Report: Committee on Academic Policy and Programs - September 20, 2022

Council Chamber, Simcoe Hall, 2nd floor



September  20, 2022

To the Academic Board,
University of Toronto

Your Committee reports that it met on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 at 3:10 p.m. in the Council Chamber, Simcoe Hall, with the following present:

Present: Ernest Lam (Chair), Nhung Tran (Vice- Chair), Susan McCahan (Vice-Provost, Academic Programs and Innovations in Undergraduate Education), Areeb Ahmed*, Catherine Amara, Brinda Batra, Raisa Deber, Jennifer Dolman, Angela Esterhammer, Jessica Eylon, Joseph Flessa, Susan Froom, Jason Harlow, Tony Harris, Walid A. Houry, Charles Q. Jia, Maranatha Shone Joos*, Suzanne Wood*, Daniel Zimmerman

Joshua Barker (Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate Research and Education), Leah Cowen (Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives), James Davis, Robert B. Gibbs, Zhino Maanavi, Jennifer Purtle, Rosa Saverino, Justin Van Houten

Non-Voting Assessors:
Angelique Saweczko, University Registrar

Joanne Chou, Tim Harlick

In Attendance:
Yana Yunusova, Acting Vice-Dean, Students, School of Graduate Studies
Daniella Mallinick, Director, Academic Programs, Planning and Quality Assurance, OVPAP
Jennifer Francisco, Coordinator, Academic Change, OVPAP
Emma del Junco, Acting Coordinator, Academic Planning & Reviews, OVPAP
David Lock, Coordinator, Academic Planning & Reviews,
(*attended remotely)


  1. Chair’s Welcome
    The Chair introduced himself and welcomed new and returning members to the first meeting of the 2022-23 academic year. He then introduced the Vice-Chair, Professor Nhung Tran and the Committee’s Presidential Assessors: The Senior Assessor, Professor Susan McCahan, Vice-Provost, Academic Programs and Innovations in Undergraduate Education, Professor Joshua Barker, Dean of Graduate Studies, Professor Leah Cowan Vice-President, Research and Ms. Angelique Saweczko, University Registrar.

    The Chair referred members to the two orientation videos that included the unicameral structure of the University, while the other was designed to provide an overview of where the Committee was positioned within governance at the University, as well as key elements of its Terms of Reference and areas of responsibilities.
  2. Reports of the Administrative Assessors
    At the invitation of the Chair, Professor Susan McCahan, Vice-Provost, Academic Programs and Innovations in Undergraduate Education Programs provided a brief report which highlighted the following: 
  • The University is committed to ensuring a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment for all members of the University community. With the Fall 2022 academic year underway, Professor McCahan acknowledged the commitment by faculty, staff, librarians, and students in preparation for the return to in-person learning and post-secondary experience.
  • Prior to the pandemic, the university offered approximately 100 courses online. Since the start of the pandemic, instructors have proactively implemented strategies to adapt courses and learning activities so that students could progress towards the completion of their program and degree requirements.  The current academic year had approximately 1000 courses online, a significant increase for online teaching and learning. The courses chosen for online delivery reflect consultation within various academic divisions and academic units and represent approaches that improve flexibility for students and maintain an exceptional in-person experience. The Fall session has approximately 92% course meeting sections in-person. The University continues to closely monitor the evolving advice of government and public health officials and continues to work with divisions to support best practices in multiple delivery formats for course and program resiliency.
  • As of Sept. 2022, there were only two continuing disruptions in two programs of study which were expected to end this year.
  • On August 2, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities approved the MSc in Environmental Science, which UTSC plans to launch in May 2023.
  • On June 17, the Quality Council approved the Master of Arts in Kinesiology, which the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education launched in September.
  • Amendments to the University of Toronto Quality Assurance Process are near completion to ensure greater transparency and to align with mandated changes and the evolving practice across the province.

In the discussion that followed it was noted: 

  • There were about 41 sections designated as hybrid which utilize a mix of scheduled in-person and online instructor-student interaction.
  • This academic year continued to be transitional in some divisions. Normally, changes to the delivery mode of courses and programs require governance approval, which support the integrity of the information that students rely on to select their programs and courses.

Following, Professor Yana Yunusova was invited by the Chair to provide a report on behalf of Dean Joshua Barker which highlighted the new Personal Time Off Policy: 

  • The Personal Time Off Policy was developed to support students and their mental health and wellness as part of their academic journey for their graduate studies.
  • The Policy applies to all full-time graduate students (i.e., research stream and professional stream) registered in a degree program in the School of Graduate Studies. The policy applies only to those programs that are over 12 months in duration.
  • Graduate students will be entitled up to 15 business days per academic year of personal time off, in addition to statutory holidays and days designated as University closures or holidays.
  • Personal time off will not result in any changes to registered student status or funding status; students remained registered and continued to receive any funding to which they are entitled and paid all fees during the academic session.
  • All graduate units will be responsible for communicating the Personal Time Off Policy to their students and academic supervisors via orientations, handbooks, and other communications channels as appropriate.
  • For research stream programs, personal time off implementation will be flexible and decided on an individual basis.
  • For professional stream programs, personal time off implementation will be determined by the program’s curriculum that considered both coursework and placement schedules.

Ms. Angelique Saweczko, University Registrar was invited by the Chair to provide her update: 

  • Review of the University of Toronto Financial Aid (UTAPS) program which provided additional funding for students to help support financial gaps.
    • The review was launched in light of several OSAP policy changes that has impacted the UTAPS program.
    • The review included an evaluation of data to look at methods that could enhance the timing of the program as an advanced planning tool, aligned with admission decisions.
    • Explored ways to decouple the UTAPS evaluation from OSAP that adhered to the University’s rules and priorities and served the economic needs of the student population and their diverse backgrounds. 
  • The absence declaration (AD) is under review to look at principles that could be used on a longer-term basis.  The AD was introduced to address illnesses during COVID-19 as the use of Verification of Illness (VOI) form was temporarily suspended. 

In response to member questions, Ms. Saweczko noted that consultations with students were considered. She noted that the direction moving forward was to decouple the in-class activity verification absence declaration from the exam process.  

The Chair thanked Professors McCahan and Yunusova, and Ms. Saweczko for their remarks. 

  1. Orientation and Discussion: Academic Change
    The Chair noted that the consideration of academic change proposals is a major area of focus for the Committee and drew member’s attention to the orientation video on this topic.

    Professor McCahan provided an overview of the consultation and proposal review process including divisional processes, as well as review by governance. She noted that proposals for modifications, new programs and programs closures were key vehicles of academic change.
  2. Orientation and Discussion: Cyclical Reviews and Reading Group Guidance 2022-23
    The Chair noted that the cyclical reviews are another major area of focus for the Committee, and drew member’s attention to the orientation materials, including the orientation video, on this topic.

    Professor McCahan highlighted AP&P’s roles and responsibilities on the consideration of the semi-annual reports on the reviews of academic units and programs. Professor McCahan noted that there would be 12 reviews and 1 follow up report which will be brought forward to the Cycle 4 meeting of the Committee. She informed members that each reading group will be responsible for 3-4 reviews. She urged members to review the orientation materials to address any questions they might have on the review process.

    In response to a member’s question, Professor McCahan reviewed the timelines associated with the work of the review groups and explained the University of Toronto Quality Assurance Process and its function in the overall review process.
  3. Calendar of Business 2022- 23
    The Chair referred members to the Calendar of Business located on the Office of the Governing Council’s website and advised that the document would be updated by the Secretariat regularly as business came forward. He encouraged members to review the Calendar on a regular basis.
  4. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report 214, May 5, 2022
    The report of the previous meeting was approved.
  5. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting
    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  6. Date of the Next Meeting: Tuesday, October 25, 2022
    The Chair confirmed that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on Tuesday, October 25, 2022 in the Council Chamber.
  7. Other Business
    There were no items of other business.

 The meeting adjourned at 4:10 p.m.

September 28, 2022