program Initiatives;
  • recommendations concerning priorities for major fundraising campaigns.

The Committee has 26 members:

  • 1 administrative staff;
  • 2 lay members (alumni or government appointees to the Governing Council);
  • 3 students;
  • 12 teaching staff;
  • The Chair or Vice-Chair of the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs (ex officio) or designate;
  • 3 assessors selected by the President;
  • Chair and Vice-Chair of the Governing Council, Chancellor, President 

Of the 26 members, usually up to 7, in addition to the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Governing Council, the Chancellor and the President, are members of the Governing Council. The other members of the Committee must be members of the Academic Board.

In May, members of the Governing Council and members of the Academic Board are invited to indicate their Board and Committee preferences for the next governance year.

Members of the Governing Council are appointed to the Planning and Budget Committee by the Governing Council on the recommendation of the Executive Committee.

Members of the Academic Board who are not members of the Governing Council are appointed to the Committee by the Academic Board on the recommendation of the Academic Board Striking Committee.

Membership on the Planning and Budget Committee is for a one-year term, from July 1 to June 30. Members are eligible for reappointment. There is no maximum term, so long as members are also members of either the Academic Board or the Governing Council.

The Chair and Vice-Chair of the Planning and Budget Committee are appointed by the Academic Board on the recommendation of the Academic Board Striking Committee.

The University of Toronto Act, 1971, requires that members of the Governing Council, and, by extension, members of its Boards and Committees, must "act with diligence, honestly and with good faith in the best interests of the University and University College"Although members come from various constituencies, they must put the interests of the University first, rather than the interests of the constituency to which they belong.

Members are expected to assess with great care the proposals that come to the Committee. An effective member:

  • asks searching questions and contributes thoughtfully to the debate,
  • listens to other members and, always,
  • considers, when voting, what is in the best interests of the entire University.

The Chair of the Committee is the Presiding Officer and is responsible for maintaining order and decorum at the meeting. The Chair, on the advice of the Agenda Planning group, sets the agenda (see below). During the meeting, the Chair rules on all points of order.

The Vice-Chair of the Committee acts for the Chair in his/her absence, and carries out such duties as the Chair requests.

Assessors are members of the University’s administration who bring items for the Committee’s consideration and provide recommendations for action on those items. The Committee has three voting assessors,

  • the Vice-President and Provost, who is the senior Assessor,
  • the Vice-President, University Operations, and
  • the Executive Director, Planning and Budget.

There are six non-voting assessors appointed to the Committee:

  • the Vice-President, Advancement,
  • the Vice-President, Research and Innovation,
  • the Director, Campus and Facilities Planning,
  • the Chief Financial Officer,
  • the Chief Administrative Officer, University of Toronto Mississauga, and
  • the Chief Administrative Officer, University of Toronto at Scarborough.

The non-voting assessors may choose to attend or not attend each meeting, depending on the business on the agenda.

The Planning and Budget Committee meets approximately 6 times per year – once in every 5 to 7 week governance cycle, except for the cycle in which the budget is considered, when additional meetings of the Committee may be scheduled.

Meetings are normally scheduled on Wednesday at 4:10 p.m.

Meetings are normally held in the Council Chamber at Simcoe Hall, Room 214, 27 King’s College Circle, St. George Campus.

The meetings are usually completed within 2 hours of the starting time. If there is insufficient time to discuss some of the "for information" items that appear at the end of an agenda, they can be discussed at the next meeting.

Yes. Meetings are normally held in open session.

The Terms of Reference specify that one-third of the voting members of the Committee (normally 9) constitute quorum.

An agenda planning group reviews the agenda and documentation before it is sent to the Committee. Members of the group include the Chair, the Vice-Chair, two teaching staff members of the Committee appointed by the Academic Board on the recommendation of the Academic Board Striking Committee, the Committee assessors and the Secretary of the Committee.

This group considers what business is to come forward, and it makes decisions about what matters are ready to be considered by the Committee and about the order of the agenda. The group may also provide advice about the documentation for the various items.

Non-confidential meeting material is normally posted on the Governing Council website one week prior to each meeting. Members are then sent an email message when the meeting documentation is made available on the Boardbooks governance portal. Non-confidential meeting material, including the agenda, is available to the public.

If members would like additional information about an agenda item or have questions about the material, they are welcome to contact the Committee Secretary. Members may also contact the appropriate assessor directly.

The Secretary can also facilitate access to policies, Committee reports or public documents that Governing Council has on file.

Committee meetings are conducted "by such rules of order as are considered just and expedient" by the Chair and the Committee.  When deemed appropriate, the Chair may invoke the formal rules of the Governing Council as contained in Sections 47 – 75 of By-Law Number 2 of the Governing Council.

Only members of the Committee may speak during meetings, once they have been recognized by the Chair. The Chair may also recognize members of the Academic Board or the Governing Council who are in attendance, and invite them to speak. Such members are guests and are asked to sit with the guests and not at the table.

Members should always feel free to discuss items -- particularly those to be recommended to the Academic Board for approval -- in the detail that they feel is appropriate. The discussion should be through the Chair. Cross-talk is not useful in carrying out the business of the Committee. Members are encouraged to prepare for meetings by reviewing the background documentation in order to ensure that discussion at Committee meetings is focused and productive.

Individuals who are interested in addressing the Committee are advised to complete the ‘Request by a Non-Member to Address Governing Council or one of its Boards and Committees’ form. This form is available here.

Alternatively, a member may make a motion to permit a non-member to address the Committee. To carry, such a motion must be supported by 2/3 of the members present and voting. In all cases, speaking time for non-members is limited to a maximum of five minutes.

Normally items for approval are brought to the Committee by one of the assessors. The assessor prepares a cover memo that includes jurisdictional information, highlights of the proposal, and the required action.

There are four ways in which a matter may be added to the agenda of a meeting:

  • A member may give notice of motion to be presented at the next meeting of the Committee. The agenda planning group will consider the motion and may:
    • place it on the agenda of a subsequent meeting;
    • decline to place it on the agenda of a subsequent meeting;
    • refer it to the Agenda Committee of the Academic Board for disposition.

The action taken with respect to the motion must be reported at the next meeting of the Committee.

  • A member may make a motion to add an item to the agenda of any given meeting. Such a motion requires the support of two-thirds of the members present and voting. As a courtesy to the Chair, such a request should be made to the Committee Secretary prior to the meeting.
  • The Committee may vote in favour of placing an issue on the agenda at a specific future meeting. This requires a simple majority of the members present and voting.
  • Upon written request, signed by at least 10 percent of the voting members of the Committee and submitted at a meeting of the Committee, a stated matter or motion shall be included on the agenda of the Committee’s next regular meeting.

The Committee will normally exercise one of three options when considering a proposal:

  • recommend the proposal for approval;
  • refer the proposal back to the administration for further study and amendment; or
  • reject the proposal. This is done very rarely.

Following the Governing Council’s approval of the Balfour Report in 1988, the Planning and Budget Committee does have the right to amend proposals. Given the responsibility of the Committee’s assessors for developing proposals, that right has not been exercised. Doing so would be a very serious step, after only a brief discussion by the Committee, when the original proposal has been the outcome of very careful work by experts in the operating units and the senior administration of the University. However, motions to amend would not be ruled out of order.

There is an exception: there is a strong convention that the budget – because of the interdependency of its various elements – cannot be amended. The appropriate motion would be to refer the budget back to the assessor with a view to considering a particular amendment.

In some cases, the assessors have accepted a minor amendment that does not contravene the sense of the original motion, often called a “friendly amendment.”

Only members of the Committee may vote on items for approval.

Votes are not recorded unless three members request a recorded vote before the vote is called. Names of members are never recorded.

Some items come before the Committee for information. Such reports can often be very important. They provide the key means for the Committee to monitor the work of the administration. Other reports are intended to keep the Committee informed of current issues and developments.

Members may always ask questions or ask for discussion on an aspect of the report, as well as give advice to the appropriate assessor. If there are concerns, the Committee may request a follow-up report. Other than that, no formal action is required from the Committee.

Some of the more routine “for information” reports may simply be distributed with the agenda package and, at the meeting, no review or introduction will be given by the assessor. That would not, however, preclude questions or discussions.

The Committee is supported by staff from the Office of the Governing Council.
The Governing Council Office may also be contacted by phone at 416-978-6576 or by email at

Information about the Planning and Budget Committee is available here.