Report: Governing Council - December 18, 2023

Council Chamber, Simcoe Hall



Monday, December 18, 2023, 4:30 p.m., in the Council Chamber, Simcoe Hall

Pursuant to section 28 (e) and 38 of By-Law Number 2, consideration of items 11 and 12 will take place in camera.


Anna Kennedy (Chair), Sandra Hanington (Vice-Chair), Rose M. Patten (Chancellor), Meric S. Gertler, (President), Cheryl Regehr (Provost), Sharleen Ahmed, Soban Atique, Amanda Bartley, Glen W. Bandiera, Janet Cloud, Robert Cooper, Sotirios Damouras, Ramy Elitzur, K. Sonu Gaind, Mathangi (Indi) Gopinathan, Maureen Harquail, Sarosh Jamal, Mark Lautens, Nelson Lee, Ron Levi, Scott MacKendrick, Joanne McNamara, Seyedreza Massoum, Brian Madden, Rajiv Mathur, Doug McDougall, Eha Mai Naylor, Andrew Peterson, Danielle Skipp, Veronica Wadey, Grace Westcott, Mary-Agnes Wilson, Geeta Yadav, David Zingg

Sheree Drummond (Secretary of the Governing Council)


Vikram Chadalawada, Ann Curran, Annabel Dravid, Alexandra Gillespie, Paul Huyer, Dveeta Lal, Sameer Lal, Ernest Lam, Kikelomo Lawal, Joseph Nkeng, Firdaus Sadid, Nhung Tuyet Tran

In Attendance:

Christine Szustaczek (Vice-President, Communications), Scott Maybury (Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships), Kelly Hannah-Moffat (Vice-President, PSEC), Joe Wong (Vice-President, International), Archana Sridhar (Assistant Provost), Sandy Welsh (Vice Provost, Students), Susan McCahan (Vice-Provost Academic Programs and Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education), Gwen Burrows (AVP, International Engagement & Impact), Elizabeth Church (Director, Stakeholder Relations), Tony Gray (Director, Strategic Research, Office of the President), Nadina Jamison (Chief Strategy Officer, Office of the President), Bryn MacPherson (AVP, Office of the President & Chief of Protocol), Susan Mazza (Special Projects Officer), Catherine Riddell (AVP, Communications), Carmelle Salomon-Labbe (Associate Director, ADFG), Melinda Scott (Executive Director, Office of the Vice-Provost, Students), Larry Alford (University Chief Librarian), John Robinson (Co-Chair, CECCS), Jodi Glean (Executive Director, EDI), Ron Saporta (Co-Chair, CECCS), Faraz Alidina (Student Presenter), Julie Hannaford (Deputy Chief Librarian), Melanie Wright (Associate Director, Academic HR Services), KimEija Taipaleenmaki (COE Member), Isabel (Izzy) Mink (graduate student), Jessica Palmer (graduate student), Bhavika Sharma (graduate student)


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


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the cycle two meeting of the Governing Council.

    She reported to members that the Secretariat had received 12 speaking requests. She had consulted with the Executive Committee on those requests that were received prior to the Executive Committee meeting. She noted that all but one of the requests had been declined, as the speaking topics were not regarding items on the agenda. One request had been from an individual who wished to speak to concerns around housing. The other requests had been from CUPE leadership as well as individual CUPE members (CUPE 1230, CUPE 3261, CUPE 3902 (unit 5), and CUPE 3902 (unit 1)). The request from a member of the Graduate Architecture, Landscape and Design Student Union to speak to item 3 (Annual Report from the Committee on the Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainability), had been approved.

    The Chair reminded members of the upcoming 2024 governance elections. The Chair thanked Mr. Anwar Kazimi, on behalf of the Governing Council, for his nearly 14 years of service to University governance and wished him well in his new role as Secretary to the Board of Regents, Victoria University.

    The Chair marked the passing of two former governors. Professor Ian McDonald (Department of Classical Studies, UTSC) died on August 25, 2023. He had been an active member of the University for many years, serving for nine years as a teaching staff governor (1997 – 2006). Before his retirement in 2008, he had been appointed by the Governing Council to serve as interim University Ombudsperson for two years. On November 19, 2023, Dr. Marnie Paikin died after a valiant four-year struggle with a form of Parkinsons. Marnie was an LGIC member of the Governing Council (1972 – 1980) and had served as Chair (1976 – 1980). She was a member of the Order of Canada and had received many awards for her accomplishments and service, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Toronto (1981). The Chair reported that in memory of Professor McDonald and Dr. Paikin, the University of Toronto flag at Simcoe Hall was flying at half-mast.

    The Chair asked members to join her in recognizing and thanking Professor Cheryl Regehr who would complete her term as Vice President and Provost on December 31, 2023. Professor Regehr had been in the role of Provost since 2013 and had served as a Presidential Appointee on the Governing Council for all but one year. Under Professor Regehr’s leadership, the University had made significant progress on a number of key priorities, many of which had been discussed with governors. She had advanced the University’s core priority of delivering top-quality education to students from across Canada and around the world, championed many enhancements to undergraduate and graduate education, supported new academic programs, and enhanced experiential learning opportunities. Many of these initiatives had not only enhanced the quality of education across the tri-campus, but also strengthened the University’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. The Chair thanked the Provost for her outstanding service and dedication, and presented her with a crystal clock, bearing the inscription: “In acknowledgement of and gratitude for the exemplary service and dedication to University governance of Cheryl Regehr as Vice-President and Provost (2013 – 2023).”
  2. Report of the President

    The Chair invited the President to provide his report.

    The President began by recognizing the Provost, Cheryl Regehr, at her last meeting of the Governing Council. He remarked that it had been a privilege and distinct honour to work alongside her for over ten years and wished her well as she returned to her research agenda full-time. He noted that current and future students, staff and faculty, would continue to benefit from her many outstanding initiatives for years to come.

    Current situation in the Middle East

    The President remarked that the situation in the Middle East continued to be a troubling and difficult time for many in the community, including Jewish and Palestinian colleagues and students who had family in the region. He noted that the community was also deeply troubled by the rise of hate-based crimes in Canada. In addition, the recent congressional hearing featuring the Presidents of MIT, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania was extensively covered in the media, which had stimulated much public commentary. He reported that the University of Toronto (in addition to 24 other Canadian universities) had received a letter from five members of the Federal Liberal caucus asking: “whether calling for a genocide against Jewish people or the elimination of Israel” violated our institutional policies. The Toronto Star had also asked the University a follow-up question on the same issue. The President stated the University’s position, as shared with the Toronto Star by the Provost, which was that threats of harm to others and inciting violence, including genocide, were clear violations of University policy and Canadian law. When offences occured, all available tools were used to intervene.

    He also commented on the wider issues pertaining to freedom of speech and academic freedom, noting that the exercising of these rights may entail the expression of uncomfortable, upsetting, and even offensive assertions by members of the community. It was a collective duty to ensure that such perspectives can be expressed, so long as they were lawful and not in violation of University policies. He referred to the University’s Statement of Institutional Purpose, noting that these rights were also accompanied by certain responsibilities – in particular, the obligation to provide an environment of tolerance and mutual respect. Recently, he had heard concerns that not all members of the University community were living up to that ideal.

    The President reported receipt of letters from Jewish members of the University community expressing feelings of harassment, intimidation, marginalization, and exclusion. Some had also reported fear for their personal safety. He also reported that other members had written to express their concerns about marginalization of the Islamic community, and the wellbeing of Palestinian faculty, staff and students. He stated that there was no place for antisemitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism on our campuses.

    The President highlighted the recent hiring of a new Assistant Director, Faith and Anti-Racism, Dr. Shari Golberg, who would begin her work in the new year. This new position was one of the central recommendations of the Antisemitism Working Group’s Final Report. Dr. Golberg would support processes for responding to incidents of faith-based racism, and work with members of the community to foster dialogue, mutual understanding, and respect. He also noted that the Institutional Equity Office had recent established a new website to track the progress for implementing the recommendations from the series of task forces and working groups on antisemitism, anti-Black racism, and other forms of racism.

    The President called on every member of the University of Toronto community to demonstrate empathy and respect in their interactions with one another. He also asked the community to focus on opportunities to establish true dialogue between those with radically differing viewpoints. It was only through promoting learning, understanding, knowledge, and trust could a better and more peaceful world be built, and that is the fundamental mission of the University of Toronto.

    Provincial Landscape

    The President then turned to the Report of the Blue-Ribbon Panel on Financial Sustainability of Ontario’s Postsecondary Education System, noting that the Report was released by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities on November 15, 2023. The Panel had done an admirable job of highlighting the seriousness of the fiscal situation facing Ontario universities, with several key recommendations, as follows:

  • Increase the per-student grant to institutions by 10% next year, with subsequent increases at the rate of inflation or 2% (whichever is greater) for the next three years;

  • Allow institutions to increase domestic tuition fees by 5% next year, and then increase by inflation or 2% (whichever is greater) for the next three years, along with a recommended tuition fee increase of 8% for professional programs;

  • Increase government investments and improvements to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP);

  • Ensure universities increase the amount of funding set aside for student financial aid.

The President noted that the recommended measures would make substantive gains towards strengthening the fiscal stability of Ontario’s universities. He reminded governors that the provincial grant per student had not increased since 2008, which meant it had been declining in real value for a decade and a half. As a result, the level of per-student support provided by the Ontario government was currently amongst the lowest in the country. The report mentioned that Ontario’s level of support was $11,471 per student, just over one-half of the national average of $20,772 outside of Ontario. In addition, he noted that the government had cut domestic tuition fees by 10% in 2019, and that they had remained frozen for the following four years.

The President remarked that even if the government implemented all the Panel’s recommendations, funding levels would only return to where they had been roughly two years ago, and about 12% below where they were in real terms when the current government took office. He stated that the Panel had made it clear that Ontario universities were very cost-effective, and that the fiscal sustainability of the postsecondary sector could not be achieved by finding greater efficiencies alone. The President commented that the Blue-Ribbon panel Chair, Alan Harrison, had made a compelling case in the Report for the University of Toronto’s pre- eminence in Ontario, contending that this distinction carried with it higher costs and levels of investment. Mr. Harrison had suggested that the University of Toronto should be able to set its own tuition fees, accompanied by its unwavering commitment to student financial aid. The President had had the opportunity to make the case directly to Minister Dunlop and other members of the Cabinet since the Report’s release. The sector now awaited the government’s full response.

Federal Matters

Shifting to federal matters, the President noted that the government had released its Fall Economic Statement on November 21, 2023. The Statement did not address the recommendations of the Report of the Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System (known informally as the Bouchard Report) related to new investments in research and graduate student support. Instead, the Statement focused primarily on affordability, infrastructure, and housing. The Federal government had announced an additional investment of $1 billion for affordable housing, including student housing. The President highlighted the student residences that had been built, were being planned, or were under construction across all three campuses. He stressed that additional support was needed from all levels of government, particularly in the area of accelerating regulatory approvals, and improving access to capital grants and low-cost financing. He underscored that the University was advocating strongly to ensure that Budget 2024 addressed the Bouchard Report’s recommendations.

QS Sustainability Ranking

The President concluded his remarks by reporting that the University of Toronto had been ranked first in the world in the 2024 QS Sustainability Rankings, up from second last year. He explained that the ranking reviewed more than 1,400 institutions across 95 countries on their performance in environmental, social, and governance metrics. He noted that this was a wonderful tribute to the innovation and commitment of the many University faculty, students, staff, and alumni who were dedicated to meeting the world’s most pressing challenge of the 21st century.

A member commented about his and students feelings of safety on campus and asked about tangible steps that were being taken to fight antisemitism. The President responded that the issue was recognised as a problem, in society and on campuses around the world. He noted that the recommendations from the Report of the Working Group on Antisemitism were being implemented, which included ensuring that the University equity officers were well prepared to respond to any complaints and incidents, and that steps had been taken to ease reporting processes for hate-related incidents.

The member also commented on issues of antisemitism within the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, and asked if a subcommittee would be struck to address these issues. The President responded that a number of changes were being made to curriculum, including adding modules on antisemitism, and that the Faculty had acknowledged their history of restrictive admissions quotas and access to residencies. This work was part of a longer process of recognizing and reconciling the past, and to address current challenges.

Another member noted the importance for ongoing assessment of antisemitism at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and inquired about mechanisms to report back. The President noted two existing mechanisms – one was the previously mentioned website to track the implementation of the recommendations of the Antisemitism Working Group, and the other was the annual report to governance from the Institutional Equity Office.

A member remarked that it would be productive to have the same goals to address Islamophobia on campus. Another member expressed concern for anti-Palestinian racism and bias. The President agreed, noting that the University was seized with these issues, and that the administration was continuing to meet with these communities regularly, and that the new assistant director role would focus on addressing all forms of faith-based racism.

  1. Annual Report – President’s Advisory Committee on the Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainability

    The Chair invited President Gertler to introduce the item and presenters. President Gertler welcomed the co-chairs of the Presidential Committee on the Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability (CECCS): Professor John Robinson, Professor in the School of the Environment and the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, and Presidential Advisor on the Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainability; and Mr. Ron Saporta, Chief Operating Officer, Property & Sustainability. He also welcomed Mr. Faraz Alidina, a PhD student in the humanities. Mr. Alidina had worked with CECCS as a Sustainability Research Assistant as part of a work-study program from September 2022 to August 2023.

    President Gertler noted that this was the Committee’s sixth Annual Report (for information). He thanked the entire Committee noting the remarkable progress made to campus sustainability. Professor Robinson, Mr. Saporta, and the Committee had dedicated themselves to making the University more sustainable in every aspect of its operations and academic mission. Those achievements had captured significant attention in Toronto, across the country, and globally, as demonstrated by the world #1 QS ranking.

    Professor Robinson and Mr. Saporta presented the Annual Report, with the following highlights:
  • This year, the University of Toronto had placed first in the world for sustainability out of more than 1,400 institutions across 95 countries – an improvement over its second-place QS ranking in the inaugural edition released the previous year.
  • The QS ranking assessed universities for their environmental and social impact. It considered reputation and research outputs as well as new data sources such as the availability of institutional policies, data on impactful alumni, and national data from the OECD and World Bank.
  • During the past six years, the University of Toronto had made major strides in developing and expanding its teaching, research, and operational activities related to sustainability.
  • At a glance in 2023, there were 48 staff, faculty, and students serving as members of CECCS and its four subcommittees. CECCS had engaged with all 9 vice-presidential portfolios and had a total of 184 CECCS faculty and staff collaborators.
  • 29% of undergraduate courses included sustainability curriculum, with an 31% increase in enrolment to the Sustainability Scholar programs since last year.
  • Over 5,000 students were enrolled in sustainability community-engaged or experiential learning courses.
  • CECCS had two overarching principles: regenerative sustainability; and integration of academic and operational sustainability.
  • CECCS had four themes, which cut across all activities: Campus as Living Lab; University as Agent of Change; Sustainable Development Goals; and Student Leadership.
  • Four subcommittees: Teaching and Learning; Research; Operations, Engagement and Partnerships, each with multiple projects.
  • This year brought important milestones with the University’s Climate Positive Plan (e.g., geothermal field).
  • Full-time summer internships with partner organizations tackling sustainability challenges and opportunities in the region and globally had been piloted.

    Mr. Saporta invited Mr. Alidina to present on his work with CECCS on the ‘Integrating Environmental Sustainability in Research Conduct’ initiative, spearheaded by the CECCS Research Subcommittee. Highlights included:
  • The Project had worked with the various University leaders on the subcommittee, conducting research and drawing on the knowledge of subject matter experts and stakeholders, to investigate what an institutional framework to integrate environmental sustainability in research at the University of Toronto might look like.
  • Three key takeaways had been identified – Institutional-level commitments are always the first step; Coordination and broad engagement with all stakeholders in the research ecosystem is required; and Sustainable research requires resources.
  • Three recommendations had been made – Adopt an explicit institutional commitment to sustainable research; Advocate to the tri-council funding agencies to promote and build capacity in sustainable research practices; Build communities of practice and centres of excellence to promote and mainstream environmentally sustainable research.

    A member asked about the analysis of the project data to determine the recommendations. Mr. Alidina responded that the research project had been based upon a year of working with leaders, conducting literature reviews, and also consultation with subject matter experts.

    A member asked about sustainability in research, as opposed to sustainable research. The presenters agreed that the University could do more on this aspect, and that there was momentum building from the other subcommittees.

    A member commented on her appreciation for the statistics ‘at a glance’ and noted the statistic indicating that 29% of undergraduate courses included some aspect of sustainability. She asked which academic units were the early adopters of including sustainability into the curriculum. Professor Robinson responded that sustainability within the curriculum was measured using course descriptions and drawing key words from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). He noted that some courses were taught in a more traditional discipline, for example, at the School of the Environment, however some were teaching sustainability issues more indirectly (e.g., focussing on poverty). A member commented that using key words may not accurately measure the intensity of teaching sustainability, which might be greater in a committed course. Professor Robinson agreed, noting that it was a new ethos and new orientation to sustainability, however course syllabi was not currently available for a deeper assessment.

    The Chair invited Ms Isabel Mink, who had submitted a speaking request, to share her remarks. Ms Mink was a third year Master of Landscape Architecture student, joined by her student colleagues: Jessica Palmer and Bhavika Sharma. Ms Mink commented that the University had enormous potential to set an example for what sustainable change could look like. To mitigate climate change, there must be investments in the landscape, for example using more ecologically driven approaches, which may be more labour intensive. The CECCS’s overarching principles offered room to strengthen the social sustainability of the University, and she urged the CCECS to make explicit and concrete commitments to the material well- being of the University workforce and to consider the living wage. She commented that graduate students at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design had signed a petition for a living wage for all research assistant positions for master’s students.

    The Chair thanked the presenters for the presentation and the work of the Committee.
  1. Agreement between the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto Faculty Association regarding proposed revisions to the Policy for Librarians, 1991

    The Chair remarked that the item for approval was an agreement between the University and the Faculty Association regarding proposed revisions to the Policy for Librarians. She noted that there was no discussion of this item at the Academic board. She invited Mr. Rajiv Mathur, Chair of the Business Board, to comment on the discussion of the item at that body on November 22. 2023. Mr. Mathur reported that:
  • The Board had briefly discussed the professional and academic services of Librarians at the University.
  • It had also been interested to hear about the funding arrangements and cost recovery model of the Ontario Council of University Libraries – Scholars Portal.
  • The Business Board had recommended the item for approval.

    Members had no questions for the Provost.

    On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


    THAT the Memorandum of Settlement Between the University of Toronto Faculty Association and the University Administration, dated October 27, 2023, regarding the Policies for Librarians be approved, effective immediately.


The Chair noted that of the items listed on the Consent Agenda, one item, Item 5 – 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 5 be approved.

  1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting of the Governing Council

    The minutes of the previous meeting for October 26, 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. Review of Academic Programs and Units, Part 1
    2. Report Number 61 of the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Council (November 15, 2023)
    3. Report Number 62 of the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus Council (November 14, 2023)
    4. Report Number 275 of the Business Board (November 22, 2023)
    5. Report Number 248 of the Academic Board (November 16, 2023)
    6. Report Number 237 of the University Affairs Board (November 21, 2023)
    7. Report Number 546 of the Executive Committee (December 5, 2023)


  1. Date of the Next Meeting – Thursday, February 29, 2023 at 4:30 p.m.

    The Chair advised members that the next Governing Council meeting (Cycle 3) was scheduled for Thursday, February 29, 2023 at 4:30 p.m., at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
  2. Question Period

    A member asked what set the University of Toronto apart for advancing sustainability, given its recent QS ranking. The President responded that there were many initiatives advancing the University on this front, however having two co-chairs – one from the operations side and the other from an academic perspective – brought the work together with immense payoff on both sides.

  3. Other Business

    There were no items of other business.

    The Governing Council moved in camera.


  1. Report Number 67 of the Committee for Honorary Degrees

    On motion duly made, seconded, and carried


    THAT the recommendations contained in Report Number 67 of the Committee for Honorary Degrees be approved; and

    THAT the Chancellor and the President be empowered to determine the degree to be conferred on each candidate and the date of the conferral.
  2. Senior Appointments

    On motion duly made, seconded, and carried


    THAT Professor Emeritus Ian Orchard be appointed as Acting Vice-President, University of Toronto, concurrent with his appointment as Acting Principal, University of Toronto Mississauga, for a six- month term, effective January 1, 2024 to June 30, 2024; and

    THAT Professor Linda Johnston be appointed as Acting Vice-President, University of Toronto, concurrent with her appointment as Acting Principal, University of Toronto Scarborough, for a six- month term, effective January 1, 2024 to June 30, 2024.

The meeting returned to open session.

The Chair wished all members a safe and restful holiday season.

The meeting adjourned at 5:57 p.m.

January 19, 2024