Report: Academic Board - November 16, 2023

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



To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto,

Your Board reports that it held a meeting on November 16, 2023 at 3:10 p.m. with the following members present:

PRESENT: Ernest Lam (Vice Chair), Sandra Hanington (Vice Chair Governing Council), Cheryl Regehr (Vice President and Provost), Ron Saporta (Acting Vice President, Operations), 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,  Catherine Eve Amara, Amanda Bartley*, Zoraida D. Beekhoo*, Bensiyon Benhabib*, Jutta Brunnée*, Pier Bryden, Robert Avery Cooper, Lorne Leo James Costello*, Paul Downes, Sheree Drummond, Markus Dubber, David Dubins, Darryl Raymond Edwards, Ramy Elitzur, Angela Esterhammer, Jessica Eylon, Seyedreza (Reza) Fattahi Massoum, Monique Flaccavento, Robert Gazzale*, Walid A Houry, Sabrina Hundal, Sarosh Jamal, Charles Q. Jia, M. Shone Joos, Rita Kandel, Gretchen Kerr, Elaine Khoo*, Tys Klumpenhouwer, Robert James Kyle, Sameer Lal*, Marcus Law, Renee Simran Kaur Mahal*, Amy Shari Mann, John Maurice Oesch, Jesse Pasternak*, Rose M. Patten, Michael J.H. Ratcliffe, Matt Vesuvious Ratto, Sebastian Rodriguez*, Firdaus Sadid, Sacha Samouk*, Rosa Saverino, Rob M Simon, Suresh Sivanandam, , Sharon Switzer-McIntyre*, Ali Syed, Sali A. Tagliamonte*, Steven J. Thorpe, Veronica Marie Wadey*, Mary-Agnes Wilson, Suzanne Wood, Melanie A. Woodin, Colleen Zimmerman, David Walter Zingg

*participated remotely via Zoom

REGRETS: Douglas McDougall (Chair), Meric S. Gertler (President), Anna Kennedy (Chair, Governing Council), Ramona Alaggia, Larry P. Alford, Aarthi Ashok, Robert Clegg Austin,  Joshua Barker, Susan Jane Bondy, Christian Caron, Catherine Chandler-Crichlow, Stephanie Chartrand, Carol C. Chin, Dinesh Christendat, Susan Christoffersen, Nathalie Des Rosiers, Tarun Dewan, Lisa Rebecca Dolovich, Wendy M. Duff, Dickson Eyoh, Joseph Flessa, Adam Fox, France Gagnon, Robert B Gibbs, Emily Gilbert, William A. Gough, Md Rafiul Haque Shahin, Jason Harlow, Patricia Houston, Yu Xuan Huang, Linda Johnston, Charlie Keil, Jeannie Kim, Anil Kishen, Lisa Kramer, Dveeta Lal,  Robert Levit, Ryan McClelland, Irene Morra, Jared Mostafa, Eha Mai Naylor, Nicole Novroski, Jennifer Gillian Purtle, Srilata Raman,Nicholas Rule, Laura Anna Simone, Laina Southgate, Lindsay Stern, Markus Stock, Laura Tam, Sergio Tenenbaum, Nhung Tuyet Tran, Erica Walker, Charmaine Cordelia Williams, Christopher M. Yip

NON-VOTING ASSESSORS: Randy Boyagoda (Acting Vice-Provost, Faculty and Academic Life), Jeff Lennon (Assistant Vice-President, Planning and Budget)

SECRETARIAT: Tracey Gameiro (Secretary)

IN ATTENDANCE: Tad Brown (Counsel, Business Affairs and Advancement), Elizabeth Church (Senior Lead, Strategic Projects and Initiatives, Office of the Vice President and Provost), Andrew Ebejer (Senior Legal Counsel), Kate Enros (Director, Academic Human Resources Services & Faculty Relations), Julie Hannaford (Deputy Chief Librarian), William Ju (Professor, Faculty of Arts and Science), David Lock (Coordinator, Academic Planning & Reviews, Office of the Vice Provost, Academic Programs), Susan Mazza (Special Projects Officer, Office of the President), Forrest Parlee (Executive Director, Government Relations), Andrea Russell (Director, Academic Affairs, Office of the Vice-President and Provost), Archana Sridhar (Assistant Provost, Office of the Vice-President and Provost), Aidan Thompson (Vice President, UTSU), Alexandra Varela (Special Projects Officer, Office of the Vice Provost, Academic Programs), Sharan Vaidy (Executive Assistant, Public and University Affairs UTSU), Melanie Wright (Associate Director, Academic HR Services)


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    Professor Ernest Lam, Vice Chair of the Academic Board, welcomed members. It was noted for members that the Chair, Professor Douglas McDougall, had an unavoidable conflict, and as such Professor Lam would Chair the meeting.

    The Vice Chair advised members that Item 11 “Other Business”, would in part be moved to the start of the meeting to allow Professor Leah Cowen, Vice President Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives (“VPRI”), and Assessor to the Board, to address a question submitted by a member in advance of the meeting, regarding the Imperial Oil Research Grant announcement circulated to faculty, students, and researchers.  The member expressed concern that encouraging research partnerships with fossil fuel companies compromised the University’s stated sustainability goals.

    In reply, Professor Cowen reported that each year, VPRI works with over 2000 principal investigators engaging with more than 900 funding programs.  Approximately 200 of these are with private partners.  She went on to explain that one of the critical roles of VPRI was to make Faculty aware of funding opportunities.  Research funding opportunities were disseminated via research alerts.  Professor Cowen advised members that the Imperial Oil funding opportunity was not an institutional research partnership and stressed that VPRI did not judge the “worthiness” of that funding or funder, in the absence of U of T policy or federal laws or directives.  She stated that VPRI’s role was to enable Faculty to secure funding that they determine is appropriate to their research, which could include funders that some members of the University community may not support.  Finally, Professor Cowen noted that further to the University’s fundamental commitment to academic freedom, research opportunities were not censured, and there existed no policy at U of T which prohibited scholars from taking funding from fossil fuel companies.

    There were no further questions or comments from members on this topic.

    Appreciation of Professor Cheryl Regehr (Senior Assessor, Vice President and Provost)

    Prior to moving on to the business of the meeting, the Vice Chair asked members to join him in recognizing and acknowledging the contributions and commitment of Professor Cheryl Regehr who would complete her term as Vice President and Provost, and as the Board’s Senior Assessor at the end of the calendar year.   On behalf of the Board, the Vice Chair thanked the Provost for her decade of dedicated service as Senior Assessor.  He noted the significant progress the University had made on a number of key priorities under her leadership, many of which had been brought forward to the Board, including in the areas of undergraduate education, graduate education, diversity and access, and the budget.

    Upcoming Elections

    The Vice Chair then shared information about the 2023 elections for Governing Council and its bodies, and invited those ending their terms on June 30th and not planning on seeking re-election to encourage their peers to consider submitting a nomination.  
  2. Report of the Vice President and Provost

    The focus of the Provost’s Report was on the release of the report of Ontario’s Blue Ribbon Panel Report on Post-Secondary Education Financial Sustainability (“the Report”).

    Professor Regehr highlighted the following recommendations made in the Report:
    1. A 10% increase in operating grant funding for 2024-2025 with annual increases at the rate of inflation at a minimum rate of 2%
    2. A 5% increase in tuition for 2024-2025 with annual increases with annual increases at the rate of inflation at a minimum rate of 2%
    3. An additional 3% tuition increase for professional programs.
    4. An increase in institutional Student Financial Aid programs and a request that institutions look for greater efficiencies in operations and program offerings.
    5. An increase in OSAP funding for low-income students.
    6. Increased funding for deferred maintenance projects.

The Provost noted that specific mention was made of the University of Toronto by the Chair of the Panel, which recognized the University’s “pre-eminence” and the importance of differentiation across the sector:

“The different treatment I have in mind is to allow the University of Toronto the freedom to set its own tuition fees. This would be accompanied by a very strong commitment to the institutional provision of student aid, but there is little doubt that this would occur: for more than 20 years, it has been a policy of the University’s Governing Council that ‘no student offered admission to a program at the University of Toronto should be unable to enter or complete the program due to lack of financial means.”

The Provost underscored the significance of the Chair’s recognition that maintaining the University of Toronto’s position as a leading global research university held value for Ontario and Canada and came with higher costs and the need for greater investment.

Regarding tuition increases, the Provost assured members that any changes to tuition levels would continue to be considered hand- in-hand with the University’s commitment to offering the most generous access programs in the province.

The Blue Ribbon Panel stressed that accountability was a prerequisite for sustainability.  The Provost advised members that the University of Toronto had been reporting regularly on its operations to demonstrate how funds were being managed responsibly. 

As part of the ensuing discussion, the Provost providing the following additional information and clarifications:

  • At the domestic level, the recommended increases to government funding would contribute more to the University’s operating budget than would the revenue generated from the proposed tuition increases; conversely a greater proportion of the revenue generated from international student enrolment would be attributable to higher tuition costs as compared with recommended increases to government funding;
  • The Council of Ontario Universities had released a response to the Report which it had forwarded to the government.  In addition to these collective efforts, the University would continue its own engagement and communication strategy with the government.
  • Even if all of the recommendations were to be accepted, the University’s operating budget would not be at the level it would have been had the government never intervened on tuition fees.
  • Student Aid would increase relative to any assessed increased need resulting from increased tuition fees.
  • The recommendations focused primarily on addressing support for domestic students.
  1. Agreement Between the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto Faculty Association Regarding Proposed Revisions to the Policies for Librarians (“PFL”)

    The Chair advised that pursuant to Section 5.2.1(a) of the Board’s Terms of Reference, consideration of policies on the nature of academic employment was assigned to the Academic Board. Professor Randy Boyagoda, Acting Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life, reported that the revisions would impact over 169 librarians.  He then provided the overview of the proposed changes to the PFL which included:
  • Affirming the role librarians have in advancing the mission of the University and clarity that their role is a combination of professional practice, research and scholarly contributions, creative professional activity, and service as governed by the University of Toronto Workload Policy and Procedures for Faculty and Librarians;
  • Restating that librarians have access to the grievance procedure under Article 7 of the Memorandum of Agreement;  
  • Expanding the educational requirements to include a Master’s degree in library, archival or information science from an accredited institution, or equivalent professional education;
  • Changes to librarian searches, including moving postings for librarian roles to the UofT Job Board instead of the Faculty of Information website, as well as clarification regarding the composition and advisory purpose of search committees;
  • Access to secondment appointments;
  • Changes to criteria for promotion to Librarian III and IV categories;

    Professor Boyagoda noted that a transition framework had been agreed to to support the implementation of these changes. This transition framework outlined that librarians appointed prior to the effective date (January 1, 2024), could opt to use either the new or prior PFL as part of their permanent status review.

    There were no substantive questions from members regarding the proposed changes to the PFL.

    On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


    THAT the Memorandum of Settlement Between the University of Toronto Faculty Association and the University Administration, dated October 27, 2023, regarding the Policies on Librarians be approved, effective immediately.
  1. Review of Academic Programs and Units – Part 1
    1. Semi-Annual Report on the review of Academic Units and Programs

      At the invitation of the Chair, Professor Catherine Amara, Chair of the Committee on Academic Policy & Programs (AP&P), reported on the 11 reviews of units and/or programs considered by AP&P at its October 24, 2023 meeting.  She informed the Board that all were decanal reviews commissioned further to the University of Toronto Quality Assurance Process (“UTQAP”).  

      The eleven UTQAP reviews brought forward for discussion were:
      1. Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) Department of Computer Science         
      2. Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) Master of Mathematical Finance (MMF) program 
      3. Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) Department of Mathematics 
      4. Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures 
      5. Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) Munk Area Studies
      6. Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and its undergraduate and graduate professional programs 
      7. Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering 
      8. University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) Department of Sociology 
      9. Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology 
      10. University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) Paramedicine program, offered jointly with Centennial College 
      11. University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC)  Journalism program, offered jointly with Centennial College 

Professor Amara indicated that the Committee had a thorough discussion of each of the reviews and noted recurring themes of: the talent and high calibre of students, the impressive body of scholarship produced by the faculty, the academic unit’s strong and productive connections with surrounding communities, and the investment in equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives.

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

Professor Amara noted that the reviews had been conducted appropriately and in accordance with policy.  One Follow-Up Report had been requested for the UTSC Paramedicine program offered jointly with Centennial College.

She thanked the Chairs of the reading groups for their thorough and thoughtful work.

There were no questions following Professor Amara’s report.

The Chair then invited, Professor Susan McCahan, Vice Provost, Academic Programs and Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education, whose office oversees the review process to address the Board.

Professor McCahan advised members that there had been a downward trend in the number of one-year follow-up reports requested by AP&P.  She indicated that this appeared to be a result of the relatively new requirement that divisions submit an Interim Monitoring Report (“IMR”) for all UTQAP reviews.  

Professor McCahan explained that the IMR was a brief status report on progress made towards implementing review recommendations which is submitted to her office at the midway point between review site visits. 

Professor McCahan shared that reading groups observed that the IMR would provide an appropriate timeframe for acting on recommendations and reporting on progress. 

There were no questions from members.

  1. Provost’s Annual Report on Cases of Academic Discipline, 2022-2023

    Professor Randy Boyagoda, Acting Vice-Provost, Faculty and Academic Life was invited to provide comments on the Provost’s Annual Report on Cases of Academic Discipline, 2022-2023.  

    Professor Boyagoda began by noting for members that this latest Report had been supplemented with some additional context to feature the ways in which students learn about academic integrity at UofT.  He noted that students were introduced to and educated about academic integrity standards even before they began their studies at the University.  

    A focus of Professor Boyagoda’s presentation centered on the University’s academic integrity educational campaigns, initiatives, and communications at both the institutional and divisional level.  These  included:
    • Education around academic integrity took two primary forms: specific instruction on academic integrity norms and expectations, and through development of students’ writing and research skills;
    • One of the primary educative tools was the Academic Integrity website, which includes a new video campaign
    • The University’s plagiarism detection tool which was used both to detect plagiarism and as an educational tool;
    • Workshops for instructors led by the Centre for Teaching and Learning to assist with creating strong assessments.
    • Academic Success and Academic Skills Centres;
    • Learning Strategists;
    • Academic Integrity content on syllabi;
    • Online modules on academic integrity;
    • Student ambassador programs;

Professor Boyagoda then provided the following general overview of the 2022-2023 statistics:

  • The numbers of offences which rose in the largest divisions during the pandemic, continued to fall;
  • The professional divisions saw consistently low numbers of offences through the pandemic and beyond;
  • The launch of ChatGPT and other Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools posed an academic integrity risk, which the University continue to work towards addressing, including through two working groups on Generative AI struck by the Provost;

In response to members questions Professor Susan McCahan (Vice Provost, Academic Programs and Vice Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education) reported that currently there did not exist a reliable system to detect AI generated content.  To address this, Faculty were encouraged to consider how students are likely to interact with AI in their future professions and to work with students to engage with the technology in a responsible and skeptical way which thoughtfully considered when its use was appropriate. In addition, it was recommended that Faculty address AI in their syllabus when addressing academic integrity, to make clear whether and how use of this technology would amount to misconduct. Finally, Professor McCahan suggested that asking students to explain their work when there was suspicion that the work submitted was not an original piece of material, continued to be a valuable detection and enforcement tool.

Professor McCahan also explained that the definition of what constituted an ‘unauthorized aid’ under the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters was left to the individual instructor to determine in the context of an individual assignment.

During the discussion, Professor Randy Boyagoda offered the following additional comments:

  • The notable increase in cases of academic misconduct at the Faculty of Arts & Science was in part attributable to the concerted effort to work through a backlog of cases from the pandemic, which then resulted in increased numbers being reported.
  • The increasing number of repeat offenders could be evidence that a more intentional and robust educative approach needs to be taken in meetings with first time offenders to emphasize the gravity of subsequent offences on their future academic and professional trajectory.
  • Multiple offences resulted in escalated sanctions.
  • New assessments models would have pedagogical effects that could address the challenges posed by AI.
  • Currently there was no meaningful approach to monitor the extent to which AI was being used generally across the University by students.
  • Consideration would be given to possibly including data and metrics to demonstrate how frequently students engaged with various academic integrity resources and education modules to help assess their impact.



On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


THAT the consent agenda be adopted and that Item #, the Report of the Previous Meeting, be approved.

  1. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 247 – October 12, 2023

    Report Number 247, from the meeting of October 12, 2023 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. Semi-Annual Report: Academic Appeals Committee, Individual Cases, Fall 2023
    2. Semi-Annual Report: University Tribunal, Individual Cases, Fall 2023
    3. Report Number 301 of the Agenda Committee – October 31, 2023
    4. Report Number 221 of the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs – October 24, 2023
    5. Membership of the Advisory Committee on the University of Toronto Library System for 2023-2024
  4. Quarterly Report on Donations of $250,000 or more to the University of Toronto, August 1 to October 31, 2023

    Members received the Quarterly Report on Donations for information.


  1. Date of the Next Meeting: January 25, 2024, 3:10-5:10 p.m.

    The Chair reminded members that the next meeting of the Board would be in the new year on January 25, 2024 at 3:10p.m.

  2. Other Business

    No additional items of other business were raised

The Board returned to Open Session.

The meeting adjourned at 4:20 p.m.

November 17, 2023