REPORT NUMBER 43 OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO MISSISSAUGA CAMPUS COUNCIL
October 6, 2020
To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto
Your Council reports that it met on October 6, 2020 at 4:10 p.m. in a Virtual Meeting Room.
Samra Zafar (Chair), Shashi Kant (Vice-Chair), Alexandra Gillespie (Vice-President & Principal), Sultan Akif, Hassaan Basit, Mitchell Bonney, Laura Cocuzzi, Dario Di Censo, Ivana Di Millo, Bryan Du, Hassaan Basit, Sanja Hinic-Frlog, Robert Gerlai, Shelley Hawrychuk, Sameer Lal, Joseph Leydon, Jay Nirula, Laura Taylor, Kathleen Yu, Ziyaad Vahed, Ron Wener
Amrita Daniere (Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean), Saher Fazilat (Chief Administrative Officer), Mark Overton (Vice-Principal, Student Services & Dean of Student Affairs)
Imre Gams, Mitra Yakubi
Christine Capewell (Executive Director, UTM Budget, Planning & Finance), Lorretta Neebar (Registrar & Director of Enrolment Management), Luke Barber (Director, Information and Instructional Technology Service, Tammy Cook (Executive Director, Facilities Management & Planning)
Sheree Drummond (Secretary of the Governing Council), Cindy Ferencz Hammond (Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council), Tracey Gameiro (Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council)
- Chair’s Remarks
The Chair welcomed members and guests to the first meeting of the Campus Council for the 2020-21 academic year. He introduced the Council’s Presidential Assessors and new members and reminded members about procedures for meetings in a virtual setting.
- Report of the Vice-President and Principal
Professor Gillespie began her report by providing an overview of the organizational structure of her office. She noted that she had invited the Director of the Equity and Diversity Office (EDO) as well as the Executive Director of Strategy to be a part of her Executive Team, and that she had also been in the process of expanding support staff in her office.
Professor Gillespie continued her report by expanding upon her priorities for the coming year. Firstly, her focus had been on the safe operations of the campus and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on not just responding to emergencies, but strengthening operations to make sure that they are as streamlined and as effective as they could be and that critical incident preparedness and operational readiness was in line with the University’s emergency plan. She noted that a communication would follow in mid-October about the ability of the campus to build capacity and facilitate testing for Covid-19.
Professor Gillespie reported that another area of focus would be the expansion of UTM’s communications office and with that the expansion of communication mechanisms within the UTM community as well as externally, to the Mississauga community and beyond.
Strengthening relationships with public health agencies, and local healthcare providers like Trillium Health Partners and supporting new student recruitment and enrollment strategies were two other priorities for the coming year. Professor Gillespie expressed her thanks to the Lorretta Neebar, Registrar and Director of Enrolment Management for her creative work in addressing recent challenges in student recruitment.
Professor Gillespie reported that jumpstarting research recovery including access to special government funds and the management of all operations and budgets in alignment with tri-campus policies, and taking full advantage of the University’s tri-campus system were also important priorities for the year.
Professor Gillespie discussed the wellbeing and community success of the campus as an overarching goal. Continued support would be provided to enable students to flourish with online learning and interactive supports in areas like health, mental health, and social supports. At the same time, ongoing support for faculty, staff and librarians, who needed to quickly adjust to working in digital environments would continue to be a focus. Immediate goals for mental health and holistic wellbeing were being pursued. In addition, with the appointment of Professor Rhonda McEwen, Special Advisor on Anti-Racism and Equity, Professor Gillespie and her Executive team would work to explore new initiatives, structures and educational opportunities in this area. Finally, Professor Gillespie noted that UTM would assume a leadership role in Mississauga’s Economic Resiliency Task Force as well as the Mississauga Board of Trade’s economic recovery group, noting the importance of contributing UTM’s expertise to aid in the economic recovery of the region.
Professor Gillespie concluded her report by discussing bigger, longer term goals with respect to excellence in student and faculty research, developing inclusive communities and sustainable spaces and inspiring academic innovation and student success. She noted that UTM would engage in a strategic planning exercise in 2021, but that in the meantime, these overarching goals would be kept in the forefront of any strategic plans. She noted that integrating the locally as well as internationally impactful research advances of UTM’s extraordinary faculty into undergraduate learning was a very important aspect of this work. Professor Gillespie explained that in her view, developing inclusive communities and sustainable spaces meant fostering a campus culture of physical, mental, and psychological wellness, which were connected the promotion of campus initiatives on equity and anti-racism, and deepening UTM’s connection with indigenous peoples and communities. Speaking to the physical space of the campus, she emphasized the importance of protecting and enhancing the biodiversity, sustainability and the beauty of the campus.
Professor Gillespie concluded her report by highlighting UTM’s ongoing work on positive transformations in undergraduate, graduate and professional education. She acknowledged the work of Professor Amrita Daniere, Vice-Principal Academic & Dean and her team in this area to make UTM one of U of T's absolute leaders in undergraduate education, and pedagogical innovation. She also acknowledged the work of Mark Overton, Vice-Principal Student Services and Dean of Student Affairs and his team on enhancing extra and co-curricular experiences and academic and personal support.
The Chair thanked the Vice-President & Principal for her report and commented how welcome her remarks on the equity, diversity and inclusion part of her priorities had been. A member commented on the importance and positive nature of the Vice-President and Principal’s participation in various initiatives in the Mississauga community.
In response to member’s question about what her most immediate priorities would be, Professor Gillespie explained that her presentation on the pandemic aspects of her priorities and its effects on the budget were most immediate, but noted that while dealing with the more urgent Covid-19 related needs, she was also simultaneously focused on the bigger and longer term priorities detailed in her presentation. She added that enhancing consultation and communication with the broader UTM community was a major part of the work related to these longer term projects, hence her expansion of UTM’s communications team.
In response to a member’s question about mental health support for students, Professor Gillespie noted that UTM had an extraordinary Health and Counseling team as well as important faculty research in this area, which would inform her priorities on this issue.
- Key Portfolio Challenges and Priorities for 2020-21
At the invitation of the Chair, Professor Amrita Daniere, Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean, Ms Saher Fazilat, Chief Administrative Officer, and Mr. Mark Overton, Vice-Principal, Student Services & Dean of Student Affairs, provided overviews of their portfolios and their priorities for 2020-21.
Professor Daniere discussed the various portfolios within her office and the implementation of the Academic Plan. She reported that sustainability initiatives continued to be a priority in terms of academic planning, research, and the physical environment at UTM. She reported on the progress of writing and numeracy initiatives, and noted that Professor Ruth Childs on loan to UTM from OISE had been appointed the Interim Director of the Institute for the Study of University Pedagogy (ISUP), and would oversee the hiring of five additional faculty. Areas of focus for the coming year included experiential learning opportunities, faculty growth and renewal, with 29 searches planned for 2020-21, and diversity initiatives. Professor Daniere noted that six Indigenous faculty had been hired at UTM in the past three years.
Ms Fazilat stated that a primary priority and challenge of her office was managing the impact of the pandemic on the campus. She stated that ancillary services had been greatly impacted, and since the operating budget did not support ancillary services, there would be significant changes to these budgets in the coming year. Work continued to ensure that adequate resources were provided to students, staff and faculty, and that appropriate support for online and in-person classes was readily available. Other areas of focus included working to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of daily operations across campus, expanding equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives, as well as creating standardized templates for agreements and legal transactions. Lastly, Ms Fazilat reported that a draft of the Campus Master Plan would pass through governance in early 2021. In terms of capital projects that would be submitted for governance approval in the coming year, she listed the Arts, Culture & Technology (ACT) Building, the Student Commons, a Robotics Laboratory Environment, and a new residence building.
Mr. Overton noted that the development of the Student Services Commons continued to be a priority, which would bring together most campus student affairs departments into one location, including the Career Centre, Centre for Student Engagement, International Education Centre and Accessibility Services, as a first stop for triaging and supporting student concerns. He stated that the creation of the new counselling space under the Health and Counselling Centre had been underway prior to the pandemic, and was scheduled to be completed by early next year. He noted that planning for residence expansion remained underway so that increasing first-year student demand could be met, as well as plans for the renewal of aging townhouses to meet returning students’ interests. Mr. Overton discussed plans for increased outdoor field space to accommodate a wider range of outdoor activities, and noted the development of a cricket program in particular. Lastly, he discussed efforts to support recovery from the impact of the pandemic on students and student services. He stated that a mobile information desk had launched on campus to provide information on student services for those physically present at UTM.
In response to a member’s question, the Vice-Principal Academic & Dean explained that the vast majority of UTM’s classes were remotely delivered and less than 10% of courses had an in-person component. In addition, remote courses consisted of a mix of both synchronous and asynchronous delivery, with most courses having a synchronous component with real-time interaction. Professor Daniere also noted that her office was very focused on educational quality and that enormous resources had been invested since the spring in technology, and training for faculty in order to optimize online teaching, with the addition of extra Teaching Assistants and Research Assistant support. She reported that thus far, there had been very positive feedback from students on this delivery method.
A member asked whether students were continuing to make use of student services. Mr. Overton noted that his office had seen significantly increased participation in some areas such as workshops, seminars, counseling panels and large scale work fairs offered online by the Career Centre and counselling and various other services offered by the Health and Counselling Centre; at the same time, there had been lower engagement with online services offered by the Recreation, Athletics and Wellness Centre.
In response to member’s question about the status of experiential learning opportunities, Professor Daniere explained that a variety of courses had experiential education as their core operating principle, have continued to incorporate such material taught in the virtual classroom. With respect to the number of experiential learning placements in physical settings, obviously they have been seriously affected, but there had been a good proportion of virtual experiential learning placements.
- Campus Fall Re-entry Planning and Preparation – Information and Instructional Technology Service (I&ITS) and Facilities, Management & Planning (FMP)
The Chair invited Ms Tammy Cook, Executive Director, FMP, and Mr. Luke Barber, Director, I&ITS, to present. Ms Cook reported on the various measures taken in the physical campus environment to protect against the spread of COVID-19. She reported that all public spaces and classrooms on campus had been mapped to calculate occupancy rates that would allow for two metres of physical distancing, and seating has been blocked with plastic wrapping or removed to ensure that individuals maintained distance while seated. Signage, directional separations and plexiglass barriers had been installed, and personal protective equipment, including sanitary wipes and sanitizer, were made available. She further reported that the UTM Readiness Committee had managed the campus’ Mask Distribution Program. Mr. Barber discussed measures related to classroom infrastructure amidst the shift to hybrid and remote learning. Among the many supports undertaken, he reported that classroom equipment had been refreshed, including the installation of professional cameras, remote support capabilities were upgraded, the campus’ Zoom license capacity was increased and security features were enhanced, and support capabilities with other interfaces had been improved. Mr. Barber stated that the I&ITS Service Desk had created over 300 knowledge-based articles to support members of the UTM Community.
- Revisions to the UTM Campus Council Terms of Reference
The Chair invited Ms Sheree Drummond, Secretary of the Governing Council, to present. Ms Drummond provided an overview of changes to the Terms of Reference for the Council and its Committees as a result of recommendations from the Report of the 2020 Committee to Review the UTM and UTSC Campus Councils, which was approved by the Governing Council at its June 25, 2020 meeting. Primary changes included adjustment to the governance pathway for the campus operating budget, which shifted engagement through an administrative process and allowed for increased engagement of the local community. There was also an adjustment to membership such that full-time and part-time undergraduate constituencies would be combined, with no change to the total number of seats. This would not preclude an outcome whereby there were students from each of these constituencies, but it is hoped that it would increase the likelihood that no student seats would go unfilled, which sometimes occurred within the part-time student constituency. This change would be reflected in the in the Election Guidelines 2021. Another change pertained to the addition of two EDU:As, the Institute for Management and Innovation (IMI), and the Institute for the Study of University Pedagogy (ISUP). The addition of these two units resulted in two additional ex officio Chairs and two additional elected teaching staff members added to the membership of the Committee. Finally, given the internal focus of the AAC, the appointment of community members from the Campus Council to the AAC has been reduced by one, allowing for some flexibility in the assignments of Campus Council community members.
- Calendar of Business, 2020-21
The Chair referred members to the Calendar of Business, and advised that the document was available and updated regularly on the Office of the Governing Council website. She encouraged members to review the Calendar on a regular basis and consult with the Secretariat if they had questions about forthcoming items.
- Report on UTM Capital Projects – as at September 30, 2020
- Reports for Information
- Report 43 of the Agenda Committee (September 24, 2020)
- Report 42 of the Campus Affairs Committee (September 14, 2020)
- Report 38 of the Academic Affairs Committee (September 15, 2020)
- Report of the Previous Meeting
Report number 42, dated May 25, 2020, was approved.
- Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting
- Date of the Next Meeting – Monday, November 16 at 4:10 p.m.
The Chair reminded members that the next meeting of the Council was scheduled for Monday, November 16, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
- Question Period
There were no questions.
- Other Business
There was no other business.
The Council moved in camera.
- Appointments: 2020-21 University of Toronto Mississauga Campus Council Members’ Standing Committee Assignments
YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED,
THAT Mitra Yakubi (student member of Campus Council) and Professor Sanja Hinic-Frlog (teaching staff member of Campus Council) be appointed to serve on the Agenda Committee when the Committee serves as a Nominating Committee of the UTM Campus Council for 2020-21, effective October 7, 2020.
The meeting adjourned at 6:01 p.m.
October 7, 2020