Report: UTSC Academic Affairs Committee - January 11, 2024

UTSC Campus Council Chambers, AA160



To the UTSC Campus Council, University of Toronto,

Your Committee reports that it held a meeting in the Council Chamber, Arts and Administration Building, on Thursday, January 11, 2024 at 3:10 p.m. with the following members present:

PRESENT: Elaine Khoo (Chair), Gillian Mason (Vice-Chair), Linda Johnston (Acting Vice-President &  Principal), William A. Gough (Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean), Muntaha Almahjub, Iris Au, Susannah Bunce, Corinne Beauquis, Elyse Caron-Beaudoin, Dhra Chourey, James Bremer, Shelley Brunt, Christopher Cochrane, Sotos Damouras, Sébastien Drouin, Suzanne Erb, Rene Harrison, Irmi Hutfless, Mariana Jardim, Randy Lundy, Alice Maurice, Alison Mountz, William Nelson, Elizabeth O'Brien, Natalie Oswin, Jasmin Patel, Thy Phu, Bavan Pushpalingam, Hadiya Roderique, Anthony Ruocco, Mauricio Terebiznik, Karen McCrindle, Mahinda Samarakoon, Shennel Simpson, Sofia Suleman, Judith Teichman, Lianne Tripp, Phil Triadafilopoulos, Shelby Verboven, Liana Williams, Niyonta Zulfiquar, David Zweig, Marco Zimmer-De Iuliis

REGRETS: Irena Creed (Vice-Principal, Research & Innovation), Syed Ahmed, Georgios Arhonditsis, Sandra Bamford, Joshua Barker, Angela Hamilton, John Hannigan, Patrica Landolt, Sharlene Mollett, Julia Nefsky, Sonja Nikkila, Kamini Persaud, Karyn Sethi, Michelle Silver, Jessica Wilson, Varsha Patel

NON-VOTING ASSESSORS: Martha Harris, Michael Souza, Naureen Nizam

SECRETARIAT: Emma Thacker, Megann Davidson

IN ATTENDANCE: Cheryl Lepard (Educational Developer, UDL), Krystle Phirangee (Sr. Educational Developer - Lead, Assessment & Digital Learning)


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair, Professor Elaine Khoo, welcomed members and guests to the meeting. She offered a special welcome to Professor Linda Johnston, who was appointed as UTSC’s Acting Vice-President and Principal while Professor Wisdom Tettey was taking a six-month administrative leave.

    Professor Khoo reported that the Winter 2024 governance elections nominating period was open, with the following seats vacant: 7 Teaching Staff positions (one from each of the following departments: Language Studies; English; Management; Health & Society; Computer & Mathematical Sciences; Historical & Cultural Studies, and Physical & Environmental Sciences); 1 administrative staff position; and 7 student positions (5 undergraduate and 2 graduate students).
  2. Presentation – Academic Integrity and Artificial Intelligence: Teaching, Learning and Academic Integrity in the ChatGPT Era

    The Chair invited Professors David Zweig (Vice-Dean, Recruitment, Enrolment and Student Success) and Karen McCrindle (Acting Vice-Dean, Teaching, Learning and Undergraduate Programs) to introduce the topic. Dr. Krystle Phirangee (Sr Educational Developer - Lead, Assessment & Digital Learning) and Cheryl Lepard (Educational Developer, UDL) presented with the following highlights:

  • Several versions of ChatGPT existed, with various differing features, such as knowledge base, word limit, and cost.

  • The University was licensed with Microsoft Copilot, and it was available to faculty, staff, and librarians, but not to students (at the time of the meeting). The secure enterprise edition of Microsoft Copilot, conformed to the University’s privacy and data protections.
  • The University generally discouraged the use of ChatGPT for instructors until there was assurance that personal data was protected. Until the University formally approved of the use of specific generative AI software, these tools would be considered with the same cautions as other third-party applications that ingested personal data.      
  • The student use of generative AI tools for creation of an assignment in part or whole was seen as the student knowingly using an unauthorized aid, (as per the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters) if the instructor advised students that the use of AI tools was prohibited.
  • The University discouraged the use of AI-detectors for student work. Sharing students’ work with these detectors without their permission also raised a range of privacy and ethical considerations.
  • Chat GPT had limitations such as: it does not understand the meaning of text it generates; responses may contain outdated information; may generate biased, discriminatory, or offensive text; may generate fake & incorrect references; may provide incorrect content and information; and can only be specific to a certain extent.
  • ChatGPT can be used as a student learning tool to generate practice test questions; aid in understanding course concepts; identify shortcuts for complex STEM problems; prepare for upcoming course content; summarize their own lecture notes; do initial quick search for a deeper dive; develop study plans & study guides; translating text into preferred language.
  • This presentation covered the basics of ChatGPT based on ChatGPT’s capabilities and limitations in late 2023 – it is anticipated that the model and expectations will change.

    A member asked for clarity regarding learner variability and assessment design. Cheryl Lepard clarified that students present with unique learner profiles (e.g., disabilities), and that this was important for assessment design, in balance with academic integrity.

    A member asked for clarification regarding shortcuts to complex STEM problems. Cheryl Lepard responded that with some complex STEM problems, students may use ChatGPT to get a base understanding of the problem before deeper learning. 

    A member asked if research had shown that ChatGPT was effective for students for practice questions. Cheryl Lepard responded that Chat GPT should not replace the Learning Strategist - it was just one tool and did not offer the metacognition aspect. It was suggested to speak about both pros and cons of its use in the classroom.

    A member asked about the institutional decision to offer Microsoft CoPilot, given there was discouragement to use AI in many contexts. Professor Zweig responded that while he did not speak on behalf of the institution, his thought was that given the new reality, there must be some integration with AI tools.

    A member asked about evidence for allegations of AI use under the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. Professor Zweig commented that providing evidence to support an allegation could be challenging, and so it was important to also focus on prevention, with appropriate assessment and teaching strategies.
  1. Minor Modifications: Undergraduate Curriculum, Sciences, UTSC

    The Chair invited Professor Michael Souza (Acting Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs & Curriculum), to present the item. Highlights of the proposal included one course modification (STAC67H3) from the Department of Computer & Mathematical Sciences. The Department of Psychology proposed 8 program modifications and five new courses (PSYB80H3, PSYC17H3, PSYC86H3, PSYC87H3, PSYD28H3).

    Members had no questions.

    On motion duly moved, seconded and carried,


    THAT the proposed Sciences undergraduate curriculum changes for the 2024-25 academic year, as detailed in the respective curriculum reports, be approved.
  2. Proposed Revisions: Change to Academic Regulation 6C.1.4: Concerning Course Load (Deferred Examinations)

    The Chair invited Shelby Verboven (Registrar & Assistant Dean Enrollment Management), to present the proposed regulation change. Ms. Verboven provided the following highlights:

  • Undergraduate students who missed their final exams must submit a petition to defer writing the exam to the following session, four months later. This model could be stressful and did not support student success.
  • The UTSC Registrar’s Office was implementing an Expedited Deferred Exam Schedule, in alignment with UTM.
  • The earlier scheduling for deferred exams would enable students who missed an exam for the first time to write their deferred exam within a month of missing the originally scheduled exam. This change removed the need for the regulation for students to restrict course loads in the upcoming session.
  • The change aligned with practice, as the current systems did not support option to restrict student course load. The new regulation language asked students to be mindful and seek advice from their academic advisors regarding course load and deferred exams.

    A member asked if a student deferred a second time, would the exam move to the next deferred exam period. Shelby Verboven responded that if the second deferred exam was approved, the student would write in the month following the exam period.

    A member asked who would grade the exam, should the sessional instructor not be available. Shelby Verboven noted that the current practice would still apply – that the department would ensure an appropriate teaching staff member to grade, should the original instructor not be available.

    On motion duly moved, seconded and carried,


    THAT the proposed changes to UTSC Academic Calendar regulation 6C.1.4, concerning course load and deferred examinations, as detailed in the accompanying report, be approved effective January 11, 2024. 
  1. Report of the Presidential Assessors

    The Chair invited Professor William Gough (Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean) to present his report. Dean Gough began his report by welcoming members back and thanking them for their work on the Academic Affairs Committee. He reported the following highlights:
  • Professor Karen McCrindle was appointed to serve as Acting Vice-Dean Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs, from January 1, 2024 until 31 January 2024 while Acting Vice-Dean, Professor Suzanne Sicchia was on leave.
  • Professor Patricia Landolt was appointed to serve as Acting Chair, Department of Sociology, January 1, 2024 to February 16, 2024 while Professor Joseph Hermer was on leave.
  • Professor Corinne Beauquis was appointed as Interim Chair of the Department of Language Studies from January 1, 2024 to June 30, 2024, while a search was completed.
  • New program, Major in Public Law, was coming forward through governance. The External Reviewers had been positive in their assessment of the proposed program.
  • The upcoming cycles would also see some additional major and minor modifications coming forward seeking approval.
  • Professor Gough’s term as Dean would end June 30, 2024. Transition preparations were underway, and an announcement regarding the new Dean’s appointment would be coming in the near future.

    A member asked about academic content of the Major in Public Law. Professor Christopher Cochrane (Chair, Department of Political Science) was invited to respond. He reported that the major broadly covered legal foundations, such as courses on constitutional law and processes around criminal law. There was focus on the political process and implications of the law.


On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


THAT the consent agenda be adopted and that Item 7, the Report of the Previous Meeting, be approved.

  1. Minor Modifications: Undergraduate Curriculum, UTSC (for information)
  2. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 67 – October 19, 2023
  3. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting
  4. Date of Next Meeting – Thursday, February 8, 2024, 3:10 p.m.

  1. Other Business

    No other business was raised by members.

The meeting adjourned at 4:10 p.m.

January 22, 2024