REPORT NUMBER 201 OF THE PLANNING AND BUDGET COMMITTEE
September 23, 2021
To the Academic Board, University of Toronto
Your Committee reports that it held a virtual meeting on September 23, 2021, at 4:10 p.m., with the following members present:
Jan K. Mahrt-Smith, (Chair), Mark Lautens, (Vice Chair), Trevor Young, (Acting Vice-President and Provost), Scott Mabury, (Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships), Trevor Rodgers, (Assistant Vice-President, Planning & Budget), Bisma Ali, Carol C. Chin, Janet Cloud, Ettore Vincenzo Damiano, Lisa Rebecca Dolovich, Markus D. Dubber, Daniel Haas, Tony Harris, Sarosh Jamal, Rita Kandel, Ernest W.N. Lam, Rajiv Mathur, Nicole Mideo, Amy Mullin, Marium Nur Vahed, Melanie A. Woodin, Vishar Yaghoubian
David Palmer, Vice-President Advancement
Edward (Ted) H. Sargent, Vice-President, Research and Innovation and Strategic Partnerships
Tracey Gameiro, Secretary
Elizabeth Cragg, Director, Office of the Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships
Archana Sridhar, Assistant Provost, Office of the Vice-President and Provost
ITEMS 5 and 6 ARE RECOMMENDED TO THE ACADEMIC BOARD FOR APPROVAL. ITEM 8 IS FOR APPROVAL. ITEMS 3 and 7 ARE REPORTED FOR INFORMATION.
- Introductions and Chair’s Remarks
Professor Jan Mahrt-Smith introduced himself as Chair of the Committee and welcomed members and guests to the first meeting of the governance year. The Chair also introduced Vice-Chair, Professor Mark Lautens, and Committee Secretary, Ms Tracey Gameiro.
The Chair referred members to the Planning and Budget Orientation video which had been provided to members in advance of the meeting. He noted that the orientation video had been designed to provide an overview of where the Planning and Budget Committee sat within governance at the University of Toronto, as well as key elements of its Terms of Reference and areas of responsibilities. He strongly encouraged members who had not yet had the chance to view the video to do so, and suggested to those who had, that they revisit it throughout the year.
The Chair then introduced the Senior Assessor, Professor Trevor Young, Acting Vice-President and Provost (while Professor Cheryl Regehr was on leave), the Voting Assessors, Professor Scott Mabury, Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships, and Mr. Trevor Rodgers, Assistant Vice-President, Planning and Budget.
- Calendar of Business for 2021-22
Members received the Calendar of Business for information. The Chair encouraged members to review the Calendar carefully so that they would have a better understanding of the items that would come forward for the Committee’s consideration.
- Approvals Under Summer Executive Authority
The Chair reported that no decisions within the purview of the Planning and Budget Committee had been made under Summer Executive Authority in 2021.
- Assessors’ Reports
At the invitation of the Chair, Acting Provost, Professor Trevor Young, provided members with a brief update on the University’s ongoing response to the pandemic, beginning first with its impact on enrolment numbers. He reported that the University of Toronto saw strong demand in both domestic and international enrolment, with an increase of nearly 9% in domestic student confirmations, and an increase of more than 5% in international student confirmations. Other research intensive Ontario universities, had by comparison, experienced declines in both domestic and international enrolments following higher than anticipated enrolment levels last year.
Professor Young noted that on August 31, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities announced that Ontario universities could deliver in-person teaching without physical distancing and capacity limits provided they had a vaccine mandate, indoor masking, and other public health measures in place. Physical distancing and capacity limits remained in place for non-instructional spaces along with all other requirements of Step 3 of the government’s reopening plan. Professor Young reported that decisions on how best to incorporate this late-breaking provincial guidance were being made at the campus and divisional levels so that the approach that best served their needs could be adopted. This meant that rates of in-person activity would vary across campuses and divisions this fall and details about updated plans were being communicated as quickly as possible. He indicated that, over the course of the prior weeks, the Office of the Provost had sent regular updates to the community regarding health and safety requirements and how the University was implementing them. Professor Young shared that many students had conveyed the importance of being physically present on campus, both for their academics and mental well-being and that faculty and staff were working hard to ensure that students would find a safe and welcoming environment when they returned.
Speaking to the initiatives taken in preparation for a return to campus, Professor Young spoke to the success of the rapid screening program, and the pop-up vaccination clinics on campus. Professor Young noted that those intending to be on campus would need to upload proof of vaccination to UCheck (the same online tool used to complete mandatory health screening before coming to campus). He reported that 72, 000 community members had done so, and that of those, 94% were fully vaccinated.
Professor Young added that many of the initiatives implemented by the University had been endorsed by the University of Toronto Faculty Association on its checklist of health and safety measures for the return to campus. He thanked every member of the community for their hard work, patience, and dedication to the well-being of students and the mission of the University.
Responding to a member’s question received in advance of the meeting, Professor Young addressed options for instructors in circumstances when the mask requirement in classrooms could impede instruction. He indicated that instructors with divisional approval were permitted to remove their own masks for pedagogical reasons; with guidance from Environmental Health and Safety on how appropriate safety measures would remain in place (e.g. physical distancing from students, plexiglass dividers). Professor Young suggested that instructors could also augment their in-class teaching with videos.
Report of the Vice President – Operations and Real Estate Partnerships
Professor Scott Mabury provided a summary overview of the capital projects underway as well as a forecast of projects anticipated to come forward through governance this academic year. He noted that construction on all three campuses had been accelerated to take advantage of the significantly reduced traffic on campus during the months in-person activity had been restricted due to the pandemic. An estimated thirteen capital projects were anticipated to come forward through governance in the 2021-22 academic year (totaling 70 000 gross square meters). Not all would come before the Planning & Budget Committee, but those that might included: the Health and Wellness Centre at the Koffler Student Services Centre, the Emerging and Pandemic Infections Centre at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, the Harbord Residence, and the Dentistry Simulation Lab.
Further to the report of the Acting Provost, a member noted the clear expectations regarding vaccination and mask wearing mandates, but inquired about consequences for those who did not meet the requirements. In reply, Professor Young stated that if students planned to attend in-person classes but do not meet the requirements, they would not be able to attend classes physically and would need to make alternate arrangements. He noted that the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students was working to arrange accommodations where that was possible.
Professor Mabury added that the University’s intention was that those wishing to attend on campus needed to be fully vaccinated. Staff and faculty able to work remotely would be supported in doing so to the extent possible. Those with public facing responsibilities requiring an on-campus presence but who had not adhered to the stipulations regarding attendance on campus, could be asked to take an unpaid leave until fully vaccinated.
In closing, Professor Young spoke to the ongoing support, education, and resources provided to address vaccine hesitancy.
- Bicentennial Campaign – Approval of Campaign Priorities and Plans
The Chair invited Mr. David Palmer, Vice-President, Advancement, and Professor Trevor Young, Acting Vice-President and Provost, to present the item for information.
In his introductory remarks, Professor Trevor Young spoke to the academic planning and approved academic priorities for the new campaign the University was to embark on.
Mr. Palmer made a detailed presentation on the Campaign. The presentation discussed the framework for gifts and donations at the University of Toronto in the context of academic priorities and the Provostial Guidelines on Donations (updated in 2021). The central administration had worked closely with divisions to identify the Campaign Priorities. Each division had played a critical role in setting individual priorities, in order of importance and magnitude, which were submitted to the Office of the Vice-President and Provost, and these were being presented for governance approval. Mr. Palmer also shared with members the planning and consultation process and reviewed the benefits and opportunities of a campaign. Seven themes underscored the campaign’s platform to advance the University’s commitment to inclusive excellence: Next Generation, Healthy Lives, Sustainable Future, Equitable Cities & Societies, Creativity & Culture, Vanguard of Discovery, and Bold Innovation. The presentation offered the following highlights:
- the campaign would advance a wide range of priorities for equity, diversity & inclusion, and transformational capital projects and research priorities;
- at its public launch this year, the campaign would support the implementation of 84 marquee and institutional strategic initiatives that had been identified to date;
- the campaign had two main goals: 1 million instances of alumni engagement from 225,000 unique alumni; and 4-billion-dollars in donations which would be achieved across two phases (quiet and public);
- a virtual launch was planned for late fall 2021.
Acknowledging a question submitted in advance in writing by a member, Mr. Palmer spoke to how the campaign planning addressed the challenges brought about by COVID-19. He noted that there were a wide range of new academic funding priorities in this area identified through academic planning, including some that had already attracted funding and some that the University was actively fundraising for. He also noted there were a wide variety of initiatives supporting students, including financial aid and student mental health and wellness. Specific to supporting graduate students, Mr. Palmer indicated that consultations were ongoing with the School of Graduate Studies to develop new mechanisms for direct financial support for graduate students, as well as how best to support their experience with supervision and sense of community.
The Chair commented on the connection between engagement and giving that was highlighted during the presentation, noting that beyond the monetary benefit of engaged alumni, an overlapping benefit was felt directly by divisions in terms of improved program delivery as a result of the interactions of alumni with faculty, staff and researchers.
A member asked how sustainability would be a focus of the campaign. In response, Mr. Palmer indicated that there were specific initiatives in a number of divisional plans and also in the University’s institutional strategic initiatives that were focused on sustainability and climate change. Those included initiatives in clean technology, climate policy, climate science, as well as in environmental conservation, renewable energy, and the sustainability of the University’s own three campuses. As a result, he foresaw sustainability remaining one of the biggest points of emphasis among the Campaign’s teaching and research priorities.
On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried,
YOUR COMMITTEE RECOMMENDED
THAT the Summary of Approved Academic Funding Priorities (Campaign Priorities Summary) as of August 20, 2021, be approved as the planning framework for the University’s fundraising campaign.
- Proposed Revisions: Policy on Capital Planning and Capital Projects
The Chair highlighted the responsibilities of the Committees with respect to Capital Projects, and outlined the reasons for the proposed revisions to the Policy on Capital Planning and Capital Projects. He added that the proposed revisions would preserve accountability and help focus governance oversight at appropriate levels.
Professor Scott Mabury stated that the review of the Policy was undertaken in light of how the types and worth of capital projects across all three campuses had developed over the years. This had resulted in the proposed revisions regarding definitions of different types of capital projects, threshold changes in “total project costs” (TPC); and the related governance paths for approval for Level 1, 2 and 3 capital projects. Related to project budget increases, Professor Mabury highlighted that a significant change to the Policy was the addition of an ad hoc body comprised of the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the governance bodies that originally recommended the capital project for approval. This ad hoc body would have the authority to determined whether the revised TPC should be brought back through the full governance path for approval, or to use its authority to itself approve the project budget increase. He explained this would give the administration the necessary flexibility to plan and execute capital projects on an expeditious and commercially advantageous basis.
There were no questions from members.
The Chair thanked Professor Mabury for providing the background to the proposed Policy revisions; and for the work by the Working Group.
On a motion duly moved, seconded and carried
YOUR COMMITTEE RECOMMENDED
THAT the revised Policy on Capital Planning and Capital Projects be approved, to be effective October 28, 2021.
- Revisions to the Terms of Reference of the Planning & Budget Committee
The Chair stated that the Governing Council had established Boards and Committees and assigned responsibilities among those bodies through their terms of reference. The Governing Council had periodically approved changes in Board and Committee terms of reference to respond to changing circumstances and expectations of governance. Professor Mahrt-Smith advised that the proposed revisions to the Terms of Reference of the Planning & Budget Committee were a consequence of the revised Policy on Capital Planning and Capital Projects.
- Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 200 – May 6, 2021
Report Number 200 (May 6, 2021) was approved.
- Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting
There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
- Date of the Next Meeting – October 27, 2021, 3:10 – 5:10 p.m.
The Chair reminded members that the next meeting would be held on October 27, 2021.
- Other Business
There were no items of Other Business.
The Chair thanked members for their attendance and participation.
The meeting adjourned at 6:00 p.m.
September 27, 2021