Report: Committee on Academic Policy & Programs - October 27, 2020

-
Via Virtual Meeting

REPORT NUMBER 205 OF THE COMMITTEE ON

ACADEMIC POLICY AND PROGRAMS

October 27, 2020


To the Academic Board,
University of Toronto

Your Committee reports that it held a virtual meeting on Tuesday, October 27, 2020 at 3:10 p.m. with the following present:

Present: Ernest Lam (Chair); Aarthi Ashok (Vice- Chair); Mark Schmuckler, Vice-Provost, Academic Programs and Innovations in Undergraduate Education; James Davis; Raisa Deber; David Dubins; Angela Esterhammer; Nicholas Everett; Cathy Feng; Sol Goldberg; A’aishah Abdul Hameed; Emily Hawes; Walid Houry; Amin Kamalddin; Allan Kaplan; Grase Kim; Jeannie Kim; Daiana Kostova; Kevin Li; Maureen MacDonald; Alexandra MacKay; Rosa Saverino; Maureen Simpson

Regrets: Weijia Chen

Non-Voting Assessors: Joshua Barker, Dean, School of Graduate Studies; Sinisa Markovic, Interim Executive Director of Enrolment Services and University Registrar

Secretariat: David Walders

In Attendance: Clare Brett, Chair, Department of Curriculum, Teaching & Learning, OISE; Biljana Cuckovic, Director, Governance, Policy & Planning, OISE; Lisa Dolovich, Professor and Dean, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy;Emily Gilbert, Vice Principal, University College; Vina Goghari, Chair, UTSC Department of Psychological Clinical Science; Tara Goldstein, Vice Principal, New College; William A. Gough, Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, UTSC; Patricia Houston, Vice Dean, Medical Education, Temerty Faculty of Medicine; Glenn Hibbard, Chair, Department of Materials Science & Engineering; Ira Jacobs, Dean, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education; Glen A. Jones, Professor and Dean, OISE; Katie Larson, Vice Dean Teaching, Learning and Undergraduate Programs, UTSC; Daniella Mallinick, Director, Academic Programs, Planning and Quality Assurance, OVPAP; Susan McCahan, Vice-Provost, Academic Programs and Innovations in Undergraduate Education (on leave); Aleksandra Bjelajac Mejia, Associate Dean, Academic, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy; Melissa Milkie, Tri-Campus Graduate Chair, Department of Sociology; Michael Molloy, Chair, Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences; Néstor E. Rodríguez, Program Director, Caribbean Studies; Scott Schieman, Chair, Department of Sociology; Njoki Wane, Chair, Department of Social Justice Education; Melanie Woodin, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science; Earl Woodruff, Chair, Department of Applied Psychology & Human Development; Christopher Yip, Dean, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering; Trevor Young, Dean, Temerty Faculty of Medicine


  1. Chair’s Welcome

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the meeting.
  2. Reports of the Administrative Assessors

    Professor Schmuckler offered an update on the impacts of the pandemic to the University’s institutional quality assurance processes, particularly on the University of Toronto Quality Assurance Process (UTQAP) reviews of units and programs. He noted the ongoing commitment and engagement of the University to the quality assurance process, despite the pandemic. The pandemic’s most direct impact on reviews had been on in-person site visits. Under normal circumstances, faculty members from peer institutions would travel to Toronto for face to face meetings. All site visits since the pandemic began had either been delayed, formally deferred, or reconfigured as virtual visits.

    Two Provostial reviews had been moved from Fall 2020 to Winter 2021. Seven Decanal reviews originally scheduled to take place in Spring 2020, during the early lockdown period, had been formally deferred. In extraordinary circumstances, the Vice-Provost could formally approve the deferral of a review when the delay would push the site visit outside of the 8-year interval required under UTQAP. Several other Decanal reviews had been postponed, without requiring a formal deferral. All reviews set to occur between now and the spring of 2021 were planned to be held in a remote format.

    Consultation had been ongoing with colleagues both within the University and with colleagues at other Ontario institutions to share recommendations and best practices for how to adapt and proceed in this new environment, and the Quality Council had distributed suggestions and sample schedules for conducting virtual reviews. It was hoped that the remote format might enable broader participation in reviews, particularly among students for whom in-person meeting attendance may have proved challenging.

    One change that had been made for the upcoming Provostial reviews was to plan for virtual site visits to occur over a longer period of days, with fewer hours per day, to ensure that reviewers had a positive experience that yielded a constructive and useful report. Once a virtual site visit had taken place and the review report submitted, the normal course of subsequent business would proceed as it had in the past. While it was likely that the slate for Cycle 5 next spring was likely to be rather light because of the impact of last spring’s lockdown, these delayed reviews would resume alongside the regularly scheduled ones, and every effort would be made to avoid overloading our the Committee’s Reading Groups.

    Dean Joshua Barker then provided members with an update on the dissertation working group, which had recently completed its work and had produced, two outcome documents, one for students and one for thesis supervisors. The intent of the documents was to provide clarity on various types of theses, and expectations for each.

    The Chair thanked Professors Schmuckler and Barker for their reports.
  3. Update: Digital Diplomas

    Mr. Sinisa Markovic, Interim Executive Director of Enrolment Services and University Registrar, provided an update of the digital diploma initiative and described the rationale behind the initiative, the layout of the digital diplomas, as well as the security measures that were in place.

    In reply to questions from members, Mr. Markovic described the function of the blue seal to protect against fraud and also confirmed that Digital Transcripts would be produced in addition to the paper parchment, which would remain unchanged.
  4. Reviews of Academic Programs and Units
    1. Follow-up Report from Previous Reviews

      Professor Schmuckler reminded members that, under the UTQAP, the Committee could request a one-year follow-up report when concerns are raised in an external review that require a longer period of response. Historically, the Committee had requested follow-up reports for about a third of the reviews that it considered. The Provostial review of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, the “bundled” Provostial non-UTQAP review of the Temerty Faculty of Medicine along with the UTQAP review of its MD program, and the decanal review of the Health Studies program from the Faculty of Arts and Science were discussed at the Cycle 2 meeting last year on October 30, 2019. The Committee requested follow-up reports for these three reviews. Professor Schmuckler noted that follow-up reports from the Deans Trevor Young, Lisa Dolovich and Melanie Woodin had been received which detailed the actions that the Dean’s Offices and Health Studies program had undertaken in the past year.

      Health Studies program

      Professor Schmuckler reported that the follow up for the Health Studies program review reported on the status of relationships with cognate units and the efficacy of the Contractually-Limited Term Appointments (CLTAs) in creating a more sustainable offering. Dean Melanie Woodin reported that curricular changes had been implemented in Health Studies to strengthen relationships and foster cross-unit fertilization with the Human Biology Program and the Department of Geography and Planning. A new Director from the Department of Geography and Planning had also been appointed to the Health Studies program for a 5-year term, to bring administrative stability to the program and sustain the already-strong relationship with the Geography.

      In addition, two Health Studies courses were now being taught by Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DLSPH) faculty, which enhanced and reinforced the interdisciplinarity of the program, and in Spring 2020 a successful mixer was held between DLSPH faculty and Health Studies students, to explore research opportunities. Three new CLTA appointments had been or would be made through cross-unit arrangements, enabling Health Studies to create a more sustainable offering. One recently appointed CLTA shared between Human Biology and Health Studies would deliver one required Health Studies course, and was currently developing two new courses which would greatly enhance the program’s upper-year offerings. Another recent joint CLTA in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Centre for Indigenous Studies would teach a Health Studies course, enhancing students’ ability to access courses related to Indigenous Health.

      Finally a search for a teaching-stream position shared between DLSPH and Human Biology was currently underway, and the successful candidate was expected to teach in the Health Studies Program on an ongoing basis.

      There were no questions from members.

      Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy

      Professor Schmuckler reported that the follow up for the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy addressed the recommendation concerning the length of practice experience rotations, funding concerns related to the Centre for Pharmaceutical Oncology, the issue of professional competencies for faculty with regular patient care responsibilities, the recommendations in the Workplace Culture and Needs Assessment, as well as the impact of the International Pharmacy Graduate (IPG) program on the faculty's future plans for the PharmD programs.

      Regarding recommendations around the length of practice experience rotations, Dean Lisa Dolovich noted that the Faculty’s ongoing curriculum review, experiential education quality assurance process, and upcoming academic planning process would allow them to consider their current experiential education model and make evidence informed decisions to continue to enhance their experiential program.

      With regard to funding concerns related to the Centre for Pharmaceutical Oncology (CPO), the Faculty considered the Centre an advancement priority, and had enjoyed some initial success in raising funds to support its activities, and notes considerable potential to further increase donations. Faculty members in the CPO continued to seek support from funding agencies for the operating costs of research in the Centre, and the Faculty’s Research Office was currently working with CPO leadership to develop a sustainability plan to be completed in 2020-21.

      Regarding the issue of professional competencies for faculty with regular patient care responsibilities, the Faculty had taken several actions to facilitate clinical faculty members’ ability to maintain their Part A license to practice in Ontario through both on campus and off campus clinical practice opportunities.

      An outside consultancy had completed a Workplace Culture and Needs Assessment with the final confidential report provided to the Interim Dean in November 2019. The report included a number of recommendations aimed at increasing communication, acknowledging the achievements of faculty, students, and staff, and fostering a respectful, professional workplace. As the Faculty had developed new approaches to interacting and working together in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had been mindful of the assessment’s recommendations. They noted that at a recent accreditation site visit in March 2020, the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs highlighted the positive morale amongst faculty and staff as one of the Faculty’s strengths.

      Finally, the Faculty asserted that the impact of the IPG program on plans for the PharmD programs would be minimal, noting the distinctions between the various programs. Ongoing admissions review and the upcoming academic planning process would allow the Faculty to consider the questions the committee raised in terms of the impact of graduates on the current practice environment, and the ability to make evidence informed decisions about enrolment numbers for all programs.

      In reply to a member’s question, Dean Dolovich clarified the distinction between the PharmD program designed for those who desired to become pharmacists, the PharmD program for those who were already pharmacists but who desired to expand their skills, and the IPG program, designed as an academic bridging program for internationally trained pharmacists to meet Canadian entry-to-practice requirements.

      Temerty Faculty of Medicine MD program

      Professor Schmuckler noted that the follow up for the review of the Temerty Faculty of Medicine,MD program reported on the Faculty’s progress in understanding and addressing the causes of student harassment.

      Dean Trevor Young reported that over the past year the Faculty had focused its efforts on mitigating barriers to the reporting and disclosure of instances of mistreatment experienced by medical students, and enhancing the Faculty and MD program leaders’ ability to address both individual concerns and systemic issues. These efforts included a number of measures taken to actively support students and promote professional behaviours and values, including:
    • appointments for two new Directorships (one in Professional Values and the other in Learner Experience);
    • the establishment of a Learner Experience Advisory Council and a Faculty Development Advisory Group for Professional Values;
    • updates to policies and procedures to inform and protect students and to ensure that mechanisms were in place to manage faculty who act in an unprofessional manner.

      The MD Program faculty and staff expressed a committed to ensuring that the new resources, roles, policies and processes lead to positive change in their students’ experiences.

      There were no questions from members.
    1. Semi-Annual Report on the Reviews of Academic Units and Programs, April 2020 – October 2020

      The Chair noted that since the last report to the Committee, the Office of the Vice-President and Provost had received ten reviews of units and/or programs, two of which were Provostial reviews and eight of which were Decanal. All were brought forth to the Committee for information. The submissions included the signed administrative responses from each Dean, which highlighted action plans in response to reviewer recommendations.

      The Chair reported that members had been broken into four reading Groups and that each Group had been assigned reviews to consider. To guide their work, members of these groups were asked to consider three questions:
      1. Does the summary accurately tell the story of the full review?
      2. Does the administrative response address all issues identified?
      3. Are there any questions, comments or substantive issues that the Committee should consider? Is there a need to ask that the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs bring forward a follow-up report?

The Chair also noted that, as part of their review, the Reading Groups had passed on a number of ancillary comments to the Dean’s Office for its consideration.

The Chair invited Professor Schmuckler to make general remarks about the reviews. Professor Schmuckler noted that the Committee plays a critical role in the reviews of all academic programs and units at the University. The goals of these reviews were to:

  • to obtain expert advice of leaders in the field concerning academic and administrative issues
  • to measure performance against leading international programs, and
  • to obtain guidance and input from peers on key strategic directions.

He confirmed that he was bringing forward ten reviews for this Committee’s consideration; two commissioned by the Provost (one UTQAP, one non-UTQAP), and eight UTQAP reviews commissioned by Deans. He noted that both recurring and new themes were identified in the reviews: the talent and high calibre of students and the impressive body of scholarship produced by faculty, as well as the programs’ interdisciplinary strengths and the many initiatives undertaken by the academic units to enhance equity, diversity, and inclusion.

As always, the reviews noted areas for development. The reviews identified the need for units to strengthen their communication and governance structures, and suggested ways to engage in meaningful discussions regarding student recruitment and faculty workload. The reviews also highlighted the need to ensure that diversity is reflected in faculty complement and curriculum.

Caribbean Studies Program, Faculty of Arts and Science

The spokesperson for the Reading Group reported that the summary covered the full Review. The Group agreed that the Dean’s administrative response fully addressed the issues identified. In reply to a comment raised regarding the planned transition of the program to an Extra-Departmental Unit B, Dean Woodin noted that the process had already begun with consultations to chart a path forward.

No follow-up report was requested.


Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Science

The spokesperson for the Reading Group reported that the summary covered the full Review, and commented on the very strong positive review of the Department. While the administrative response covered most pertinent issues, the group requested greater explanation of the issues of support for the Graduate Chair to ensure the success of this large tri-campus graduate program, including the recommendation to hire a Departmental manager.
Dean Woodin responded that the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies was aware of the issue of workload pertaining to the Graduate Chair and would be examining increased course-release for the Graduate Chair and would also be conducting a Human Resources review with respect to hiring a Departmental manager. Professor Melissa Milkie, Tri-Campus Graduate Chair, Department of Sociology confirmed that the Department would work to reduce the teaching load for the Graduate Chair.

No follow-up report was requested.


Minor Programs at Victoria College, Faculty of Arts and Science

The spokesperson for the Reading Group reported that the summary covered the full Review and that the administrative response covered the issues raised. The Group noted, however, that there were two major upcoming changes in the programs: namely, the integration of the Minor in Semiotics & Communication Studies with the Minor in Material Culture and the proposal to add a Major to the Creative Expression and Society program. The Group leader questioned whether, in the Dean’s view, it would be sufficient to wait for the next cyclical review of the programs or whether a follow-up report would be advantageous.
In reply, Dean Woodin explained that the integration of programs as well as the addition of a new program would require careful scrutiny and that it would likely be beneficial to wait for the next cyclical review of the programs to examine these changes. Professor Angela Esterhammer, Principal of Victoria College, confirmed that consultation processes for these academic changes were already underway.

No follow-up report was requested.

University of Toronto, Scarborough (UTSC), Provostial Review

The spokesperson for the Reading Group reported that the summary covered the full Review. The Group agreed that the Dean’s administrative response fully addressed the issues identified.
Dean Bill Gough invited Professor Katie Larson, Vice Dean Teaching, Learning and Undergraduate Programs, UTSC, to address an ancillary question regarding student co-operative programs. Professor Larson noted that, regarding the co-op program in Arts and Science, there was increased planning regarding work-placement length and better alignment with academic plans. In addition, alternative experiential learning programs were being explored, such as course-related placements.

No follow-up report was requested.

Department of Computer and Mathematical Science, UTSC

The spokesperson for the Reading Group reported that the summary covered the full Review. The Group agreed that the Dean’s administrative response fully addressed the issues identified.

No follow-up report was requested.

Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development (APHD) and its programs, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)

The spokesperson for the Reading Group reported that the summary covered the full Review. The groups noted that the external reviewers recognized APHD’s highly accomplished faculty, its impressive graduate students, as well as its hard-working and dedicated administrative staff. The Group agreed that the Dean’s administrative response fully addressed the issues identified.

Dean Glen Jones noted the strength of the review and noted the important collaboration between the department and UTSC’s Psychological Clinical Science graduate unit .

No follow-up report was requested.

Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning its programs, OISE

The spokesperson for the Reading Group reported that the summary covered the full Review. The Group agreed that the Dean’s administrative response fully addressed the issues identified.

No follow-up report was requested.

Department of Social Justice Education and its programs, OISE

The spokesperson for the Reading Group reported that the summary covered the full Review. The Group commented on the excellent reputation of the Department and agreed that the Dean’s administrative response fully addressed the issues identified.

In reply to ancillary written comments from the reading group, Dean Jones noted that the Department continued to review its staffing complement, including leadership responsibilities between the Associate Chair and the Graduate Coordinator. In reply to another written comment regarding teaching and research experience for students, Dean Jones noted that there were a great deal of research opportunities, owing partially to the fact that Graduate Assistant roles, which were unique to OISE, allowed graduate students to explore research. Because OISE did not offer any undergraduate programs in which students could serve as Teaching Assistants, the Department was also looking into creating co-curricular opportunities to further expand teaching opportunities.

No follow-up report was requested.

Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Provostial Review

The spokesperson for the Reading Group reported that the summary covered the full Review. The Group commented on the excellent quality of the Dean’s administrative response and agreed that it fully addressed the issues identified.

No follow-up report was requested.

Department of Materials Science and Engineering and its programs, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering
The spokesperson for the Reading Group reported that the summary covered the full Review. The Group agreed that the Dean’s administrative response fully addressed the issues identified.

Dean Christopher Yip indicated that he was pleased with the review and that an interim report would be issued by his office in 2022-23 to provide updates on departmental initiatives.

Professor Glenn Hibbard, Chair of the Department, offered comments with respect to one written ancillary comment from the Reading Group pertaining to increased connections between the Department and industry. He noted that an Associate Chair had been hired to focus specifically on industrial relations and to examine ways to capitalize on the increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence in the field and how to increase industry connections in this area.

No follow-up report was requested.

  1. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report 204, September 21, 2020

    The report of the previous meeting 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. Date of Next Meeting – January 12, 2021 at 3:10 p.m.

    The Chair confirmed that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on January 12, 2021.
  4. Other Business

    There were no items of other business.

    The meeting adjourned at 4:37 p.m.



October 28, 2020