Report: Academic Board - October 12, 2021

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Via Virtual Meeting room

REPORT NUMBER 235 OF THE ACADEMIC BOARD

October 12, 2021

To the Governing Council, University of Toronto,


Your Board reports that it held a virtual meeting on October 12, 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 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), Ashley Ahuja, Mr. Larry P. Alford, Ms Bisma Ali, Professor Catherine Amara, Ms Laura Anderson, Professor Aarthi Ashok, Professor Joshua Barker, Mr. Harvey Thomas Botting, Professor Markus Bussmann, Professor Christian Caron, Ms Samantha Chang, Professor Carol C. Chin, Ms Rosa Ciantar, Mr. Moses Cook, Professor James Davis, Professor Raisa B. Deber, Ms Teo Dechev, Ms Nathalie Des Rosiers, Ms Maryanna Diab, Ms Ana Djapa, Professor Lisa Rebecca Dolovich, Professor Paul Downes, Professor Stark Draper, Ms Sheree Drummond, Professor Juan Du, 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 Robert B. Gibbs, Professor William A. Gough, Ms Seema Gupta, Professor Daniel A. Haas, Ms Sandra Hanington, Professor Tony Harris, Ms Eloise Hirst, Professor Walid A. Houry, Mr. Sarosh Jamal, Dr. Nadine Janes, Professor Linda Johnston, Professor William Ju, Dr. Rita Kandel, Professor Gretchen Kerr, Professor Anil Kishen, Dr. Lisa Kramer, Professor Philip Kremer, Professor Ernest W.N. Lam, Ms Natalie Lung, Ms Zhino Maanavi, Dr. Maureen MacDonald, Professor Alexandra Elizabeth MacKay, Professor Jan K. Mahrt-Smith, Professor Susan McCahan, Professor Rhonda McEwen, Dr. Nicole Mideo, Ms Mozynah Nofal, Professor Nicole Novroski, Dr. Jesse Pasternak, Dr. Rose M. Patten, Dr. Dana Phillips, Professor Jennifer Gillian Purtle, Professor Srilata Raman, Professor Michael J.H. Ratcliffe, Professor Matt Ratto, Mr. Trevor Rodgers, Dr. Nicholas Rule, Professor Edward (Ted) H. Sargent, 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, Mr. David Tieu, Professor Nhung Tuyet Tran, Professor Dexter Voisin, Mr. Kenneth Javier Williams, Dr. Melanie A. Woodin, Professor Christopher M. Yip

REGRETS:
Professor Nina Bascia, Professor Adalsteinn (Steini) I. D. Brown, Professor Jutta Brunnée, Mr. Andrew Chen, Professor Susan Christoffersen, Professor Shadi Dalili, Professor Ettore Vincenzo Damiano, Professor Emily Gilbert, Professor J. Roy Gillis, Professor Ellie Hisama, Professor Patricia Houston, Professor Charlie Keil, Dr. Grase Kim, Professor Jeannie Kim, Professor Normand Labrie, Professor Brigitte Lavoie, Professor Lance T. McCready, Professor Bonnie S. McElhinny, Professor Mark McGowan, Professor Amy Mullin, Professor Fabian Parsch, Professor Steven J. Thorpe, Dr. Rosa Saverino, Dr. Michael Shier, Professor Patricia Windrim,

NON-VOTING ASSESSORS:
Mr. David Palmer (Vice-President, Advancement), Mr. Trevor Rodgers (Assistant Vice President, Planning & Budget), Professor Wisdom J. Tettey (Vice President and Principal UTSC)

SECRETARIAT:
Tracey Gameiro, Secretary

IN ATTENDANCE:
Tad Brown, Counsel, Business Affairs and Advancement
Elizabeth Cragg, Director, Office of the Vice-President Operations and Real Estate Partnerships
Barbara Dick, Vice-President, Alumni Relations
Daniella Mallinick, Director, Academic Programs, Planning & Quality Assurance, Office of the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs
Gillian Morrison, Vice-President, University Development
Archana Sridhar, Assistant Provost, Office of the Vice-President and Provost


ITEMS 3 AND 4 ARE RECOMMENDED TO THE GOVERNING COUNCIL FOR APPROVAL. ITEMS 8, 9 AND 14 WERE APPROVED. ALL OTHER ITEMS ARE REPORTED FOR INFORMATION.


Pursuant to section 33(i) of By-Law Number 2,
Items 14 and 15 were considered in camera.


OPEN SESSION

  1. Chair’s Remarks

    Professor Salvatore Spadafora welcomed new and returning members and introduced himself, as the incoming Chair, as well as Vice-Chair Professor Douglas McDougall.

    The Chair introduced the Board’s assessors, and welcomed Professor Trevor Young who would act as the Board’s Senior Assessor, and as Acting Vice-President & Provost until December 31, 2021 (during the course of Professor Cheryl Regehr’s administrative leave).
  2. Report of the Vice-President and Provost

    Professor Trevor Young, Acting Vice-President & Provost delivered his first report to the Board, providing an update as of October 13, 2021 on the University’s response to COVID-19.

    Vaccination Rates

    Professor Young spoke to the commitment of students, faculty and staff to the University collective well-being. He noted that the University’s vaccination rates were far above the average in the Greater Toronto Area and the province, and noted that close to 84,000 community members had declared their vaccination status on UCheck as of October 11, 2021, and that more than 80,000 had submitted proof they were fully vaccinated.

    Vaccination Clinics

    Pop-Up vaccination clinics continued on all three campuses during the Fall semester. The St. George campus was also supporting vaccination through a partnership with GO-VAXX, a mobile clinic launched by Metrolinx in partnership with the province. The University of Toronto Mississauga continued to advise students seeking vaccinations through the Health and Counselling Centre; and the Scarborough campus continued to work with the Scarborough Health Network to provide pop-up vaccine clines on campus.

    Mask Policy

    Professor Young shared an updated to the University’s mask policy that was approved under Governing Council’s Summer Executive Authority. The criteria for acceptable masks had been refined resulting in a change in name of the Policy on Non-Medical Masks or Face Coverings, to the Policy on Face Masks.

    Responding to the concern expressed by community members that masks might impede an instructor’s ability to teach, Professor Young indicated that instructors with divisional approval were permitted to remove their masks for pedagogical reasons, with guidance from Environmental Health and Safety.

    Fall Enrolment

    Professor Young reported that the University of Toronto saw strong demand in both domestic and international enrolment, with an increase of nearly 9% in domestic student confirmations, and an increase of more than 5% in international student confirmations. Other research intensive Ontario universities, had by comparison, experienced declines in both domestic and international enrolments following higher than anticipated enrolment levels last year.

    Continued Support for Students

    Quarantine and financial support programs remained among the most critically important supports for students. More than 8,800 students had completed the quarantine programs since their launch in 2020. The University had dispersed $11 million in COVID-19 Emergency grants to more than 8,000 students since March 2020

    In reply to a member’s question submitted in advance of the meeting, regarding the availability of office spaces for graduate students during the pandemic, Professor Young noted that while space configurations differed among the various departments, Ontario’s Step 3 public health physical distancing requirements in non-instructional spaces did impact graduate student shared offices and lounges. Capacity limits were set in accordance with the COVID-19 General Assessment Tool created by the Office for Environmental Health and Safety.

    Professor Young stressed that while every effort was being made to provide access to office and study spaces as soon as possible, the rate at which that access would become available was dependent on government restrictions on non-instructional settings. He noted that a listing of available study spaces for both graduate and undergraduate students on all three campuses could be found on the new ‘Places and Spaces’ UTogether page.

    Academic Disruptions

    Professor Young reported that there had been disruptions in 73 programs and 63 courses since the start of the pandemic in March 2020; the majority occurred in the Spring and Summer of 2020. No new disruptions had been declared since the start of the Fall 2021 term.

    Ministry of Colleges and Universities Guidance

    Professor Young noted that on August 31, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities announced that Ontario universities could deliver in-person teaching without physical distancing and capacity limits provided they had a vaccine mandate, indoor masking, and other public health measures in place. Physical distancing and capacity limits remained in place for non-instructional spaces along with all other requirements of Step 3 of the government’s reopening plan. Professor Young reported that decisions on how best to incorporate this late-breaking provincial guidance were made at the campus and divisional levels so that the approach that best served their needs could be adopted. This meant that rates of in-person activity would vary across campuses and divisions this fall and details about updated plans were being communicated as quickly as possible. He indicated that, over the course of the prior weeks, the Office of the Provost had sent regular updates to the community regarding health and safety requirements and how the University was implementing them. Professor Young shared that many students had conveyed the importance of being physically present on campus, both for their academics and mental well-being and that faculty and staff were working hard to ensure that students would find a safe and welcoming environment when they returned. He indicated that a careful increase in on-campus activity was expected for the Winter 2022 term, and that course delivery plans would be communicated to students as soon as possible to allow them to plan accordingly.

    Discussion

    As part of the ensuing discussion, Professor Young re-stated that 84,000 members of the University of Toronto community had declared their vaccination status. He further clarified that out of those 84,000 people, 80,000 had uploaded proof of “full vaccination” (i.e. two weeks following their final dose), and another 4% had uploaded proof of a first dose. All proof was subject to verification. To date approximately 17,000 declarations from members of higher risk groups had been verified, and no evidence of any fabrication had been found.

    Regarding academic disruptions and the impact on programming, especially those with a practicum component, Professor Young indicated that in circumstances where placements were disrupted, additional opportunities for experiential learning were provided so as not to delay graduation. These alternatives had included clinical simulations, and elective times to reschedule in-person experiences.

    Further to a member’s question about the discrepancy between the 84,000 members of the community who had declared their vaccination status and the more than 120,000 people estimated to be members of the U of T community, Professor Young provided some additional information. He indicated that the discrepancy was explained in part by the fact that many students, faculty members, libraries and staff continued to work and study remotely and therefore may not have had occasion to complete the UCheck verification process. For Fall 2021, approximately 55% of courses were being delivered in person. Moreover, many staff members who could work from home continued to do so. The University anticipated the number of people declaring their vaccination status would increase when on-campus activity increased in the Winter term. All employees, including those who were working remotely, were reminded to upload their proof of vaccination as they could be asked to return to in person work at any point. 
  3. Bicentennial Campaign – Approval of Campaign Priorities and Plans

    Mr. David Palmer, (Vice President, Advancement), offered a presentation which outlined the proposed campaign plan and priorities.

    The presentation discussed the framework for gifts and donations at the University of Toronto in the context of academic priorities and the Provostial Guidelines on Donations (updated in 2021). Mr. Palmer also shared with members the planning and consultation process and reviewed the benefits and opportunities of a campaign. Additional highlights of the presentation included:
  • the size and ambition of the campaign—the largest and most ambitious in Canadian history—was commensurate with the University’s excellence, the depth and breadth of its aspirations, its outsized impact on the day’s most pressing societal challenges, and the scale of the University community of faculty, students, staff, alumni, and donors around the world.
  • the campaign would advance a wide range of academic funding priorities for students, faculty, research and programs, capital projects, as well as a large number of equity, diversity, and inclusion related priorities supporting research, teaching, students, faculty, engagement, and outreach.
  • the campaign would support the implementation of 84 marquee and institutional strategic initiatives, many of which represented partnerships across divisions and campuses;
  • the Campaign had two main goals: 1 million instances of alumni engagement, and $4 Billion in donations, which would be achieved across two phases (quiet and public);
  • a virtual public launch was planned for late fall 2021, by which time, the goal was to have achieved $1 Billion of the fundraising goal.

    Following Mr. Palmer’s presentation, Professor Jan Mahrt-Smith, (Chair of the Planning and Budget Committee), highlighted the discussion that had occurred at the Committee meeting.

    Addressing a concern raised about the investment of endowment funds in the fossil fuel industry, Mr. Palmer acknowledged the importance of the question and emphasized that the campaign will pursue funding for a wide range of academic priorities related to climate change and sustainability, including those referenced earlier in the meeting such as clean tech, climate policy, climate science, environmental conservation, renewable energy, and sustainability across our three campuses. He also noted that students are the primary beneficiaries of campaign funding priorities and donations.

    In response to a question about whether the University’s endowment policies related to fossil fuel divestment would have an impact on fundraising results, Mr. Palmer stated that to date they had not diminished the University's ability to raise funds and he expected that track record of success would continue into the public phase of the new campaign.

    On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

    YOUR BOARD RECOMMENDED

    THAT the Summary of Approved Academic Funding Priorities (Campaign Priorities Summary) as of August 20, 2021, be approved as the planning framework for the University’s fundraising campaign.
  1. Proposed Amendments to the Policy on Capital Planning and Capital Projects

    The Chair informed the Board that the proposed revised policy on Capital Planning and Capital Projects had been presented to a number of governance bodies on all three campuses. If recommended for approval by the Board, the Policy would be considered by the Governing Council at its meeting on October 28, 2021.

    At the invitation of the Chair, Professor Scott Mabury, Vice President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships, gave a brief presentation on the proposed Policy. Professor Mabury referred members to the documentation available on the governance portal and highlighted the following major changes and updates reflected in the new Policy:
  • clarification on which aspects of the project proposal would be presented in Open Session and In Camera;
  • improved clarity on capital priorities, which would include an annual presentation to the relevant governance bodies of capital projects prioritized for the year;
  • revised project budget approval levels;
  • project budget increases and scope changes would be considered by a meeting of the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the governance bodies who had approved the initial project proposal, who could either approve the budget increase or determine that the revised total project costs would need to be brought back through the full governance path for approval.

    Professor Mabury concluded his presentation with a summary overview of capital projects anticipated to come forward in the 2021-22 governance year.

    The Chair thanks Professor Mabury for his presentation. He then invited Professor Jan Mahrt-Smith, Chair, Planning and Budget Committee, to report on the Committee’s discussion of the Policy.

    A member inquired whether there were plans to increase student family housing. In reply, Professor Mabury confirmed that plans were in place for renewal of these spaces.

    On motion duly moved, seconded and carried

    YOUR BOARD RECOMMENDED

    THAT the revised Policy on Capital Planning and Capital Projects be approved, to be effective October 28, 2021.
  1. Revisions to the Terms of Reference of the Planning & Budget Committee

    The Chair stated that the Governing Council had established Boards and Committees and assigned responsibilities among those bodies through their terms of reference. The Governing Council had periodically approved changes in Board and Committee terms of reference to respond to changing circumstances and expectations of governance. Professor Spadafora advised that the proposed revisions to the Terms of Reference of the Planning & Budget Committee were a consequence of the revised Policy on Capital Planning and Capital Projects.
  2. Revisions to the Terms of Reference of the Academic Board

    As with the proposed revisions to the Terms of Reference of the Planning and Budget Committee, the Chair advised members that the proposed changes to the Terms of Reference of the Board, resulted from the recent review of the Policy on Capital Planning and Capital Projects.


    OPEN SESSION CONSENT AGENDA"

    On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

    YOUR BOARD APPROVED THAT

    the consent agenda be adopted.
  3. Approvals Under Summer Executive Authority

    The Chair reported that there were no approvals under summer executive authority within the purview of the Academic Board.
  4. Capital Projects: Report of the Project Planning Committee for Student Services Hub at the University of Toronto Mississauga

    On a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

    YOUR BOARD APPROVED

    THAT subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee,

    THAT the project scope of the Student Services Hub at University of Toronto Mississauga, as identified in the Report of the Project Planning Committee for the University of Toronto Mississauga Student Services Hub dated August 6, 2021, totalling 1354 net assignable square metres (nasm) (2040.9 net square metres) be approved in principle, to be funded by UTM Capital Reserves derived from the UTM Operating Budget and Financing.
  5. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 234 – May 27, 2021

    Report Number 234, from the meeting of May 27, 2021 was approved.
  6. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  7. Reports for Information

    Members received the following reports for information:
    1. 2021-2022 Calendar of Business
    2. Report Number 278 of the Agenda Committee – May 31, 2021
    3. Report Number 279 of the Agenda Committee – June 23, 2021
    4. Report Number 280 of the Agenda Committee – September 28, 2021
    5. Report Number 209 of the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs – September 23, 2021
    6. Report Number 201 of the Planning and Budget Committee – September 23, 2021

END OF CONSENT AGENDA

Date of the Next Meeting: Wednesday, November 17, 2021, 3:10 – 5:10 p.m.

The Chair reminded members that the next meeting would be held on November 17 at 3:10 p.m.

  1. Other Business

    No other items of other business were 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
  2. Capital Projects: Report of the Project Planning Committee for the Student Services Hub at the University of Toronto Mississauga- 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 of the Vice President, Operations & Real Estate Partnerships, as outlined in the memorandum dated October 12, 2021, be approved.
  3. Quarterly Report on Donations: May 1 – July 31, 2021

    Members received the Quarterly Report on Donations for information.


The Board returned to Open Session.


The meeting adjourned at 4:47 p.m.

October 13, 2021