Report: UTSC Academic Affairs Committee - March 25, 2020

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Virtual Meeting Room

REPORT NUMBER 43 OF THE UTSC ACADEMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

To the Campus Council,
University of Toronto Scarborough


Your Committee reports that it met on March 25, 2020 at 4:10 p.m. in a virtual meeting, with the following members present:


Present: Sonja Nikkila (Vice-Chair), Wisdom Tettey, William Gough, Mark Schmuckler, Mary Silcox, Syed Ahmed, Glenn Brauen, Shelley Brunt, Corinne Beauquis, Christine Bolus-Reichert, Radhapriya Chawla, Curtis Cole, Shadi Dalili, Arda Erturk, George Fadel, Barry Freeman, Sarah Guay, Alen Hadzovic, Angela Hamilton, Alexander Irving, Jacob Koudys, Christopher Kouyoumdjian, Heinz-Bernhard Kraatz, Lisa Labine, Katherine Larson, Alfonso Manalo, Gillian Mason, Mari Motrich, Mahinda Samarakoon, Natalie Rothman, Annie Sahagian, Rania Salem, Larry Sawchuk, Dorinda So, Michael Souza, Liana Williams

Non-Voting Assessors: Annette Knott, Varsha Patel, Shelby Verboven

Regrets: Elaine Khoo (Chair), Sauliha Alli, George Arhonditsis, Sandra Bamford, Suzanne Erb, Nancy Johnston, Thembela Kepe, Margaret Kohn, Patricia Landolt, Michael Lambek, Michael Molloy, Andrew Mason, Karen McCrindle, Juvenal Ndayiragije, William Nelson, Natalie Rothman, Sonia Sedivy, Grace Skogstad, Jessica Wilson, David Zweig

Secretariat: Emma Thacker (Secretary), Tracey Gameiro

In Attendance: Sarah Chaudhry, Kyle Danielson, Doug Kong, Rena Prashad, Ron Shalev, Karen Smith

OPEN SESSION

  1. Chair’s Remarks

The Vice-Chair, Professor Sonja Nikkila, welcomed members and guests to the meeting, clarifying that she was stepping in as Acting Chair for this meeting. The Chair invited Vice-President and Principal, Wisdom Tettey to share a few remarks about the University response to COVID-19.

Principal Tettey acknowledged the challenges that all members of the community were facing at this time. He expressed gratitude for the commitment of members during this time of uncertainty, and assured members that the University was following business and academic continuity policies, as well as the advice of public health officials. He encouraged members to make use of available resources, and to stay informed through official university communications.

  1. Strategic Plan: Inspiring Inclusive Excellence: A Strategic Vision for the University of Toronto Scarborough

The Chair informed members that the Strategic Plan, ‘Inspiring Inclusive Excellence: A Strategic Vision for the University of Toronto Scarborough 2020-2025’, was an agenda item to be considered for concurrence, and invited Professor Tettey to address the committee.

Professor Tettey thanked those involved in the development of the Strategic Plan, and provided members with an overview of the consultation process, which began in November of 2018. Eight working groups were established to engage in consultation with various groups within the UTSC community. Professor Tettey reported on the values embedded as part of the Strategic Plan which included intentional inclusion, students as partners, reciprocity, and accountable stewardship. In alignment with the University’s mission, Long-term Planning Framework document, and Three Priorities, the UTSC Strategic Plan is pursuing a vision that focuses on five priority areas:

1. Innovative, High Quality Undergraduate and Graduate Experience & Success;

2. Scholarly Prominence in Established and Emerging Areas;

3. Intentional Inclusion and Relational Accountability;

4. Deep and Enduring Local, National and Global Partnerships & Networks; and

5. Participatory Decision Making and Supportive Administrative Capacity.

Professor Tettey reviewed the five priority areas and commented that implementation strategies would be developed to operationalize each priority, and allow for constructive accountability. Performance indicators would be tracked and measured using a ‘balanced scorecard’ approach for reporting and evaluating progress.

A member asked how often the Strategic Plan progress would be assessed. Professor Tettey explained that the assessment and tracking will be ongoing, and that a report on the progress of the Plan would be produced each year.

On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried,

YOUR COMMITTEE RECOMMENDED,

THAT the Academic Affairs Committee concur with the prospective recommendation of the Campus Affairs Committee,

THAT subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee,

THAT, Inspiring Inclusive Excellence: A Strategic Vision for the University of Toronto Scarborough (2020-2025), submitted by the Vice-President and Principal, Professor Wisdom Tettey, be approved in principle.

  1. Major Modification - New Double Degree: UTSC, Honours Bachelor of Arts, Specialist program in English / UTSC, Honours Bachelor of Science, Specialist program in Psychology

Mark Schmuckler, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, presented the proposal for a new double degree, for the Honours Bachelor of Arts, Specialist program in English, with the Honours Bachelor of Science, Specialist program in Psychology. He explained that double degrees allowed students to earn two degrees in a shorter time than if taking them separately. If approved, this was the second double degree option, offered at UTSC. Vice-Principal Academic & Dean, William Gough thanked and acknowledged the faculty present at the meeting to support the new offering: Professors Katie Larson (Chair, English) and Kyle Danielson (Psychology).

A member asked for clarification and assurance that the new double degree maintained the integrity of the individual programs and the goals of the University and UTSC Strategic Plan. Professor Gough responded that this type of offering was sanctioned by the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance (in short, the Quality Council). Universities must ensure that the learning outcomes of both programs are maintained, while there are some breadth credit requirements that overlap. Professor Danielson added that great focus was placed on maintaining the rigour of the programs. He explained that the required breadth credits exceeded those required for students in the Major program in Psychology. Professor Vernon added that to support this rigour, the program also maintained an emphasis on C and D level coursework.

A member asked a question regarding the availability of D-level psychology courses and completion of the double degree program in the proposed five year timeline. Professor Schmuckler explained that new D-level courses have been developed to alleviate the demand for D-level psychology course requirements. Dr. Curtis Cole, added that the Registrar’s Office can add enrolment limitations to support course enrolment in the double degree program.

A member asked about enrolment projections and the availability of psychology of courses. Professor Danielson confirmed that a heavy increase in the number of students seeking psychology courses is not anticipated, however efforts are continuing to increase capacity.

On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,

YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED,

THAT the major modification to introduce a new Double Degree: UTSC, Honours Bachelor of Arts, Specialist program in English / UTSC, Honours Bachelor of Science, Specialist program in Psychology, as described in the proposal dated March 3, 2020 and recommended by the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, Professor William Gough, be approved to be effective as of Fall 2020 for the 2020-21 academic year.

  1. Undergraduate Minor Curricular Modifications - Sciences

Mark Schmuckler, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, presented the proposal for minor modifications from the Department of Psychology. He noted this included 7 program changes, and 5 new courses. Vice-Principal Academic & Dean, William Gough thanked and acknowledged Professor Kyle Danielson who was present to support the modification proposal. Members had no questions.

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: Psychology, dated March 25, 2020, and recommended by the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, Professor William Gough, be approved to be effective as of Fall 2020 for the academic year 2020-21.

  1. Undergraduate Minor Curricular Modifications - Humanities

Mark Schmuckler, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, presented the proposal for minor modifications from the Department of Arts, Culture and Media. He noted that the proposed new courses supported a prior major modification to the Theater & Performance Studies program. Vice-Principal Academic & Dean, William Gough thanked and acknowledged Professor Barry Freeman (Chair, Arts, Culture Media), who was present at the meeting to support the proposed modification.

A member asked if students were consulted in the development of the proposal. Professor Freeman clarified that these courses form part of a previous major modification to revise the Theater & Performance Studies program, and he noted that through that proposal, there was an extensive survey with students, recent alumni and a focus group with students to seek feedback.

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: Arts, Culture, and Media dated March 25, 2020, and recommended by the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, Professor William Gough, be approved to be effective as of Fall 2020 for the academic year 2020-21.

  1. Undergraduate Minor Curricular Modifications - Management

Mark Schmuckler, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, presented the proposal for a minor modification from the Department of Management. He noted that the new course supported proposed combined degree programs, to be tabled at the April 2020, AAC meeting. Vice-Principal Academic & Dean, William Gough thanked and acknowledged the representatives present at the meeting to support the modification: Professors Syed Ahmed and Douglas Kong. Members had no questions.

On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,

YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED,

THAT the minor modifications to undergraduate programs, submitted by UTSC undergraduate Department of Management, as described in Undergraduate Minor Curriculum Modifications for Approval, Report: Management, dated March 25, 2020, and recommended by the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, Professor William Gough, be approved to be effective as of Fall 2020 for the academic year 2020-21.

  1. Undergraduate Minor Curricular Modifications - Out of Cycle new courses for Summer 2020

Mark Schmuckler, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, presented the proposal for out of cycle courses to be offered in Summer 2020 session. This included courses in the Departments of Anthropology, and Arts, Culture and Media (ACM). Vice-Principal Academic & Dean, William Gough thanked and acknowledged the departmental representatives present at the meeting: Professors Larry Sawchuk and Barry Freeman.

A member applauded the community engagement aspects of the proposed courses, and asked about the process to identify community partners. Professor Barry Freeman, responded that there wasn’t a formal process for engaging with community partners, however the ACM course was designed to support a variety of different types of interdisciplinary community engagements, including travel abroad opportunities.

On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,

YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED,

THAT the minor modifications to undergraduate programs, submitted by UTSC undergraduate academic units, as described in Undergraduate Minor Curriculum Modifications for Approval, Report: New Out-of-Cycle Summer 2020 Courses, dated March 25, 2020, and recommended by the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, Professor William Gough, be approved to be effective as of Summer 2020 for the academic year 2019-20.

  1. Graduate Minor Curricular Modifications (Graduate Department of Psychological Clinical Science)

Mary Silcox, Vice-Dean, Graduate, presented the proposal submitted by the Department of Psychological Clinical Science. These proposed changes stemmed from a positive Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) accreditation process. Vice Principal Academic & Dean, William Gough thanked and acknowledged Dr. Vina Goghari (Graduate Chair) for the successful accreditation with the CPA. Members had no questions.

On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,

YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED,

THAT the minor modifications submitted by UTSC Graduate Department of Psychological Clinical Science, as described in 2020-21 Curriculum Cycle: Graduate Minor Curriculum Modifications for Approval, Report 1 and Report 2, dated March 10, 2020, and recommended by the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, Professor William Gough, be approved to be effective as of Fall 2020 for the academic year 2020-21.

  1. Graduate Minor Curricular Modifications (Graduate Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences)

Mary Silcox, Vice-Dean, Graduate, presented the proposal for minor modifications from the Graduate Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences. The Department proposed a minor change to support a new cross-listed course. Vice Principal Academic & Dean, William Gough thanked and acknowledged Professor Bernie Kraatz for representing the proposal at the meeting. Members had no questions.

On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,

YOUR COMMITTEE APPROVED,

THAT the minor modifications submitted by UTSC Graduate Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, as described in 2020-21 Curriculum Cycle: Graduate Minor Curriculum Modifications for Approval, Report 1 and Report 2, dated March 10, 2020, and recommended by the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, Professor William Gough, be approved to be effective as of Fall 2020 for the academic year 2020-21.

  1. Annual Report: Office of the Vice-Principal, Research, UTSC

The Chair invited Vice-Principal, Research, Professor Bernie Kraatz to present the Annual Report of the Office of the Vice-Principal, Research (OVPR). Professor Kraatz shared the winners of recent awards and honours, highlighting to members the many scholarly accomplishments and achievements. He provided an overview of the UTSC research funding from grants and other sources. Professor Kraatz also discussed the many internal services provided to faculty seeking support and training. He noted that internal funding sources are not maxed out each year by faculty. The OVPR strategies were explained, and many initiatives were highlighted, such as the Science Rendezvous at the Toronto Zoo, the Hub (an entrepreneurship incubator), and the Research Excellence Lecture Series.

A member commented that there was great opportunity with respect to SSHRC grants, and the number of non-profits community groups in East Scarborough, that are responding to the increase of demands due to current events. Professor Kraatz agreed and noted a recent call for proposals responding to this exact issue.

  1. Undergraduate Minor Curricular Modifications - For Information

The Chair explained that Item number 11 was for information only, and included smaller routine curricular changes from the following departments: Arts, Culture and Media; Philosophy; and Psychology. The changes were effective for Fall 2020. Members had no questions.

  1. Report of the Presidential Assessors

Vice Principal Academic & Dean, William Gough thanked and acknowledged the faculty for their hard work, on short notice, to ensure that courses could continue online for the students. He also acknowledged the challenges for students. He discussed the consultations and changes to course mode of delivery, and summer session start dates. Professor Gough provided an overview of the Credit/No Credit (CR/NCR) option that is available to undergraduate students and the changes provided to students during the winter 2020 session. Professor Gough clarified the academic and practical rationale for these decisions, and assured members that the decision was made to support students, and that the University was doing what it could to support student learning, and to allow students to progress to graduate or to the next stage of their programs. Professor Gough added that following discussions with SCSU and in hearing from students, a series of FAQ would be developed and communicated widely.

Dr. Curtis Cole, Registrar & Assistant Dean Enrollment Management, acknowledged the significant stress, including financial strain upon students, during this unprecedented time. There were emergency bursary funds available for students, both domestic and international. He reported that the Provost’s Office, was establishing a task force to look into the issue of fees more broadly, given the changes imposed due to COVID-19. He confirmed that online courses met the requirement for degree credit, therefore tuition discounts were not anticipated. He invited students who may be struggling financially to reach out to the Registrar’s Office.

A member asked for clarification on the application of the CR/NCR option for program requirements. Professor Gough explained that for Winter 2020, students may apply the option to program requirements, however if the grade is required for assessment into several limited enrolment programs, the grade behind the CR/NCR would be reviewed.

A member asked for clarification regarding the rationale of maintaining academic standards, when all of the programs are at the same University. The member expressed a view that the CR/NCR position at UTSC was unfair to students. Professor Gough responded by clarifying that while there are three Arts & Science divisions at U of T, they all operate as independent faculties which can create conditions that require different decisions.

A member asked for clarification regarding concerns about students retaking courses, related to the CR/NCR. Professor Gough explained that the comment was in regard to students dropping a course and potentially having an unfair advantage over other students.

A member asked for clarification as to the consultation and feedback from departments on the CR/NCR issue. Professor Gough explained that he consulted broadly on all change, and recognized that changes such as this impact some programs and departments more than others.

A member asked for clarification about online courses and final examinations, for the summer session. Professor Gough responded that faculty may follow the process, to reduce the weight of a final exam, given the circumstances.

  1. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 42 - Monday, February 10, 2020

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 - Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.

The Chair advised members that the Committee would meet again on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.

  1. Other Business

A member asked about the financial impact of COVID-19 on international students, and if there was any other accommodations to be made beyond bursaries. Professor Gough responded that there is a Provost Office working group looking into the issue and student needs, which will include the needs of international students.

A member asked about work opportunities for students. Professor Gough agreed that work opportunities had been impacted, and that the university will be looking at different ways to support student work opportunities.

A member asked if summer session fees will be considered, given that access to campus facilities may be impacted. Professor Gough responded that the working group will be looking at this, but decisions have not yet been made.

The meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.