Report: Committee on Academic Policy and Programs - April 12, 2021

Via Virtual Meeting



April 12, 2021

To the Academic Board,
University of Toronto

Your Committee reports that it held a virtual meeting on Monday, April 12, 2021 at 3:10 p.m. with the following present:

Ernest Lam (Chair), Aarthi Ashok (Vice- Chair), Mark Schmuckler, (Acting Vice-Provost, Academic Programs and Innovations in Undergraduate Education), James Davis, Raisa Deber, Stark Draper, David Dubins, Angela Esterhammer, Nicholas Everett, A’aishah Abdul Hameed, Emily Hawes, Walid Houry, Grase Kim, Jeannie Kim, Daiana Kostova, Kevin Li, Maureen MacDonald, Alexandra MacKay, Rosa Saverino, Maureen Simpson

Non-Voting Assessors:
Gretchen Kerr (Vice-Dean, School of Graduate Studies), Angelique Sawecko (University Registrar)

Cindy Ferencz-Hammond

Weijia Chen, Cathy Feng, Sol Goldberg, Amin Kamaleddin, Allan Kaplan, Bonnie McElhinny

In Attendance:
Dwayne Benjamin (Vice Provost, Strategic Enrolment Management)
Robert Levit (Associate Dean, Academic, FALD)
Andrea McGee (Registrar and Assistant Dean, Students, FALD)
Jenny Hill (Assistant Dean, Academic Planning and Governance, FALD)


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair extended a warm welcome to Angelique Sawecko, who as of April 1, 2021 had been appointed University Registrar and served as a non-voting assessor to the Committee. At the same time, he thanked Sinisa Markovic who had been the Interim Executive Director of Enrollment Services and University registrar since September of 2020 and had served in the assessor role.
  2. Reports of the Administrative Assessors

    Professor Mark Schmuckler offered an update on academic continuity. He reported that the recent Provincially mandated stay-at-home measures had not changed the in-person instruction gathering limits of course delivery and exams, which were the same as in the previously announced gray zone. With respect to the summer 2021 session, Professor Schmuckler noted that it would be similar to the remote course delivery in the winter of 2020, with some exceptions. He added that each division was formulating plans for the 2021-2022 academic year for various scenarios of course delivery. Although it was expected that the fall 2021 academic year would likely see the return to in-person instruction, there was a continued need for some level of remote delivery in response to public health constraints. Professor Schmuckler emphasized that the adoption of in person versus remote delivery modes would differ based on each division's unique array of programs and constraints.

    Professor Schmuckler continued by reporting on the number of academic disruptions that had been declared. Since his last report to this Committee on January 12, 2021, academic disruptions had been declared in two programs in the Faculty of Dentistry. He explained that the impact of the ten-student restriction within an instructional space had severely limited that Faculty’s ability to conduct its training. The University continued to advocate for further changes to the regulations to include Dentistry among other impacted programs that were critical to the health sector.

    Further to a question raised by a member regarding the presence of Legionella on campus, members were provided with a link to the Environmental Health & Safety office, which conducted regular water maintenance programs and testing for the presence of Legionella bacteria.

    The Chair thanked Professor Schmuckler for his remarks.
  3. Proposal for Modification to Degree Requirements: Honours Bachelor of Arts (HBA), John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design (FALD)

    The Chair invited Professor Schmuckler to introduce the item. Professor Schmuckler noted that the proposal removed the degree requirement that limited students to a maximum of 6.0 Full Course Equivalents (FCEs) of 100-level courses that could be counted for degree credit in the Honours Bachelor of Arts program. The current regulation created challenges for students, by discouraging students from making changes to their program and limiting their choice in course selection when transferring from other postsecondary institutions and within the University of Toronto. He noted that the change would benefit students by creating increased flexibility in 100 level courses and would support increased simplicity and transparency for students regarding their academic progress. This regulation change would bring the Faculty into alignment with similar provisions at the Faculty of Arts and Science, the University of Toronto Mississauga, and the University of Toronto Scarborough, which had been consulted and were supportive of the change.

    On the topic of possible transfers into the Faculty, it was confirmed that several students each year submitted applications of transfer into the FALD from across all three campuses. In addition, in response to a question about whether FALD students may combine other programs outside the Faculty as part of their degree, it was explained that students were only permitted to take programs offered by the Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) that were not deregulated.

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried,

    It was Resolved

    THAT the proposed degree requirement change, as described in the proposal from the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design dated March 23, 2021, be approved effective September 1, 2021.
  4. Annual Report on Student Awards Established, Amended and Withdrawn: July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020

    The Chair invited Professor Dwayne Benjamin, Vice Provost, Strategic Enrolment Management, to provide comments on the annual report. Professor Benjamin acknowledged the work of Donna Wall, Director, Financial Aid and Awards and her team in preparing the report.

    Professor Benjamin reported that during 2019-20, there were 264 new awards established in the university with a total endowment value of $13 million, which generated an estimated $454,000 in annual income. For comparison, in 2018-2019, the number of new awards established in the university was 235, with a total endowment value of about $17.7 million. Professor Benjamin noted that despite the decrease in value from the previous year, the number of new endowments for the current period were larger than during the previous year.

    In his report Professor Benjamin highlighted various grants that were introduced to address COVID-19 related emergency needs as well as new awards established for underrepresented groups at the University.

    In response to a member asking about the reporting dates for the awards report, Professor Benjamin said that he would follow up with the appropriate details at the next meeting of the Committee.

    The Committee received the Report for information.
  5. Annual Report on Student Financial Support, 2019-20

    In his report, Professor Benjamin discussed the Provincial policy environment with respect to the reduction in tuition fees, which impacted financial aid in that it reduced the level of the financial need of students. Secondly, he noted that in 2019-20, the number of OSAP recipients at the University decreased for the first time in more than five years, due to Provincial changes in OSAP need assessment.

    Professor Benjamin reported that the total amount of financial aid support provided to students, totaled $241 million for the period, compared to $228 million in the previous year. This was comprised of $106 million of needs-based aid need based support, compared to $99 million in the previous year. Merit based awards totaled $111 million, with 31% of this going to undergraduates with the remainder going to graduate students. He added that there had been an increase in support for international students, rising from $19 million to $32 million, and that this number was projected to grow each year. He noted that relative to other Ontario institutions, the University of Toronto provided a much higher level of scholarship and bursary support and that this had been a longstanding trend of the University.

    Concluding his report on comments related to OSAP, Professor Benjamin noted that looking at the parental income levels of OSAP supported students, compared to the rest of the Province, at the University of Toronto, a full 45% of recipients had parental income that was less than $50,000 per year as opposed to 36% elsewhere.

    In response to a member’s question regarding the higher proportion of students at the University from lower parental income brackets compared to the rest of the Province, Professor Benjamin noted that this had been a long-term trend. A member asked about whether there had been changes in the way the University distributed financial to lower income student because of the pandemic. Professor Benjamin explained that because of the eligibility criteria as well as COVID related support provided by the Federal government, many students were not eligible, and the University raised its threshold for financial aid so that it could give out more support. He noted that the University was considering various ways to target its support more strategically to reach the highest number of students.

    The Committee received the Report for information.
  6. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report 206 – January 12, 2021

    The report of the previous meeting was approved.
  7. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  8. Date of the Next Meeting – May 5, 2021 at 3:10 p.m.

    The Chair confirmed that the date of the next meeting would be May 5, 2021 at 3:10 p.m.
  9. Other Business

    There were no items of other business.

    The meeting adjourned at 3:50 p.m.

April 14, 2021