Report: Executive Committee - December 07, 2021

-
Via Virtual Meeting room

REPORT NUMBER 526 OF

THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto.

Your Committee reports that it held a virtual meeting on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. with the following members present:
Brian Lawson (Chair), Janet Ecker (Vice-Chair), Meric S. Gertler (President), Sandra Hanington, Paul Huyer, Amin Kamaleddin, Ernest W.N. Lam, Kikelomo Lawal, Mark Lautens, Samra Zafar, Lara Zink

Regrets:
Vina Goghari ,Joan Johnston, Vishar Yaghoubian

Non-Voting Member:
Sheree Drummond, Secretary of the Governing Council

Secretariat:
Anwar Kazimi, Kristi Gourlay, Timothy Harlick

In Attendance:
Anna Kennedy, Chair, Business Board and Member of the Governing CouncilGrace Westcott, Chair, UTSC Campus Council and Member of the Governing Council Vikram Chadalawada, Chair, University Affairs Board and Member of the Governing Council Salvatore Spadafora, Chair, Academic Board and Member of the Governing Council Trevor Young, Acting Vice-President and Provost and Member of the Governing Council Scott Mabury, Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate PartnershipsSandy Welsh, Vice-Provost, StudentsProfessor Donald Ainslie, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Science Angela Treglia, Director, Sexual Violence and Prevention Nadina Jamison, Chief Strategy Officer, Office of the PresidentSusan Mazza, Special Projects Officer, Office of the President Kristin Taylor, University Counsel and Chief Legal Officer


Pursuant to section 28 (e) and 38 of By-Law Number 2, consideration of items 13 to 17 took place in camera.

The meeting was held in Closed Session

  1. Chair’s Remarks and Orientation
    The Chair welcomed members, Board and Council Chairs and Vice-Presidents to the meeting. He read into the record that by means of an electronic ballot on November 8, 2021, the Executive Committee had approved that Mr. Trevor Rodgers, Chief Financial Officer, be approved and nominated as a member and director of the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation for a term until the 2022 annual meeting of the Corporation.
  2. Reports of the President
    Scarborough Charter
    President Gertler opened his remarks by reporting that on November 18th, 46 Canadian universities and colleges – including the University of Toronto – formally signed the Scarborough National Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education. The Chartercommitted all signatories to a comprehensive set of actions to advance Black inclusion and flourishing on campuses. He noted that this represented a major milestone moment for the University and the higher education sector, and that despite recent progress, much work remained to be done. He recognized UTSC Vice-President and Principal Wisdom Tettey for his leadership, along with Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity and Culture, and all those who had played a role in bringing this initiative to life.

Scarborough Campus Students’ Union AGM Resolutions
The President expressed concern about two motions that had been passed at the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) Annual General Meeting on November 24th. One motion had reaffirmed SCSU’s commitment to the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement; another concerned the rights of Jewish students at UTSC, both of which were inconsistent with the University’s core values of freedom of speech and inclusion. He reiterated that the University’s place in society required that its members be free to take positions on controversial questions. However, singling out a population for discrimination based on race, religion, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, or any other identity – including political belief – would not be tolerated. He noted that these issues are addressed by several University of Toronto policies, including the Statement on Freedom of Speech, the Statement of Institutional Purpose, and the Policy on the Recognition of Student Groups. President Gertler reported that the SCSU had since issued an apology and had made a commitment to revise the offending motions. The University would be following up to ensure these concerns had been addressed. He went on to report that following extensive consultations across the University and thoughtful deliberations over several months, the Report of the Working Group on Anti-Semitism would be released on December 8th. It would recommend practical ways to strengthen protections against anti-Semitism at the University

Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)
President Gertler reported that, at its meeting on November 25th, the Council of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) had voted unanimously to lift the censure against the University of Toronto. He noted that this had followed CAUT’s earlier decision to ‘pause’ the censure after the Faculty of Law had offered the Directorship of its International Human Rights Program (IHRP) to Dr. Valentina Azarova. He noted that the decision was the result of extensive work on the part of many colleagues on his senior team and Dean Jutta Brunnée at the Faculty of Law, and that he looked forward to moving forward from this unfortunate episode and healing the remaining rifts within the community. In response to a member’s question, he expressed confidence that with the lifting of the censure, the IHRP would continue gaining momentum as the Faculty of Law continued its search for a new director.

Federal and Provincial Updates
President Gertler reported that following the reopening of Parliament and the Throne Speech in November, the University continued to await the release of the mandate letters for the new Federal Cabinet. He advised that it was anticipated that the commitments made in the Spring 2021 Budget and in the new Liberal platform relevant to the higher education sector would be included. He anticipated that the Fall Fiscal Update on December 14th would provide greater clarity on the government’s direction.The President reported that the Ontario government’s 2021 Fall Economic Statement had been delivered on November 4th, and included two announcements relevant to the higher education sector: new funding for key research support and the expansion of nursing education in universities and colleges.
He reported that advocacy around core provincial priorities continued, including enhancing financial sustainability for universities and funding to support the renewal of U of T’s Containment Level 3 (CL3) lab in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine.

Strategic Update
The President provided an update on several key strategic priorities which had been discussed at the Governing Council workshop in early September. These included:

  • The successful gradual and safe return of students, faculty, and staff to campuses. He noted that faculty and staff had opted for blended work arrangements in the fall, and that teaching and learning also had combined hybrid modes of instruction, with more than half of teaching this term done in person. He noted that residences were full, and that there had been no COVID outbreaks on campus due to high levels of compliance with public health guidelines. He anticipated the proportion of in-person teaching to increase substantially in January, barring any changes to public health guidance, and support would be provided to divisions to help deliver enriched forms of in-person and virtual education.
  • The deepening of the University’s global engagement. He noted that the University was on track to resume student mobility through the Study Abroad, Summer Abroad and other international mobility programs. Student demand for these experiences had already reached pre-pandemic levels, and progress had resumed towards the goal of ensuring one-third of all undergraduate students have at least one international experience while at UofT. In addition, the Global Classroom model had attracted strong interest, with more than 50 instructors partnering with international colleagues to offer jointly delivered courses.
  • Progress on inbound student mobility. Demand from international students had remained strong, with international first-year enrolment up 7.4% over last year. There had also been impressive progress on the diversification objective, where ‘single-source country’ share had declined below half in larger undergraduate divisions, along with an increase in source countries sending forty or more new students this fall.
  • Strong research partnerships with global peer institutions. He reported on the new three-way research alliance between UofT, University of Manchester and University of Melbourne, and a soon to be announced major multi-institution partnership in Africa.
  • Progress in leveraging the University’s location in the GTA and as a catalyst for economic reinvention. Three new projects were underway to meet high student demand for living on campus, one at USTC and two downtown, and planning continued for a new mixed-use development at Bloor and Spadina. In addition, there had been substantial progress on the construction of Phase I of the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Campus, with very high demand for space from homegrown, scaling firms, attracted by the presence of the Vector Institute and the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society, as well as UofT Entrepreneurship offices.

The President concluded his remarks by noting that on December 13th, the University would be launching the largest campaign in the history of Canadian philanthropy. It would advance the University’s ambitious agenda even further with a focus on enhancing inclusive excellence, building caring communities, and addressing the world’s most pressing challenges.
The President invited the Acting Provost, Professor Trevor Young, to comment on a number of matters including updates on COVID-19.

Planning for the Winter 2022 Term

Professor Young advised members that the University continued to plan for an increase of campus activity in January. He noted the following:•80% of courses would be delivered in-person, an increase from roughly 55% in the fall term.

  • Divisions continued to communicate their plans to their respective communities to ensure a smooth transition for those returning to campus in January 2022.
  • The University continued to monitor evolving public health guidance and the latest responses to the new Omicron variant and would revive plans if necessary.
  • The federal government’s new and evolving restrictions for travelers from specific countries and changes in testing requirements had been creating uncertainty, especially for international students planning to come to Canada for the winter term. He said that staff were working to raise awareness of these new measures with international students and supporting them as they make their plans.

COVID-19
With respect to the University’s response to COVID-19, Professor Young noted that:

  • More than 99,000 members of the University community had declared their vaccination status on UCheck. Within this group, 98.6% had submitted proof of full vaccination and the majority of those remaining were well on their way to full vaccination. The team was working hard to verify the vaccination certificates.
  • In Fall 2021, there had been no outbreaks or any instances of transmission of COVID-19 on the U of T campuses, thanks in part to these high rates and other rigorous safety measures.
  • Vaccination Clinics on campus continued to operate.
  • The UCheck Ambassador program was active on all three campuses to check green screens and to remind those on campus that daily health screening was required.

Students.
Regarding students, Professor Young reported that:

  • The University continued to hear from students who expressed the importance of being physically present on campus—both for their academic work and for their mental wellbeing.
  • The emergence of the Omicron variant and resulting increase of border restrictions and added testing and quarantine requirements had created new challenges for students who were planning to go home for the holidays.
  • Staff were working on a case-by-case basis to support affected students and help them over holidays.
  • The University continued to support students with its quarantine program and more than $11-million in COVID-19 Emergency Grants had been dispersed.

Research
Professor Young reported that research labs continued to increase their activities, and were now able to operate at full capacity, with the use of additional Personal Protective Equipment. He noted the positive environment in research facilities and reported that the University was working with researchers who wished to travel and was monitoring the evolving assessment of the impact of the new variant.Professor Young responded to a question from a member about the findings in the Semi-Annual Review of Academic Units and Programs, included on the Consent Agenda, and monitoring of departmental responses. He noted that the Office of the Vice Provost, Academic Programs monitored the implementation of all UTQAP review recommendations through an interim monitoring report, which Deans submitted midway between reviews. This process had been followed in the reviews of both the Department of Italian Studies and the Centre for Critical Development Studies. In both cases, the Deans had addressed the items raised by the Vice Provost in their administrative responses and implementation plans. These had been received by the Committee on Academic Policy and Programs and assessed as sufficient. Progress on the issues was expected to be detailed in the interim monitoring reports.
Professor Young closed his remarks by again thanking faculty members, staff, and librarians for their remarkable work to advance the University’s mission during the fall term. He expressed his enthusiasm for the plans for the winter term.

  1. Item for Endorsement and Forwarding to the Governing Council

a .Proposed Revisions: Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment
(Arising from Report Number 226 of the University Affairs Board (November 23, 2021))
At the invitation of the Chair, Professor Sandy Welsh, Vice-Provost, Students, provided a brief overview of the review of the Policy. She noted that the proposed revisions consisted of two technical changes required by the Ontario government by March 2022. One ensured that complainants would not be subject to action for violation of other University policies related to drugs or alcohol at the time the sexual violence had taken place. The second dictated that complainants would not be asked extensive questions about their sexual history during the investigative process. She noted that the University’s practices were already aligned with these two items but formalizing them in the Policy met the government requirements and ensured transparency for the University community.
Professor Sal Spadafora, Chair of the Academic Board, commented on the discussion of the item at that body. He reported that:

  • Professors Young and Welsh had provided an overview of the review of the Policy and had summarized the two technical changes to the Policy mandated by the provincial government.
  • They had underscored the importance of the student voice in the review process and had encouraged community members to submit their questions, comments, and feedback to the consultation site.
  • In response to members’ questions and comments, the presenters, together with Ms Angela Treglia, Director of the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre (SVPSC), had advised:
    • The current Policy did (already) focus on procedural fairness and due process, and that to date there had been no need to offer similar protections for those falsely accused;
    • That the reference to ‘all other University policies’ was intentionally broad to capture all policies governing the conduct and reflecting the values, of the University community. She had stated that the Student Companion to the Policy would endeavour to clarify this issue and its scope;
    • Many educational initiatives existed to inform students, particularly new students, about the Policy and available supports and these were being undertaken in partnership with student societies, residences, and the SVPSC;
    • That raising awareness of the SVPSC’s services had been identified as a priority in its Annual Report and communication strategies were being developed, including hiring a communications specialist; and
    • That while the SVPSC did not provide ongoing support for alumni subject to harassment while students, it worked to connect alumni to resources within the broader community, as well as to explore avenues within the University to report incidents which had occurred while alumni had been students.

Mr. Vikram Chadalawada, Chair of the University Affairs Board, then commented on the discussion of the item at that body. He reported that Professor Welsh had provided a comprehensive overview of the review of the Policy and had summarized the two technical changes mandated by the provincial government. Members had had no questions.

There were no questions or comments from members on this item.On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

YOUR COMMITTEE ENDORSED AND FORWARDED

To the Governing Council the following recommendation:

THAT the proposed revisions to the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, dated December 16, 2021, be approved, effective January 1, 2022

4 . Review of the University Mandated Leave of Absence Policy (UMPLAP)

At the invitation of the Chair, Professor Welsh provided a brief background to the University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy and the review process. The Policy had been developed in response to concerns raised by the University Ombudsperson about the University’s ability to address student behaviors during periods of extreme distress caused by serious health or mental health issues. It had been approved by Governing Council in June 2018 after an extensive consultation process which had included the University community, external experts in mental health and human rights law, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). She clarified that the intention of the Policy was to ensure the safety of all members of the University community and to support students in a compassionate way who might benefit from some time away from their studies to engage in further support. She noted that it was intended to be used in rare circumstances as a last resort and only after all other attempts at accommodated measures had been exhausted.
Professor Welsh reported that a comprehensive review of the Policy had been initiated in February 2021 and was being led by Professor Donald Ainslie of the Department of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts & Science, with the support of Varsha Patel, Assistant Dean of Student Success and Career Support, at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Professor Welsh noted that the reviewers had engaged in a robust consultation process with students, faculty, and staff across every campus and the consultation process had been extended twice at the request of student societies and other student groups to give them more time to undertake their own consultations. She expressed gratitude for the helpful feedback that those groups had provided.
Professor Welsh reported that as a contribution to the review process, the University had received a letter from the Chief Commissioner of the OHRC who had reinforced the need to ensure the Policy was fully compliant with the Ontario Human Rights Code and had offered their recommendations regarding the review process. Professor Welsh stated that prior to the Policy’sapproval in 2018, expert external legal advice had been sought to review the draft Policy to ensure that the University was in full compliance with its obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code. She acknowledged that the existing Policy was fully compliant with the Code, there were areas where the Policy could be further clarified that emerged from the current review and from experience with its implementation over the past three plus years were welcomed. She noted that any proposed amendments to the Policy that arose from this review would also be reviewed by appropriate external experts before moving through governance for consideration and approval.

Professor Welsh highlighted two recommendations from the review:

  • That mandated leaves be restricted to only to those cases where a student was posing harm to others or actively interfering with the educational experience of fellow students and all other options for reasonable accommodations had been exhausted. Language relating to self-harm, which had been a concern in the current Policy, would be removed; and
  • That all academic divisions be encouraged to establish voluntary leave policies with the support of the Office of the Vice Provost, Students. Professor Sal Spadafora, Chair of the Academic Board, then commented on the discussion of the item at that body. He reported that:
  • The Vice Provost, Students had provided a brief background to the Policy and the review process.
  • The leaders of the review process, Professor Ainslie and Ms Patel, had shared some of the themes that had emerged from the consultation process, as well as some preliminary recommendations.
  • Points that had been raised in the discussion included clarity on:
    • voluntary leaves – and the ongoing discussions and active efforts with registrars, deans and principals, to establish those at divisions where they did not already exist;
    • a revised timeline for the review process and companion guide;
    • the need for further refinement of the phrase “actively interfering with the educational experience of fellow students” to address any perceived ambiguities;
    • engagement of experts to guide communication strategies, use of social media and coordinated approaches across the three campuses;
    • the appeal process that is built into the Policy;
    • soliciting input and feedback from students who had experienced voluntary and mandated leaves as part of the review and consultation process;
    • supports for international students regarding the impact of leaves on visa status; and
    • how comments from the Ontario Human Rights Commission would be addressed and considered in ongoing consultations, and how many of those issues had already been raised in the context of the current review.Mr. Vikram Chadalawada, Chair of the University Affairs Board, then commented on the discussion of the item at that body. He reported that the Board had been advised that:
  • Work on the companion guide was ongoing;
  • The University had committed to an external review of the proposed revisions, similar to what occurred in 2018;
  • Language regarding the Policy’s review schedule would be considered for inclusion as part of the review team’s recommendations;
  • Due to privacy and confidentiality requirements, the review team had not been able to contact students subject to the Policy directly, however, case managers had been notified that the Policy was under review and that feedback was welcomed;
  • The review process had been extended twice to ensure all members of the University community had had the opportunity to provide feedback; and
  • The feedback received during the consultation had been invaluable and would be incorporated into the proposed revisions where appropriate.

The Board also had received an external speaking request from Ms Jaime Kearns, President of the Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students (APUS), who had addressed the Board regarding the University’s response to the November 8, 2021 letter from the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Ms Kearns had highlighted four points:

  • the need for outside expertise in evaluating human rights compliance and the suggestion that the University consult with the OHRC for the provision of reputable external reviewers;
  • the provision of appropriate accommodations for students through Accessibility Services as an alternative to invoking the Policy;
  • the importance of intersectional issues and student involvement as key pillars in reviewing the Policy; and
  • the need to extend the review process to allow for continued consideration of the concerns raised in the OHRC’s letter.Ms Kearns had concluded her remarks by requesting that the Board advise the review team to consider the recommendations made by the OHRC.

Ms Kearns had concluded her remarks by requesting that the Board advise the review team to consider the recommendations made by the OHRC.

Mr. Chadalawada also reported that the Board have been provided with the annual report of the Policy, which had been well-received.

Members had no questions or comments on this item.

CONSENT AGENDA

On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried

YOUR COMMITTEE RESOLVED

THAT the consent agenda be adopted and that items 5 and 10 be approved.

5. Report of the Previous Meeting of the Executive Committee

Report number 525, from the meeting of October 19, 2021, was approved.

6. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.

7. Minutes of the Governing Council Meetings – October 28, 2021

Members received the Minutes of the October 28, 2021 Governing Council Meeting for information.

8. Business Arising from the Minutes of the Governing Council Meetings

There was no business arising from the minutes.

9. Reports for Information

Members received the following reports for information:

a) Review of Academic Programs and Units – Part 1

i. Semi-Annual Report: October 2020 – October 2021

ii. Follow-up Reports from Previous Reviews:

  1. Department of Management (University of Toronto Scarborough)
  2. Report Number 91 of the Elections Committee (October 14, 2021)
  3. Report Number 50 of the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Council (November 15, 2021)
  4. Report Number 44 of the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus Council (November 16, 2021)
  5. Report Number 236 of the Academic Board (November 17, 2021)
  6. Report Number 226 of the University Affairs Board (November 23, 2021)
  7. Report Number 261 of the Business Board (November 24, 2021)
  8. Report Number 92 of the Elections Committee (November 25, 2021)

10. Governing Council and Executive Committee Meeting Dates, 2022-23

Members received and approved the Governing Council and Executive Committee meeting dates for 2022-2023.

END OF CONSENT AGENDA

11.Date of Next Meeting

The Chair advised members that the next meeting was scheduled for Monday, February 7, 2022 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

12.Other Business
a) Governing Council Meeting
The Committee finalized the agenda for the Governing Council to be held on December 16, 2021.
In Camera Session
On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried
YOUR COMMITTEE RESOLVED
THAT, pursuant to section 28 (e) and 38 of By-Law Number 2, the Committee would move In Camera.
The Committee Moved in Camera.

13.Report of an Ad Hoc Committee for Capital Projects
The Chair provided a summary of the highlights of the first Report of an Ad Hoc Committee for Capital Projects.
14.Items for Approval
a) External Appointments: McLaughlin Centre Oversight CommitteeOn a motion duly moved, seconded, and carried
YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED
THAT Dr. Alan Bernstein be re-appointed to the McLaughlin Centre Oversight Committee for a one-year term, effective immediately until December 31, 2022 or until his successor is appointed;
THAT Dr. Bettina Hamelin be re-appointed to the McLaughlin Centre Oversight Committee for a one-year term, effective immediately until December 31, 2022 or until her successor is appointed;
THAT Dr. Paula Rochon be re-appointed to the McLaughlin Centre Oversight Committee for a one-year term, effective immediately until December 31, 2022 or until her successor is appointed;
THAT Dr. James Rutka be re-appointed to the McLaughlin Centre Oversight Committee for a one-year term, effective immediately until December 31, 2022 or until his successor is appointed;
THAT Dr. Keith Stewart’s appointment to the McLaughlin Centre Oversight Committee be extended for one year until December 31, 2023 or until his successor is appointed.

b) External Appointment:Banting Research Foundation Board of Trustees
On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried
YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED
THAT Mr. Donald Guloien be appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Banting Research Foundation for a second three-year term from November 10, 2021until the Foundation’s annual general meeting in 2024, or until his successor is appointed.

15. Item for Endorsement and Forwarding to the Governing Council

a) Report Number 65 of the Committee for Honorary Degrees
On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried
YOUR COMMITTEE ENDORSED AND FORWARDED
To the Governing Council the following recommendations: THAT the recommendations contained in Report Number 65 of the Committee for Honorary Degrees be approved;
THAT the Chancellor and the President be empowered to determine the degree to be conferred on each candidate and the date of the conferral; and
THAT, pursuant to sections 38 and 40 of By-Law Number 2, the Governing Council consider the recommendation in camera.

16.Committee Members with the President
Members of the Executive Committee, with the Board Chairs, met with the President.

17.Committee Members Alone
Members of the Executive Committee, with the Board Chairs, met privately.

The Committee returned to closed session.

The meeting adjourned at 6:14 p.m.