Report: Governing Council - April 06, 2021

Via Virtual Meeting


APRIL 6, 2021

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL held on April 6, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. via virtual meeting.

Pursuant to section 28 (e) and 38 of By-Law Number 2, 
consideration of item 10 took place in camera.

Claire Kennedy (Chair), Brian D. Lawson (Vice-Chair), Rose Patten (Chancellor), Meric S. Gertler, (President), Cheryl Regehr, (Vice-President and Provost), Olivia Batt, Harvey T. Botting, David N. Bowden, Adanna Chigbo, P.C. Choo, Janet Cloud, Ann Curran, Teodora Dechev, Stark Draper, Janet L. Ecker, Susan Froom, K. Sonu Gaind, Avrum I. Gotlieb, Sandra Hanington, Maureen Harquail, Sarosh Jamal, Joan Johnston, Amin Kamaleddin, Shashi Kant, Anna Kennedy, Paul Kingston, Sameer Lal, Ernest W.N. Lam, Mark Lautens, Ron Levi, Jiazhen (Diana) Li, Jan K. Mahrt-Smith, Stephane Martin Demers, Rajiv Mathur, Douglas E. McDougall, Joanne Jean McNamara, Andrew Padmos, Danielle Skipp, Salvatore M. Spadafora; Andrew Szende, Nicholas Terpstra, Ryan Teschner, Wisdom J. Tettey, Marium Vahed, Grace Westcott, Bruce Winter, Vishar Yaghoubian, Samra Zafar, Lara Zink.

Sheree Drummond (Secretary of the Governing Council)

Kikelomo Lawal

In Attendance
David Estok (Vice-President, Communications), Nora Gillespie, Senior Legal Counsel, Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity, Scott Mabury (Vice-President, University Operations & Real Estate Partnerships), David Palmer (Vice-President, Advancement), Joe Wong, Acting Vice-President, International, Nadina Jamison (Assistant Vice-President, Strategic Initiatives, Office of the President), Bryn MacPherson (Assistant Vice-President, Office of the President and Chief of Protocol) Steve Moate (Senior Legal Counsel, Office of the President), Archana Sridhar (Assistant Provost), 

Mr. Vikram Chadalawada, Administrative Staff Governor-Elect, Mr. Evan Kanter, Director, External Relations of the Computer Science Students Union (and Student Governor-Elect), Ms Mozynah Nofal, Student Governor-Elect, Mr. Tyler Riches, Vice-President, Public & University Affairs, UTSU, Mr. Trevor Rodgers, Assistant Vice-President, Planning & Budget, Ms Nhung Tuyet Tran, Teaching Staff Governor-Elect, Professor Melanie Woodin, Dean, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Mrs. Mitra Yakubi, President, UTM Students’ Union and UTM Campus Council member

Anwar Kazimi, Kristi Gourlay, Samantha Frost, Patrick McNeill, Emma Thacker.              

  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the meeting.  

    The Chair began her remarks by announcing the election results for the 2021-2022 governance year.  

    The following teaching staff members had been elected for three-year terms:  
  • Professor Vina Goghari (University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC)) 
  • Professor Nhung Tuyet Tran (Faculty of Arts and Science (History)) 
  • Professor Veronica Wadey (Temerty Faculty of Medicine (Surgery)) 

    And the following teaching staff had been re-elected: 
  • Professor Ernest Lam (Faculty of Dentistry) 
  • Professor Ron Levi (Faculty of Arts & Science (Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy)). 

    The following administrative staff member had been elected to serve a three-year term:  
  • Vikram Chadalawada

    The following student members had been elected to serve one-year terms:   
  • Andrew Chen (Full Time Undergraduate student – Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering (FASE))  
  • Evan Kanter (Full Time Undergraduate student – Faculty of Arts & Science (Trinity College))   
  • Karen Ng (Part-Time Undergraduate student – FASE)  
  • Mozynah Nofal (Graduate student – Ontario Institute in Studies in Education (OISE))  
  • Kenneth Williams (Full Time Undergraduate student – Temerty Faculty of Medicine)  

    In addition, Amin Kamaleddin (Graduate student – FASE), Vishar Yaghoubian (Full Time Undergraduate student – Faculty of Arts & Science (Woodsworth College)), and Susan Froom (Part-Time Undergraduate student – Faculty of Arts & Science (Trinity College)) had been re-elected. 

    The Chair offered her congratulations to the successful candidates. She also thanked the Chief Returning Officer, Deputy Returning Officers, and Elections Committee for their hard work overseeing the elections process. 

    The Chair advised members that three speaking requests had been received from representatives of student government who had asked to address the Governing Council about the Tuition Fee Schedules: Mr. Evan Kanter, Director of External Relations of the Computer Science Students’ Union (CSSU), Mr. Tyler Riches, Vice-President, Public & University Affairs, University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), and Mrs. Mitra Yakubi, President, University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) The requests had been granted. 
  1. Report of the President

    The President began his report by commenting briefly on the current state of the pandemic and the recent announcement of the provincial government that the lockdown would be continuing in Toronto and had been extended across the province. He emphasized that the University was working closely with all levels of government, along with the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) and Universities Canada, to maintain and advance critical operations. 

    Federal Matters 

    The President noted that the Federal Budget would be presented on April 19. He anticipated that the budget would likely focus on two themes: measures necessary to finish the job of fighting the pandemic and building the foundations for employment growth and economic activity following the pandemic. 

    The President reported that he continued to meet regularly with senior federal officials to discuss the role of research universities in contributing to Canada’s recovery. He reported that the University and its affiliated research hospitals had played an outsized role in supporting Canada’s response to the pandemic. Of the nearly $100 million the federal government had invested in rapid response research on COVID, UofT affiliated researchers had received roughly 20% of those funds available nationally and 40% of the funds allocated to Ontario institutions.

    President Gertler reported that on March 22, in his role of Vice-Chair of Universities Canada, he, together with the Chair, Professor Sophie D’Amours, and the CEO and President, Mr. Paul Davidson, had made a presentation to the Prosperity Action Group of the Senate Committee on Canada’s Economic Future. The President reported that he had spoken about the global and local dimensions of talent attraction, retention, and production. He noted that the Senators had been well briefed and were very engaged. 

    Provincial Matters 

    The President reported some of the highlights of the 2021 Provincial Budget which had been presented on March 24. He noted that the budget allocated new resources to support the province’s vaccine distribution plan, and the health care and long-term care sectors more broadly, while also promising support for other sectors that had been affected by the pandemic. With respect to the post-secondary education sector, he noted the following: 
  • Base operating grant funding for the provincial university system would remain at $3.6 billion, unchanged from 2020/21 and unadjusted for inflation; 
  • $106.4 million support had been provided for smaller and mid-sized universities whose finances had been most adversely affected by the pandemic; 
  • $500 million over ten years had been provided for Ontario research funding which would ‘unlock’ $750 million in federal funding; 
  • $59.5 million over three years for micro-credentials had been re-announced with an additional $2 million of new funding for the creation of a Virtual Skills Passport to track learners’ credentials and allow students to share credentials digitally with prospective employers; 
  • $260 million had been provided for an Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit for which fees for postsecondary courses which provided credit towards a degree, diploma, or certificate would be eligible;  
  • $493 million over three years had been re-announced for deferred maintenance capital and renewal, including $30 million in new funds for university training equipment; 
  • $2 million in new funding had been provided to support the province’s Intellectual Property (IP) Action Plan which supported the rollout of advanced curriculum in IP practices.  

    International Students

    The President reported that the University continued to work with federal and provincial officials to ensure that the current safe corridor system for students entering Canada continued to be recognized as meeting or exceeding the new federal requirements for travelers entering the country. He also reported that the University was working with the COU in seeking the provincial government’s assistance in expediting the federal designation of the University’s quarantine facility so that students could proceed directly to it, rather than spending three nights in a government-designated hotel.

    The President concluded his remarks by commenting on the recent controversy at the Faculty of Law regarding the discontinued search for a new Director of the International Human Rights Program. He reported that in December 2020, he had commissioned the Honourable Thomas A. Cromwell, former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, to conduct an independent and impartial review of the controversy. 

    On March 29, 2021, Mr. Cromwell’s report and the University’s response had been released to the public. Mr. Cromwell’s report had concluded that while negotiations with the preferred candidate relating to the appointment had been at an advanced stage, no formal offer of appointment in the legal sense had been made or accepted, so thus no offer had been rescinded. Furthermore, having reviewed the evidence, Mr. Cromwell was not prepared to draw the inference that external influence had played any role in the decision to discontinue the recruitment of the preferred candidate. Additionally, the report had made clear that the key factors influencing this decision had indeed included those that had been cited publicly by both the then-Dean and the Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity, pertaining to the significant challenges of overcoming immigration-related obstacles in a sufficiently timely manner to meet the requirements of the appointment. Mr. Cromwell’s analysis had demonstrated why these obstacles were quite material and could not have been readily overcome. Mr. Cromwell’s report also had provided advice on how to avoid similar problems in the future and to assist members of the U of T Law community in achieving reconciliation after this very divisive and difficult experience. 

    The President noted that he had accepted all of Mr. Cromwell’s recommendations in his response and had reaffirmed on behalf of the University the principle that external pressure cannot play a role in recruiting decisions. He said that the University had also undertaken to review and, where necessary, enhance existing policies and protocols to articulate more clearly and explicitly that any representative of the University who receives an inquiry related to an active search from sources external to the University’s established hiring processes, including alumni, donors, and external organizations, should respond that recruiting processes are confidential, and that they cannot share any information about the search. The President reported that he had written to the preferred candidate to apologize on behalf of the University for the fact that confidentiality had not been maintained in the search process, to express regret that the process had not adhered to the University’s high standards in that regard, and to indicate that the University was deeply sorry for any harm that she had experienced as a result. He thanked Mr. Cromwell and all others who had contributed to and participated in the review.

    Update on COVID-19 Matters 

    At the invitation of the President, the Provost provided some additional remarks on the COVID-19 pandemic. She noted that the new provincial shutdown restrictions would impact planned co-curricular outdoor activity programs, but expressed optimism that the benefits of warmer weather and the progress of the province’s vaccine program would allow the University to return to life on its campuses by the fall. 

    She highlighted the following responses of the University to the pandemic: 

    Vaccine Clinics

    In partnership with public health agencies and local hospitals, vaccine clinics were operating on all three campuses, with the capacity of administering more than one million vaccinations over a six-month period, contingent on sufficient supply of vaccines.

  • Ongoing provision of programs to support students and help them succeed despite the challenges of the pandemic.
  • Continuation of the University’s quarantine programs to assist students arriving in Canada – as of last week, more than 2,700 students had participated, and the programs continued to be offering services.
  • Advocacy with the government to ensure that the University’s quarantine programs could be used in place of the federal mandatory hotel quarantine regulations.
  • The granting of Over $9 million in emergency bursaries to more than 6,800 students. 


    A new set of protocols for face-to-face and off-campus research had recently come into effect, designed to streamline the review process of Research Ethics Boards, including a new COVID review process. 

    Academic Continuity 
  • Fall planning was under way in anticipation of on-campus activities, with close monitoring of guidelines and following direction from public health agencies.
  • Libraries were continuing to offer curb-side loan services and access to internet services.

    Business Continuity 
  • Efforts were being made across the University to ensure that the campus would be safe when the community returned.
  • The Planning and Re-Entry Team had developed a tri-campus ventilation strategy to reduce the risk of transmission in University buildings. This included installing enhanced filtration at all compatible locations and reviewing all HVAC systems to ensure proper operations and maintenance. 
  • A pilot project to monitor COVID-19 levels by sampling wastewater was currently underway at two University residences. 
  • The functionality of UCheck – the health screening tool that community members use prior to coming to campus, was being expanded. A pilot project was underway at the faculties of Arts & Science and Engineering to study the feasibility of the voluntary use of QR codes at building entrances to monitor capacity and support contact tracing.  

    The Provost concluded her report by acknowledging the hard work of faculty and staff during the pandemic and the resilience and dedication of students to manage during this challenging time.

    The Chair thanked the President and Provost for their reports.

    In response to a member’s question about whether incidental fees for the summer and beyond were being reviewed in light of the restrictions imposed on co-curricular activities by the new provincial lock down, the Provost responded that the University was anticipating that it would be able to offer services over the summer and was waiting for direction from the province. She noted that fees would be adjusted should co-curricular programs be restricted for an extended period.
  1. Tuition Fees and Budget

    The Provost provided an overview of the key priorities in the Budget Report 2021-22 and Long Range Budget Guidelines 2021-22 to 2025-26. Overall, these priorities reflected the University’s commitments regarding continued supports for students including:
  • ongoing work on redesigning mental health services and fostering a culture of caring and community;
  • providing opportunities for experiential learning, work-integrated learning and research experience, outbound student exchange programs, and other forms of enriched learning;
  • renewal and improvement of classroom and IT infrastructure and creating non-academic spaces for student use;
  • investment in student supports, including undergraduate financial aid and graduate student funding packages.

    Professor Regehr reported that the University was in positive financial shape overall, despite the impact and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, but noted that challenges remained as a result of pandemic recovery, the declining proportion of government funding, and potential constraints on domestic tuition fees. 

    The Provost concluded her report by addressing some of the questions that had been raised at meetings of other governance bodies related to differential tuition fees associated with certain programs such as Computer Science (CS). 
  • The tuition framework was first established by the provincial government in 1980 and it had allowed for different fees based on program characteristics; 
  • In 1998, the government had permitted larger fee increases in programs with higher earning potential, provided that participating institutions set aside 30% of the additional fees for student aid; 
  • Students in these programs had benefits not available to students in other programs;
  • Graduates from these programs received significantly higher entry-level salaries upon graduation than graduates in the other physical and life sciences;
  • Students not enrolled in the CS program could take CS courses but students in the program had preferential access to registration in those courses; 
  • The transcripts of CS students would reflect that they had graduated with a specialist in CS;
  • The University’s was committed to access to students from under-represented groups in all programs including 105 access and outreach programs as well as student aid;
  • Students had had the opportunity to meet and obtain comprehensive written responses to their questions from the Provost’s Office, the Planning & Budget Office and the Faculty of Arts & Science; 
  • There would be a budget presentation to future student leaders shortly after their election in the spring. 

    The Council then received an overview from Professor Nick Terpstra, the Chair of the Academic Board, of the discussion that had taken place at the meeting of that body on March 11. Professor Terpstra reported that the Board had received a presentation from Professor Scott Mabury, Vice President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships (VPOREP) and had also had heard from an external speaker, Mr. Tyler Riches. He indicated that in response to questions raised by members, the Provost noted that: 
  • both the Provost’s Office and the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students met regularly with student leaders;the decrease in applications from domestic students for direct entry undergraduate programs in Fall 2020 had been an unexpected event in response to the pandemic whereas international student demand had increased, and retention of upper year students had been better than planned; 
  • the University had a graduate student funding commitment, and that there were no plans to change that commitment for either domestic or international students within the funded cohort;
  • COVID emergency financial aid was available to both domestic and international students, and that international scholarships would become an increasing part of the budget. 

He concluded by advising that the Board had supported the proposal.

The Council then received an overview from Anna Kennedy, the Chair of the Business Board about the discussion of that body at its meeting on March 17. Ms Kennedy reported that the Provost, Professor Mabury, and Mr. Trevor Rodgers, Assistant Vice -President, Planning & Budget, had highlighted the University’s budget priorities. In response to members’ comments and questions, the Provost and Professor Mabury had reported that:

  • as noted in the Times Higher Education survey results, the University continued to achieve positive results with respect to student employability;
  • federal government initiatives to broaden support for Canadian residency and other citizenship requirements for international students was welcomed, especially in response to challenges presented by COVID. 

    The Board also had received presentations on tuition fees and the budget from two student leaders – Mr. Evan Kanter and Mr. Riches. Both encouraged the administration to further engage students in the budget consultation process. Following discussion, the Board had concurred with the Academic Board’s recommendation.

    In response to governors’ questions about the Budget Report and Tuition Fee Schedules, members of the senior administration reported that:
  • the provincial tuition framework established maximum annual increases in fees based on program, but there were limited circumstances in which the University did pro-rate those program fees and charge fees by course; 
  • all doctoral students in the funded cohort received a funding package to offset tuition costs and, for undergraduate programs, the new International Scholarship Program was set aside by divisions from international student tuition revenues; 
  • the 2.3% average for international tuition fee increase cited in the Budget Report included the vast majority of programs at a rate of 2%, with some other programs proposing a 3-5% increase; 
  • the University was investigating different mechanisms to address the University-wide underrepresentation of Black and Indigenous students;
  • with the decrease in government funding, student fees were the main source of revenue for the University, and some of that revenue was set aside for scholarships; 
  • the recent Boundless fundraising campaign had brought the total endowment raised for student support to over $1 billion;
  • the authority for tuitions schedules began at the local level, then was considered by the Provost’s and Planning & Budget Offices and, if they were reasonable, and in compliance with the Provincial tuition fee framework, would be brought to governance for approval;
  • the University relied on student leaders to provide information about the budget to the broader student community at the program and faculty level.

    The Chair invited Mr. Evan Kanter to address the Council. Mr. Kanter referenced the report “Same Degree, Same Fee: Calling for Equitable Tuition for All Science Students” and summarized the rationale behind the proposition that the administration reduce tuition for Computer Science, Bioinformatics, and Data Science students so that it was equal to the tuition of other science students. Mr. Kanter asserted that the differential tuition was harmful to students for three reasons: 
  • it was more difficult for marginalized students to access the computer science program;
  • it was unfair that students in these programs had to pay more for the same degree as their peers in other programs; and 
  • the higher tuition was causing mental health challenges among many students.

    The Chair then invited Mr. Tyler Riches to address the Council. Mr. Riches spoke of the concerns of full-time undergraduates with a number of aspects of the fee schedules. He asked that the Council direct the administration to:
  • freeze fees;
  • reduce the fees for remote learning
  • reduce the fees for students in differentiated fee programs; and 
  • provide more permanent funding for mental health resources.

    The final speaker, Mrs. Mitra Yakubi, then addressed the Council at the Chair’s invitation. Mrs. Yakubi spoke against the proposed fee increase for international students, asserting that high fees were one of the biggest barriers to post-secondary education for international students, were discriminatory, and had a detrimental impact on students. She suggested that rather than increasing fees in response to government cutbacks, the University should work with students to jointly lobby the provincial and federal governments for long term solutions, such as increasing public funds for post-secondary education.

    The Chair thanked Mr. Kanter, Mr. Riches, and Mrs. Yakubi for their presentations. She invited the Provost and President to comment.

    The Provost thanked the students for their presentations. She stated that the University welcomed the opportunity to work together with students to lobby the governments to increase funding and that the University would continue its extensive consultations with students about the types of services they would like to see to address mental health concerns. She also confirmed that the University was dedicating an unprecedented amount of resources to mental health, access programs, and financial aid.

    President Gertler added that, with respect to government advocacy, the University had dedicated a great deal of time to advocating with the provincial government to obtain more grant support and reiterated the Provost’s statement that the University welcomed the opportunity to work with student groups to that end. He also highlighted the University’s federal advocacy last spring to encourage the government to roll out emergency support for students which had resulted in a $9 billion national program for student financial support. 

    Upon the conclusion of the discussion on tuition fees and budget, a member asked for a motion to divide the question. The Chair advised that a motion to divide was not possible as it would change the substance of the motion. 
    1. Annual Report on Student Financial Support 2019-20:  Vice-Provost, Students

      The Annual Report was received for information. 
    2. Tuition Fee Schedules for Publicly Funded Programs, 2021-22

      On motion duly made, seconded, and carried

      It was Resolved 

      THAT the 2021-22 tuition fees as described in the Tuition Fee Schedule for Publicly-Funded Programs 2021-22 (March 1, 2021) be approved.
    3. Tuition Fee Schedule for Self-Funded Programs, 2021-22

      On motion duly made, seconded, and carried

      It was Resolved 

      THAT the Tuition Fee Schedule for Self-Funded Programs for 2021-22 be approved.
    4. Institutional Operating Budget Report 2021-22 and Long Range Budget Guidelines 2021-22 to 2025-26 

      On motion duly made, seconded, and carried

      It was Resolved 

      THAT the Budget Report, 2021-2022 be approved, and

      THAT the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2021-2022 to 2025-2026 be approved in principle.


On motion duly made, seconded, and carried


THAT the consent agenda be adopted and Item 4 approved.

  1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting of the Governing Council, February 25, 2021

    The minutes of the previous 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

    The following reports were received for information.
    1. Report Number 46 of the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus Council (March 9, 2021) 
    2. Report Number 46 of the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Council (March 10, 2021)
    3. Report Number 222 of the University Affairs Board (March 4, 2021) 
    4. Report Number 232 of the Academic Board (March 11, 2021) 
    5. Report Number 257 of the Business Board (March 17, 2021)
    6. Report Number 520 of the Executive Committee (March 25, 2021)


  1. Date of Next Meeting – Thursday, May 13, 2021 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. 

    The Chair noted that the date of the next meeting was Thursday, May 13 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and would be held as a virtual meeting. 
  2. Question Period

    There were no questions from members
  3. Other Business

In Camera Session

The Governing Council moved in camera.

  1. Senior Appointments
    1. Vice-President, International

      On motion duly made, seconded, and carried


      THAT Professor Joseph (Joe) Wong be appointed as Vice-President, International, effective April 7, 2021 until June 30, 2026. 
    2. Acting Vice-President and Provost

      On motion duly made, seconded, and carried


      THAT Professor Trevor Young be appointed Acting Vice-President and Provost, for a six-month term, effective July 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021. 

The meeting returned to open session.

    The meeting adjourned at 6:32 p.m.

April 23, 2021