Report: Governing Council - May 13, 2021

Via Virtual Meeting

MAY 13, 2021

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL held on May 13, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. via virtual meeting.

Pursuant to section 28 (e) and 38 of By-Law Number 2,
consideration of items 10-13 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, Teodora Dechev, Stark Draper, Janet L. Ecker, Susan Froom, K. Sonu Gaind, Avrum I. Gotlieb, Sandra Hanington, Maureen Harquail, Sarosh Jamal, Amin Kamaleddin, Shashi Kant, Anna Kennedy, Paul Kingston, Sameer Lal, Ernest W.N. Lam, Mark Lautens, Kikelomo Lawal, 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, Grace Westcott, Bruce Winter, Vishar Yaghoubian, Samra Zafar, Lara Zink

Sheree Drummond (Secretary of the Governing Council)

Regrets: Ann Curran, Joan Johnston, Marium Vahed

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), 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), Tony Gray (Director, Strategic Research, Office of the President)

Simon Pratt, Director, Policy & Analysis, Institutional Research & Data Governance (Item 3)
Josh Mitchell, Director, Real Estate (Item 10)
Christine Burke, Assistant Vice-President, University Planning (Item 10)
Signe Leisk, Cassels (Item 10)
Adrianna Pilkington, Cassels (Item 10)
Veronica Wadey (Governor Elect)

Anwar Kazimi, Kristi Gourlay, Samantha Frost, Patrick McNeill

  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the meeting. She reported that the Report of the Task Force on Anti-Black Racism had been delivered in mid-April and noted that the administration had accepted all 56 of the Task Force’s recommendations, including those specific to governance. In response to recommendations pertaining to governance, she reported that the Secretariat would continue to work with partners to build awareness of University governance and opportunities for engagement.
  2. Report of the President

    The President began his remarks by addressing the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ (CAUT) recent motion of censure of the University of Toronto pertaining to the discontinued search for a professional/managerial director position for the International Human Rights Program (IHRP) at the Faculty of Law. He expressed disappointment that CAUT had made this decision which the University believed was unwarranted. He confirmed that the University stood behind the findings of the external review conducted by the Honourable Thomas Cromwell who had concluded that external influence did not play any role in the decision to discontinue the recruitment process; it had been driven by concerns regarding immigration and timing constraints. Mr. Cromwell had further concluded that the allegations of breaches of academic freedom were not supported by the evidence. Professor Gertler noted that the University had accepted all of the recommendations in Mr. Cromwell’s Report and was acting on them. The President reported that the Dean of the Faculty of Law had launched a comprehensive review of the IHRP and its long-term needs and was consulting widely with colleagues in the faculty to foster reconciliation. The President went on to comment on matters pertaining to advancement which had been highlighted in Mr. Cromwell’s Report. He noted that the University had robust policies and guidelines in place that had for many years served it well in defining the relationship between the University and its donors. President Gertler acknowledged that the Report had found that these policies had not been adhered to in their entirety in this case, and that he had asked the Vice-President, Advancement to take specific action to address these concerns. President Gertler reaffirmed that the University remained strongly committed to upholding the principles and practice of academic freedom and merit-based hiring without external interference.

    Federal Matters
    The President made reference to the Budget that had been released on April 19th, noting the significant items that supported higher education and advanced research. The President also commented on the success of the concerted advocacy of the University, together with Universities Canada, regarding the growing backlog of study permit applications and the lengthy process times posted on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. The President reported that IRCC had recently announced that all international students who had completed their visa applications by May 15th would be notified of the status of their applications by August 6th, enabling them to arrive in Toronto for the fall term.

    Provincial Matters
    The President advised that on April 30th, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities had announced a one-year extension to the current tuition freeze for Ontario students. He reported that the University of Toronto continued to focus advocacy on a long-term approach to financial sustainability that responded to the needs of universities across the province and protected affordability for students.

    Max Planck-University of Toronto Centre
    The President concluded his remarks by announcing that on April 15th, the University and Germany’s Max Planck Society – one of the world’s foremost scientific institutions – had established the Max Planck-University of Toronto Centre for Neural Science and Technology (MPUTC). MPUTC would combine the talents of a team of internationally renowned researchers in neural science and technology that would further enhance the position of U of T and its hospital partners among the world leaders in these fields.  President Gertler observed that MPUTC was a strong example of how working with partner hospitals and leveraging combined strengths in research and education could open doors to international collaborations at the highest levels.

    In response to members’ questions about the CAUT censure, the President reported the following:
  • The University was committed to the goal of having the IHRP emerge stronger from this episode, continuing to provide opportunities for experiential learning, and doing the important work for which it was known.
  • Lapses such as those identified in Mr. Cromwell’s report were unusual and rare; however, the University was using the opportunity to revisit, evaluate, and strengthen its current practices and policies that governed the relationship between the University and its donors.
  • The President was committed to keeping the community informed about the situation; he had already written two letters to the community and the University had created an FAQ website to answer questions about the censure and what it meant for community members.
  • Channels of communication with CAUT remained open.
  • The University had expressed the importance of allowing the Faculty of Law to undertake its own collegial process of consultation, discussion, and reconciliation. When that was completed, the Faculty would undertake a new search to fill the IHRP director position.
  • The University was doing everything it could to support colleagues at the Faculty of Law and was optimistic that they would find a way to overcome their differences and make decisions in the best interests of students in the program.

    At the invitation of the President, the Provost provided a COVID-19 update and highlighted the following regarding the University’s response to the pandemic:

  • The majority of the roughly 2,500 students in residence had returned home at the end of the winter term, with 400 choosing to remain over the summer, and 150 new residents.
  • The University was gauging student interest in residences for the fall and was continuing to work closely with Environmental Health and Safety on occupancy limits and health and safety protocols while waiting to hear what provincial guidelines would be.
  • The University’s quarantine programs continued to help students arriving in Canada. As of the end of April, nearly 2,900 students had registered for these programs and just over 2,600 students had completed them.

  • On-campus research was continuing with measures in place to follow public health guidance.
  • The pandemic had created additional stressors for graduate student researchers and the University was working to provide as much flexibility as possible around where and when graduate student researchers conducted their academic research, virtual mentorship opportunities, and emergency bursaries to support their academic success.

    Academic Continuity
  • The University continued working on plans for the fall semester, with different contingencies in place.
  • While uncertainty remained, the ramping up of Ontario’s vaccine program and the opening of additional vaccination clinics were encouraging signs.
  • The University was working with the entire university sector to approach the government on a number of important issues that were going to affect the fall semester.

    Vaccine Clinics 
  • The University of Toronto Mississauga clinic continued to provide a significant service to the community and had administered 100,000 vaccines since opening in March.
  • The St. George clinic, with its patient-focused design, had administered 11,200 doses despite operating only once or twice a week due to vaccine shortages.
  • The St. George campus team had developed a partnership with the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health and Na-Me-Res to provide culturally appropriate and safe vaccinations to the downtown Toronto Indigenous community. There had been two one-day clinics focused on this population which had provided more than 800 vaccinations to community members and one-day clinics would continue to operate throughout the summer.
  • The St. George team had also been asked to operate a pop-up vaccination site in a high-risk neighbourhood in Rexdale and had delivered 9,500 vaccines in its first week. There were plans to run the pop-up again in the near future.
  • The University of Toronto Scarborough remained committed to supporting their broader community with COVID-19 testing, administering around 400 tests per day, and having completed more than 80,000 tests since December 2020.

    Preparing for a Safe Return to Campus
    In preparation for a safe return to campus, the University was pursuing a dozen strategies including:
  • using UCheck and other means to screen for health before coming to campus;
  • using scheduling and capacity limits to minimize building occupancy;
  • rearranging spaces to promote physical distancing;
  • requiring the use of nonmedical masks as appropriate;
  • continuing the practice of enhanced cleaning of high-touch points;
  • assessing, upgrading, and modifying classroom ventilation and air filtration to meet or exceed high standards;
  • creating support for contact tracing through the use of building access QR codes;
  • deploying rapid screening where appropriate; and
  • monitoring wastewater in larger residences to mitigate potential outbreaks before they happen.

    Professor Scott Mabury, Vice President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships and Vice Provost, Academic Operations, provided further details about some of the strategies to which the Provost had referred:
  • Wastewater monitoring in large residences had proven successful in detecting a resident with the virus two days ahead of the manifestation of symptoms, allowing the population of the residence to be tested and the infected student isolated. He reported that the initiative would be expanding to include up to 11 residences and that response protocols to leverage rapid screening had been developed.
  • The voluntary rapid screening pilot testing was focused on essential service groups which had higher interactions with the public and was integrated with the UCheck application.
  • The Tri-campus ventilation strategy had been updated. By September, the ventilation systems would deliver six air changes per hour in every classroom scheduled for use.
  • The development and testing of a new dashboard to assist with communicating to the community the University’s efforts at preparing for a safe return to campus and which would provide the opportunity to learn more about individual strategies.

    Professor Mabury also referred to efforts at improving cyber security together with other universities and colleges and with support from the federal government.

    The Chair thanked the President, Provost, and Professor Mabury for their reports.
  1. 2020 Performance Indicators for Governance

    At the invitation of the Chair, the Provost provided an overview of the 2020 Performance Indicators for Governance, highlighting the following:
  • the University’s response and adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic including:
    • $9 million in emergency bursaries to support students impacted by the pandemic;
    • the move to on-line courses resulting in higher registration than previous years;
    • faculty engagement in research and significant contributions to the world’s response to the pandemic, and
    • COVID-19 Student Engagement Awards for students who were working on different projects related to the pandemic;
  • the strength of the University’s international rankings, including successes in securing research funding, a breadth of publications and citations, and tremendous success in developing start-up companies;
  • the University’s commitment to student support, including financial support, investment in accessibility, and the commitment to student mental health;
  • a focus on improving the student experience and addressing the challenges faced by large urban institutions;
  • investment in experiential learning and making more opportunities available to students;
  • the continued growth of research funding;
  • employment equity with a focus on inclusive excellence; and
  • tri-campus work in sustainability.

    In response to questions from members, the Provost confirmed the following:
  • The data collected on student graduation rates was for full-time students and that the trajectory for part-time students would be different.
  • The University continued to welcome and support part-time students.
  • The University was exploring ways to look at the data gathered in order to answer questions about retention rates and what types of students were more likely to leave the University between their first and second years.
  • The University was investing resources on specific pathway programs so that students with diverse educational experiences could be provided with the diverse supports they needed to succeed.

    The Chair thanked the Provost and her team, in particular Mr. Simon Pratt, Director, Policy & Analysis, Institutional Research & Data Governance, for the work on this important annual report.
  1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting of the Governing Council – April 6, 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 47 of the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus Council (April 19, 2021)
    2. Report Number 47 of the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Council (April 21, 2021)
    3. Report Number 223 of the University Affairs Board (April 22, 2021)
    4. Report Number 258 of the Business Board (April 27, 2021)
    5. Report Number 233 of the Academic Board (April 28, 2021)
    6. Report Number 521 of the Executive Committee (April 6, 2021)*
    7. Report Number 522 of the Executive Committee (May 4, 2021)
  4. Date of Next Meeting – Thursday, June 24, 2021 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

    The Chair confirmed that the next meeting would be held on June 24, 2021 at 4:30 p.m.
  5. Question Period

    There were no questions from members.
  6. Other Business

    A member had requested to address the Governing Council about the University’s use of the Statement of Land Acknowledgement. In the member’s view, as there was a strong land connection to all of the University’s work, and that a key purpose of such statements was to remind the community of the need for diversity of thought when making decisions, the Statement should be used at the start of all Governing Council, Academic Board, and Business Board meetings.

    The Chair reported that the possible use of the Statement at governance meetings was under consideration and thanked the member for sharing his views.

    The Governing Council moved in camera
  7. Property Matter

    On motion duly made seconded, and carried

    It was Resolved

    THAT the recommendation of Professor Scott Mabury, Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships, as outlined in the memorandum dated May 6, 2021, regarding a property matter, be approved.
  8. Members of the Governing Council to Governance Bodies – 2021-22

    On motion duly made, seconded, and carried

    It was Resolved that the

    THAT the recommendations concerning the members of the Governing Council to Governance bodies for 2021-22, as outlined in the memorandum from Sheree Drummond, Secretary of the Governing Council, dated May 6, 2021, be approved.
  9. Report of the Committee to Review the Office of the University Ombudsperson 2020-2021

    On motion duly made, seconded, and carried

    It was Resolved

    THAT the Report of the Committee to Review the Office of the Ombudsperson 2020-21, dated April 27, 2021, be accepted and that the recommendations contained therein be endorsed in principle. 
  10. Senior Appointment

    On motion duly made, seconded, and carried

    It was Resolved

    THAT Professor Bruce Kidd be appointed as University Ombudsperson, for a three-year term effective July 1, 2021 until June 30, 2024.

The meeting adjourned at 7:04 p.m.

May 18, 2021