Report: Governing Council - May 19, 2022

Council Chamber, Simcoe Hall, 27 King's College Circle, 2nd floor


MAy 19, 2022

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL held on May 19, 2022 at 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 12 and 13 took place in camera.

Brian D. Lawson (Chair), Janet L. Ecker (Vice-Chair), Meric S. Gertler, (President), Cheryl Regehr, (Vice-President and Provost), Harvey T. Botting, David N. Bowden, Vikram Sainadh Chadalawada, Janet Cloud, Robert Cooper, Ann Curran, Stark Draper, Susan Froom, Sandra Hanington, Maureen Harquail, Paul Huyer, Sarosh Jamal, Amin Kamaleddin, Evan Kanter, Kikelomo Lawal, Anna Kennedy, Sameer Lal, Ernest W.N. Lam, Kikelomo Lawal, Ron Levi, Rajiv Mathur, Douglas E. McDougall, Joanne J. McNamara, Mozynah Nofal, Danielle Skipp, Salvatore M. Spadafora, Nhung Tuyet Tran, Veronica Marie Wadey, Mary-Agnes Wilson, Grace Ann Westcott, Vishar Yaghoubian

Sheree Drummond (Secretary of the Governing Council)

Regrets: Rose M. Patten (Chancellor), Andrew Chen, Teodora Dechev, K. Sonu Gaind, Vina Goghari, Shashi Kant, Mark Lautens, Jan K. Mahrt-Smith, Karen Ng, Ryan Teschner, Wisdom J. Tettey, Kenneth Javier Williams, Geeta Yadav, Samra Zafar, Lara K. Zink

In Attendance:
Kelly Hannah-Moffat (Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture), David Palmer (Vice-President, University Advancement), Jeff Lennon (Assistant Vice-President, Planning & Budget), Bryn MacPherson (Assistant Vice-President, Office of the President & Chief of Protocol), Susan McCahan (Vice-Provost Academic Programs and Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education), Sandy Welsh (Vice-Provost, Students), Anthony Gray (Director, Strategic Research, Office of the President), Nadina Jamison (Chief Strategy Officer, Office of the President), Susan Mazza (Special Projects Officer, Office of the President); Archana Sridhar (Assistant Provost), Kristin Taylor (University Counsel and Chief Legal Officer), Erin Jackson (Chief Human Resources Officer), Ihab Khalil (Chief Operations Officer, Human Resources); Asmaa Maloul (Director, Reporting and Analytics, Institutional Research & Data Governance), Jodie Glean-Mitchell (Executive Director, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion), Rion Levy (Student Presenter), Cherilyn Nobleza (Executive Director, Human Resources Transformation & Analytics), Teresa Russo, Faculty Presenter

Anwar Kazimi, Samantha Frost, Tracey Gameiro, Kristi Gourlay, Tim Harlick

  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the in-person meeting.
  1. Report of the President

    President Gertler opened his remarks by welcoming Dr. Teresa Russo, from the Material Culture & Semiotics Program at Victoria College, and Mr. Rion Levy, a 3rd year Victoria College student studying literature and critical theory, material culture and semiotics. As representatives of the team who had won the 2021 Experiential and Work Integrated Learning Ontario (EWO) Student of the Year Award, Dr. Russo and Mr. Levy presented on the team’s research and contributions to the ArcGIS story map of Giovanni Boccacio’s The Decameron. The web-based resource had been developed as a class project in partnership with the Niagara Catholic District School Board, and was designed to assist educators in teaching the Middle Ages to Ontario high school students. The project was an important example of work-integrated learning in the humanities.

    President Gertler thanked Dr. Russo and Mr. Levy for sharing their team’s work with governors.

    Ukraine Update

    The President provided an update on the University’s response to the ongoing war in Ukraine. He noted that the Scholars at Risk program had been expanded to include any individuals whose current or proposed program of study had been impacted by turbulent political environments in their country of study. In response to the war in Ukraine, the university had made a commitment to match all donations to the fund up to $1 million, and he noted there had been an enthusiastic response to date. He also noted that the University’s Emergency Grants program was available to support the urgent needs of current students whose financial circumstances had been affected by unforeseeable emergencies, and that support for affected students would also be offered through tuition deferrals for the summer and fall semesters. Divisions and campuses were also developing plans to forge partnerships with institutions in Ukraine and had been successful at attracting pledges exceeding $4 million to support those plans. The President also emphasized that the University’s full range of mental health and other services were available to all incoming students and others affected by the war, and efforts were being made to ensure that students were aware of these services.

    President Gertler reported that he had recently joined leaders of universities belonging to the Association of American Universities in a virtual meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the efforts of North American universities to extend support to Ukrainian students and scholars, as well as the co-operation emerging between universities. President Zelensky had expressed his sincere gratitude for the support and encouraged institutions to contribute to the rebuilding of Ukraine’s society, including its universities.

    Federal Budget

    President Gertler reported that the federal budget released on April 7th had included several new investments related to the higher education sector. These had included funding to help manage research security, funding to support Black researchers and new Canada Excellence Research Chairs in STEM disciplines, funding for the Muslims in Canada Archive (a collaboration with U of T’s Institute of Islamic Studies), and additional support to expedite the processing of international student visas. The budget also had announced the creation of a new Canadian Innovation and Investment Agency to help address the lagging innovation performance of Canadian businesses.

    The President also reported that, while the Liberal campaign platform had proposed to create 1000 new Canada Research Chairs, there had been no reference to this commitment in the budget. He emphasized that re-investment in fundamental research by increasing the budgets for the Granting Councils was essential for Canadian research institutions to remain competitive with other countries. He noted that these areas would continue to be a major focus of sector advocacy.

    Provincial Updates

    The President reported that the government had released its pre-election budget on April 28th, although it had not been voted on as the writ was dropped soon after for the June 2nd election. The budget had included investments in clinical, life sciences and health education, as well as an additional $204 million commitment to mental health and addiction services. He noted that as the election approached, the University would continue to advocate for higher education and advanced research support.

    The President concluded his remarks by asking the Vice-President and Provost, Professor Cheryl Regehr, to respond to a question from a member about the impact of inflation on the University’s operations. Professor Regehr reported that high inflation rates had put some pressure on the relatively few operations across the University that relied on external goods and services, particularly food services. She advised, however, that because the University’s main revenue sources were constrained with frozen domestic fees and operating grants, persistent high inflation would ultimately put pressure on larger operational needs like staff compensation and would also have an impact on student aid programs. Professor Regehr also advised that capital projects had been impacted by the pricing volatility and hyper-inflation in the Toronto construction market with the result that it would be necessary for the University to re-evaluate projects over the next few years. She reported that the University was taking steps to minimize these impacts.

  2. 2021 Performance Indicators for Governance

    At the invitation of the Chair, the Provost provided an overview of the 2021 Performance Indicators for Governance 2021 Report, which measured the University’s progress towards long-term goals in a range of teaching and research areas (full presentation here). Professor Regehr made reference to the following areas:
  • the University’s success at exceeding the performance-based metrics introduced in the third provincial Strategic Mandated Agreement (SMA3);
  • the continued success of the University’s international ranking results, at meeting tri-campus sustainability goals, and at maintaining strong global support from donors;
  • in-person and online course registration;
  • ongoing operation of residences through the pandemic;
  • increased investment in student mental health supports including the My Student Support Program (My SSP) and the increased demand for services provided by Accessibility Services;
  • results of student experience and employment equity surveys;
  • continued growth in international student enrollment, experiential learning opportunities, research funding;
  • maintenance of retention and graduation rates;
  • decrease in graduate employability, consistent with provincial norms;
  • increase in number of start-up companies;
  • the University’s strong financial position and budget model based on credit ratings.

In the discussion that followed, members raised questions about the following:

  • the efficacy of different methods of course delivery;
  • the reasons why students might not be graduating within six years;
  • progress on the University’s goal to provide every student with an opportunity for experiential learning;
  • the University’s learning support and advising services; and
  • any impacts of international student enrollment on domestic enrollment.

In response, the Provost advised the following:

  • The University was in the process of assessing the data gathered in course evaluations which would provide information about delivery effectiveness, noting that the need to shift suddenly to online delivery without the opportunity to design courses for that format would likely have an impact on feedback. Prior to COVID, students had indicated they wanted some flexibility – not all courses online, but maybe one or two per term.
  • Preliminary data was available on students who were more likely to graduate within six years, and more would be known when the University completed the compilation and analysis of data from multiple sources, which has been the subject of intensive work for the previous five years.
  • The University was committed to the goal of providing experiential learning opportunities for all students but was still in the process of gathering data to assess how close it was to meeting that goal because the SMA measure did not reflect the amount of non-course-based experiential learning taking place.
  • The University was exploring different strategies to enhance learning support and advising services including the development of a system to coordinate information gathered by different student services, beginning with a pilot across the Faculty of Arts & Science and the colleges, and the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education.
  • Domestic student numbers were fixed by the government and the University filled all spaces with highly qualified domestic applicants. The student experience was enriched by the diversity of perspectives brought by international students, and complemented fixed domestic numbers.

The Chair thanked the Provost and her team, in particular Ms Asmaa Maloul, Director, Reporting and Analytics, Institutional Research & Data Governance, for the work on this important annual report.

  1. Strategic Presentation: Updates on the Future of Work & Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

    The Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture, Professor Kelly Hannah-Moffat, provided a presentation which brought together key information from two reports that had recently been presented to the Business Board this cycle – the People Strategy, Equity and Culture Annual Report for 2021 and the Employment Equity Report. Professor Hannah-Moffat summarized factors shaping the University’s approach to the future of the workplace which responded to changes in priorities for employees that had emerged during the pandemic. She emphasized that the University’s top priority was providing in person support to students and researchers while also providing an inclusive, flexible, and supportive environment to employees which was responsive to their evolving needs and would contribute to maintaining the University’s reputation as an employment leader in the higher education sector.

    In response to questions from members, Professor Hannah-Moffatt provided clarification on the roles that were more conducive to working remotely, and how the University was making efforts to maintain its reputation for attracting the best talent by exploring options for flexible work arrangements where possible.


On motion duly made, seconded, and carried


THAT the consent agenda be adopted and Item 6 approved.

  1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting of the Governing Council, March 31, 2022

    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. Review of Academic Programs and Units - Part 2 (Arising from Report 239 of the Academic Board (April 27, 2022))
      1. Semi-Annual Report on the Reviews of Academic Programs and Units - Part 2: October 2021 - March 2022.
    2. Report Number 228 of the University Affairs Board (April 20, 2022)
    3. Report Number 53 of the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus Council (April 25, 2022)
    4. Report Number 264 of the Business Board (April 26, 2022)
    5. Report Number 239 of the Academic Board (April 27, 2022)
    6. Report Number 530 of the Executive Committee (May 10, 2022)


  1. Date of Next Meeting – Tuesday, June 28, 2022 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

    The Chair noted that the date of the next meeting was June 28 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.
  2. Question Period

    A member raised a number of questions about Item 7(a)i on the Consent Agenda regarding the UTQAP review of the Faculty of Music. In response, the Provost advised the following:

  • The Climate and Culture Review of the Faculty of Music commissioned by Dean Hisama had been completed and the findings of the review and its recommendations would be presented at two Town Hall meetings on May 24th.
  • The Faculty would be publishing a Dean’s statement and an extensive executive summary of the Review on its website shortly after the Town Hall meetings.
  • The Climate and Culture Review had addressed some of the potentially negative dynamics that could be a part of the Faculty’s conservatory culture and arts education more generally. The Faculty was developing clearer guidelines for faculty and students on boundaries, instructional relationships, and addressing issues or conflicts that may arise.
  • The Faculty was committed to acting on the findings of the UTQAP and Climate and Culture reviews in a transparent manner. The University investigated all reports made under the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment and an annual report from the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre with statistics about both disclosures and reports was provided to governance
  1. Other Business

    There were no items of other business.

    The Governing Council moved in camera

In Camera Session

The Governing Council moved in camera.

  1. Members of the Governing Council to Governance Bodies – 2021-22

    On motion duly made, seconded. and carried


    THAT the recommendations concerning the members of the Governing Council to Governance bodies for 2022-23, as outlined in the memorandum from Sheree Drummond, Secretary of the Governing Council, dated May 3, 2022, be approved.
  2. Senior Appointments
    1. Acting Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity and Culture

      On motion duly made, seconded. and carried


      THAT Professor Heather Boon be appointed Acting Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity and Culture, for a six-month term, effective January 1, 2023 to June 30, 2023.

    2. President of the University of Toronto

      On motion duly made, seconded. and carried


      THAT Professor Meric Gertler’s term as President of the University of Toronto be extended from June 30, 2023 until June 30, 2025, subject to such terms and conditions of appointment as are approved by the Senior Appointments and Compensation Committee.

The meeting returned to open session.

The meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.

June 12, 2022