Report: Governing Council - April 2, 2020

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Via Virtual Meeting Room

The Governing Council

April 2, 2020

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL held on April 2, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. via virtual meeting.

Present:
Claire Kennedy (Chair), N. Jane Pepino (Vice-Chair), Rose Patten (Chancellor), Meric S. Gertler (President), Cheryl Regehr (Vice-President and Provost), Preet Banerjee, Harvey T. Botting, David Bowden, Catherine Bragg, P.C. Choo, Janet L. Ecker, Susan Froom, K. Sonu Gaind, Gary D. Goldberg, Avrum I. Gotlieb, Mallory Estelle Jackman, Sarosh Jamal, Joan Johnston, Amin Kamaleddin, Anna Kennedy, Paul Kingston, Ernest W.N. Lam, Brian D. Lawson, Jan K. Mahrt-Smith, John Paul Morgan, Douglas E. McDougall, Jun Nogami, Andrew Padmos, Laurent-Philippe Veilleux, Salvatore M. Spadafora, Andrew Szende, Wisdom Tettey, Nicholas Terpstra, W. Keith Thomas, Bruce Winter, Samra Zafar

Sheree Drummond (Secretary of the Governing Council)

Secretariat:
Alexandra DiBlasio, Tracey Gamiero, Kristi Gourlay, Anwar Kazimi, Samantha Puran, Christina da Rocha Feeley, Kata Skoko, Emma Thacker, David Walders

Absent:
Apefa Advijon, Mark Lautens, Mohan Matthen, Joanne McNamara

In Attendance:
David Estok (Vice-President, Communications), Kelly Hannah-Moffat (Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity), Vivek Goel (Vice-President), David Palmer (Vice-President, Advancement), Scott Mabury (Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships), Edward Sargent (Vice-President, International), Cheryl Gibbs (Assistant Director, Office of the Vice-Provost, Students), Nora Gillespie (Legal Counsel), Anthony Gray (Director, Strategic Research, Office of the President), Nadina Jamison (Chief Strategy Officer, Office of the President), Bryn MacPherson (Assistant Vice-President, Office of the President & Chief of Protocol), Susan McCahan (Vice-Provost, Academic Programs), Steve Moate (Senior Legal Counsel), Trevor Rodgers (Assistant Vice-President, Planning & Budget), Archana Sridhar (Assistant Provost), Sandy Welsh (Vice-Provost, Students)


1. Chair’s Remarks

The Chair welcomed members and guests to the virtual meeting. She advised members that one speaking request had been received from a student who was not a member of a representative student group, to speak about an item that was not on the agenda. That request had been denied. The Chair also noted that due to the demands being faced by the University as a result of COVID-19, the Provost had deferred her six-month leave that was scheduled to being on April 1, 2020. With the deferral of Professor Regehr’s leave the Executive Committee had approved the deferral of Professor Young’s appointment as Acting Vice-President and Provost until further notice.

2. Report of the President

Response to COVID-19

The President began his address expressing his gratitude to the Governing Council for its leadership, support and dedication to University governance during the COVID-19 crisis. He noted that it was crucial for the Governing Council to continue to function in extraordinary times such as these. He also expressed his gratitude to the Incident Leadership Team led by Professor Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost, and Professor Vivek Goel, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives, who were actively engaged in managing the University’s response. He noted that the entire University community had risen to the challenge of addressing a multitude of issues and concerns during these difficult times.

The President noted that the University had continued to ramp up its response to the crisis. Its primary goal was to protect the health and safety of the University community and the wider population, while at the same time:

  • ensuring that its students could complete their term;

  • providing a place to live for those students in residence who were unable to return home; and

  • supporting the critical COVID-19 and other time-sensitive research endeavors of its scholars.

The President stressed that the decisions taken by the University in response to the COVID-19 crisis had been guided by public health officials, in consultation with the University’s own experts and Deans. Some of these decisions had been difficult, such as the recent decision to cancel in-person Spring Convocation ceremonies. While disappointing to graduating students, their families and the University community more generally, it was a necessary step given the health risks to the University community and the wider community. The President noted that a question had been submitted in advance regarding possible alternatives to in-person convocation ceremonies. The President noted that the administration, together with the Office of Convocation, was actively engaged in discussions regarding alternative arrangements. He announced that a virtual convocation ceremony would be held in the spring for graduating students. In the longer term, and once it was safe to do so, divisions would be able to host graduation ceremonies at their local level. These ceremonies could include such features as academic processions and presentation of the graduates. The locations of these ceremonies would be determined by the divisions based on their individual requirements, as well as the availability of appropriate spaces. A letter from the President would be sent to all graduating students on April 3 and broader communications to the University community would also be made in the coming days.

Federal Matters

The Government had recently allocated $52M to COVID-19 research, with over $10M going to 17 projects involving U of T investigators. University researchers from across many disciplines, along with researchers and clinicians within the University’s affiliated hospitals, continued to play a leading role nationally and globally. The Government indicated that it would postpone delivery of Budget 2020 until late April, at least. It was expected that the Budget would include Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. The University would continue its advocacy efforts with the U15 and Universities Canada for both institutional and student financial support, as well as support for the needs of international students, including assistance with visas in an appropriate and timely fashion.

Provincial Matters

Recently, Finance Minister Rod Phillips had released Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 (March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update), in place of the Province’s Budget – which had been delayed until the fall. The plan would invest $17B into the province, $3.3B of which would go directly into the health care sector. Importantly, for U of T students, the government was also providing six months of OSAP loan and interest accrual relief. The Ministry of Colleges and Universities had made an initial tranche of emergency funding available. The University would continue to work with the Council of Ontario Universities in its advocacy efforts to secure additional financial aid for students, as well as additional funding to cover costs related to the University’s emergency response.

Local Matters

The University, in partnership with its affiliated hospitals, recently announced a Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund to support research focused on near-term results of potential benefit to individuals, communities and public health systems. On very short notice, the University had received a high number of notices of intent to apply for support from the Fund.

In the discussion that followed, members asked questions about the impact of COVID-19 on enrolment, wage support for University employees, international visas, students in University residences, and support the University was providing to the local medical community.

Regarding the impact of COVID-19 on summer and fall enrolment, particularly with respect to international students, the Provost noted that it was expected that summer enrolment would increase and noted that summer courses were being expanded to meet this demand. First term summer courses would be offered remotely and a determination as to whether second-term courses would be held virtually or in person would be made closer to the start date of these courses. Divisional plans included expansion of enrolment for both domestic and international students. Complications experienced as a result of COVID-19 could impact this but the University had been modeling and planning for different scenarios.

The Provost noted that supporting and retaining staff was a high priority of the University. The University’s Office of Government Relations, with input from the Division of Human Resources & Equity, has been in discussion with federal and provincial partners to confirm what types of wage support University employees were eligible for.  At this point, it was confirmed that with the exception of casual staff whose contracts have come to a natural end, that other casual staff would continue to be compensated by the University until April 30, 2020.

With respect to visas for international graduate physicians and clinical trainees, the President noted that the matter was being examined by the University, which was working closely with federal agencies.

Regarding efforts being undertaken by the University to assist the medical community, the Provost noted that the University was poised to provide assistance to the health care community on a number of fronts. This included providing protective medical equipment and access to University space and resources.

Finally, with respect to students in residence, the Provost noted that approximately 4,000 students remained in residence, including at federated colleges. The numbers of graduate students and families in residences was expected to remain relatively stable and it was unclear how the numbers of undergraduate students in residences would fluctuate.

3. Tuition Fees and Budget

The Provost provided an overview of the key priorities in the Budget Report 2020-21 and Long Range Budget Guidelines 2020-21 to 2024-25. Overall, these priorities reflected the University’s commitments regarding continued supports for students, increasing diversity among students, faculty and staff as well as research excellence. She noted that the operating budget and the University Fund were only two of the ways in which funding for these initiatives was marshalled across the University.

The Vice-Chair of the Business Board and the Chair of the Academic Board provided an overview of the discussion that occurred at those meetings.

In the discussion that followed, members asked questions concerning risk projections in the budget and the impact of revenue from international students and dislocation costs to divisions. Addressing risk, the Provost noted that on the revenue projections in the current long range guidelines, the rate of annual revenue growth would slow to 3.2% in 2023-24. This represented a conservative assumption based on the concrete plans in place today. The University was actively pursuing strategies to close this potential future revenue gap, including innovative new undergraduate and graduate programs, development of real estate assets, philanthropy, and advocacy for additional support from Provincial and Federal Governments.

Addressing risk, the Provost noted that International tuition revenues currently made up 38% of the operating budget, reflecting both an increase in the number of students, annual fee increases, and the impact of the domestic tuition fee reduction. Since there was currently no Provincial funding for domestic enrolment growth, many divisions were looking outside the country to grow their programs, and to meet their diversification objectives. She further noted that many of these international students, however, resided in Canada and were recruited from Canadian high schools.

In terms of recruitment of international students living abroad, the University was making significant investments to diversify the international student population and grow demand from all global regions. Should any expected sources of future revenue not be realized, it could impact hiring, the timing of capital projects, and investments made in new initiatives. Divisions were developing contingency plans and had reserves in place to address this. Scenario modelling and planning was actively taking place to allow adjustments to be made as changes came forward and to prepare institutional and divisional leadership to respond.

The Provost also noted that it was possible that the Provincial government was planning fund increased domestic graduate enrolment spaces, which would be of great benefit to the University.

Turning to the cost to divisions in responding to funding challenges relating to student enrolment, the Provost noted that divisions would need to be flexible in their budget modeling, including the possible use of their reserve funds should the need arise.

i) Annual Report on Student Financial Support 2018-19: Vice-Provost, Students

The Annual Report was received for information.

A member posed a question about student financial aid for part-time students, students with documented disabilities as well as Crown wards and Indigenous students.

The Provost noted that a breakdown of support for part-time students and those with documented disabilities could be provided at a future meeting. The Provost also noted that there were a number of dedicated awards for Indigenous students including awards made by other institutions and entities other than the University. She also noted that bursary programs to respond to student need during the COVID-19 crisis had been implemented and utilized by many students to date.

ii) Tuition Fee Schedules for Publicly Funded Programs, 2020-21

On motion duly made, seconded and carried

It was Resolved

THAT the 2020-21 tuition fees as described in the Tuition Fee Schedule for Publicly-Funded Programs 2020-21 (March 5, 2020) be approved.

iii) Tuition Fee Schedule for Self-Funded Programs, 2020-21

On motion duly made, seconded and carried

It was Resolved

THAT the Tuition Fee Schedule for Self-Funded Programs for 2020-21 be approved.

iv) Budget Report 2020-21 and Long Range Budget Guidelines 2020-21 to 2024-25

On motion duly made, seconded and carried

It was Resolved

THAT the Budget Report, 2020-2021 be approved, and

THAT the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2020-2021 to 2024-2025 be approved in principle.

4. Amendments to the Policy with Respect to Workplace Harassment dated May 13, 2010 (amended October 26, 2017)

The Vice-Chair of the Business Board noted that there was no discussion of this item to report from the meeting of that Board.

On motion duly made, seconded and carried

It was Resolved

THAT the amendments to the Policy with Respect to Workplace Harassment be approved, effective April 3, 2020.

5. Amendments to the Policy with Respect to Workplace Violence dated May 13, 2020 (amended October 26, 2017)

The Vice-Chair of the Business Board noted that there was no discussion of this item to report from the meeting of that Board.

On motion duly made, seconded and carried

It was Resolved

THAT the amendments to the Policy with Respect to Workplace Violence be approved, effective April 3, 2020.

6. Establishment of COVID-19 Special Committee

The Chair noted that the Governing Council needed to be able to respond in an agile way to the evolution of the impacts presented daily by the COVID-19 virus. Some Governance processes might be well-suited to the exigencies of the COVID-19 response. For this reason, they were proposing the establishment of COVID-19 Special Committee.

The COVID-19 Special Committee would convene to consider time-sensitive matters when it had been determined that such matters could not be reasonably considered by a standing committee, campus council, or board. The Committee would be composed of the following members of Governing Council: the Chair; the Vice-Chair; the President; and the Vice-President and Provost (such positions being understood to include any person duly elected or appointed to such position in an interim capacity). Any actions/decisions of this Committee – were they to be required - would be reported at the next Governing Council meeting.

The proposal was to have this in place until the September 2020 meeting of the Governing Council. Should circumstances require that it go beyond that, the appropriate approval form the Governing Council would be sought at that time

Members asked questions regarding the reporting requirements of the Special Committee and sought clarification as to the types of matters that could be considered by the Special Committee. Regarding reporting requirements, the Chair noted that the Special Committee would follow the practice of the Summer Executive Authority and report any decisions at the next Governing Council meeting. The Chair also noted that the Committee was empowered to consider any matters, including those with financial implications, in which time sensitivity was such that the matter could not wait until the next meeting of the Governing Council.

On motion duly made, seconded and carried

It was Resolved

  1. THAT a Special Committee of Governing Council be created, to be called the “COVID-19 Special Committee of Governing Council”;

  2. THAT this Special Committee shall exist up to and including the first regularly scheduled meeting of the Governing Council for the 2020-2021 academic year, at which time it can be discontinued, or, if the Governing Council so approves, be continued with or without modifications for such further specific term as the Governing Council determines necessary to respond to any ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on the University;

  3. THAT this Special Committee be composed of the following members of Governing Council: the Chair; the Vice-Chair; the President; and the Vice-President and Provost (such positions being understood to include any person duly elected or appointed to such position in an interim capacity);

  4. THAT this Special Committee have the power to make decisions and take actions on matters the urgency of which does not permit their deferral until the next regular meeting of Governing Council or its appropriate standing committee, campus council or board;

  5. THAT prior to making decisions or taking actions on such matters the Special Committee will use its best efforts to advise or consult with the Chairs of any such standing committee, campus council or board; and

  6. THAT at the next meeting of the Governing Council all actions and decisions taken by the Special Committee, where they would otherwise have required approval of or other action by or in respect of Governing Council or any of its standing committees, campus councils, or boards, shall be reported to the Governing Council for its information.

7. Minutes of the Previous Meeting of the Governing Council, February 27, 2020

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

8. Business arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

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

9. Update to the Policy on Information Security and the Protection of Digital Assets

The update to the Policy on Information Security and the Protection of Digital Assets was received for information.

10. Reports for Information

The following reports were received for information.

  1. Report Number 40 of the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus Council (March 9, 2020)

  2. Report Number 40 of the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Council (March 10, 2020)

  3. Report Number 216 of the University Affairs Board (March 11, 2020)

  4. Report Number 226 of the Academic Board (March 12, 2020)

  5. Report Number 251 of the Business Board (March 18, 2020)

  6. Report Number 509 of the Executive Committee (December 12, 2019)(Special Meeting)

  7. Report Number 510 of the Executive Committee (February 12, 2020)

  8. Report Number 511 of the Executive Committee (February 27, 2020) (Special Meeting)

  9. Report Number 512 of the Executive Committee (March 24, 2020)

11. Date of Next Meeting – Thursday, May 14, 2020 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The Chair noted that the date of the next meeting was Thursday, May 14th from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and would be held as a virtual meeting.

12. Question Period

There were no questions from members

13. Other Business

The Chair noted that, at the request of a member, a letter regarding the cancellation of Spring Convocation, jointly written by the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students, the Scarborough Campus Students Union and the University of Mississauga Students Union, was made available to members.

The Governing Council moved in camera.

14. Non-Governing Council Member to the Pension Committee

On motion duly made, seconded and carried

It was Resolved

THAT Mr. Paul Whittam be appointed to the Pension Committee for the period April 2, 2020 to June 30, 2022.

The Governing Council moved into open session.

The Chair thanked the Secretariat for their work in making the transition to the virtual meeting platform a smooth one. She thanked members of the administration for their continued efforts in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Finally, she thanked Governors for making the time to attend the meeting during difficult times. She concluded by stressing the importance of solidarity, kindness and courage in managing the COVID-19 crisis.

The meeting adjourned at 6:13 p.m.