Report: Academic Board - November 17, 2021

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Via Virtual Meeting room

REPORT NUMBER 236 OF THE ACADEMIC BOARD

November 17, 2021

To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto


Your Board reports that it held a virtual meeting on November 17, 2021 at 3:10 p.m., with the following members present:


PRESENT:
Professor Salvatore M. Spadafora (Chair), Professor Douglas E. McDougall (Vice Chair), Mr. Brian D. Lawson (Chair, Governing Council), Ms Janet Ecker (Vice Chair, Governing Council), Professor Meric S. Gertler, President, Professor L. Trevor Young, (Acting Vice President and Provost), Professor Scott Mabury (Vice President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships), Susan McCahan (Vice Provost, Academic Programs & Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education), Ms Bisma Ali, Professor Catherine Amara, Ms Laura Anderson, Professor Aarthi Ashok, Professor Joshua Barker, Mr. Harvey Thomas Botting, Professor Jutta Brunnée, Professor Markus Bussmann, Professor Christian Caron, Ms Samantha Chang, Professor Carol C. Chin, Ms Rosa Ciantar, Mr. Moses Cook, Professor Ettore Vincenzo Damiano, Professor Raisa B. Deber, Ms Teo Dechev, Ms Maryanna Diab, Ms Ana Djapa, Professor Lisa Rebecca Dolovich, Professor Paul Downes, Professor Stark Draper, Ms Sheree Drummond, Professor Markus D. Dubber, Professor David Dubins, Professor Wendy M. Duff, Professor Darryl Raymond Edwards, Professor Angela Esterhammer, Ms Monique Flaccavento, Mr. Adam Fox, Ms Susan Elizabeth Froom, Professor Meric S. Gertler, Professor Emily Gilbert, Professor J. Roy Gillis, Professor William A. Gough, Ms Seema Gupta, Professor Daniel A. Haas, Ms Sandra Hanington, Professor Tony Harris, , Professor Walid A. Houry, Mr. Sarosh Jamal, Professor Linda Johnston, Professor William Ju, Dr. Rita Kandel, Dr. Grase Kim, Professor Jeannie Kim, Professor Anil Kishen, Dr. Lisa Kramer, Professor Normand Labrie, Professor Ernest W.N. Lam, Professor Brigitte Lavoie, Ms Zhino Maanavi, Dr. Maureen MacDonald, Professor Alexandra Elizabeth MacKay, Professor Jan K. Mahrt-Smith, Professor Susan McCahan, Dr. Nicole Mideo, Professor Amy Mullin, Ms Mozynah Nofal, Professor Nicole Novroski, Professor Fabian Parsch, Dr. Jesse Pasternak, Dr. Rose M. Patten, Professor Jennifer Gillian Purtle, Professor Matt Ratto, Dr. Nicholas Rule, Professor Edward (Ted) H. Sargent, Dr. Rosa Saverino, Dr. Michael Shier, Ms Maureen L. Simpson, Professor Jastaranpreet (Jasty) Singh, Dr. Brenda Stein-Dzaldov, Professor Markus Stock, Dr. Eric Stubbs, Dr. Sharon Switzer-McIntyre, Mr. Evan Tang, Mr. Ryan Teschner, Professor Steven J. Thorpe, Mr. David Tieu, Dr. Melanie A. Woodin, Professor Christopher M. Yip

REGRETS:
Ashley Ahuja, Mr. Larry P. Alford, Professor Nina Bascia, Professor Adalsteinn (Steini) I. D. Brown, Mr. Andrew Chen, Professor Susan Christoffersen, Professor Shadi Dalili, Professor James Davis, Ms Nathalie Des Rosiers, Professor Juan Du, Professor Robert B. Gibbs, Professor Ellie Hisama, Ms Eloise Hirst, Professor Patricia Houston, Dr. Nadine Janes,
Professor Charlie Keil, Professor Gretchen Kerr, Professor Philip Kremer, Ms Natalie Lung, Professor Lance T. McCready, Professor Bonnie S. McElhinny, Professor Rhonda McEwen, Professor Mark McGowan, Dr. Dana Phillips, Professor Srilata Raman, Professor Michael J.H. Ratcliffe, Professor Nhung Tuyet Tran, Professor Dexter Voisin, Mr. Kenneth Javier Williams, Professor Patricia Windrim

NON-VOTING ASSESSORS:
Professor Heather S. Boon (Vice Provost, Faculty and Academic Life), Ms Christine E. Burke (Assistant Vice President, University Planning), Ms Kelly Hannah-Moffat (Vice President, People Strategy, Equity and Culture), Mr. David Palmer (Vice-President, Advancement), Professor Wisdom J. Tettey (Vice President and Principal UTSC)

SECRETARIAT:
Tracey Gameiro, Secretary

IN ATTENDANCE:
Donald Ainslie, Professor, Department of Philosophy
Fr. Robert Barringer CSB, President, St. Augustine’s Seminary
The Rev. Dr. Christopher Brittain, Dean of Divinity, Trinity College
Tad Brown, Counsel, Business Affairs and Advancement
Nadia Bruno, Special Projects Officer, Office of Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances (ADFG)
Pamela Couture, Director, Toronto School of Theology
Elizabeth Cragg, Director, Office of the Vice-President Operations and Real Estate Partnerships
Jennifer Francisco, Coordinator, Academic Change, Office of the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs (OVPAP)
Nora Gillespie, Senior Legal Counsel, Offices of the Vice-President and Provost and Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture
Krista Kennedy, Administrative Clerk and Hearing Secretary, ADFG
Paula Lam, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator
Christopher Lang, Director, ADFG
Andrea Levinson, Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Health and Wellness
David Lock, Coordinator, Academic Planning and Reviews, OVPAP
Daniella Mallinick, Director, Academic Programs, Planning & Quality Assurance, OVPAP
Varsha Patel, Assistant Dean, Student Success and Career Support, UTSC
Andrea Russell, Director, Academic Affairs, Office of the Vice-President and Provost
Carmelle Salomon-Labbé, Associate Director, ADFG
Melinda Scott, Director, Office of the Vice-Provost, Students and Student Policy Advisor
Archana Sridhar, Assistant Provost, Office of the Vice-President and Provost
Kristin Taylor, University Counsel and Chief Legal Officer
Angela Treglia, Director, Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre
Sandy Welsh, Vice-Provost, Students


ITEM 6 WAS APPROVED. ALL OTHER ITEMS ARE REPORTED FOR INFORMATION.

Pursuant to section 33(i) of By-Law Number 2,
Item 11 was considered in camera.

OPEN SESSION

  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests. He shared information about the 2022 election period for seats on the Governing Council and its bodies, including the Academic Board. The Chair reminded members that they were responsible for working to raise awareness within their constituency of the importance of University governance throughout the year, especially during the nomination and election period.
  2. Report of the Vice-President and Provost

    Professor Trevor Young, Acting Vice-President and Provost, provided updates on the following:

    Planning for the Winter 2022 Term

    Professor Young advised members that as of November 10, 2021, 84% of courses would be delivered in-person, and 16% remotely. Divisions continued to communicate their plans to their respective communities to ensure a smooth transition for those returning to campus in January 2022.

    COVID-19

    Professor Young noted that as of November 15, 2021, more than 93,000 members of the University community had declared their vaccination status on UCheck. Within this group, 99% had indicated they were fully or on their way to becoming fully vaccinated, and more than 98% had submitted proof of full vaccination. The UCheck Ambassador program was active on all three campuses to check green screens and to remind those on campus that daily health screening was required.

    Noting that there had been very few COVID-19 cases reported across the three campuses since the start of the pandemic, Professor Young reported that in the Fall 2021 term there had been no outbreaks or instances of transmission. He added that the Discovery Pharmacy had started to run COVID-19 clinics and would also be delivering flu shots.

    Academic Disruptions

    Professor Young noted that no new disruptions had been declared since the start of the Fall term. Eight programs continued to have ongoing disruptions.

    University Divestment Policies

    Referencing the President’s October 27, 2021 announcement of the University's commitment to divestment, the Acting Provost reiterated the University of Toronto’s commitment to leading the way in sustainable investments and a shift away from carbon-intensive sectors and companies. He noted the following steps that had been undertaken in pursuit of that goal:
  • Exit of all direct fossil fuel holdings in the endowment portfolio fully by the end of 2022.
  • Allocation of a minimum of 10% of the endowment portfolio to sustainable and low carbon investment strategies by 2025.
  • Divestment from indirect exposure to fossil fuels companies by 2030.
  • Commitment to net zero emission in the endowment portfolio by 2050.
  • Membership in the UN-convened Net-Zero Owner Alliance.
  • Setting five-year targets towards achieving net zero emissions.

    Discussion

    In response to a member’s question as to what percentage of the endowment portfolio was invested in direct versus indirect fossil fuel holdings, the President reported that the overwhelming proportion was made indirectly through third party managers. He noted however, that significantly, the proportion of the endowment impacted by the University’s commitment to withdraw from direct investments within the year was still over $100M of the portfolio. He reported that the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation was working actively with investment managers to urge them to accelerate their process for developing new alternative funds.

    Responding to a member’s inquiring regarding efforts to ensure that those community members who had not yet registered their vaccination status did so as soon as possible as more in-person activities were planned, Professor Trevor Young indicated that each of those individuals were being followed up with directly. Professor Heather Boon (Vice-Provost, Faculty and Academic Life), added that the total number of those still having to register their vaccination status, was slightly inflated as individuals who had a dual status, such as those who were both student and teaching assistant, were counted twice by the system.

    With regards to staffing for student facing services, Professor Young noted that plans were to continued to increase staff and faculty presence on campus for the Winter term.
  1. Review of Academic Programs and Units – Part 1
    1. Follow-Up Report on Previous Reviews

      Professor Ernest Lam, Chair of the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs (AP&P), provided an overview of the follow-up reports considered by the Committee at its October 26, 2021 meeting. He reported that AP&P received one follow-up report for information from the University of Toronto Scarborough, Department of Management.

      As part of his report, Professor Lam explained that the follow-up report had been requested to provide an update on the outcome of the review processes mentioned in the administrative responses provided to AP&P in May 2020, and on progress towards implementation of the follow up measures outlined at that meeting, especially in relation to the expressed need for improved student services and greater governance autonomy for the Management programs.

      He then went on to provide an overview of the steps that were taken or were planned to address the concerns previously raised. Professor Lam confirmed that AP&P had held a thorough discussion of the follow-up report, and the key points were reflected in the meeting minutes.

      In conclusion, Professor Lam confirmed that AP&P was satisfied with the follow-up report and determined that there were no specific issues of concern to be brought forward to the Academic Board.

      Discussion

      In response to a member’s question with regards to teaching overload, Professor Bill Gough, (Vice Principal Academic & Dean, UTSC), indicated that while a small number of faculty continued to carry overloads, progress was being made to diminish that with the setting of limits and plans for hiring more faculty.

    2. Semi-Annual Report on the review of Academic Units and Programs, October 2020 – October, 2021

      At the invitation of the Chair, Professor Susan McCahan, (Vice Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education), introduced the item. Professor McCahan reported that all of the twelve reviews being brought forward to the Board had been conducted virtually, but stressed that this had not changed or abbreviated the review process. She indicated that reviews came from a broad spectrum of disciplines, and explained that each reflected the goals of obtaining expert advice from leaders in the field concerning academic and administrative issues. Professor McCahan stated the decision to continue in a virtual format had been made Ontario-wide after an initial pause in Spring 2020.

      Professor Lam then reported on the reviews examined by AP&P at its meeting on October 26th, 2021. Of the twelve reviews, he noted that three were commissioned by the Vice-President and Provost, and nine were University of Toronto Quality Assurance Process (UTQAP) reviews commissioned by the Deans.

      The three Provostial reviews were from the:
      1. Toronto School of Theology/University of Toronto Conjoint Programs (TST)
      2. Faculty of Information and its programs; and
      3. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)

Professor Lam added that OISE had also had one decanal review for its Leadership, Higher & Adult Education Program. The other eight decanal reviews were from the:

  1. University of Toronto Scarborough
    1. Department of Biological Sciences
    2. Centre for Critical Development Studies
  2. Temerty Faculty of Medicine
    1. Molecular Genetics
    2. Physical Therapy
    3. Rehabilitation Sciences
  3. Faculty of Arts and Science
    1. Anthropology
    2. Italian Studies
    3. Near & Middle Easter Civilizations

Professor Lam noted that the reviews had been conducted appropriately and in accordance with policy. He thanked the Chairs of the four reading groups for their thorough and thoughtful work;

Professor Lam indicated that the Committee had had a thorough discussion of each of the reviews, and that two follow-up reports had been requested - one from TST and the other from OISE.

Discussion

As part of the ensuing discussion, a member commented on the common need for greater student supports noted across the reviews, and shared that many of the humanities and social sciences departments were increasingly using faculty grant funds to fund graduate research students. In response, Professor Normand Labrie, (Interim Dean, OISE), stated that teaching apprenticeships at OISE were limited because of the smaller class size of the faculty. He reported that OISE had established a committee to explore alternative sources of financial support for students. As well, higher targets for advancement were being set to provide additional scholarships and awards. Further Professor Labrie added that recruitment efforts were underway to increase the faculty compliment from which more external research funding and opportunities for students was expected.

  1. Proposed Revisions: Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment

    The Chair invited the Provost to provide an overview of the review of the Policy on Sexual Violence and Harassment. Professor Young advised members that the proposed revisions consisted of technical changes required by the Ontario government. He explained that these adjustments were the first step of a larger tri-annual policy review launched in October 2021. The Provost indicated that this more comprehensive review would include an extensive consultative process chaired by Professor Linda Johnson, (Dean, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing), and Allison Burgess, (Director, Sexual and Gender Diversity Office).

    Professor Welsh, (Vice Provost, Students), summarized the two technical changes mandated by the government. The first ensured that complainants would not be subject to action for violation of other University policies with respect to conduct at the time the sexual violence took place. The second dictated that complainants would not be asked irrelevant questions such as those relating to past sexual history or sexual expression during the investigative process. Professor Welsh explained that universities were required to comply with these required changes by March 2022 and that as such there was a need to bring them forward prior to the completion of the more extensive review of the Policy.

    Professor Welsh advised that the consultation phase of the broader review would run until March 2022.

    Discussion

    During the discussion that followed, a member asked whether any protections similar to those being proposed for complainants, would be extended to those falsely accused. In response, Professor Welsh noted the current Policy did focus on procedural fairness and due process, and that to date this had not been an issue.

    In response to a member’s comment as to whether other University policies, beyond those related to drug and alcohol use, should be explicitly referenced in the Policy, Professor Welsh clarified that the reference to ‘all other University policies’ was intentionally broad to capture all policies governing the conduct, and reflecting the values, of the University community. She stated that the Student Companion to the Policy would endeavour to clarify this issue and its scope.

    Addressing supports for alumni who were subject to harassment while students, Ms Angela Treglia, (Director, Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre), noted that while the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre did not provide ongoing support for alumni, it worked to connect alumni to resources within the broader community, as well as to explore avenues within the University to report incidents which occurred while alumni were students.

    A member asked how students learnt about the Policy and available supports. In response, Professor Welsh described the educational initiatives undertaken in partnership with student societies, residences, and the Centre. She stressed that efforts were particularly focused on new students and were part of a year-long orientation process. In addition, outreach activities were conducted with academic leaders to ensure they had the information necessary to support students. Ms Treglia added that raising awareness of the Centre’s services had been identified as a priority in its Annual Report. Strategies had included launching social media as an engagement tool, hiring a communications specialist, and working with those areas of the University likely to be contacted by someone seeking to make a disclosure to provide them with guidance on how to respond in a supportive way and how to make a referral.

    Professors Young and Welsh underscored the importance of the student voice in the review process and encouraged community members to submit their questions, comments and feedback to the consultation site. This was reiterated by the Chair who thanked guests for their presentations.
  2. Review of the University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy – Overview of Review and Draft Recommendations

    Professor Welsh provided a brief background to the University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy and the review process. The Policy was approved by Governing Council in June 2018 after a significant consultation process which included the University community, external experts in mental health and human rights law, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). She clarified that the need for such a policy had originally been identified by the University Ombudsperson. In recognition of the need for transparency and accountability with regards to its application, the Policy itself required that the Provost undertake a review of the Policy in its their year of operation, and to report the results of that review to the Governing Council. The review was initiated in February 2021 and was being led by Professor Donald Ainslie of the Department of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts & Science, with the support of Varsha Patel, Assistant Dean of Student Success and Career Support at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a contribution to the review process, the University had received a letter from the Chief Commissioner of the OHRC who reinforced the need to ensure the Policy was fully compliant with the Ontario Human Rights Code. Professor Welsh stated that prior to its approval, expert external legal advice was sought to review the draft policy to ensure that the University was fully compliance with its obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

    Professor Donald Ainslie then shared some of the themes that had emerged from the consultation process, as well as some preliminary recommendations.

    Key themes from consultations with students included:
  • That the Policy was inhibiting students from seeking help, for fear they would then be considered for a mandated leave.
  • Some acceptance for the need for the Policy in cases where there was possible harm to others;
  • Concerns about the affects of the leave including losing campus-based supports, financial impacts, visas, and housing.
  • Concern that the Policy disproportionately impacted marginalized students;
  • Many noted that the Policy was difficult to interpret and requested a companion guide to it; several pointed out that such a guide had been promised when the Policy was first passed three years prior;
  • Confusion about university and divisional responses to illness in general, especially the possibility of voluntary leaves;

    Themes that emerged from consultations with staff and faculty included:
  • The need for a companion guide;
  • Reconsideration of some of the Policy’s timelines;
  • Uncertainty as to when Scenario 2 of the Policy would apply;

    The following preliminary recommendations were highlighted by Professor Ainslie:
  • Rename the Policy to more accurately reflect its purpose and available options;
  • Restrict mandated leave only to those cases where a student posed harm to others or was “actively interfering with the educational experience of fellow students”, and where all other reasonable accommodations had been exhausted;
  • Clarify that mere discomfort about a student’s behaviour resulting from mental illness did not quality as ‘psychological harm’ under the Policy;
  • Track additional data including demographic data, divisional referrals, and timelines for those on leave;
  • Conduct a further review in three years’ time;
  • Publish a companion guide by Fall 2022
  • Establish divisional voluntary leave policies (where they did not already exist);
  • Provide additional student supports where a divisional voluntary leave had been unsuccessful or where the student might benefit from institutionally coordinated resources but did not meet the threshold for the Policy;

    As part of his concluding remarks, Professor Ainslie stated that the consultation site would remain open until November 30, 2021 and that the Review Team would be presenting their preliminary recommendations at various campus forums. He advised that the timing of the presentation of the revised Policy to governance would depend on feedback to these preliminary recommendations.

    Discussion

    Some points raised in the discussion included clarity on:
  • the timeline for the review process and companion guide;
  • voluntary leaves;
  • the need for further refinement of the phrase “actively interfering with the educational experience of fellow students”
  • engagement of experts to guide communication strategies, use of social media and coordinated approaches across the three campuses;
  • the appeal process;
  • input and feedback from students who had experienced voluntary and mandated leaves as part of the review and consultation process;
  • how comments from the Ontario Human Rights Commission would be addressed and how many of those issues had already been raised in the context of the current review;
  • supports for international students with regards to leaves and the impact on visa status;

    The Chair thanked presenters for the information presented, and members for their thoughtful discussion.

OPEN SESSION CONSENT AGENDA

On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

YOUR BOARD APPROVED

THAT the consent agenda be adopted

  1. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 235 – October 12, 2021

    Report Number 235, from the meeting of October 12, 2021 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 reports for information:
    1. Provost’s Annual Report on Cases of Academic Discipline, 2020-2021
    2. Semi-Annual Report: Academic Appeals Committee, Individual Cases, Fall 2021
    3. Semi-Annual Report: University Tribunal, Individual Cases, Fall 2021
    4. Report Number 281 of the Agenda Committee – November 4, 2021
    5. Report Number 210 of the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs – October 26, 2021
    6. Membership of the Advisory Committee on the University of Toronto Library System for 2021-2022

END OF CONSENT AGENDA

  1. Date of the Next Meeting: January 27, 2022, 3:10 – 5:10 p.m.

    The Chair reminded members that the next meeting, would be held on January 27, 2022 at 3:10 p.m.
  2. Other Business

    There were no matters of Other Business raised.

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. Quarterly List of Donations of $250,000 or more to the University of Toronto August 1 to October 31, 2021

    The Board received for information the Quarterly Report on Donations for the period of August 1 to October 31, 2021.

    The Board returned to open session.

The meeting adjourned at 5:07 p.m.


November 22, 2021