Report: Governing Council - April 04, 2024

UTSC Campus Council Chambers, AA160



Thursday, April 4, 2024, 4:30 p.m., in the Council Chamber, University of Toronto Scarborough


Anna Kennedy (Chair), Sandra Hanington (Vice-Chair), Meric S. Gertler, (President), Trevor Young (Provost), Sharleen Ahmed, Amanda Bartley, Glen W. Bandiera, Vikram Chadalawada, Janet Cloud, Robert Cooper, Ann Curran, Sotirios Damouras, Annabel Dravid, Mathangi (Indi) Gopinathan, Maureen Harquail, Paul Huyer, Sarosh Jamal, Nelson Lee, Scott MacKendrick, Joanne McNamara, Seyedreza Massoum, Brian Madden, Rajiv Mathur, Doug McDougall, Eha Mai Naylor, Andrew Peterson, Veronica Wadey, Grace Westcott, Geeta Yadav

Sheree Drummond (Secretary of the Governing Council)  


Rose M. Patten (Chancellor), Soban Atique, Ramy Elitzur, K. Sonu Gaind, Leah Cowan, Dveeta Lal, Sameer Lal, Ernest Lam, Kikelomo Lawal, Mark Lautens, Ron Levi, Joseph Nkeng, Firdaus Sadid, Danielle Skipp, Nhung Tuyet Tran, Mary-Agnes Wilson, David Zingg

Guests In Attendance:  

Linda Johnston (Acting Vice-President and Principal), Christine Szustaczek (Vice-President, Communications), Scott Mabury (Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships & Vice-Provost, Academic Operations), David Palmer (Vice-President Advancement), Archana Sridhar (Assistant Provost), Sandy Welsh (Vice Provost, Students), Susan McCahan (Vice-Provost Academic Programs and Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education), Nadina Jamison (Chief Strategy Officer, Jeff Lennon (Assistant Vice-President, Planning & Budget), Andrew Arifuzzaman (Chief, Administrative Officer), Neel Joshi (Dean, Student Experience and Wellbeing),Saranjah (Sara) Subramaniam (UTSC Alumna), Shelby Verboven (Registrar & Assistant Dean Strategic Enrolment Management UTSC), Alex Matos (Director, Internal Audit), Irena Creed (Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation), Jessica Feilds (Vice-Dean Faculty Affairs, Equity & Success), Lisa Lemon (Executive Director, Development & Alumni Relations), Sofiya Datsyuk (COE Member), Liam Dravid (Undergraduate Student), Joyce Hahn (Chief Administrative Officer, Office of the VP and Provost), Jennifer Curry (Director, Office of VPP, UTSC), Angelique Saweczko (University Registrar), Sandra Griffiths (COE Member), Eric Noble (COE Member), Dan Bowyer (COE Member)


Emma Thacker (Recording Secretary), Joanne Chou, Cindy Ferenz Hammond, Tracey Gameiro


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the cycle four meeting of the Governing Council. She thanked governors who participated in the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre workshop. The Chair also congratulated student governor Nelson Lee, who was recently awarded the prestigious 2024 ‘Troost ILead Difference Maker Award.’

    Turning to election results, the Chair thanked members for their support in another term as Chair, and congratulated Sandra Hanington on having been acclaimed to serve as Vice-Chair of the Governing Council (2024-25). She also conveyed the 2024-25 election results (as outlined below), effective July 1, 2024, and expressed her congratulations to all new and returning members.
  • Full-time Undergraduate Students: Luke Calabretta​, Liam Dravid, Ankita Goyat​, Cameron Miranda-Radbord​
  • Part-time Undergraduate Students:​ Akina Lalla​, Maya Povhe​
  • Graduate Student, Constituency I: Jovan Bursac​
  • Graduate Student, Constituency II: William Verreault
  • Teaching Staff: Constituency IA: Donald Ainslie​; Constituency IB: Ron Levi; Constituency III: Aarthi Ashok​; Constituency V: Audrey Karlinsky​; Constituency VI: Laurent Bozec​
  • Administrative Staff:​ Vikram Chadalawada
  • Alumni Governors: Paul Huyer, Geeta Yadav

    The Chair also noted the appointment of a new Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council (LGIC) member, Samuel Elfassy, for a three-year term, effective January 11, 2024. She thanked the College of Electors, Chief Returning Officer, Deputy Returning Officers, and Elections Committee for their hard work overseeing the elections process.

    The Chair shared the news of the death of a former governor, Professor Emeritus Hugh Gunz. Professor Gunz was a professor of Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Management in the Department of Management at University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) and the Rotman School of Management. Professor Gunz joined the University in 1989 and retired in 2018. He was an active, deeply committed member of the University, serving in many leadership positions over the years. He was first elected to the Governing Council in 2011 and subsequently served on many of its bodies, such as the Academic Board and the UTM Campus Council. He was Vice-Chair of the UTM Campus Council during the Council’s inaugural year in 2013, then becoming its Chair from 2015 to 2017. Professor Gunz warm, welcoming approach to leadership played a significant role in fostering the careers of staff, faculty, and students across the University and he would be greatly missed.
  1. Report of the President

    President Gertler began his report by thanking Professor Linda Johnston, Acting Vice-President and Principal, University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), and her team for their warm welcome to campus, and invited her to share some remarks.

    Principal Johnston welcomed governors and guests to UTSC. She hoped governors had enjoyed the cooking demonstration with Chef Doug Trudeau in the Culinaria Research Centre prior to the meeting. Since stepping into her role as Acting Vice-President and Principal in January of 2024, she had gained an even greater appreciation for the unique qualities of the UTSC campus that made it a welcoming, inclusive, and dynamic place, from its status as an anchor institution in the Eastern GTA, to the future home of the Scarborough Academy of Medicine and Integrated Health (SAMIH). She noted that future SAMIH students would be embedded in local partner hospitals, primary care centres, and community agencies, where they would provide care to those most in need.

    Principal Johnston then invited Shelby Verboven, Registrar & Assistant Dean Strategic Enrolment Management, and UTSC alumna Sara Subramaniam to speak briefly about the opportunities associated with SAMIH. Sara had graduated from UTSC in 2012 with a BSc in Co-op Biochemistry and Health Studies and was now the Manager of Research Operations at Humber River Health's Research Institute. Sara shared with governors her positive experiences in the co-op program at UTSC, and her views on the forthcoming programming at SAMIH.

    Provincial Budget and Blue-Ribbon Panel Report

    Turning to his report, the President first spoke to the 2024 Ontario Budget. He noted that there were only a few items of relevance for the postsecondary sector, including: $9M to support planning for a new medical school at York University; funding to support the education of more registered nurses over the next three years; and additional investment in the Building Ontario Fund to help universities with infrastructure and housing. He noted, that despite these commitments, the Province’s Budget did not fully address the shortfalls in the government’s response to the recommendations of its Blue-Ribbon Panel Report. The President reminded governors that on February 26th, the Minister of Colleges and Universities, Jill Dunlop, had announced a package of measures in response to the Panel’s recommendations totaling $1.3 billion that included:
  • $903 million over three years through a new Postsecondary Education Sustainability Fund starting in 2024-25.
  • $167.4 million over three years in additional funding for capital repairs and equipment across the sector. (The President noted that U of T’s tri-campus deferred maintenance costs stood at approximately $1.2 billion).
  • $15 million over three years for a new Efficiency and Accountability Fund.
  • $100 million in 2023-24 to support colleges and universities with enrolments in STEM programs above currently funded levels.
  • $65.4 million to support advanced research and computing expenditures, including $47.4 million to renew infrastructure for Ontario’s Advanced Research Computing systems, and $18 million for their ongoing operations and maintenance.
  • $23 million to enhance mental health supports over three years across the sector.

    The President commented that while these investments were a welcome first step towards meeting the recommendations of the Blue-Ribbon Panel Report, they were only a first step. At the very least, it was hoped that the announced grant increases would become permanent base increases after the three-year period. In addition, the Provincial government had maintained the tuition freeze for Ontario domestic students for at least three more years, despite the Blue-Ribbon Panel Report’s recommendation that institutions be able to raise tuition fees incrementally, while also ensuring that student financial aid was increased.

    The President noted that the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) and other organizations had indicated that the government’s announcement fell well short of what was required to ensure the financial sustainability of the sector. The COU had partnered with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) to communicate the sector’s financial challenges to the Province and had signed a joint open letter to Minister Bethlenfalvy. He noted that DBRS Morningstar had described the package as a “stop gap” and had commented that the measures failed to address the fundamental revenue challenges for Ontario universities. He also noted that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce had called for more funding for postsecondary institutions in their budget submission. He concluded his comments on Provincial matters by noting that despite the current landscape, the University of Toronto’s financial situation was stronger than many other Ontario universities, and that provincial advocacy would continue as they moved into preparing for the fourth Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA 4).

    Federal Updates

    The President then provided a federal update and addressed the cap on international student visas. He noted that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) had announced an annual cap of 360,000 international study permits to be issued nationwide. This represented a 35% decline in study permits from the year prior and was expected to last for at least two years. He noted that IRCC Minister Marc Miller had stressed that the federal cap on international students was not intended to punish responsible institutions, but that some institutions had “taken advantage” of international students and expanded their intake irresponsibly. The announcement had also removed eligibility to participate in the post-graduate work permit program for those students studying under a curriculum licensing arrangement (or private-public partnership). Following months of advocacy, the President reported that the provincial government had recently confirmed that the University’s allocation numbers would be maintained at 2023 levels and would be sufficient to meet the enrolment targets for incoming undergraduate students. The Ontario University Application Centre (OUAC) would issue the Provincial Attestation Letters (PAL) for Ontario’s public universities, and the system was live with recruitment underway.

    The President concluded his remarks by noting that the Federal 2024 Budget was set to be released on April 16. The University’s highest federal advocacy priority continued to be the urgent need to increase funding for fundamental research through the granting councils, as well as graduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships. He noted that officials in Ottawa had expressed cautious optimism that the sector would see some significant new investments in Budget 2024. However, these commitments had not yet been confirmed.

    Members had no questions.
  1. Tuition Fees and Budget

    The Provost began by thanking Acting Principal Johnston and Andrew Arifuzzaman (Chief Administrative Officer, UTSC) for the campus tour, which included the Sam Ibrahim Building and the Harmony Commons residence. Turning to the agenda, the Provost provided an overview of the key priorities in the Budget Report 2024-25 and Long-Range Budget Guidelines 2022-23 to 2026-27, with the following highlights:
  • The University continued to be in strong financial shape, and in a balanced position for the next five years, with a total 2024-25 operating budget of $3.52 billion, representing a $164 million increase over the previous year.
  • Revenue growth was anticipated to slow to around 3% per year over the five-year plan; reflecting slowing enrolment growth and continued constraints on tuition and operating grants. 
  • Projected revenue growth rate for 2024-25 was at an average of 4.9%, with significant variations across the divisions. A significant portion of this growth was from improved returns on short-term investments.
  • Compensation increases would have a multi-year impact as divisions absorbed the costs into their base budgets.
  • Compensation (faculty and staff) would make up 62% of the operating budget, including the 2% contingency for pension risk.
  • The federal government announcement to limit international student study permits had introduced some uncertainty, however there was confidence in meeting the enrolment targets with the allocation provided.
  • There was a 7% increase to operating grants over three years, however this would be offset by the continued freeze on Ontario-resident domestic tuition for another three years.
  • Provincial support now constituted only 20% of U of T’s operating revenue, the lowest among publicly funded universities in Canada.
  • 7% of budget was set aside for contributions to capital projects.
  • The student financial aid budget was $380 million (2024-25); $90 million for international scholars and Pearson Scholarship programs.
  • Endowment funds for student aid was $1.4 billion (43% of total endowment). Student aid was also a key priority under the Defy Gravity campaign.
  • Incoming tuition for MA, MSc, and MScAC would increase by 7.5% under the Government’s anomaly adjustment program.
  • Key budget initiatives related to student success: student advising systems, graduate funding, redesign of UTAPS, student experiential learning and success.
  • There were budget priorities for renewed and additional supports for researchers and research facilities and expanded information security measures to mitigate against cyber risk.
  • Other budget priorities included outreach initiatives and pathways, President’s Advisory Committee on the Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability (CECCS), funding to explore AI in the classroom and the hiring of new faculty, however plans were scaled back given compensation increases.
  • There would be renewed focus on ensuring that the University maximized effectiveness of services and programs to make the best use of resources to support its highest priorities.

    The Council received an overview from Ann Curran (Chair of the UTM Campus Council, meeting March 4, 2024), Grace Westcott (Chair of the UTSC Campus Council, meeting March 5, 2024), Professor Doug McDougall (Chair of the Academic Board, meeting March 7, 2024), and from Rajiv Mathur (Chair of the Business Board, meeting March 13, 2024) on the discussion of this item at the meeting of their respective bodies. The Campus Councils had reviewed the budget for information, and both Boards supported the recommendation to approve the Budget and Long-Range Budget Guidelines.

    A member commented on the continued tuition freeze and inquired about advocating for a better Government operating grant. The Provost agreed with the member and invited President Gerler to add his comments. President Gertler responded that the Blue-Ribbon Panel Report had pointed out that the per student grant in Ontario had not gone up since 2008, while other sectors (e.g., hospitals) had received annual increases roughly equivalent to inflation, and this was one element of how the postsecondary sector had become reliant on tuition revenue. He added that the continued tuition freeze had always been presented as a tool to make higher education affordable, however the freeze was a benefit to families that could afford higher tuition, and it reduced funding for those needing assistance. He pointed out that the Blue-Ribbon Panel Report articulated the need to consider U of T differently, in part due to its very effective student financial aid system.

    A member asked a clarifying question regarding the international student study permit cap. Jeff Lennon (Assistant Vice-President, Planning & Budget) clarified that the allocation was roughly aligned with the 2023 level, however students who were already in Canada did not have to go though the new system, which provided a buffer to the University.

    A member asked when the University would know if the international student enrolment targets had been met. The Provost responded that it would take time, given the various acceptance deadlines and PAL letter requirements. He noted that the bigger issue was Canada’s reputation with international students, given the negative media coverage.

    A member inquired about the government’s rationale for previously not increasing the student operating grant, year after year. The President responded that the government had not offered up a rationale explicitly, but they had encouraged the exploration of other avenues of revenue, primarily international student enrolment growth, and while U of T has grown gradually and responsibly, this is not the case for other institutions. Other rationales would be speculation at this point.

    A member asked about the biggest risks facing the University and its budget. The Provost responded that the largest risks were deferred maintenance, additional compensation increases, inflation, and uncertainly around international student study permits. Vice Provost Scott Mabury added cyber security as an additional risk.

    A member asked about efforts to communicate with opposition parties. The Provost agreed that a high proportion of revenue was subject to direct or indirect regulation by the government and so the University worked with both the current government as well as other political parties who may play a role in in the future.
  1. Annual Report: Student Financial Support, 2022-23

    The Annual Report was received for information and context.

  2. Tuition Fee Schedule for Self-Funded Programs, 2024-25

    On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried,


THAT the Tuition Fee Schedule for Self-Funded Programs for 2024-25 be approved.

  1. Tuition Fee Schedule for Publicly Funded Programs, 2024-25

    On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried,           


THAT the 2024-25 tuition fees as described in the Tuition Fee Schedule for Publicly Funded Programs 2024-25 be approved.

  1. Budget Report 2024-25 and the Long-Range Budget Guidelines 2024-25 to 2028-29

    On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried,


THAT the Budget Report 2024-25 be approved, and

THAT the Long-Range Budget Guidelines 2024-25 to 2028-29 be approved in principle.​​​​


The Chair noted that of the items listed on the Consent Agenda, one item, Item 4 – Minutes of the Previous Meeting, was for approval. All other items were for information only. No questions or requests to place these consent items on the regular agenda had been received by the Secretary.

On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried,


THAT the consent agenda be adopted and that Item 4 be approved.

  1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting of the Governing Council

    The minutes of the previous meeting for December 18, 2023 meeting were approved.
  2. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting.
  3. Reports for Information

    Members received the following reports for information:

    1. Report Number 63 of the UTM Campus Council (January 24, 2024)
    2. Report Number 64 of the UTM Campus Council (March 4, 2024)
    3. Report Number 62 of the UTSC Campus Council (March 5, 2024)
    4. Report Number 276 of the Business Board (January 31, 2024)
    5. Report Number 277 of the Business Board (March 13, 2024)
    6. Report Number 238 of the University Affairs Board (January 17, 2024)
    7. Report Number 239 of the University Affairs Board (February 28, 2024)
    8. Report Number 249 of the Academic Board (March 7, 2024)
    9. Report Number 547 of the Executive Committee (February 13, 2024)
    10. Report Number 548 of the Executive Committee (March 26, 2024)


  1. Date of the Next Meeting – Thursday, May 16, 2024 at 4:30 p.m.

    The Chair advised members that the next Governing Council meeting (Cycle 5) was scheduled for Thursday, May 16, 2024 at 4:30 p.m., at the University of Toronto Mississauga.
  2. Question Period

    There were no questions for the administration.
  3. Other Business

    A member echoed Acting Principal Johnston’s comments about her fondness for and appreciation of the UTSC campus.

The meeting adjourned at 5:57 p.m.

April 24, 2024