Report: Academic Board - January 28, 2021

Via Virtual Meeting

Thursday, January 28, 2021

To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto

Your Board reports that it held a virtual meeting on Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 3:10 p.m. with the following members present:

Nicholas Terpstra (Chair), Douglas E. McDougall (Vice Chair), Meric S. Gertler (President), Cheryl Regehr (Vice-President and Provost), Scott Mabury (Vice-President, University Operations and Real Estate Partnerships), Mark Schmuckler (Acting Vice-Provost, Academic Programs & Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education), A'aishah Abdul Hameed, Larry P. Alford, Catherine Amara, Laura Anderson, Aarthi Ashok, Joshua Barker, Harvey Thomas Botting, Jutta Brunnée , Markus Bussmann, Samantha Chang, Adanna Yvette Chigbo, Carol C. Chin, Rosa Ciantar, Caryl L. Clark, Ettore Vincenzo Damiano, Amrita G. Daniere, James Davis, Luc F. De Nil, Raisa B. Deber, Hanna Diress, Lisa Rebecca Dolovich, Paul Downes, Stark Draper, Markus D. Dubber, David Dubins, Wendy M. Duff, Emily Gilbert, J. Roy Gillis, Janneka Guise, Daniel A. Haas, Tony Harris, Emily Hawes, Walid A. Houry, Ira Jacobs, Sarosh Jamal, Nadine Janes, Linda Johnston, Grase Kim, Anil Kishen, Ronald H. Kluger, Daiana Kostova, Lisa Kramer, Philip Kremer, Ernest W.N. Lam, Kevin (Jingzhi) Li, Jiazhen (Diana) Li, Maureen MacDonald, Alexandra MacKay, Jan K. Mahrt-Smith, Stephane Paul Martin Demers, Nicole Mideo, Kent G.W. Moore, Amy Mullin, William Nguyen, Fabian Parsch, Dana Phillips, Jennifer Gillian Purtle, Michael J.H. Ratcliffe, Matt Ratto, Daniel Rozhko, Nicholas Rule, Rosa Saverino, Maureen L. Simpson, Jastaranpreet (Jasty) Singh, Danielle Skipp, Eric Stubbs, Evan Tang, Truc Tran, Dexter Voisin, Njoki Wane, Grace Ann Westcott, Melanie A. Woodin, Vishar Yaghoubian,

Nina Bascia, Adalsteinn (Steini) I. D. Brown, Christian Caron, Weijia Chen, George Christakis, Kenneth S. Corts, Shadi Dalili, Nathalie Des Rosiers, Angela Esterhammer, Nicholas C. Everett, Cathy (Hui Jie) Feng, K. Sonu Gaind, Sol Goldberg , William A. Gough , Glen A. Jones, William Ju , Allan S. Kaplan , Vishnu Katyal, Charlie Keil, Jeannie Kim, Rachel La Touche, Brigitte Lavoie, Zhiyuan (Annie) Lu , Bonnie S. McElhinny, Lance T. McCready, Mark McGowan, Don McLean , Lacra Pavel, Michael Shier, Markus Stock, Patricia Windrim, Robert M. Wright, Christopher M. Yip, L. Trevor Young

Heather S. Boon (Vice-Provost, Faculty and Academic Life), David Palmer (Vice-President, Advancement), Trevor Rodgers (Assistant Vice-President, Planning & Budget), Wisdom J. Tettey (Vice-President and Principal UTSC), Joseph Wong (Interim Vice-President, International)

Tracey Gameiro, Secretary

Andrew Arifuzzaman (Chief Administrative Officer, UTSC), Nora Gillespie (Senior Legal Counsel Offices of the Vice-President and Provost and Vice-President Human Resources and Equity) , Vassos Hadzilacos (Professor, Department of Computer & Mathematical Sciences, UTSC), Karen McCrindle (Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning/Director, Centre for Teaching and Learning, UTSC), Sonja Nikkila (Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Department of English, UTSC), Archana Sridhar (Assistant Provost, Office of the Vice-President and Provost)


Pursuant to section 33(i) of By-Law Number 2,
Items 11 and 12 considered in camera.


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests and encouraged member participation in all discussions. He referenced the ongoing work of the Working Group on Governance Oversight of Capital Projects, of which he was a member. As part of its mandate, the Working Group was tasked with reviewing the existing Policy on Capital Planning and Capital Projects. The Chair advised members that revisions to the Policy would also result in revisions to the Board’s Terms of Reference. The proposed revisions to the Policy were expected to be presented to governance in Cycle 4, with the proposed revisions to the Board’s Terms of Reference to follow.
  2. Report of the Vice-President and Provost

    The Chair invited Professor Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost to provide her report to the Board. Prior to beginning her report, the Provost announced that Professor Mark McGowan’s term as interim Principal of St. Michael’s College, had been extended for a year.

    The Provost proceeded to provide an update on the following:

    COVID-19 Response and Adaptation
  • Current public health and workplace safety measures would remain in effect for at least another two weeks.
  • Case counts were decreasing and expected to continue to decrease with Ontario’s vaccination plans over the spring and summer, with the anticipation that a careful return to in-person campus activities could begin to be planned for thereafter.
  1. Supports for Students
  • As of the meeting date, 2,292 students had registered in the University’s quarantine programs, and 1,816 had completed them.
  • In response to student demand, quarantine programs had been extended through to the end of March 2021, and would be extended further if necessary.
  • To date, more than $8M in emergency bursaries had been provided to over 6,000 students.
  1. Research
  • Lockdown restrictions had not required immediate change, and research activities continued with measures in place to follow public health guidance.
  1. Academic Continuity
  • Pursuant to the Policy on Academic Continuity, the Provost and the Academic Board had the authority to declare an academic disruption under extraordinary circumstances in order to allow the University to maintain normal academic operations and to fulfill its educational mission. 
  • Since November, 2020, the Provost had approved new requests for 2 program disruptions, as well as extensions to 2 existing program disruptions.
  • As of January 2021, disruptions continued in 17 programs and 2 courses that were not part of a broader program disruption.
  • Nearly all of the program disruptions were in respond to the suspension or cancellation of in person placements.
  • In total, the University offered more than 900 programs and continued to closely monitor the evolving advice of government and public health officials and work with the divisions to support best practices in multiple delivery formats, and the development of contingency plans. 
  • The University continued to advocate for further exceptions to virtual learning requirements, particularly for impacted programs that were critical to the health sector (e.g. dentistry), and the economic recovery of the province.
  • Faculties and Divisions had begun planning for the upcoming summer session and fall term, which would include developing contingencies for various scenarios.
  1. Business Continuity
  • University buildings continued to be accessible only to members of the University community and essential visitors, All those accessing University buildings were required to complete a health assessment in advance.
  1. Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA 3)
  • The University had received data from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities indicating it had met all performance targets for year 1 of SMA-3.
  • Performance metrics were retrospective, and the 2020-21 metrics did not reflect the impact of COVID-19.
  • Financial implications of performance metrics had been delayed by the Ministry until at least 2023 while the impacts of COVID-19 continued to be monitored.
  1. Fall 2020 Enrolment Results
  • Overall enrolment results for the fall term were strong, with undergraduate enrolment up 3.4% compared to the previous year and 1.8% above expectations.
  • Application data received from the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre indicated that the University of Toronto was first choice for 17.9% of students in the province, which represented an increase of 8% from 2020.
  • International applications had increased by 25% from the year prior.
  • Graduate enrolment in Masters programs had declined slightly by 0.7%, but Doctoral enrolment had increased by 6.7% year-over-year.

    Student Mental Health Framework
  • The new student mental health website was launched November 20, 2020.
  • The mental health redesign process was underway and the process redesign team continued to consult with the community and with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
  • Renovations to the Health & Wellness Centre continued to progress well, with the input of students on the project planning committee, and the hope that the planning project would enter governance this academic year.

    A number of initiatives had been undertaken to promote a Culture of Care and Excellence across the University community including social media campaigns, the sharing of best practices for student engagement in online learning, the establishment of an advisory body on graduate mental health, the release of the Promoting a Healthy Lab Culture at the University of Toronto report (with all 8 core recommendations having been fully endorsed and moving forward with implementation), and the development of proposals to donors in support of mental health initiatives at the University.

    In response to questions submitted in advance from a member, regarding the impact of the pandemic on undergraduate programs, graduate education and faculty research, the Provost offered the following response:
  1. Undergraduate Programs
  • Professors had risen to the challenge of online teaching, developing new pedagogical approaches in response (E.g. 3D simulations, use of 3D printers, virtual tours), with enthusiastic response from faculty and Teaching Assistants to workshops offered by the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation.
  1. Graduate Education
  • Indications from pulse surveys were that the pandemic was taking a toll on graduate students. These issues had been more significant in the Winter 2020 session as people were adapting in the Fall 2020 session.
  • Graduate students reported varying degrees of concerns with academic progress, social isolation, and mental health. The majority, however, reported feeling they were making academic progress, and felt supported by their supervisors and peers.
  1. Faculty Research
  • While too early to assess the pandemic’s effect on faculty promotion and research output, surveyed faculty had reported some negative impact on their research, citing factors such as changes in course delivery, childcare, access to research tools, and changes in administrative responsibilities.
  • Those who reported an increase in productivity cited increased flexibility as the most important factor.
  • The Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life continued to work on ways to support researchers.

    As part of the ensuing discussion, the Provost recognized that while much had been done to support the academic and co-curricular experiences of students and to enrich the online learning environment, a return to campus life and in-person learning activities remained a priority for the administration, given how vital these are for the U of T student experience. She assured members that the Division of Student Life continued to work tirelessly to create virtual opportunities for students during this period of limited gatherings, and continued to invest resources to advance student success and support learning goals.

    In response to questions regarding re-opening campus and plans for the fall term, the Provost stated that most classes had been re-designed for Winter and Summer terms not to include face to face instruction given the indication from Public Health Ontario that social distancing restrictions would remain in place for some time. She added however, that there may be opportunities created when closer contacted is permitted, but that remained dependant on guidance from public health officials. In terms of plans for the fall term, the Provost reported that the administration was undertaking modeling to plan for a variety of scenarios, and announcements would follow in the Spring when students started to register.
  1. Capital Project: Report of the Project Planning Committee for the New Classroom, Academic, and Administrative Building (Instructional Centre-2 or IC-2) at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC)

    The Chair invited Scott Mabury, Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships, and Andrew Arifuzzaman, Chief Administrative Officer, UTSC to present the UTSC Instructional Centre 2 capital project.

    Throughout the course of the presentation, the following aspects of the IC2 Capital Project were highlighted:
  • The structure was a proposed new facility, positioned on the North Campus;
  • The facility would incorporate an instructional centre, four units within the Office of Student Wellbeing & Experience, and academic space for the Department of Computer & Mathematical Sciences;
  • The proposed building would address space shortages, and provide gathering and study space for students;
  • The building was designed to have five upper levels, and one below, with space totaling 9,915 nasm (net assignable square metres), and a gross floor area of 19,646 gsm (gross square metres);
  • The building would provide 24 new classrooms which would range from 24 seats to 500 seats, seven collaborative classrooms, otherwise known as active-learning classrooms are proposed.

    Professor Karen McCrindle, Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning & Director, Centre for Teaching & Learning explained some of the extensive consultation with faculty in designing the pedagogical aspects of the building. She noted that the design provided greater flexibility in teaching options, incorporated learning technology, and would support innovative teaching and learning practices.

    In response to a question regarding classroom structure, Professor McCrindle explained that some classrooms would include furniture that could be reconfigured to adapt to student and faculty needs.

    With regards to completion time for the project, Mr. Arifuzzaman reported that the anticipated start of construction was targeted for early 2021 with building occupancy in August 2023.

    On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


    THAT the Report of the Project Planning Committee for the New Classroom, Academic, and Administrative Building (Instructional Centre 2 or IC-2) at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), dated November 17, 2020, be approved in principle; and,

    THAT the project totaling 9,915 net assignable square metres (nasm) and 19,646 gross square metres (gsm), be approved in principle, to be funded by Future Major Capital Project Reserves, Borrowing, and UTSC Major Capital Construction.


On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


THAT the consent agenda be adopted

  1. Capital Project: Utility Services – Devonshire-Bloor Expansion Basis of Design

    On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


    THAT subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee,

    THAT the Utility Services – Devonshire-Bloor Expansion Basis of Design, dated July 16, 2020, be approved in principle, to be funded by Recovery from the Academic Wood Tower Project, Recovery from the Woodsworth Academic Building, Divisional Reserves, and the St George Campus Utilities Infrastructure Fund.
  2. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report 230 – November 18, 2020

    Report 230, from the meeting of November 18, 2020 was approved.
  3. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  4. Reports for Information

    Members received the following reports for information:
    1. Report Number 259 of the Agenda Committee – December 11, 2020
    2. Report Number 260 of the Agenda Committee – January 20, 2021
    3. Report Number 196 of the Planning and Budget Committee – January 13, 2021
    4. Report Number 206 of the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs – January 12, 2021


  1. Date of the Next Meeting: Thursday, March 11, 2021, 3:10 – 5:10 p.m.

    The Chair reminded members that the next meeting, would be held on March 11, 2021 at 3:10 p.m.
  2. Other Business

    There were no matters of Other Business raised.



On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


THAT the in camera consent agenda be adopted.

  1. Capital Project: Utility Services-Devonshire-Bloor Expansion - Total Project Cost and Sources of Funding

    On motion duly moved, seconded and carried

    THAT subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee,

    THAT the recommendation of the Vice President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships regarding the Total Project Costs and Sources of Funding for the Utility Services – Devonshire-Bloor Expansion, as outlined in the memorandum dated January 21, 2021, be approved.


  1. Capital Project: New Classroom, Academic, and Administrative Building (Instructional Centre-2 or IC-2) at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) –Total Project Cost and Sources of Funding

    On motion duly moved, seconded and carried


    THAT the Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships’ recommendation regarding the Total Project Cost and Sources of Funding for the New Classroom, Academic, and Administrative Building (Instructional Centre-2 or IC-2) at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), as outlined in the memorandum dated January 21, 2021, be approved.
  2. Appointment of an Assistant Secretary to the University Tribunal

    On a motion duly moved, seconded and carried


    THAT Ms. Carmelle Salomon-Labbé be appointed Assistant Secretary of the University Tribunal effective January 28, 2021.


The meeting adjourned at 4:09 p.m.

February 1, 2021