Report: Academic Board - April 18, 2024

Council Chamber, Simcoe Hall, 27 King's College Circle, 2nd floor


APRIL 18, 2024

To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto,

Your Board reports that it held a meeting on April 18, 2024 at 3:10 p.m. with the following members present:

PRESENT: Douglas McDougall (Chair), Ernest Lam (Vice Chair), Trevor Young (Vice President and Provost), Scott Mabury (Vice President, Operations & Real Estate Partnerships), Susan McCahan (Vice-Provost, Academic Programs and Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education), Leah E. Cowen (Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives), Basil Iyad Abu Sara*, Ramona Alaggia, Larry P. Alford, Catherine Eve Amara, Aarthi Ashok, Robert Clegg Austin*, Joshua Barker, Amanda Bartley, Zoraida D. Beekhoo, Bensiyon Benhabib, Susan Jane Bondy, Jutta Brunnée, Pier Bryden, Christian Caron, Catherine Chandler-Crichlow, Stephanie Chartrand, Carol C. Chin, Dinesh Christendat, Susan Christoffersen, Robert Avery Cooper, Lorne Leo James Costello, Nathalie Des Rosiers, Tarun Dewan, Lisa Rebecca Dolovich, Paul Downes, Markus Dubber, David Dubins, Wendy M. Duff, Darryl Raymond Edwards, Ramy Elitzur*, Angela Esterhammer, Jessica Eylon, Seyedreza (Reza) Fattahi Massoum, Monique Flaccavento, Joseph Flessa, Adam Fox, France Gagnon, Robert Gazzale, Jason Harlow, Sarosh Jamal, Charles Q. Jia*, M. Shone Joos*, Rita Kandel, Elaine Khoo, Tys Klumpenhouwer, Lisa Kramer*, Robert James Kyle, Renee Simran Kaur Mahal*, Eha Mai Naylor, John Maurice Oesch, Michael J.H. Ratcliffe*, Sebastian Rodriguez, Nicholas Rule*, Sacha Samouk*, Suresh Sivanandam, Lindsay Stern, Ali Syed*, Laura Tam, Sergio Tenenbaum*, Steven J. Thorpe, Veronica Marie Wadey, Charmaine Cordelia Williams, Suzanne Wood, Melanie A. Woodin*, Colleen Zimmerman

*participated remotely via Zoom

REGRETS: Dickson Eyoh, Robert B Gibbs, Emily Gilbert, William A. Gough, Md Rafiul Haque Shahin, Walid A Houry, Yu Xuan Huang, Sabrina Hundal, Charlie Keil, Gretchen Kerr, Jeannie Kim, Anil Kishen, Robyn Stremler, Dveeta Lal, Sameer Lal, Marcus Law, Robert Levit, Amy Shari Mann, Ryan McClelland, Irene Morra, Javed Mostafa, Joseph Nkeng, Nicole Novroski, Jesse Pasternak, Jennifer Gillian Purtle, Srilata Raman, Matt Vesuvious Ratto, Firdaus Sadid, Rosa Saverino, Rob M Simon, Laura Anna Simone, Laina Southgate, Markus Stock, Sharon Switzer-McIntyre, Sali A. Tagliamonte, Nhung Tuyet Tran, Erica Walker, Mary-Agnes Wilson, Christopher M. Yip, David Walter Zingg

NON-VOTING ASSESSORS: Jeff Lennon (Assistant Vice-President, Planning and Budget), David Palmer (Vice-President, Advancement), Linda Johnston (Acting Vice-President and Acting Principal, UTSC)

SECRETARIAT: Tracey Gameiro (Secretary)

IN ATTENDANCE: Luke Barber (Acting Chief Administrative Officer, UTM), Emma del Junco (Coordinator, Academic Planning & Reviews, Office of the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs), David Lock (Coordinator, Academic Planning & Reviews, Office of the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs), Susan Mazza (Special Projects Officer, Office of the President), Jessica Mosher (President, University of Toronto Press), Chad Nuttall (Assistant Dean, Students and International Initiatives), Ann Perry (Senior Issues and Media Relations Strategist, University of Toronto Communications), Archana Sridhar (Assistant Provost, Office of the Vice-President and Provost)

Pursuant to section 38 of By-Law Number 2,
consideration of item 13 took place in camera.


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests. He reminded members of the upcoming Convocation Ceremonies and encouraged teaching staff members to participate in the academic procession.
  2. Report of the Vice President and Provost

    Professor Trevor Young, Vice-President and Provost, provided an update on the allocation of international student visas, noting that the Federal Government’s measures to limit international student study permits had introduced some uncertainty in this year’s recruitment cycle. Permits were being allocated to the provinces roughly based on population, which resulted in Ontario’s total number of international study permits declining by 50%. Under the new system, students had to have received a Provincial Attestation Letter (“PAL”) before they could apply for a study permit.

    The Provost reported that the University’s allocation would be sufficient to meet enrolment targets for the coming year. Admissions were down by 7.4% which reflected a decline in applications. However, acceptance rates were up by 19.5%.Approximately 65% of those who had accepted offers of admission had paid deposits, with 90% of that group being students who required a PAL.

    In closing, the Provost remarked that Divisions were focused on converting acceptances into registrations so that the University could maximize its use of available permit applications.

    There were no questions from members.
  3. Capital Project (Level 3): Report of the Project Planning Committee for the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) Residence (Phase IX) – Project Scope and Sources of Funding

    Following introductory remarks from Scott Mabury (Vice President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships), the Board received a presentation of the project from Luke Barker (Acting, Chief Administrative Officer, UTM).

    Mr. Barber provided an overview of the UTM Residence capital project, outlining the project's history, and emphasizing its compliance with sustainability standards. He noted that UTM accommodated 1500 residents in on-campus housing, primarily consisting of first-year students, but also including upper-year students, graduate students, medical students, and those with families. The proposed Phase IX residence project intended to add 400 beds in single and double rooms and was scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2026. This expansion was aimed at increasing the campus capacity to accommodate 1,000 residents. The scale of this new building was likened to Oscar Peterson Hall, which opened in 2007.Mr. Barber stressed that this expansion was crucial for maintaining U of T’s first-year housing guarantee.

    Professor Andrew Petersen, Vice-Chair of the UTM Campus Council, then reported on the Council’s discussion of the project that it considered at its meeting held April 15, 2024.  

    Following the presentation, Professor Mabury responded to a member’s inquiry about the approval process with the City of Missisauga, expressing confidence that it would proceed without difficulty. He highlighted the impact of new legislation introduced by Ontario’s provincial government on April 10, 2024 (Bill 185: Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, 2024), which would exempt universities developing student housing from the Planning Act, allowing them to avoid application fees and build higher density student residences. 

    In response to another member’s question about plans to improve the natural areas and outdoor gathering areas adjacent to the proposed residence building, Mr. Barber confirmed ongoing efforts and activity in this regard.

    The issue of bird strike and collision mitigations was raised, which Mr. Barber advised had been incorporated into UTM’s Design Standards. These standards had been developed and integrated in consultation with Professors Sanja Hinić-Frlog and Marc Johnson of the Department of Biology, who were experts in the field. He remarked that this consideration would be an element of all capital projects going forward.

    Professor Mabury addressed concerns about the availability of on-campus housing and its impact on enrolment rates, clarifying that there was no correlation between the two. Chad Nuttall (Assistant Dean, Students and International Initiatives) noted that UTM continued meet its First Year Residence Guarantee. As such, the majority of the rooms at the new UTM residence building would be allocated to first year students.

    Professor Mabury then provided an overview of how capital projects were required to meet the University’s energy targets, noting that these were the highest in Canada. He reported that accounting for embodied carbon was a significant part of the University’s efficiency goals.

    Lastly, Professor Mabury explained the methodology behind determining rents for the residence building, emphasizing that extensive due diligence and market research had been undertaken to ensure competitive pricing and affordability. The proposed rates were aligned with those of the UTSC campus and were competitive with the surrounding area. He noted that the residence building was an ancillary project which meant that it had to generate enough revenue to cover capital costs and maintenance costs. Professor Mabury reported that, while historically housing costs off-campus had been lower than living on-campus, the reverse was now true, with the later now being the more economical choice for students.

On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


THAT the project scope of the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) Residence (Phase IX), as identified in the Report of the Project Planning Committee for the UTM Residence (Phase IX), dated March 8, 2024, be approved in principle; and,

THAT the project totaling 6,538 net assignable square metres (nasm) and 10,088 gross square metres (gsm), be approved in principle, to be funded by UTM Residence Construction Reserve, UTM Operating Reserve, and Financing.             

  1. Annual Report: Vice President, Research and Innovation, 2023

    Professor Leah Cowen, Vice-President, Research and Innovation and Strategic Initiatives (“VPRI”), presented the annual report for information. The 2023 Annual Report highlighted the accomplishments and impact of researchers and innovators at the University, as well as the impact and role the Divisions played in support of their endeavours.

    Highlights of the presentation included:
  • U of T consistently ranked first in Canada in nearly all major fields and third among North American public universities;
  • U of T ranked first worldwide for social and environmental impact in the QS Sustainability Rankings and was in the top five globally for university business incubators;
  • U of T was awarded 48% of all major international awards won by researchers at Canadian universities;
  • 50% of SSHRC Impact Awards for faculty were awarded to U of T researchers, including the University’s second SSHRC Gold Medal in three years;
  • U of T secured $497 million in research funding;
  • U of T was exceeding federal equity targets for Canada Research Chairs;
  • The Acceleration Consortium Institutional Strategic Initiative had secured the largest federal research grant ever awarded to a Canadian university ($200 million) from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund;
  • Over the past year, U of T had filed over 140 new invention disclosures and launched 57 new startup companies;
  • The first recipient of the new Connaught Fund Program, Major Research Challenge for Black Researchers fund was awarded to Professor Notisha Massaquoi, Department of Health & Society, UTSC;

As part of her concluding remarks, Professor Cowen advised the Board that, going forward, the VPRI Annual Report would be used to report back to the community on the progress toward achieving the strategic goals set out in the Institutional Strategic Research Plan.

Discussion ensued regarding research security. Professor Cowen advised that the Federal government had recently adopted a new policy to address potential threats to research. First, the Government of Canada had published a list of Sensitive Technology Research Areas (“STRAC”) to identify potential technologies that presented risks from foreign governments or military organizations. Second, the Federal government had also identified a Named Research Organizations (NRO) list which identified entities that could pose a risk to Canada’s national security. These policies now applied to all those applying for Tri-Council funding. Professor Cowen reported that the VPRI Office had been providing support to faculty to effectively navigate and ensure that their research was proceeding in a way that posed no threat to national security. 

Regarding the federal budget’s recently announced investments in research and innovation, Professor Cowen shared that over $3 billion in funding would be allocated to support Canada’s research ecosystem over the next five years. This would include a 30% increase across five years, in Canada’s tri-council funding agency budgets, additional support ($825 million) for master’s and PhD and post-doctoral fellows, and more support ($500 million) for major research infrastructure projects. In addition, the budget set out a plan for the creation of an Advisory Council on Science and Innovation, as well as the creation of a new capstone research funding organization that would create a new framework for the federally funded research councils.

Finally, Professor Cowen noted that cyber security was an institutional priority and that there continued to be active coordination among units and leadership to mitigate those risks.

  1. Review of Academic Programs and Units – Part 2

    At the invitation of the Chair, Catherine Amara, Chair of the Committee on Academic Policy & Programs (AP&P), noted that the Committee had received 13 reviews of units and programs, in which 2 were Provostial and 11 were Decanal. Themes identified in the reviews included: the talent and high caliber of students and the impressive body of scholarship produced, the academic units’ strong and productive connections with surrounding communities, and the many initiatives undertaken to enhance equity, diversity and inclusion.

    The reviews also identified opportunities to strengthen coordination and leverage interdisciplinary strengths, and augment supports and mentorship for both students and faculty. The reviews also highlighted the ongoing need to ensure that diversity continues to be reflected in the faculty complement and curriculum.

    The AP&P Committee determined that the reviews were conducted in-line with the University’s policies and guidelines, were managed properly, and that administrative responses adequately addressed the issues identified in the reports.

    No follow-up reports were requested.

    There were no questions from members.
  2. Academic Plan: Faculty of Law (2023-2028)

    The Chair reminded members that, while Board approval was not required for individual academic plans under its Terms of Reference, the Board was asked to consider divisional academic plans for information and feedback.

    The Chair noted that a full presentation of the Faculty of Law Academic Plan 2023-2028, had been made to the Planning and Budget Committee on April 9, 2024 and that a summary of that presentation could be found in the minutes of that meeting (Report 188 of the Planning and Budget Committee – April 9, 2024).

    The Chair noted that Dean Jutta Brunnée, a member of the Board, was present to address any questions.

    Professor Mark Lautens, Chair of the Planning and Budget Committee, provided an overview of the discussion of the plan that took place at the Committee.

    Prior to inviting questions and comments, the Chair noted for members that a question had been submitted in advance regarding part-time and continuing legal education at the Faculty. Dean Brunnée reported that a part-time option did exist in the Juris Doctor program, and that the Global Professional Master of Laws (GPLLM) program provided a range of options for professionals interested in graduate level education and was inherently a part-time program.

    There were no questions from members.



On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


THAT the consent agenda be adopted.

  1. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 249 – March 7, 2024

    Report Number 249, from the meeting of March 7, 2024 was approved.
  2. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  3. Items for Information

    Members received the following items for information:
    1. Report Number 211 of the Planning and Budget Committee – April 9, 2024 
    2. Report Number 223 of the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs – April 10, 2024 
    3. Report Number 305 of the Agenda Committee – April 11, 2024
  4. Appointments: University Professors Selection Committee

    The appointments to the University Professors Award Selection Committee were provided to the Board for information.
  5. Date of the Next Meeting: May 23, 2024, 3:10-5:10 p.m.

    The Chair reminded members that the next meeting of the Board was scheduled for May 23, 2024 at 3:10 p.m.
  6. Other Business

    No items of other business were raised.





  1. Capital Project (Level 3): Report of the Project Planning Committee for the University of Toronto Mississauga Residence (Phase IX) - Total Project Cost and Sources of Funding

    On motion duly moved, seconded and carried


    THAT the recommendation of the Vice-President, Operations, as outlined in the memorandum dated April 11, 2024, regarding the Total Project Cost and Sources of Funding for the UTM Residence (Phase IX), be approved in principle.

    The Board returned to Open Session.

The meeting adjourned at 4:52 p.m.

April 22, 2024