Report: Committee on Academic Policy and Programs - February 24, 2020

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

February 24, 2020

To the Academic Board,
University of Toronto

Your Committee reports that it met on Monday, February 24, 2020 at 4:10 p.m. in the Council Chamber, Simcoe Hall, with the following present:

Ernest Lam (Chair), Aarthi Ashok (Vice-Chair), Susan McCahan (Vice-Provost, Academic Programs), Nadia Al-Banna, Raisa Deber, Angela Esterhammer, Peter Gooch, Emily Hawes, Allan Kaplan, Cara Krmpotich

Catherine Amara, Jai Yi (Caroline) Chen, James Davis, Yining (Elin) Gu, Connie Guberman, Nana (Hyung Ran) Lee, Edsel Ing, William Ju, Jeannie Kim, Daiana Kostova, Mary Pugh, Jennifer Purtle, Richard Sommer, Ben Liu, Zhiyuan (Annie) Lu, Kent G.W. Moore, Lewis Norman Rose, Rosa Saverino

Non-Voting Assessors:
Joshua Barker

David Walders

In Attendance:
Emma del Junco (Assistant Coordinator, Academic Planning and Reviews, Office of the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs OVPAP), Amrita Daniere (Vice-Principal, Academic Dean, UTM), Jennifer Francisco (Coordinator, Academic Change, OVPAP), William Gough (Vice-Principal, Academic Dean, UTSC), Katie Larson (Chair, Department of English, UTSC), David Lock (Coordinator, Academic Planning and Reviews, OVPAP), Sinisa Markovic (Assistant University Registrar & Director, Operations, Enrolment Services), Joseph Minichini (Business Analyst, Registrarial Policy, Enrolment Services), Mark Schmuckler (Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, UTSC), Daniel Tysdal (Department of English, UTSC), Alexandra Varela (Assistant Coordinator, Academic Change, OVPAP), Donna Wall (Director of Financial Aid & Awards, Enrolment Services), Sandy Welsh (Vice Provost, Students)

1. Chair’s Welcome

The Chair welcomed members and guests to the meeting.

2. Reports of the Administrative Assessors

Professor McCahan reported that recently the Ministry of Colleges and Universities indicated that it had approved one of the four programs U of T submitted, the Master of Health Science in Medical Physiology, Faculty of Medicine. The degree program was submitted to MCU in January 2019. 

Three programs submitted in July 2019 still awaited approval. The approval process would continue to be monitored.  

3. New Undergraduate Program Proposal: Major in Creative Writing in an existing undergraduate degree (HBA), University of Toronto Scarborough

Professor McCahan explained that the proposed Major in Creative Writing program, which would lead to an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree, would be of interest to students who  wished to deepen their development as literary artists. 

The Major could be paired with a wide range of disciplines, enabling students from any field of study to develop a creative practice that complements other scholarly pursuits at UTSC. 

The Major’s program requirements would consist of 7.5 full-course equivalents, of which 2.0 FCEs must be at the C or D level.  Students would take 3.0 FCEs of core creative writing courses and choose 2.0 FCEs from a list in the area of creative writing. In their 2.5 FCEs of elective space, they would complete courses in English literature and in literature and film, which would help to situate their creative work within broader critical studies in the field.

The proposed start date would be September 2020.

In reply to a question regarding whether the primary focus of the program would be fiction or non-fiction, Professor Daniel Tysdal, UTSC Department of English, confirmed that the program would cover a wide range of areas, including fiction, non-fiction, as well as screenwriting.

On motion duly made, seconded and carried

It was Resolved

THAT the proposed Major in Creative Writing, which will confer the existing degree HBA, as described in the proposal from the University of Toronto Scarborough dated November 29, 2019, be approved, effective September 1, 2020.

4. Proposal for the closure of the Specialist in Interactive Digital Media (HBA), University of Toronto Mississauga and Faculty of Information

Professor McCahan reiterated that the University of Toronto Quality Assurance Process (UTQAP) had a process to close programs as well as open them, and this was considered a normal and positive part of program evolution and quality assurance. 

The Specialist in Interactive Digital Media (IDM), offered through UTM’s Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (ICCIT), was designed to capitalize on faculty expertise in the field from ICCIT and the Faculty of Information as faculty members from Information taught in the program.  When the Specialist was launched in 2011, enrolment initially met expectations. Over time however, interest declined and the program struggled to attract students.  

During this time, course offerings in ICCIT had expanded and courses that were initially introduced to support the IDM Specialist exclusively had since been incorporated into the normal course offerings of ICCIT. “At the same time, the Faculty of Information’s academic activities had also evolved, as the Faculty launched the Bachelor of Information. As a result of these changes, admissions to the specialist were administratively suspended in January 2017.  Currently there was one fourth-year student in the Specialist. It was anticipated that this student would graduate in June 2020.   

The program’s closure date was set at June 30, 2020.

In reply to a member’s question regarding the one remaining student in the program, Professor Amrita Daniere confirmed that the student was on track to graduate before the program closure date.  Should the student require assistance in completing their degree, the University would work with the student to devise a plan for completion.

On motion duly made, seconded and carried

It was Resolved

THAT the proposed closure of the Specialist in Interactive Digital Media, University of Toronto Mississauga and the Faculty of Information, dated November 28, 2019, to which admissions were administratively suspended in January 2017, be approved, with an anticipated program closure date of June 30, 2020.

5. Annual Report on Student Awards Established, Amended and Withdrawn: July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019

Ms Wall noted that in 2018-2019, there were 235 new awards established at the University, with a total endowment value of $17.7 million.

A total of $66,225 in expendable awards was withdrawn (withdrawn awards did not reduce the overall gain of new endowments). These awards were withdrawn because the expendable fund was exhausted or the donor commitment ended.

The Committee received the Report for information.

6. Annual Report on Student Financial Support, 2018-19

Ms Wall noted that in 2018-19, the University spent $227.9M in total student assistance.  This robust student aid program ensured that the University remained accessible to students with financial need.

The Committee received the Report for information.

7. Transcript Innovation Initiative

Mr. Sinisa Markovic, Assistant University Registrar and Director, Operations, Enrolment Services, and Mr. Joseph Minichini, Business Analyst, Registrarial Policy, offered a presentation, appended here, on the Transcript Innovation Initiative. 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. The initiative explores innovative methods to illustrate student learning and achievements. An overview of the new digital transcript, developed with enhanced document security measures, was also provided.

In the discussion that followed, members asked questions about the enhanced security features, the 30-day time out feature when a student receives a digital transcript and well as future developments regarding the transcript innovation initiative.  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.  Turning to the 30-day time out, Mr. Markovic noted that, in exceptional cases, the 30-day period could be extended.  Finally, concerning possible future developments, Mr. Markovic noted that the University would look into conversion mechanism for grade point averages that used a different scale than U of T as well as keeping student data active over the long term.

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

8. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report 200 – January 14, 2020

The report of the previous meeting 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.   Date of Next Meeting – February 24, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.

The Chair confirmed that the date of the next meeting would be March 31, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.

11.  Other Business

There were no items of other business.

The meeting adjourned at 5:17 p.m.