Report: Committee on Academic Policy and Programs - October 30, 2019

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


To the Academic Board,
University of Toronto

Your Committee reports that it met on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at 4:10 p.m. in the Council Chamber, Simcoe Hall, with the following present:

Present: Ernest Lam (Chair), Aarthi Ashok (Vice- Chair), Susan McCahan, Vice-Provost, Academic Programs, Nadia Al-Banna, Joshua Barker, James Davis, Angela Esterhammer, Peter Gooch, Emily Hawes,Edsel Ing, Allan Kaplan, Daiana Kostova, Nana (Hyung Ran) Lee, Richard Levin, Ben Liu, Kent G.W. Moore, Mary Pugh, Jennifer Purtle, Lewis Norman Rose, Rosa Saverino

SecretariatDavid Walders

Regrets: Raisa Deber, Connie Guberman, Yinning (Elin) Gu, William Ju, Jeannie Kim, Richard Sommer

In Attendance:
Emma del Junco, Assistant Coordinator, Academic Planning and Reviews, Office of the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs (OVPAP)
David Lock, Coordinator, Academic Planning and Reviews, OVPAP
Daniella Mallinick, Director, Academic Programs, Planning and Quality Assurance, OVPA
Alexandra Varela, Assistant Coordinator, Academic Change, OVPAP
Robert Batey, Chair, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS)
Andrea Benoit, Academic Review Officer, FAS
Randy Boyagoda, Principal, St. Michael’s College & Director, Mediaeval Studies program
Caitlin Burton, Academic Planning and Reviews Officer, FAS
Isabelle Cochelin, Interim Director, Centre for Medieval Studies
Asher Cutter, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Issues and Academic Planning, FAS
Amrita Daniere, Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean, UTM
Lisa Dolovich, Interim Dean, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
Yen Du, Program & Curriculum Officer, UTM
Angela Esterhammer, Principal, Victoria College & Director, Renaissance Studies program
Sara Faherty, Assistant Dean, Faculty of Law
Barry Freeman, Chair, Arts Culture & Media, UTSC
Ben Gilbert, Associate Chair, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, FAS
Patricia Houston, Vice Dean, MD Program, Faculty of Medicine
Edward Iacobucci, Dean, Faculty of Law
Annette Knott, Academic Programs Officer, UTSC
Natasha Kolos, Administrative Assistant (Academic Reviews), FAS
Ana Perez-Leroux, Chair, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, FAS
Joel Levine, Chair, Biology, UTM
Poppy Lockwood, Acting Dean, FAS & Vice-Dean, Academic Planning, FAS
Vivienne Luk, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Forensic Science, UTM
Aleksandra Mejia, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream & Interim Director, Professional Programs, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
Ashley Monks, Chair, Psychology, UTM
Emily Orchard, Assistant Dean, Faculty of Law
Michelle Rosenstock, Executive Director, Faculty of Law
Tiff Macklem, Dean, Rotman School of Management
Mark Schmuckler, Vice Dean Undergraduate, UTSC
Paul Stevens, Chair, Department of English, FAS
Pascal van Lieshout, Chair, Departmnet of Speech Language Pathology, Faculty of Medicine
Sarah Wakefield, Director, Health Studies program
Trevor Young, Dean, Faculty of Medicine

The Chair welcomed members and guests to the meeting.

1.   Reviews of Academic Programs and Units

i)   Department of Arts, Culture and Media (University of Toronto Scarborough)
Professor McCahan reported that she was pleased to receive the follow-up report from Dean Maydianne Andrade, detailing the actions that the Department and the Dean’s Office had undertaken in the past year. The follow up reported on the development of a clear vision for the Department of Arts, Culture & Media, as well as space concerns.

The Dean reported that the department had been engaged in a multifaceted visioning exercise for the past several years and further engaged in a mission statement following the review report. They concluded that a unified vision already existed and was well communicated to faculty, students and staff.

The Department largely consolidated its presence on the 4th floor of Highland Hall’s Humanities Wing. To address immediate space concerns, renovations were being undertaken to create a New Media and Digital Image Innovation Lab, and a Sound Creativity Lab, for completion in 2020. A project planning committee had been struck with the goal of a new Arts & Culture Building by 2025.

ii)         Forensic Science Program (University of Toronto Mississauga)

Professor McCahan reported that she was pleased to receive the follow-up report from Dean Amrita Daniere detailing the actions that the Department and the Dean’s Office had undertaken in the past year. The follow up reported on the medium to long - term development of the program, including the establishment of an EDU to provide the Program with independence from the Department of Anthropology. A draft proposal was currently underway to establish an EDU:B: which would be called the Forensic Science Centre. The proposed Centre would formally administer existing Forensic Science programs; it was expected that the five full time faculty contributing to the program would join the EDU:B.

Once established, the EDU:B would explore the possibility of expanding academic offerings, specifically a professional master’s program, and progressing towards EDU:A status. The program had recently hired a teaching-stream Forensic Toxicologist, and was next prioritizing a hire in Forensic Epistemology. It had also identified additional long-term priority hires. The planned EDU would also engage faculty in cognate units at UTM (Anthropology, Biology, Chemical & Physical Sciences, and Psychology) through cross-appointments.

iii)        Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (Faculty of Arts and Science)

Professor McCahan reported that she was pleased to receive the follow-up report from Dean Melanie Woodin. The report for the FAS Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology reported on the progress of the outcome of the workplace review and initiatives to improve staff relations. Following the 2018 external review, the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology underwent a significant workplace review and had adopted a number of initiatives to address concerns raised. Workplace civility workshops were offered to both faculty and staff, and were very well attended. The Chair undertook a review of staff morale, meeting with all staff members individually to discuss any concerns and suggestions, and had worked to significantly increase lines of communication with staff. The Chair was working with the Vice-Dean, Faculty, Academic Life and Equity and the new Associate Chairs to further improve climate in the unit and ensure open communication with new leadership.

iv)        Department of Chemistry; Pharmaceutical Chemistry Program (Faculty of  Arts and Science)

Professor McCahan reported that she was pleased to receive the follow-up report from Dean Melanie Woodin.  It reported on the development of a standardized research requirement within undergraduate Chemistry programs, and the relocation of the Pharmaceutical Chemistry program to the Department of Chemistry. The Dean noted that the department continued to discuss and explore approaches to providing meaningful research experience to undergraduate students. Research components were currently built into capstone courses for several programs, and future students enrolled in “Introduction to Chemistry Research” (required in several programs) would attend professional skills workshops on research topics to consolidate the consistency of research experience in the course.  

The Department of Chemistry had become the administrative home of the Pharmaceutical Chemistry Specialist Program, as of May 2019, assuming responsibility for all aspects of program administration. The transfer did not involve changes to admission or program requirements. A Pharmaceutical Chemistry curriculum committee had been established, and ongoing communication between Pharmaceutical Chemistry and other undergraduate Chemistry programs was being encouraged. The Chair of Chemistry would continue to explore collaborative opportunities between the Department and the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.

v)       Department of Spanish and Portuguese; Latin American Studies (LAS) Program (Faculty of Arts and Science)

Professor McCahan reported that she was pleased to receive the follow-up report from Dean Melanie Woodin.  It reported that The Department of Spanish and Portuguese became the administrative home for the Latin American Studies major and minor programs as of July 1, 2019, following consultations emerging from the review processes. The transfer received broad support from members of the Department. The Department could now offer to the LAS program administrative support and teaching by faculty with continuing appointments.

An additional 0.5 FTE staff position had been allocated to the Department to support both undergraduate programs, and a new faculty line had been allocated to support teaching in both LAS and Spanish and Portuguese. The transfer did not involve changes to admission or program requirements. 

b)    Semi-Annual Report on the Reviews of Academic Units and Programs, April 
2019 – October 2019

The Chair noted that since the last report to the Committee, the Office of the Vice-President and Provost had received twelve reviews of units and/or programs. 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 a set of reviews to consider. To guide their work, members of these groups were asked to consider three questions:

i) Does the summary accurately tell the story of the full review?

ii) Does the administrative response address all issues identified?

iii) 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 invited Professor McCahan to make general remarks about the twelve reviews.

Professor McCahan reported that, overall, the review reports identified both recurring and new themes: the excellent quality of our programs, the talent and high calibre of students, the diversity of student research opportunities, the impressive body of faculty scholarship, as well as the ways in which academic units were successfully incorporating experiential education into their program delivery, providing innovative, hands-on learning opportunities for students.

Professor McCahan explained that, as always, the reviews noted areas for development, including the need for units to be forward-thinking in their faculty complement planning and to ensure that diversity was reflected in faculty complement, student body, and curriculum.

Department of Psychology (UTM)

The spokesperson for the reading group reported that the summary covered the full Review. The group agreed that the Dean’s administrative response addressed the main identified issues.

No follow-up report was requested. 

Department of Biology (UTM)

The spokesperson for the reading group reported that the summary covered the full review.  The group did note that some of the issues in the review, such as the need for more staff and the impact of high student/faculty ratios could have been given more emphasis. The group also requested additional clarification on several points, including the need for new hires in the area of quantitative and computational biology, the suggestion that restrictive course prerequisites be relaxed, and the need for a statistics course. The review had also commented on high enrolment coupled with insufficient TA support.

Professor Levine, Chair of the Department of Biology, noted that five new faculty hires were planned before provincial cutbacks.  Currently, two new searches were planned for this year to add to the faculty complement in quantitative and computational biology.  In addition, as the need arose to replace faculty, they would be replaced by faculty in quantitative and computational biology or a related field.

Turning to the undergraduate course curriculum, Professor Levine noted that the Department was introducing statistics modules in the undergraduate curriculum, which would expose students to the analysis of big data sets.  Regarding prerequisite course requirements, Professor Levine noted that, particularly for students taking courses across different departments, addressing this matter would be an inter-departmental task.

Finally, Dean Daniere commented that it was unclear what the reviewers comment about TA support was founded upon. She noted that TA support was readily available and could be increased on an as-needed basis upon the Chair’s request.

No follow-up report was requested.

Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy Provostial Review

The spokesperson for the reading group reported that the summary covered the full review. The group sought additional clarification on several areas of the administrative response, including the following: the relatively short duration of practice rotations for new students (5 weeks); funding concerns related to the Centre for Pharmaceutical Oncology; the assessment of professional competence for faculty with regular patient care responsibilities; forthcoming recommendations from the Workplace Culture and Needs Assessment, and; the potential impact of the International Pharmacy Graduate (IPG) program on the current PharmD programs.

Professor Dolovich, Interim Dean, replied that there had been some confusion regarding the duration of practice rotations. She clarified that U of T’s program exceeded the accreditation requirement of 1600 hours (40 weeks) of experiential learning by requiring 1720 hours (43 weeks) of experiential learning. All fourth year entry-to-practice PharmD students completed a 10 week community rotation in a single site. Also, at a minimum all students completed a minimum 10 week institutional practice setting in a single institution. Many students completed an additional elective in the same institution. Providing choice allowed students to experience a breadth of practice experiences, and some students preferred 5 week rotations in order to explore more types of practice sites. Course matching software allowed students to elect to remain in placements for larger blocks of time. Sustainability planning was underway for the Centre of Pharmaceutical Oncology. This Centre was an advancement priority. Interim Dean Dolovich confirmed that all teaching staff with patient responsibilities were licensed pharmacists in good standing with the Ontario College of Pharmacists. With respect to the recommendations from the forthcoming Workplace Culture and Needs Assessment, Interim Dean Dolovich noted that the recommendations would be carefully considered once the final report had been delivered.   Interim Dean Dolovich clarified that the IPG and PharmD for Pharmacists programs served different needs from the PharmD program. Students in the IPG and in the PharmD for Pharmacists programs had already completed their first entry-to-practice degree. IPG students were internationally educated pharmacists in a bridging program to meet Canadian entry-to-practice requirements. PharmD for Pharmacists students were practicing pharmacists meeting the changing needs of the profession. By contrast, students in the PharmD program were not yet pharmacists and were pursuing an entry-to-practice degree.

A follow-up report was requested to address 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 forthcoming Workplace Culture and Needs Assessment as well the impact of the IPG program on the faculty's future plans for the PharmD programs.

Faculty of Law Provostial Review

The spokesperson for the reading group reported that the summary covered the full review.  The reading group requested clarification on the 100% final exam structures in some JD courses, as well as the possibility of giving students credit for summer experiential learning opportunities.  Turning to the Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) program, the group raised questions concerning the desire for advanced courses on methodology, the length and scope of funding as well as potential avenues for graduates other than an academic career.  Finally, the group had questions about graduate students’ concerns about representation at Faculty Council.

Dean Iacobucci responded that not all JD courses had 100% final exams and, in those that did, students did receive feedback throughout the course. Given the small class sizes and the structure of the JD curriculum, participation in and preparation for classes was vital and exams helped to ensure students were engaging with the materials.  Dean Iacobucci noted that he understood the pressures faced by students with respect to final exams, but that in many cases, if given a choice between writing assignments and 100% exams, most students chose the 100% exam. Finally, he noted that a study was being undertaken of practices at other Canadian universities to inform upcoming discussions of the Faculty’s practices.

With respect to credit for summer opportunities, Dean Iacobucci responded that, for several reasons, it was not being considered at this time. Chief among these reasons was the fact that for-credit experiential learning required close interaction with faculty, who do not normally teach during the summer, and the fact that not all student have equal access to these summer opportunities.

Regarding the SJD program, Dean Iacobucci noted that given the disparate research methodologies utilized by SJD students, a single advanced methodologies course would be impracticable. The Faculty ensured that students were able to access relevant advanced methodology courses through cognate units where appropriate. Turning to funding, Dean Iacobucci noted that the Faculty offered competitive funding packages, none of which required TA employment, allowing students to focus on their theses. Regarding career paths, around three-quarters of graduates had secured academic positions and, owing to the fact that SJD students typically came into the program with a JD and an LLM, most were able to find jobs in a related field if they did not pursue academic careers.

Finally, regarding representation on Faculty Council, 1/3 of seats were currently reserved for student representatives; given the recent growth in graduate student enrolment the Faculty may examine whether to allot more of these existing seats to graduate students.

No follow up report was requested.

Rotman School of Management

The spokesperson for the reading group reported that the summary covered the full review, and that the administrative response addressed all main issues identified.

No follow up report was requested.  

Department of Speech-Language Pathology (MED)

The spokesperson for the reading group reported that the summary covered the full review. The administrative response covered all main points and represented a forward- looking plan to address concerns.

No follow-up report was requested.

Faculty of Medicine Provostial Review

The spokesperson for the reading group reported that the summary covered the full review. The group was pleased to see that the issue of student harassment had been addressed in the administrative response.  However, the group noted that the proposed plans to address harassment were mainly reactive and did not address the underlying causes of the harassment.

Dean Young noted that the Faculty took the issue of student harassment very seriously. He observed that addressing this issue was a leading focus of discussions among Canadian and North American Faculties of Medicine, and it was also a workplace issue that the affiliated hospitals were addressing. The Dean outlined several initiatives that were being undertaken in response, including the establishment of an Office of Professionalism as well as task force to examine this further.

A follow-up review was requested to report on the Faculty’s progress in understanding and addressing the causes of student harassment.

FAS - Health Studies Program

The spokesperson for the reading group reported that the summary covered the full review but did not reflect the urgent tone of the review regarding the sustainability of the program. Similarly, the administrative response was rather generic and did not specifically address, for example, the status of relationships with cognate units.

Regarding the summary, Professor McCahan noted that both the full review report and the summary made several comments regarding the lack of tenure-stream or permanent faculty connected to the program, the impact that had on the ability to develop and plan for the program, and the overall sense of instability and uncertainty regarding the program that was stressful for students and faculty. For the record, she read out the reviewers’ overall recommendation that “A decision about the future of Health Studies should be made: deletion, maintenance at the same level, or growth.”

Professor Lockwood noted that the program was meant to be a hub for faculty and students from cognate disciplines, and that building relationships with cognate units was a priority. The two planned Contractually-Limited Term Appointment (CLTA) teaching staff, represented key investments in these relationships, particularly in the areas of indigenous health and global health, and would provide needed assistance to the program. Given the program’s modest size, two CLTAs represented a sizeable commitment.

A follow-up report was requested to address the status of relationships with cognate units and the efficacy of the CLTAs in creating a more sustainable offering.

Department of English (FAS)

The spokesperson for the reading group reported that the summary covered the full review. The administrative response covered all main points, though the group requested additional information on whether students would be consulted in efforts to increase enrollment and diversify the undergraduate curriculum. 

Vice-Dean Lockwood confirmed that the department had routinely consulted with students on initiatives in both formal and informal ways over the last two years; and would draw on existing mechanisms to engage students in the present initiatives.  In addition, Vice-Dean Lockwood noted that in Fall 2018 the department had experienced an increase in enrollment which they attribute in part to the impact of previous consultations with students.

No follow-up report was requested, 

Centre for Medieval Studies and USMC Mediaeval Studies UG program (FAS)

The spokesperson for the Reading Group reported that the summary covered the full review and that the administrative response adequately address all issues identified. 

No follow up report was requested.

Renaissance Studies Program (FAS)

The spokesperson for the reading group reported that the summary covered the full review, though the notion that the only two full-time faculty were eligible to retire was not emphasized.  The administrative response adequately address all issues identified and the group noted that the reviewers commented on the outstanding nature of the program. The group requested additional comment on the issue of over-burdened faculty as well the possibility of two current full-time faculty retiring. 

Regarding the summary, Professor McCahan noted that it identified the “significant, pressing issue of faculty complement planning” as an area of concern. It does not mention retirements specifically because, at the time the summary was written, no faculty retirements had been confirmed. Professor Esterhammer noted that the notion of over-burdened faculty required contextualization in that many faculty voluntarily assumed additional teaching responsibilities as it allowed them to teach a diverse set of courses. In addition, one new teaching stream appointment had already been made at Victoria College, which would add to the teaching staff supporting the program, and others s were planned. As well, recent and planned faculty additions in cognate units would also enhance the teaching support for the program.

No follow-up report was requested.

Faculty of Arts and Science Provostial Review

The spokesperson for the reading group reported that the summary covered the full review. The administrative response addressed all major points in the review and the group noted that the reviewers commented on the outstanding students, faculty and academic programs.  The group requested clarification on the following three points related to the administrative response: additional streamlining of the organizational structure of the Faculty, increasing faculty diversity and leveraging the relationships with the University’s colleges to enhance the student experience.

Turning first to the organizational structure, Vice-Dean Lockwood noted that streamlining the organizational structure was a priority of the Faculty.  In addition to the restructuring of the vice decanal portfolios and implementation of weekly meetings between deans and vice-deans (to facilitate more rapid decision making), a decanal advisory committee on academic change had been struck to ensure new initiatives would be aligned with Faculty priorities. In addition, advancement priorities for the Faculty would be redefined and narrowed in line with the Faculty’s academic plan, which was currently in development.

Regarding faculty diversity, Vice-Dean Lockwood noted that increasing faculty diversity was a priority for the Faculty and the dean’s office was exploring ways to build accountability and reporting on equity, diversity and inclusion into their annual process for allocating and hiring for new faculty positions, as well as into the new unit level academic planning process. Provostial support was being provided to facilitate the hiring of Black and Indigenous faculty specifically, and the dean had invited proposals for targeted searches to take advantage of that funding; the Faculty would provide matching funding.  In addition, the Faculty was undertaking initiatives to remove barriers for female faculty in terms of progress through the ranks and promotion.  Finally, regarding relationships with the colleges, a working group report had been submitted to the Dean in June with a number of recommendations to further leverage the Faculty’s relationship with colleges to improve coordination around advising and supports for commuter students. In terms of student health and wellness, this was a priority for the Faculty, the University and the colleges, with a range of initiatives underway, including the establishment of embedded counsellors in the colleges to address student needs.  

 No follow-up report was requested.

2.  Report of the Previous Meeting: Report 198 – September 16, 2019

The Report of the Previous Meeting was approved.

3. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

There was no business arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting.

4.  Date of Next Meeting – January 14, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.

The Chair confirmed the date of the next meeting would be January 14, 2020.

5. Reports of the Administrative Assessors

Professor McCahan reported that the Quality Council had accepted two reports on new programs at its October meeting. As a result, the Master of Financial Insurance, offered by the Department of Statistical Sciences in the Faculty of Arts and Science; and the Master of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering, offered by the Institute of Biomaterial & Biomedical Engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering were now approved to continue without conditions.

Professor McCahan also reported that, as a result of a follow up site visit in June 2019, Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada had revised the accreditation status of the Master of Science in Physical Therapy’s from “probationary” to “fully compliant,” as reflected in the appendix to the compendium of reviews.

6. Other Business

There were no items of other business.

The meeting adjourned at 6:27 p.m.

November 3, 2019