Report: Academic Board - March 07, 2024

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


MARCH 7, 2024

Your Board reports that it held a meeting on March 7, 2024 at 3:10 p.m. with the following members present:

PRESENT: Douglas McDougall (Chair), Meric S. Gertler (President), 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), Ramona Alaggia, Larry Alford, Catherine Eve Amara, Aarthi Ashok, Robert Clegg Austin, Joshua Barker, Zoraida Beekhoo*, Susan Jane Bondy, Christian Caron, Catherine Chandler-Crichlow*, Robert Avery Cooper*, Lorne Leo James Costello*, Lisa Rebecca Dolovich, Paul Downes, Sheree Drummond, Juan Du, Markus Dubber, Wendy M. Duff, Darryl Raymond Edwards, Jessica Eylon, Monique Flaccavento, Joseph Flessa, Adam Fox, France Gagnon, Robert Gazzale*, Jason Harlow, Walid A Houry, Sabrina Hundal, Sarosh Jamal, M. Shone Joos*, Rita Kandel*, Gretchen Kerr, Elaine Khoo, Tys Klumpenhouwer, Robert James Kyle, Sameer Lal*, Marcus Law, Amy Shari Mann, Eha Mai Naylor, Nicole Novroski*, John Maurice Oesch, Jesse Pasternak, Rose M. Patten, Michael Ratcliffe, Sebastian Rodriguez, Sacha Samouk*, Rosa Saverino, Suresh Sivanandam, Lindsay Stern*, Robyn Stremler, Sharon Switzer-McIntyre*, Sali Tagliamonte*, Sergio Tenenbaum, Steven Thorpe, Veronica Marie Wadey*, Charmaine Cordelia Williams, Mary-Agnes Wilson*, Suzanne Wood, Melanie Woodin, Colleen Zimmerman, David Walter Zingg

*participated remotely via Zoom

REGRETS: Basil Iyad Abu Sara, Amanda Bartley, Bensiyon Benhabib, Adalsteinn Brown, Jutta Brunnée, Pier Bryden, Stephanie Chartrand, Carol Chin, Dinesh Christendat, Susan Christoffersen, Nathalie Des Rosiers, Tarun Dewan, David Dubins, Ramy Elitzur, Angela Esterhammer, Dickson Eyoh, Seyedreza (Reza), Fattahi Massoum, Robert Gibbs, Emily Gilbert, William A. Gough, Md Rafiul Haque Shahin, Patricia Houston, Yu Xuan Huang, Charles Q. Jia, Charlie Keil, Jeannie Kim, Anil Kishen, Lisa Kramer, Dveeta Lal, Robert Levit, Renee Simran Kaur Mahal, Ryan McClelland, Irene Morra, Javed Mostafa, Joseph Nkeng, Jennifer Gillian Purtle, Srilata Raman, Matt Vesuvious Ratto, Nicholas Rule, Firdaus Sadid, Rob Simon, Laura Anna Simone, Laina Southgate, Markus Stock, Ali Syed, Laura Tam, Nhung Tuyet Tran, Erica Walker, Christopher Yip

NON-VOTING ASSESSORS: Jeff Lennon (Assistant Vice-President, Planning and Budget)

SECRETARIAT: Tracey Gameiro (Secretary)

IN ATTENDANCE: Emma del Junco, (Acting Coordinator, Academic Planning & Reviews, Office of the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs), Susan Mazza, (Special Projects Officer, Office of the President), Kristen Reichold, (Director, Office of the Dean, Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing), Lachmi Singh, (Director, Academic Programs, Planning & Quality Assurance), Archana Sridhar, (Assistant Provost, Office of the Vice-President and Provost),


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests, and encouraged member participation in all discussions. He updated members with the results of the recent Academic Board elections, noting that all teaching staff seats had been filled by acclamation.
  2. Report of the Vice President and Provost

    Professor Trevor Young, Vice-President and Provost, provided an update on recent labour negotiations, reporting that tentative agreements had been reached with the University of Toronto’s five CUPE bargaining units (CUPE 3902 Unit 1, CUPE 3901 Unit 5, CUPE 3261 Full-Time/Part-Time, CUPE 3261 Casuals, and CUPE 3261 89 Chestnut). The ratification process for each of the bargaining groups would be announced by the Union in the coming days. The Provost thanked all bargaining teams for their professionalism and hard work throughout the negotiations.

    The Provost also provided an update regarding the question raised at the February 26, 2024 meeting of the Planning & Budget Committee, concerning the Balance of Degree Fees. He reported that the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) had committed to look at all dimensions of the issue to review current regulations and practices to help address situations where students in research stream programs were negatively affected by the fee. The Dean of SGS (Professor Joshua Barker), thanked members for the opportunity to look deeper into this issue and highlight where improvements could be made.  

    There were no further questions from members.
  3. Budget Report 2024-25 and the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2024-25 to 2028-29

    The Chair informed the Board of the governance path for the Budget Report 2024-2025 and the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2024-2025 to 2028-29, noting that, on February 26, 2024, the Planning and Budget Committee had reviewed the Reports and recommended their approval to Academic Board. He further commented that, on March 13, 2024, the Business Board would review the Budget for concurrence with the Academic Board’s recommendation. It would then proceed to Governing Council for approval on April 4, 2024.

    The Provost, Professor Trevor Young, together with Professor Scott Mabury (Vice-President, Operations & Real Estate Partnerships), and Mr. Jeff Lennon (Assistant Vice-President, Planning and Budget) then gave a comprehensive presentation on the Budget.

    As part of his introductory remarks, the Provost noted that the University continued to be in strong financial shape and projected a balanced operating budget in each of the five planning years. Revenue growth would slow as enrolment growth slowed and with constraints on tuition and operating grant funding.

    The Provost estimated that the operating grant funding announced by the government in response to the Blue-Ribbon Panel recommendations would result in approximately $20 million in additional funding. This accounted for about 0.6% of the institutional budget. He noted, however, that much of the financial benefit would be offset by the continued freeze on domestic tuition.  

    Main aspects of the budget highlighted during the presentation included:  
  • The total budgeted operating revenue for 2024-25 of $3.52 billion was a $164 million increase over the 2023-2024 budget.
  • Only 20% of revenue came from operating grants, which made the University of Toronto the lowest publicly funded university in Canada.
  • Revenue growth was slowing, with an average 4.9% projected revenue growth rate, although this varied widely by division.
  • Extraordinary compensation increases awarded as a result of Bill 124 being ruled unconstitutional would have a multi-year impact, which reduced funding for other priorities.
  • Compensation made up 64% of the budget, including contingencies for pension deficit risk.
  • 7% was set aside for capital projects.
  • Student aid made up 11% of the budget, with total spending for student financial aid projected at $380 million for 2024-25.
  • The federal government’s announcement to limit international student study permits had introduced an element of uncertainty.
  • Key budget priorities and University Fund Allocations included classroom technology upgrades to support student success, research related initiatives, shared services and infrastructure renewal, and capital investments.
  • Budgetary risks included inflationary pressures, the cap on international student visas, deferred maintenance, operating reserves, and continued diversification of the student population.  

    Following the presentation, members engaged with assessors further on the following aspects of the Budget:

    Operating Grant Increases

    Regarding whether the operating grant increase of 7% was likely to be sustained, the Provost and Assistant Vice President, Planning & Budget, explained that the additional funding was a three-year commitment of the government, but that there were no assurances beyond that.

    The President added that, of the $1.3 billion in funding committed by the government, $900 million was set aside for a ‘post-secondary education sustainability fund’, $700 million of which was to be distributed across all universities and colleges on a per student basis. The President noted that this would be the first such increase since 2008. The other $200 million would be allocated to institutions that were deemed at ‘risk’ according to financial metrics set by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

    Special Consideration for the University of Toronto

    A member inquired about any special consideration for the University of Toronto, as mentioned in the Blue Ribbon Panel Report. In reply, the President directed members to the portion of the Blue Ribbon Panel’s report entitled ‘View from the Chair’ (pages 54-55). In recognition of the University’s ‘pre-eminence’ and the higher costs and levels of investment to maintain that excellence, the Panel’s Chair had recommended that the provincial government afford the University of Toronto additional flexibility, including setting its own tuition fees. The President stated, however, that given that the province had since extended the existing tuition freeze for another three years, they would continue to advocate in a variety of other ways.

    Deferred Maintenance

    Addressing a member’s query as to how deferred maintenance needs were prioritized, Professor Scott Mabury, Vice President Operations & Real Estate Partnerships, explained that Facilities & Services used a comprehensive model to strategically prioritize funding allocation to ensure the reliability and safety of campus infrastructure. Within the model, deferred maintenance needs were assessed at three levels of criticality, based on the highest risk of failure and greatest potential impact on the University community. An annual deferred maintenance report was presented to governance for information, the most recent at the January 31, 2024 meeting of the Business Board. Professor Mabury noted that the increased budget allocated for deferred maintenance, was more than initially proposed and reflected the stated imperative of divisional leaders.

    International Recruitment Diversification Strategies

    In response to a member’s question regarding strategies to diversify the socio-economic background of international students, the Provost advised members that $90 million had been set aside to fund international award programs, and that need was taken into account when allocating those funds. 

    The Vice President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships underscored that while it remained challenging to determine financial need accurately on a per country basis, diversifying the source regions and socio-economic status of international students remained a primary focus of enrolment and recruitment strategies. Efforts continued to develop more trusted sources. Consideration would be given on how to improve reporting on this metric in future student aid reports.

    International Students

    Addressing the significance of the two-year cap on international student visas, the Provost first clarified that graduate students, returning students, and international students studying in Canadian high schools, were not included in this cap. He stated that, while there remained uncertainty, the University had confidence in its assessment of the risk posed.

    The President offered further clarification to note that the permits being capped by the government were study permits not post-graduate work permits. Any student allocated a visa under the new cap would be eligible for a post-graduate work permit. He also noted that new students graduating from college programs offered through public-private-partnerships would no longer qualify for a post-graduation work permit. The President acknowledged the potential risk of growing competition from colleges offering new applied Masters programs. The President went on to comment that the cap provisions announced were part of a two-year interim set of measures to allow time for the federal government to implement the IRCC “recognized institutions framework”, which was hoped to be a much more targeted approach to addressing the challenges faced by international students.
    The Provost commented that international students enrolled in courses through the School of Continuing Studies were not eligible for study visas.

    A member asked about what funding was available for international students currently enrolled at the University who experience an emergency resulting in unanticipated financial strain. The Provost mentioned that emergency bursaries were available to international students who find themselves in sudden financial need.

    On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried.


    THAT the Budget Report, 2024-25 be approved, and

    THAT the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2024-2025 to 2028-29 be approved in principle.
  1. Enrolment Report, 2023-2024

    The Enrolment Report, 2023-24, was received by the Board for information together with the Budget presentation, and member questions were also addressed at that time.
  2. Institutional Strategic Research Plan (ISRP), 2024-2029

    The ISRP, which outlined the University of Toronto’s strategic research vision for the next five years, was presented by Professor Leah Cowen, Vice President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives, (VPRI). Professor Cowen reported on the broad consultation process, which included engagement with the U of T community, as well as external partners who were leaders of national and international research and innovation organizations.

    Highlights of the presentation included:
    • The ISRP was required of the University in order to participate in funding opportunities with the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program, the Canada Excellence Research Chairs program (CERC), and with the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
    • Introduced for the first time in the ISRP for 2024-2029 were a list of Global Challenges, and the inclusion of Core Research and Innovation Values.
    • The following five strategic objectives formed the core of the strategic research plan and would inform performance measures and the direction of U of T’s research and innovation strategic direction:
  1. Lead nationally and globally in research and innovation. 
  2. Provide institutional supports to empower scholars to do their best research. 
  3. Enable, train and support the next generation of researchers and innovators. 
  4. Promote all stages of research from idea to discovery, translation and impact.  
  5. Cultivate an environment to leverage opportunities and foster collaboration and partnerships.  

Prior to the meeting, a member inquired whether the University’s planning document Towards 2030 (approved by Governing Council, October 23, 2003) and the Three Priorities (articulated by the President in 2015), referenced in the ISRP remained current.  In reply, the VPRI underscored that the President’s Three Priorities were indeed foundational and remained current. The President’s leadership team, including the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives, referenced these priorities in their annual strategic plans and annual reporting. As noted on the President’s website, the Three Priorities were the university’s commitment to achieving the goals set out in the Towards 2030 plan, which engaged the entire University community in an extensive, year-long consultation and deliberation process. Foundational plans aligned with Presidential terms and underwent extensive review and, as appropriate, re-endorsement with Presidential renewal and extension processes. 

A member inquired about whether there was a requirement that researchers’ priorities align with the ISRP. Professor Cowen reiterated that this obligation did exist for some funding programs, which underscored the importance of the consultation process. Accordingly, the elements and themes of the ISRP were designed to be very inclusive, and intentionally structured at a high level to facilitate this process. In addition, extensive support was provided to researchers to help do so, with a Faculty Guide currently being developed to provide additional support. She stressed that the ISRP was not used to constrain faculty members. Instead, the ISRP was used for strategic planning to identify opportunities for cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary collaboration.



On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


THAT the consent agenda be adopted.

  1. Constitutional Amendments: Factor Inwentash School of Social Work

    On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried.


    THAT subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee

    THAT the proposed amended Constitution of the Factor Inwentash School Of Social Work, which was recommended for approval by Faculty Council on November 21, 2023, be approved, effective April 1, 2024. 
  2. Name Change of Academic Unit: Change in the Name of the Faculty of Arts and Science’s Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies to the “Centre for European and Eurasian Studies”

    On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


    THAT subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee,

    THAT the name of the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, an Extra-Departmental Unit B, be changed to the Centre for European and Eurasian Studies, effective July 1, 2024.
  3. Report of the Previous Meeting – Report Number 248 (November 16, 2024)

    The report of the previous meeting was approved.
  4. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

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

    Members received the following items for information:
    1. Report Number 302 of the Agenda Committee – December 12, 2023
    2. Report Number 303 of the Agenda Committee – January 16, 2024
    3. Report Number 304 of the Agenda Committee – February 28, 2024
    4. Report Number 222 of the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs – February 15, 2024
    5. Report Number 210 of the Planning and Budget Committee – February 26, 2024
  6. Appointments: President’s Teaching Award Selection Committee        

    The appointments to the President’s Teaching Award Selection Committee were provided to the Board for information.
  7. Quarterly List of Donations of $250,000 or more to the University of Toronto November 1, 2023 – January 31, 2024

    The Board received for information the Quarterly Report on Donations for the period November 1, 2023 to January 31, 2024.


  1. Date of the Next Meeting: April 18, 2024, 3:10-5:10 p.m.

    The Chair reminded members that the next meeting of the Board was scheduled for April 18, 2024 at 3:10 p.m.
  2. Other Business

    No items of other business were raised.

The meeting adjourned at 4:45 p.m.

March 18, 2024