Report: UTM Campus Council - January 24, 2024





To the Governing Council,

University of Toronto,

Your UTM Campus Council reports that it held a meeting in the Council Chamber, Room 3130, W. G. Davis building on January 24, 2024
with the following members present:

PRESENT: Ann Curran (in the Chair), Andrew Petersen (Vice-Chair), Ian Orchard (Acting Vice-President & Principal), Heather Anderson, Hassaan Basit, Rafael Chiuzi, Jenny Cui, Wenchao Du, Robert Gerlai, Rosa Hong, Ehab James, Karen Kwan Anderson, Latonya Ludford, John Paul Lotesto, Asif Mohammed, Eha Naylor, Phoenix Seelochan, Joanna Szurmak, Hana Tariq, Laura Taylor, Ziyaad Vahed, Ron Wener, Daniel Wright

NON-VOTING ASSESSORS: Luke Barber (Acting Chief Administrative Officer), Nicholas Rule (Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean), Mark Overton (Assistant Dean, Student Services and Dean of Student Affairs)


SECRETARIAT: Cindy Ferencz-Hammond

IN ATTENDANCE: Brian Cunha (Director, Student Housing & Residence Life) Andrea De Vito (Director, Hospitality and Ancillary Services), Christine Esteban (Executive Director, Budget, Planning & Finance), Jeff Espie (Director, Vice-Presidential Communications), Megan Evans (Asst. Director, Hospitality and Ancillary Services), Renu Kanga Fonseca, (Assistant Dean, Enrolment Management & Registrar), Jennifer Hartman (Office of Communications), Vicky Jezierski (Executive Director, Hospitality and Ancillary Services), Brian Kennedy (Asst. Director, Residence Finance), Antonia Lo (Director Student Services and Ancillaries, Budget, Planning & Finance), Daniella Mallinick (Assistant Dean, Office of the Vice-Principal Academic & Dean), Chad Nuttall (Assistant Dean of Students and International Initiatives), Sean Park (Assistant Director, Access and Transition), Brian Tan (Residence Student Support)


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and thanked the tour leaders for a wonderful tour of the new Science Building. She then welcomed former Vice-President & Principal Professor Emeritus Ian Orchard, who would be filling in for Alexandra Gillespie while she was on a six-month administrative leave. The Chair also welcomed Acting CAO, Luke Barber, and newly appointed Assistant Dean and Registrar, Enrolment Management, Renu Kanga Fonseca.

    The Chair provided an update on the nominations received and elections required in the governance elections. It was noted that the Deputy Returning Officer, Cindy Ferencz-Hammond, would be offering a candidate information session on Thursday, January 25 at 11 a.m. for those running in the elections. An update on UTM governance elections highlighted that nominations had been re-opened to fill three graduate student seats.

    Next, the Chair noted that two student members of the Campus Council had requested that the UTM Student Union (UTMSU) be allowed to speak on “international issues and alternative concerns.”  The Secretary responded and reminded these members that, generally, non-members were not allowed to speak on topics not on the agenda unless it aligned with the governance body's specific role and mandate.  It was emphasized that there was a formal provision for non-members to speak on relevant topics, through a “request to speak” form and that the UTMSU could submit a request, available on the governance website.  The Chair noted that no such request was received by the deadline, which was by 5:00 p.m. the day before the meeting. 

    Finally, the Chair gave the floor to Professor Ian Orchard, who made the somber announcement of the recent passing of Professor Emeritus Hugh Gunz, a professor of organizational behaviour and human resources management in the Department of Management.  Professor Gunz’s significant contributions to UTM governance were recognized, citing his contributions as the inaugural Vice-Chair of the UTM Campus Council and subsequently serving as its Chair.  Condolences on behalf of UTM had been sent to his family.
  2. Report of the Vice-President & Principal

    Professor Orchard expressed thanks to the Council for his warm welcome and expressed his enthusiasm for the university's powerful vision for the future.

    In his report, he highlighted four significant goals for 2024: reimagining academic advising to enhance student success, implementing UTM’s first Strategic Research Framework, emphasizing Black excellence and inclusion with initiatives like the Black Opportunities Fund, and launching the Climate Positive Plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2043.

    The academic advising goal aimed to empower more UTM students to thrive, graduate on time, and enjoy a fulfilling university experience.  The Strategic Research Framework reflected the growth in faculty since 2010, making the most of UTM’s expansion in research across various fields. The commitment to Black excellence and inclusion included ongoing efforts to implement the recommendations of U of T’s Anti-Black Racism Task Force, the introduction of the Black Opportunities Fund, and recognition of achievements in anti-racism initiatives.  Professor Orchard stressed the importance of building a campus community that reflected diversity and inclusion, with UTM having over 15,500 undergraduate students from various provinces and countries.  He noted that the Climate Positive Plan focused on sustainability, illustrated by examples such as the geothermal system in the Instructional Centre and the new science building, contributing to UofT’s commitment to remain the most sustainable university globally.  Professor Orchard expressed his excitement about contributing to these goals and more in the coming months.

    Professor Orchard then invited Brian Ingoldsby, Senior Project Manager, Project Management Office, Office of the Vice-President & Principal, who presented an overview of a new academic advising initiative.

    Mr. Ingoldsby delivered a comprehensive presentation, emphasized the project's importance in supporting student learning and shared its background and rationale, project goals, and the execution plan.

    The presentation delved into various drivers behind the academic advising project, starting with consistent feedback from both students and staff indicating opportunities for improvement in academic advising.  He highlighted the outcomes of focus groups with students in 2021, where concerns about academic advising were repeatedly raised. The National Survey for Student Engagement in 2020 revealed that 58% of UTM students considered academic advising a barrier to their academic progress. This number increased for racialized students and those with disabilities, underscoring the need for enhancement. Staff interviews also echoed the sentiment that there was room for improvement in capacity, training, coordination, and collaboration in academic advising.

    A second driver emphasized in the presentation was the substantial body of research that consistently positioned academic advising as a pivotal element in supporting student success and retention. The six-year graduation rates for the 2016 cohort at UTM were presented as an opportunity for improvement, with a current rate of 69.2%. The presentation stressed the vital role of academic advising in retention and the need for it to be an integral part of the first-year experience.

    The third driver highlighted was the alignment of the project with UTM's strategic priorities at different levels, including provincial indicators, institutional goals, and local priorities outlined in the UTM strategic framework.

    Mr. Ingoldsby then discussed the project's goals, outlining three primary objectives. The first goal involved identifying a goal state for academic advising at UTM based on scholarship, best practices, and community input. The second goal was to develop an implementation strategy, sequencing recommendations for the most effective impact on student and staff success. The third goal was to engage the UTM community actively throughout the project to ensure broader involvement.

    The presentation detailed the project's leadership structure, featuring an executive steering committee with representation from various areas involved in academic advising. The project team, supported by the project management office, was described as responsible for drafting the final report. Seven working groups were highlighted, each focusing on specific aspects of academic advising and evaluating them against established standards from the Council for Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) and the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA).

    A timeline for the project was presented, indicating the ongoing recommendation sub-project phase and the subsequent submission of a report to university leadership. The implementation phase, expected to start in the summer of 2024, was dependent on the acceptance of recommendations and would involve planning and sequencing.

    During discussion, the following points were raised:

  • Concerns about the implementation and resourcing of academic advising, given the challenging financial situation for academic institutions. Mr. Ingoldsby noted the potential return on investment in academic advising, which can be offset through improved retention.  In addition, the possibility of enhancing advising with existing resources and finding value in non-financial commitments to institutional priorities was emphasized.
  • Regarding graduation rates, particularly the 5 and 6-year rates, it was suggested that the administration investigate the factors influencing graduation rates. Mr. Ingoldsby acknowledged the improvement in graduation rates and expressed the intention to examine student experiences and collaborate with colleagues at St. George and Scarborough (UTSC) campuses on this topic.
  • A member commended administration on the concerted effort in academic advising and inquired about involving faculty and student organizations in the process. Mr. Ingoldsby affirmed the plan to involve faculty extensively, through working groups.
  • In response to a member’s comment on the objectives of the academic advising initiative, asking if it addressed course selection and how it would be implemented, it was noted that the initiative included reducing attrition, fostering a sense of connection, and guiding students towards developing goals. The implementation could involve various models, such as mandatory advising or first-year transition programs.
  • Another member raised concerns about the high portion of students struggling with graduation rates and speculated on possible reasons, including the impact of COVID-19 and academic offenses. Mr. Ingoldsby acknowledged the complexity of factors affecting graduation rates and mentioned ongoing research which aimed to inform best practices. He emphasized the importance of addressing the disconnect between provided services and student awareness.
  1. Enrolment Update

    At the Chair's invitation, Renu Kanga Fonseca, Registrar and Assistant Dean, Enrolment Management gave an update on enrolment.

    The presentation highlighted the following:
  • Data was shared on total headcount, new students, admission averages, entrance awards, graduation data, and strategic enrollment management planning.
  • The total headcount at UTM had steadily grown over the past decade, reaching just over 15,600 students in the current year, with approximately 27% international students and 73% domestic students.
  • New student intake included details on country of citizenship, high school admission averages, entrance awards, academic admission categories, and program demand.
  • Graduation data revealed the number of degrees conferred by degree type and graduation rates, showing a slight year-over-year improvement.
  • Strategic enrollment management (SEM) planning at UTM aimed to achieve and maintain optimum recruitment, retention, and student attainment while aligning with institutional goals.

    During discussion, the following questions and comments arose:

  • Questions regarding the impact of recent immigration announcements on SEM, international scholarship awards, and the goals for admission averages of domestic students.
  • Members questioned specific data points, such as asking for cumulative totals by country of citizenship, admission category changes, and wondered about considerations for international students receiving scholarships with no intention of working in Canada.
  • The Registrar clarified that there were no strings attached to scholarships or expectations that a student stays or works in Canada, and the value of having international students extended beyond financial considerations to include academic engagement, cross-cultural learning, and positive experiences that contributed to recruitment efforts.  The only expectation attached to awards was to maintain eligibility with respect to a full-time course load, and if an award was renewable, maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average.
  • In response to a member’s question, the Registrar responded that while there was no specific numerical goal for admission averages of domestic students, the aim was to maintain a strong and high entrance average, while considering the balance between recruiting the best students and meeting program diversity needs.
  1. Operating Plans: UTM Service Ancillaries for 2024-25

    The Chair invited Lucas Barber, Acting Chief Administrative Officer, to introduce the item. Mr. Barber noted that Service Ancillaries at U of T were measured over the long-term on their success in meeting Service Ancillary Reporting Group (SARG) objectives. He reported that at UTM, the ancillaries re-invested all positive net results to provide improved facilities, equipment and services to students, faculty and staff. He expressed his thanks to students, faculty and staff who participated in the consultations for these ancillary budgets.  He also referred members to details of the consultation process and rate comparisons to UTM’s peer universities in the materials that were made available for these budgets.

    Mr. Barber then invited Antonia Lo, Director, Student Services and Ancillaries, Brian Cunha, Director, Student Housing & Residence Life, and Vicky Jezierski, Executive Director, Hospitality & Ancillary Services, to provide details on the proposed ancillary budgets.

    During the presentation, an overview of the financial results forecast for ancillary services at UTM was provided. Student Housing & Residence Life was expected to have a net operating profit of $1.5 million, which was better than anticipated. Hospitality was projected to have a net operating loss of $729,000 due to lower commission rates and reduced facility space rental income during the summer months resulting from writers and actors strikes. Parking was forecasted to have a net operating profit of $1.8 million, thanks to increased sales of parking permits and higher pay and display revenues.

    Presenters discussed the capital budgets for each ancillary, with plans for renovations and construction projects. The Director of Student Housing and Residence Life shared information about the high demand for housing at UTM, with an increase in applications for residence spaces. While the operation was still able to meet the housing guarantee for students, there was a concern about meeting the needs of upper year students. He also discussed the ongoing townhouse renovation plan and efforts to provide affordable housing rates for students.  It was noted that the rates for the upcoming year had been determined after comparing them to rates on the St. George and UTSC campuses, as well as other university residences in Ontario and off-campus housing rates in Peel. The proposal was to increase undergraduate residence rates by 6.5%, while graduate, medicine, and family residence rates would increase by 3%. These rates were developed in consultation with the Student Housing and Residence Life Advisory Committee, which was made up of residence students.

    The Director of Hospitality Services discussed the challenges faced by the unit, including food inflation and a change in UTM’s food services provider, resulting in a forecasted operating loss. The loss of revenue due to actors and writers strikes in the summer of 2023 also negatively affected the ancillary.  The ancillary proposed a cash price increase average of 3.3% and meal plan increases of 3.4% for Basic Funds, with no change in Flex, with an overall average meal plan increase of 3%. Assumptions for this ancillary focused on external revenue sources such as rental fees and filming and production revenue.

    The Parking Services ancillary was projecting a deficit balance until 2025-26, at which point it was anticipated that it could contribute to the construction reserve for new projects or upgrades to parking lots. The implementation of the License Plate Recognition (LPR) system, the pay by plate feature for pay and display machines, the upcoming pay by app system, and the investment in EV charging stations, were mentioned as investments. Parking was proposing a 3% increase across the board for permits. This increase was part of a long-standing plan that was established to speed up the repayment of mortgages, which would be paid off in 2025. There were no proposed increases for the parking fee obtained from pay and display machines.

    Robert Gerlai, Chair of the Campus Affairs Committee summarized the extensive discussion that occurred at that committee at its meeting of January 9, 2024.

    On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


    THAT, subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee,

    THAT, the proposed 2024-25 Operating Plans and Budgets for the UTM Service Ancillaries, as summarized in Schedule 1, the service ancillary capital budgets as summarized in Schedule 5, and the rates and fees in Schedule 6, as detailed, in the proposal dated December 1, 2023, be approved, effective May 1, 2024.
  2. Strategic Research Framework

    At the invitation of the Chair, Payam Zahedi, Director of the Office of the VP Research, provided a presentation on UTM’s first-ever strategic research framework, launched in October of 2023.

    The framework consisted of five pillars: strengthening capacity, equipping trainees, empowering people, cultivating partnerships, and sharing knowledge. The goals included increasing external research funding, recruiting, and investing in students and emerging researchers, fostering a dynamic research environment, cultivating research partnerships, and expanding communication reach.

    Looking forward, the framework’s aim was to be both structured and agile, allowing for adaptability to changing community needs. Progress would be tracked through the annual research report, providing a comprehensive overview of the impact and achievements tied to the outlined goals. The framework's review and updates would be conducted annually to ensure alignment with strategic priorities.
  3. Reports of the Presidential Assessors

    At the invitation of the Chair, Mark Overton, Dean of Students provided an update on recent work in the development of next year’s Compulsory Non-Academic Incidental Fees.

    Mr. Overton explained that the Quality Service to Students Committee (QSS), advised governance on compulsory non-academic incidental fees. At QSS, administration engaged with student leaders each January, presenting a proposal based on fall consultations for fee increases through operating plans and budget proposals. 

    Mr. Overton showed a presentation and pointed to the current fees for Health Services, Recreation, Athletics & Wellness, and other services, which were shown in the first column, with proposed fees for 2024-2025 in the next column, along with the amount of change.  The presentation highlighted the maximum allowed fee increase without QSS endorsement, based on the Consumer Price Index and specific University of Toronto index calculations.

    He noted that the proposed fee increases for the upcoming term were well below the maximum allowed.  These results would be brought forward to Council in the next cycle, following consideration Campus Affairs Committee recommendation.


On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


THAT the consent agenda be adopted and that Item 9, report of the previous meeting, be approved.

  1. Reports for Information
    1. Report Number 53 of the Academic Affairs Committee – January 11, 2024
    2. Report Number 62 of the Campus Affairs Committee – January 9, 2024
    3. Report Number 63 of the Agenda Committee – January 15, 2024
  2. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 62 – November 14, 2023
  3. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting
  4. Date of the Next Meeting – Monday, March 4, 2024

  1. Other Business

    There was no other business.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:51 p.m.

January 30, 2024