Report: Academic Board - March 11, 2021

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Via Virtual Meeting

REPORT NUMBER 232 OF THE ACADEMIC BOARD
Thursday, March 11, 2021

To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto

Your Board reports that it held a virtual meeting on Thursday, March 11, 2021 at 3:10 p.m. with the following members present:

PRESENT:
Nicholas Terpstra (Chair), Douglas E. McDougall (Vice Chair), Brian Lawson (Vice Chair, Governing Council), 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, Harvey Thomas Botting, Adalsteinn (Steini) I. D. Brown, Jutta Brunnée, Samantha Chang, Adanna Yvette Chigbo, Carol C. Chin, Rosa Ciantar, Caryl L. Clark, Ettore Vincenzo Damiano, James Davis, Raisa B. Deber, Lisa Rebecca Dolovich, Paul Downes, Markus D. Dubber, David Dubins, Angela Esterhammer, K. Sonu Gaind, J. Roy Gillis, Janneka Guise, Daniel A. Haas, Tony Harris, Emily Hawes, Walid A. Houry, Sarosh Jamal, Nadine Janes, Linda Johnston, Allan S. Kaplan, Grase Kim, Anil Kishen, Ronald H. Kluger, Daiana Kostova, Lisa Kramer, Ernest W.N. Lam, Brigitte Lavoie, Kevin (Jingzhi) Li, Jiazhen (Diana) Li, Maureen MacDonald, Alexandra MacKay, Jan K. Mahrt-Smith, Stephane Paul Martin Demers, Don McLean, Nicole Mideo, Kent G.W. Moore, Amy Mullin, William Nguyen, Fabian Parsch, Dana Phillips, Jennifer Gillian Purtle, Michael J.H. Ratcliffe, Matt Ratto, Rosa Saverino, Michael Shier, Maureen L. Simpson, Eric Stubbs, Evan Tang, Truc Tran, Dexter Voisin, Grace Ann Westcott, Patricia Windrim, Melanie A. Woodin, Vishar Yaghoubian, Christopher M. Yip, L. Trevor Young

REGRETS:
Joshua Barker, Nina Bascia, Markus Bussmann, Weijia Chen, George Christakis, Kenneth S. Corts, Shadi Dalili, Amrita G. Daniere, Luc F. De Nil, Nathalie Des Rosiers, Hanna Diress, Wendy M. Duff, Nicholas C. Everett, Cathy (Hui Jie) Feng,
Emily Gilbert, Sol Goldberg, William A. Gough, Ira Jacobs, Glen A. Jones, William Ju, Vishnu Katyal, Charlie Keil, Jeannie Kim, Rachel La Touche, Zhiyuan (Annie) Lu, Lance T. McCready, Bonnie S. McElhinny, Mark McGowan, Lacra Pavel, Nicholas Rule, Jastaranpreet (Jasty) Singh, Markus Stock, Njoki Wane, Robert M. Wright

NON-VOTING ASSESSORS:
Trevor Rodgers (Assistant Vice-President, Planning & Budget), Wisdom J. Tettey (Vice-President and Principal UTSC), Joseph Wong (Interim Vice-President, International)

SECRETARIAT:
Tracey Gameiro, Secretary

IN ATTENDANCE:
Dwayne Benjamin, Provostial Advisor, Recruitment, Enrolment, and Education Space & Technology
Tad Brown, Counsel, Business Affairs & Advancement
Elizabeth Cragg, Director, Office of the Vice-President Operations and Real Estate Partnerships
Nora Gillespie, Senior Legal Counsel, Offices of the Vice-President and Provost and Vice-President Human Resources and Equity
Evan Kanter, Governor-Elect
Andrea Kwan, Special Projects Officer
Joshua Mitchell, Director, Real Estate, Office of the Vice-President Operations and Real Estate Partnerships
Tyler Riches, Vice-President, Public & University Affairs, UTSU
Archana Sridhar, Assistant Provost, Office of the Vice-President and Provost
Geeta Yadav, Governor-Elect


ITEM 3 IS RECOMMENDED TO THE GOVERNING COUNCIL FOR APPROVAL. ITEMS 5, 6, 7, 13 AND 14 WERE APPROVED. ALL OTHER ITEMS ARE REPORTED FOR INFORMATION.


Pursuant to section 33(i) of By-Law Number 2,
Items 13 to 15 were considered in camera.


OPEN SESSION

  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the meeting. He acknowledged and thanked those current Board members who had been acclaimed or re-elected to the Academic Board for a three-year term starting July 1, 2021, these included: Emily Gilbert, Jennifer Purtle, Anil Kishen, David Dubins and Aarthi Ashok.

    The Chair noted that one speaking request had been received to speak to item 3 on the Agenda, the Budget Report 2021-2022 and the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2021-22 to 2025-26. That request, from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (“UTSU”), had been granted.

    Members were reminded that they would have the opportunity to identify their committee preferences for next year, and were encouraged to complete the online form.
  2. Report of the Vice-President and Provost

    The Provost began her remarks by noting that, in recognition of the government’s marking of March 11th as a National Day of Observance to commemorate those who had lost their lives to COVID-19 and its significant impacts, the University’s flags were at half-mast for the day.

    She then proceeded to deliver her report.

    Student Equity Census

    In response to a member’s question submitted in advance of the meeting, the Provost spoke to the Student Equity Census, in particular how the census material was gathered and how the University planned to make use of and report on the data collected. The Provost’s comments included the following:
  • The census was launched on November 16, 2020 and was publicised across the University through social media channels, internal newsletters, direct mail, the Provost’s Digest, and the U of T Bulletin; with additional outreach to students through Faculty and divisional registrarial student services and communications teams in February 2021.
  • As of March 1, 2021, 8,000 students had responded to the census.
  • There would be a full marketing and communications campaign for the upcoming year, focused on incoming students.
  • Student leaders had been engaged and materials would be provided to them for distribution as well.
  • Data collected from the census would critically inform the University’s equity, diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • As with all institutional data, great care had been taken to ensure strict protocols were in place to ensure privacy and data security.
  • The U of T Student Equity Census Advisory Roundtable which included representation from students, faculty and staff, was formed in December 2020 to further ensure that data collected through the census was used ethically, wisely, and strategically to benefit students.

    COVID-19: Response and Adaptation

    The Provost provided an update as of March 11, 2021 on the University’s planning for Fall 2021 and the path towards a return to campus activities, which included:
  • With the ramping up of Ontario’s vaccine programs, plans were being developed with optimism for a return to in-person campus activities for the Fall 2021.
  • Guidelines and direction from government and public health agencies would continue to be closely monitored and followed.
  • Additional vaccination clinics would be hosted at each of the University’s three campuses.

    Academic Disruptions

    Pursuant to the University’s Policy on Academic Continuity, the Provost reported that since the last meeting of the Board on January 28, 2021, two disruptions had been declared in the Faculty of Dentistry. Professor Regehr went on to explain that the province’s 10-student restriction in an instructional space during the lockdown had severely limited the Faculty’s ability to conduct in-person training to prepare pre-clinical students. Those challenges continued, despite easing provincial restrictions for in-person instruction for a number of health science programs, because Dentistry was excluded from the list of exempt programs.

    Discussion:

    In response to a member’s suggestion that faculty members have access to the Student Equity Census questionnaire, the Provost indicated the administration would consider if/how that information could appropriately be shared. With regards to a recommendation to include questions regarding socio-economic background, the Provost indicated that income data as well as geographic information was collected through other means, including OSAP applications and student registration and application information.
  1. Budget Report 2021-22 and the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2021-22 to 2025-26

    The Chair informed the Board of the governance path for the Budget Report 2021-2022 and the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2021-2022 to 2025-26, noting that on February 22, 2022, the Planning and Budget Committee had reviewed the Reports and recommended their approval to Academic Board. He further commented that on March 17, 2021, 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 6, 2021. Professor Regehr, Professor Scott Mabury, Vice-President, University Operations & Real Estate Partnerships, and Mr. Trevor Rodgers, Assistant Vice-President, Planning and Budget gave a comprehensive presentation on the Budget.

    As part of her introductory remarks, the Provost noted that despite the significant uncertainty created by the pandemic, the worst case financial scenarios had not come to pass. The University was in positive financial shape, but continued to face the challenges of recovery from the pandemic, declining proportion of government funding, and constraints on domestic tuition fees. Despite the challenges this presented fiscally, the Long Range Budget Guidelines planned for a balanced budget at the institution level in each of the five years.

    Highlights of the Budget Report and the Enrolment Report, 2020-21 included:
  • The projected budgeted operating revenue for 2021-22 of $3.12 billion was reported to be $132 million over the previous year; with significant variation in revenue growth across divisions.
  • Ancillary services suffered significant adverse budgetary consequences as a result of the reduction in on-campus activity, which would likely require deficit spending over the next several years to support recovery.
  • Compensation increases continued to be managed within the constraints imposed by Bill 124.
  • The balance of funding between tuition and provincial operating grants continued to shift, with just 21% of the operating budget supported by the provincial government, down from 22% the previous year.
  • Divisions had been asked to develop budgets assuming a freeze of domestic tuition for one additional year (2021-22) pending the announcement of a new Provincial tuition fee framework.
  • Per student funding for the University of Toronto remained lower as compared to its U15 peers in other provinces.
  • The government had confirmed that no performance-based funding would be at risk until at least 2022-23. Long-range budget guidelines assumed retention of all performance based funding throughout the 5 year plan, given the University’s continued strong performance.
  • Increased undergraduate enrolment was primarily due to significant improvements in retention rates for in-program students compared to previous years.
  • Direct entry undergraduate divisions had committed to a significant investment in merit-based scholarships for international students.
  • Students remained at the centre of the operating budget, with investments focused primarily not only on excellence in academic programing, but also on the student experience, through: expanded mental health services, increased opportunities for experiential, work-integrated learning and research experiences, improvements to both physical and IT infrastructure, and improved service delivery in the areas of academic advising and student success.
  • Five priority areas had been identified for the University Fund allocation: Inclusive Excellence, Enriching Learning, Investing in Divisional Priorities, Advancing University Priorities, and Research Support.
  • Divisions had planned significant capital investments – 32 capital projects over the next 5 years; 29 of those being academic in nature.
  • In addition to pursuing advancement opportunities, divisions continued to set aside funds for these buildings from their capital reserves.
  • Investments continued to be directed toward the diversification goals in the international recruitment plan.

    Mr. Tyler Riches, Vice-President, Public & University Affairs, UTSU, was invited by the Chair to address the Committee. Mr. Riches provided an overview of students’ recommendations for the budget including:
  • a recommendation that international and domestic tuition fees be frozen for the 2021-2022 academic year;
  • reduced fees for summer courses offered remotely;  
  • a request that tuition fees for computer science, bioinformatics, and data science programs be lowered to that of other programs in the Faculty of Arts and Science;
  • a request for increased funding for mental health services; and
  • increased fora for students to provide input into the budget, (e.g. townhalls) and improved access to budget information.

    Mr. Riches concluded his remarks by asking that each division develop a consultation process similar to that of the Faculty of Arts & Science, which in response to students’ concerns had committed to two additional consultation sessions with students during the budget planning process.

    The Chair thanked Mr. Riches for his comments.

    In response to Mr. Riches’ comments, the Provost indicated that she would engage Deans in discussions to encourage them to create similar opportunities for student consultation.

    Discussion:

    A member suggested that in addition to the information provided on financial aid spending, it would be helpful to include information regarding the relative affordability for University of Toronto students when taking into account the higher fee levels and living expenses compared to other universities in Ontario. The Provost stated that cost of living in the region was not reflected in the report and that this would be suggested to the Student Financial Aid office that prepared the Annual Report on Student Financial Support.

    In response to a question about the slowing rate of revenue growth in the outer years of the long range plan, Professor Scott Mabury referred members to the Report of the Alternative Funding Sources Advisory Group and advised that some of those avenues were being acted on, including the Four Corners real estate strategy. Professor Mabury added that budget pressures could be addressed by not only exploring new revenue sources but also being more strategic in addressing the expense side of the budget.

    In reply to a member’s comment regarding the proportion of government appointees on Governing Council, the Provost indicated that this was a matter best addressed by the Secretariat. Following the meeting, the Secretariat confirmed that the composition of Council was codified in the University of Toronto Act s. 2(2)(c).

    In response to comments regarding improved student representation in the budget process, the Provost noted that both the Provost’s Office and the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students, met regularly with student leaders. She encouraged student members to engage with student representatives within their own divisions as to how to more effectively share information about the budget with their peers.

    With regards to enrolment, the Provost advised that the decrease in applications from domestic students for direct entry undergraduate programs in Fall 2020 was an unexpected event in response to the pandemic. By contrast, international student demand had increased, and retention of upper year students was better than planned. In response to a member’s question, Professor Mabury noted that the University of Toronto had a higher proportion of international student enrolment than that of other Ontario universities.

    As to concerns over the availability of financial support for doctoral students, the Provost confirmed that the University did have a graduate student funding commitment, and that there were no plans to change that commitment for either domestic or international students within the funded cohort.

    A member commented that given the changes to instruction and curriculum delivery during the pandemic, grades for high school applicants might not fully reflect students’ academic ability; and suggested that relying more heavily on supplemental application materials might be appropriate. The Provost noted the suggestion and undertook to explore that with the Office of Student Recruitment and divisions.

    A member questioned whether the University’s Student Access Guarantee applied equally to international students. In response, Mr. Trevor Rodgers clarified that international students were required to demonstrate financial means to fund academic and living expenses. The Provost added that COVID emergency financial aid was available to both domestic and international students, and that international scholarships would become an increasing part of the budget. Professor Joseph Wong, interim Vice-President, International, reported that 330 international scholarships were yielded last year, and that divisions were projected to yield 500 full scholarships in the coming year which represented approximately 9% of all international students. Professor Wong remarked that financial needs assessment tools were being explored to more strategically structure financial awards.

    On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

    YOUR BOARD RECOMMENDED THAT

    THAT the Budget Report, 2021-22 be approved, and

    THAT the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2021-2022 to 2025-26 be approved in principle.
  1. Enrolment Report, 2020-21

    The Enrolment Report, 2020-21, was received by the Board for information.


OPEN SESSION CONSENT AGENDA

On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

YOUR BOARD APPROVED THAT

the consent agenda be adopted.

  1. Capital Project: Report of the Project Planning Committee for the University of Toronto Wallberg Building ‘Sustainability Lab’- Project Costs and Sources of Funding

    On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

    YOUR BOARD APPROVED THAT

    THAT subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee,

    THAT the Report of the Project Planning Committee for the University of Toronto Wallberg Building ‘Sustainability Lab’, dated January 14, 2021, be approved in principle; and,

    THAT the project totaling 437 net assignable square metres (nasm) (667 gross square metres (gsm)), be approved in principle, to be funded by Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering Divisional Reserves and Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry Departmental Reserves.
  2. Capital Project: Temerty Faculty of Medicine off-campus lease space conversion – Project Scope and Sources of Funding

    On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

    YOUR BOARD APPROVED

    THAT subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee,

    THAT the Temerty Faculty of Medicine off-campus lease space conversion capital project be approved in principle; and,  

    THAT the project scope of the Temerty Faculty of Medicine off-campus lease space conversion, totaling approximately 48,000 rentable square feet, to be funded by the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Office of the Dean, be approved in principle. 
  3. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 231 – January 28, 2021

    Report Number 231, from the meeting of January 28, 2021 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. Reports for Information

    Members received the following reports for information:
    1. Report Number 273 of the Agenda Committee – March 2, 2021
    2. Report Number 197 of the Planning and Budget Committee – February 22, 2021
    3. Report Number 198 of the Planning and Budget Committee – March 4, 2021 (Special Meeting)
  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.


END OF CONSENT AGENDA

  1. Date of the Next Meeting: Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 3:10 – 5:10 p.m.

    The Chair reminded members that the next meeting, would be held on April 28, 2021 at 3:10 p.m.
  2. Other Business

    There were no matters of other business.


THE BOARD MOVED IN CAMERA.


IN CAMERA CONSENT AGENDA

On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

YOUR BOARD APPROVED

THAT the in camera consent agenda be adopted

  1. Capital Projects: Report of the Project Planning Committee for the University of Toronto Wallberg ‘Sustainability Lab’ - Total Project Cost and Sources of Funding

    On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

    YOUR BOARD APPROVED

    THAT subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee, 

    THAT the recommendation by Professor Scott Mabury, Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships, regarding the Total Project Cost and Sources of Funding for the Walberg Sustainability Law as outlined in the memorandum dated March 4, 2021, be approved in principle. 
  2. Capital Project: Temerty Faculty of Medicine off-campus lease space conversion - Total Project Cost and Sources of Funding

    On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

    YOUR BOARD APPROVED

    THAT subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee, 

    THAT the recommendation by Professor Scott Mabury, Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships, regarding the Total Project Cost and Sources of Funding for the Temerty Faculty of Medicine off-campus lease space conversion as outlined in the memorandum dated March 4, 2021, be approved in principle. 

  3. Quarterly List of Donations of $250,000 or more to the University of Toronto November 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021

    The Board received for information the Quarterly Report on Donations for the period November 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021.

    THE BOARD RETURNED TO OPEN SESSION.

The meeting adjourned at 4:43 p.m.



March 15, 2021