Report: UTSC Academic Affairs Committee - January 15, 2020

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UTSC Council Chamber, Arts and Administration Building, Room AA160

REPORT NUMBER 41 OF THE UTSC ACADEMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

To the Campus Council,
University of Toronto Scarborough


Your Committee reports that it met on January 15, 2020 at 4:10 p.m. in the Council Chamber, Arts and Administration Building, with the following members present:


Present: Elaine Khoo (Chair), Sonja Nikkila (Vice-Chair)*, Wisdom Tettey, Heinz-Bernhard Kraatz (Vice-Principal, Research), Sauliha Alli, Shelley Brunt, Corinne Beauquis, Radhapriya Chawla, Christine Bolus-Reichert, Glenn Brauen, Curtis Cole, Shadi Dalili, Suzanne Erb, Sarah Guay, Angela Hamilton, Christopher Kouyoumdjian, Katherine Larson, Patricia Landolt, Mari Motrich, Annie Sahagian, Mahinda Samarakoon, Rania Salem*, Larry Sawchuk, Mark Schmuckler, Mary Silcox, Dorinda So, Michael Souza, Liana Williams


Regrets: Syed Ahmed, George Arhonditsis, Sandra Bamford, Arda Erturk, George Fadel, Barry Freeman, Alen Hadzovic, Alexander Irving, Thembela Kepe, Margaret Kohn, Jacob Koudys, Lisa Labine, Michael Lambek, Alfonso Manalo, Gillian Mason, Andrew Mason, Karen McCrindle, Michael Molloy, Juvenal Ndayiragije, William Nelson, Natalie Rothman, Sonia Sedivy, Grace Skogstad, Shelby Verboven (Non-Voting Assessor), Jessica Wilson, David Zweig

Non-Voting Assessors: Annette Knott

Secretariat: Emma Thacker

In Attendance: Aarthi Ashook, Sarah Chaudhry, Chris Cochrane, Hanan Domloge, Jessica Fields, Mark Fortney, Marie Gadziola, Julia Nefsky, Naureen Nizam, Marishka Pereira


Telephone Participants *


OPEN SESSION

  1. Chair’s Remarks

The Chair welcomed members and guests to the first Committee meeting of 2020. The Chair welcomed back Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, William Gough from his administrative leave, and thanked Professor Maydianne Andrade for stepping in as Committee Assessor in his absence. In addition, the Chair provided details on the election and the vacant seats for the Academic Affairs Committee.

Vice President and Principal, Wisdom Tettey shared few words about the tragic plane crash that had affected the University of Toronto community.

  1. Undergraduate Program Proposal - Major in Creative Writing

Mark Schmuckler, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, presented the proposal for a new Major in Creative Writing, leading to an Honours Bachelor of Arts (HBA). This was the first Major in this area of study available to UTSC students, and the first Major within the tri-campus University of Toronto. He remarked that the Department of English had been developing its creative writing programming since 2009, and a freestanding Minor in Creative Writing (Arts), that was launched in 2013-14, had been growing steadily, attracting students from across the campus as well as from within the Department of English. Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, William Gough thanked and acknowledged the faculty present at the meeting to support the new major: Professors Katie Larson and Sonja Nikkila.

A member asked if students had been consulted on the new Major. Professor Lawson confirmed that the students had been consulted and surveyed, and had had a significant impact on the proposal.

On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,


YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED,

THAT the new Major in Creative Writing (BA), as described in the proposal dated November 29, 2019 and recommended by the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, William Gough, be approved effective for September 2020.

  1. Undergraduate Major Modifications - Specialist/Specialist Co-op programs in Neuroscience

Mark Schmuckler, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, presented the proposal for major modifications to the Specialist and Specialist (Co-op) programs in Neuroscience from the Departments of Psychology and Biological Sciences. The changes were designed to address a number of curricular and pedagogical challenges, and to leverage existing teaching and research strength by establishing cognitive neuroscience as a distinct stream in the program. The Specialist and Specialist Co-op programs in Neuroscience will be restructured to have a common core and three streams: Systems/Behavioural, Cellular/Molecular, and Cognitive. In addition, a two-step registration model will be introduced. Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, William Gough thanked and acknowledged the representatives present at the meeting to support the modifications: Professors Mike Souza, Suzanne Erb, Hanan Domloge and Marie Gadziola.

A member asked if the changes will affect students in the Co-op. Professor Souza responded that the changes will not affect Co-op timing, and will introduce more flexibility for students.

On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,


YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED,

THAT the major modifications to the Specialist/Specialist (Co-operative) programs in Neuroscience (BSc), as described in the proposal dated December 2, 2019 and recommended by the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, William Gough, be approved effective Fall 2020 for the 2020-21 academic year.

  1. Undergraduate Minor Curricular Modifications, Humanities

Mark Schmuckler, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, presented the proposal for two new courses to be offered by the Department of Philosophy. He explained that the courses fill an experiential learning component and noted no net financial implications to the campus operating budget. Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, William Gough thanked and acknowledged the departmental representative present at the meeting: Professor Mark Fortney.

On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,

YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED,

THAT the minor modifications to undergraduate programs, submitted by UTSC undergraduate Humanities academic units, as described in Undergraduate Minor Curriculum Modifications for Approval, Report: Philosophy, dated January 15, 2020, and recommended by the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, William Gough, be approved effective Fall 2020 for the academic year 2020-21.

  1. Undergraduate Minor Curricular Modifications, Sciences

Mark Schmuckler, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, presented the proposal submitted by the Department of Biological Sciences. These changes represented an innovative and exceptional pedagogical innovation. The modifications included the addition of a postering requirement. Vice Principal Academic and Dean, William Gough thanked and acknowledged the faculty representatives present at the meeting: Professor Aarthi Ashok and Shelley Brunt.

A member asked about funding to support the costs associated with academic posters. Professor Brunt responded that students were surveyed and indicated they were willing to take on the costs.

A member asked about the capacity of faculty to take on these research based courses. Professor Brunt responded that the projects are curiosity driven. As such, the requirements are based on a critical reading of literature and the poster showcase, not independent research in a lab. Faculty would be available for ongoing consultation and questions from students throughout the course.

On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,

YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED,

THAT the minor modifications to undergraduate programs, submitted by UTSC undergraduate Sciences academic units, as described in Undergraduate Minor Curriculum Modifications for Approval, Report: Biological Sciences, dated January 15, 2020, and recommended by the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, William Gough, be approved effective Fall 2020 for the academic year 2020-21.

  1. Undergraduate Minor Curricular Modifications, Social Sciences

Mark Schmuckler, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, presented the proposal for minor modifications from Critical Development Studies, Human Geography, Health and Society, Political Science and Sociology. Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, William Gough thanked and acknowledged the faculty representatives and staff members present at the meeting to support the new courses: Jessica Fields, Glenn Brauen, Patricia Landolt, Marishka Pereira and Chris Cochrane.

A member commented that the international development coursework is considered overly theoretical by students, and asked about the inclusion of more experiential and practical work. Professor Fields responded that the proposed courses intend to respond to this exact concern, and will include local community engagement and partnerships. These courses were part of a cluster of courses to be developed.

On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,

YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED,

THAT the minor modifications to undergraduate programs, submitted by UTSC undergraduate Social Sciences academic units, as described in Undergraduate Minor Curriculum Modifications for Approval, Report: Critical Development Studies, Report: Human Geography, Report: Health and Society, Report: Political Science, and Report: Sociology, dated January 15, 2020 and recommended by the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, William Gough, be approved effective Fall 2020 for the academic year 2020-21.

  1. Sessional Dates - 2020 – 2021

The Chair noted that the Sessional Dates are presented to the Committee annually, for information. Dr. Curtis Cole, Registrar and Assistant Dean, Enrolment Management invited Naureen Nizam, Associate Registrar and Director, Systems and Operations to share the Sessional Dates. Dr. Nizam explained that the University introduced two Presidential Days early in 2019 which required making amendments to Summer 2020 sessional dates. Dr. Nizam also explained some of the parameters and constraints to consider when setting the dates, such as requiring twelve weeks for classes. A highlight of the schedule is the addition of the week for deferred exams during the Reading Week in Fall 2020, Winter 2021 and Summer 2021 session.

A member provided some suggestions for future programming, to allow for more Study Break days before the Final Exam period. Dr. Nizam responded that these ideas had been considered, however, given some constraints such as classes beginning after Labour Day, not all ideas could be accommodated.

A member asked if the introduced deferred exam week will affect existing policies regarding course load and petitions. Dr. Cole responded that the policies have not changed, however would be considered as part of a general review of the deferred exam policy. The Registrar’s Office was making all efforts to shorten the delays associated with deferred exam writing.

  1. Report of the Presidential Assessors

Vice Principal Academic and Dean, William Gough thanked members for a warm welcome back following an administrative and research leave. He also thanked Professor Maydianne Andrade for her work as Acting Vice Principal Academic and Dean. He reported on the restructuring of the UTSC Decanal team, to be completed by July 1, 2020. He also reported on some of the upcoming academic change that will come forward to the Committee, such as a double degree, a combined degree and several new certificates. He also mentioned that several new initiatives and facilitated transfer agreements will move through governance for information. An update was provided on the ‘Get Finished’ initiative, which saw 12 students graduate. This initiative identified students who have been enrolled for over six years, and near to graduation, to support them to graduate with financial incentive.

  1. Undergraduate Minor Curricular Modifications

The Chair explained that Item number 9 was for information only, and included smaller routine curricular changes from the following departments: Biological Sciences, Critical Development Studies, Center for Teaching and Learning, Human Geography, Health and Society, Political Science and Sociology.

Members had no questions.

  1. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 40 - Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The report of the previous meeting was approved.

  1. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.

  1. Date of Next Meeting - Monday, February 10, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.

The Chair advised members that the Committee would meet again on Monday, February 10, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.

  1. Other Business

A member asked Administration about the status of the course retake policy and Self-Declaration of Illness form, as these items were brought forward by the Scarborough Campus Student Union (SCSU). Mark Schmuckler, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate responded that a pilot to test the form was underway, and at this point there was no indication of misuse by students. Additional departments have been invited to join the pilot. UTM was considering implementing a similar initiative and UTSC will provide some consultation. Revisions to the course retake policy may come forward through governance later this year. This change was a mechanism for students to retake a course, and to have the first instance of the course not count towards the GPA. This is limited to a certain number of courses. The idea has been presented to the UTSC Chairs and Directors, who are generally supportive of the initiative.


The meeting adjourned at 5:40 p.m.