Report: Academic Board - March 12, 2020

Simcoe Hall, 27 King’s College Circle, Governing Council Chamber 2nd Floor

Thursday, March 12, 2020

To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto

Your Board reports that it met on Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 4:10 p.m. in the Council Chamber, Simcoe Hall with the following members present:

Nicholas Terpstra (Chair), Cheryl Regehr (Vice-President and Provost), Scott Mabury (Vice-President, University Operations & Real Estate Partnerships), Susan McCahan (Vice-Provost, Academic Programs & Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education), Nadia Al-Banna, Larry P. Alford, Catherine Amara, Laura Anderson, Harvey T. Botting, Catherine Bragg, Markus Bussmann, Samantha Chang, Caryl L. Clark, Ettore Vincenzo Damiano, Amrita G. Daniere, Jim Davis, Raisa B. Deber, David Dubins, Angela Esterhammer, Susan Froom, Emily Gilbert, Vivek Goel, Gary D. Goldberg, Peter Gooch, Janneka Guise, Richard Hegele, Edsel Ing, Ira Jacobs, Sarosh Jamal, Oria James, Amin Kamaleddin, Allan S. Kaplan, Ronald H. Kluger, Daiana Kostova, Cara Krmpotich, Angela B. Lange, Ron Levi, Paul E. Lindblad, Siyi (Megan) Liu, Zhiyuan (Annie) Lu, Maureen MacDonald, Alexandra MacKay, Jan K. Mahrt-Smith, Bonnie S. McElhinny, Don McLean, Lewis Rose, Rosa Saverino, Jastaran Singh, Sal Spadafora, Truc Tran, Dexter Voisin, Christopher Yip

Doug McDougall (Vice Chair), Benjamin Alarie, Stephanie Anagnostou, Aarthi Ashok, Joshua Barker, Nina Bascia, Randy Boyagoda, Shauna Brail, Nicole Breakey, Adalsteinn (Steini) I. D. Brown, Jiayi (Caroline) Chen, Carol C. Chin, George Christakis, Shadi Dalili, Luc F. De Nil, Nathalie Des Rosiers, Lisa Dolovich, Paul Downes, Wendy M. Duff, Arda Erturk, Nicholas C. Everett, Zhong-Ping Feng, K. Sonu Gaind, Sol Goldberg, Tara Goldstein, J. Connie Guberman, Daniel A. Haas, Emily Hawes, Edward M. Iacobucci, Mallory Estelle Jackman, Linda Johnston, Glen A. Jones, William Ju, Charlie Keil, Jeannie Kim, Anil Kishen, Lisa Kramer, Ernest W.N. Lam, Ben Liu, Fei-Fei Liu, Tiff Macklem, Lance McCready, Kent G.W. Moore, Emmanuel Nikiema, Lacra Pavel, Dana Phillips, Mary Pugh, Jennifer Purtle, Nicholas Rule, Suzan Schneeweiss, Michael Shier, Anne Simmonds, Rozina Somani, Richard M. Sommer, James Stafford, Markus Stock, Njoki Wane, Patricia Windrim, Melanie Woodin, Rachel Zand

Tracey Gameiro (Secretary, Academic Board), Anwar Kazimi (Deputy Secretary), David Walders (Assistant Secretary)

Brie Berry (Policy Analyst), Althea Blackburn-Evans (Executive Director, Communications Partnerships), Tad Brown, Counsel (Business Affairs and Advancement), Gwen Burrows (Executive Director, International), Nora Gillespie (Legal Counsel, Office of the Vice-President and Provost), Sinisa Markovic (Assistant University Registrar & Director Technical & Administrative Services, Enrolment Services), Joseph Minichini (Business Analyst, Registrarial Policy), Sandy Welsh (Vice-Provost, Students)


Pursuant to section 33(i) of By-Law Number 2, Item 15 was considered in camera.


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 2020-2021, these included: Jim Davis, Jasty Singh, Raisa Deber, and Laura Anderson.

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

Professor Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost, provided an update on the COVID-19. Updated information would be provided on UofT’s coronavirus information page as new information became available.

Discussion: COVID-19

In response to a member’s concern around uniformity in practices, Professor Vivek Goel, Vice-President, Research & Innovation, explained that hospitals were exercising a higher degree of social distancing measures because of their infectious disease protocols.

Professor Sandy Welsh, Vice-Provost, Students addressed the impact to study abroad programs. She stated that any future programs planned for between March and June for which students had not yet left had been cancelled. Programming beyond June would continue to be assessed and any decisions to interrupt or cancel programming would be made with sufficient notice to students to allow them to make academic decisions and address issues related to travel insurance.

Addressing academic continuity planning, the Provost advised members that as per the policy the University was committed to ensuring students had the opportunity to complete their terms – this included a review of both curriculum delivery and assessment practices (e.g. exams). She noted that all students experiencing cold or flu-like systems were being asked to fill out the Declaration of Absence form on ACORN, and that the implications of those absences (for example on late withdrawal caps) would be assessed; stressing again that the goal was to ensure the continuity of programs for students. Turning to changes to grading schemes, Professor Susan McCahan, Vice-Provost, Academic Programs, explained that allowances were provided for per the Academic Continuity Policy, and added that a memorandum to that effect had been circulated to faculty earlier in the day. Finally concerning plans to follow the ministerial decree to close public schools, the Provost indicated that the situation would continue to be monitored closely by the University. With respect to students in residence, Professor Welsh reported that continuity planning would also ensure students would be able to transition should there be a need for closures.

In reply to a member’s question regarding reimbursement for grant related activities, Professor Goel indicated that a Research Alert had recently been circulated outlining eligible expenses.

3. Budget Report 2020-21 and the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2020-21 to 2024-25

The Chair informed the Board of the governance path for the Budget Report 2020-2021 and the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2020-2021 to 2024-25, noting that on February 25, 2020, the Planning and Budget Committee had reviewed the Reports and recommended their approval to Academic Board. He further commented that on March 18, 2020, 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 2, 2020. 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 the shift continued in the balance of funding between tuition and provincial operating grants, with just 22% of the operating budget supported by the Provincial government, down from 24% last year. Despite the challenges this presented fiscally, the Long Range Budget Guidelines planned for a balanced budget in each of the five years.

It was reported that the total budgeted operating revenue for 2020-21 of $2.99 billion was 8.0% higher than the 2019-20 budget. This reflected a freeze in domestic tuition fees, increased international enrolment, and an increase in international tuition fees. Key budget priorities included enhancing the student experience, increased diversity in faculty hiring and outreach/access programs, budget support for the indirect costs of research, and capital investments. Total spending for student aid was projected at $258M for 2020-21, growing to $344M over five years.

A member referred to the high portion of the international student population from China and questioned the risk associated with this and how that would affect the budget. Professor Regehr stated that a significant proportion of international students were from China, and many of these students already resided in Canada and were admitted directly from Canadian high schools. In terms of recruitment of international students living abroad, the University was making significant investments to diversify the international student population and grow demand from all global regions.


Professor Mabury addressed the concern regarding planning should any expected sources of future revenue not be realized, or not to the expected levels. He acknowledged that while this could impact hiring, the timing of capital projects, and investments made in new initiatives, divisions had developed contingency plans and had reserves in place to address this. Professor Mabury assured members that sophisticated modeling and planning was actively taking place to allow adjustments to be made as changes came forward and to prepare institutional and divisional leadership to respond to a more dynamic world.

In response to a question about how containment measures related to COVID-19 concerns could affect the ability of the international student population to travel to and from Canada, Professor Regehr noted that the majority of international students were already on campus. In its continuity plans, the University would ensure a greater number of summer course offerings should students decide not to return home after the current semester was completed.

In response to a question related to ensuring the management of international scholarships at the divisional level aligned with institutional goals, Professor Regehr explained that meetings were held regularly with Deans and that while divisions might have different approaches this was very much a collective exercise, noting that this diversification also allowed for learning as to whether one approach was more effective than another.

On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried
THAT the Budget Report, 2020-21 be approved, and
THAT the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2020-2021 to 2024-25 be approved in principle.

4. Enrolment Report, 2019-20

The Enrolment Report, 2019-20, was received by the Board for information.

5 Transcript Innovation Initiative

The Board received a presentation from Mr. Sinisa Markovic, Assistant University Registrar and Director, Operations, Enrolment Services, and Mr. Joseph Minichini, Business Analyst, Registrarial Policy, on the Transcript Innovation Initiative. Mr. Markovic explained that the University had undertaken the initiative to investigate and recommend ways in which the academic transcript could be enhanced to more fully reflect a student’s university experience, address document authenticity, support student mobility and transition to work. As part of this initiative, consultations were conducted with students, faculty and staff, both on-line and in person.

Mr. Markovic noted that the university transcript had not changed in decades, while the technology, and university experience had evolved considerably. He added that with new technologies there was an opportunity to transform the transcript so that it reflected this experience. It was suggested that a more comprehensive digital record could help students reflect on what they had learned and accomplished, and provide more information to potential employers and other post-secondary institutions.

The presentation offered an overview of the development of the initiative, which aimed to develop an accurate, secure and comprehensive transcript that surmounted the limitations of the traditional paper transcript. In addition, an overview of the digital transcript was provided, which used innovative methods to illustrate student learning and achievements, and was developed with enhanced document security measures. Mr. Markovic explained that as a paper document, the transcript’s length limited what it might contain. Digital versions, however, could embed links to other data sources. For example, a transcript recipient might be able to click on a degree and see what the learning outcomes are, or click on a course and see the description.

In the discussion that followed, members asked questions about the enhanced security features. Mr. Markovic responded that the Blue Seal Certification, which benefitted from over 900 institutions in its network, provided evidence of the veracity of the transcript.

In response to a member’s question, Mr. Markovic stated that transcripts for graduates as far back as 1974 could be generated in digital form.

The Chair thanked Mr. Markovic and Mr. Minichini for their presentation.


On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried
the consent agenda be adopted.

6. Update to the Policy on Information Security and the Protection of Digital Assets

The update to the Policy on Information Security and the Protection of Digital Assets was provided to the Board for information.

7. Name Change of Academic Unit: Change in the name of the Department of Geography, at the University of Toronto Mississauga, to the Department of Geography, Geomatics and Environment

On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried
THAT subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee,
THAT the name of the Department of Geography, at the University of Toronto Mississauga, be changed to Department of Geography, Geomatics and Environment, effective July 1, 2020.

8. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 225 – January 30, 2020

Report Number 225, from the meeting of January 30, 2020 was approved.

9. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.

10. Reports for Information

Members received the following reports for information:

  1. Report Number 261 of the Agenda Committee – February 27, 2020 (Special Meeting)
  2. Report Number 262 of the Agenda Committee – March 3, 2020
  3. Report Number 201 of the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs – February 24, 2020
  4. Report Number 191 of the Planning and Budget Committee – February 25, 2020

11. Appointments: President’s Teaching Award Selection Committee

The appointments to the President’s Teaching Award Selection Committee were provided to the Board for information.

12. University Professors Selection Committee

The membership of the University Professors Selection Committee was provided to members for information.


13. Date of the Next Meeting: Thursday, April 23, 2020, 4:10 – 6:10 p.m.

The Chair reminded members that the next meeting, would be held on April 23, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.

14. Other Business

There were no matters of other business.


15. Quarterly List of Donations of $250,000 or more to the University of Toronto November 1, 2019 – January 31, 2020

The Board received for information the Quarterly Report on Donations for the period November 1, 2019 to January 31, 2020.


The meeting adjourned at 6:04 p.m.