Report: UTSC Academic Affairs Committee - May 27, 2024

Via Virtual Meeting room


TUESDAY, MAY 27, 2024

To the UTSC Campus Council, University of Toronto,

Your Committee reports that it held a meeting on Monday, May 27, 2024 at 3:10 p.m. (virtually) 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), Rene Harrison (Vice-Dean Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies), Suzanne Sicchia (Acting Vice-Dean Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs), Alison Mountz (Acting Vice-Principal, Research & Innovation), Syed Ahmed, Iris Au, Corinne Beauquis, Susannah Bunce, Christopher Cochrane, Dhra Chourey, Sotos Damouras, Suzanne Erb, Angela Hamilton, John Hannigan, Irmi Hutfless, Mariana Jardim, Randy Lundy, Alice Maurice, Elizabeth O'Brien, Hadiya Roderique, Thy Phu, Jasmin Patel, Kamini Persaud, Mahinda Samarakoon, Michelle Silver, Judith Teichman, Shennel Simpson, Sofia Suleman, Shelby Verboven, Marco Zimmer-De Iuliis, Karen McCrindle, William Nelson, Jessica Wilson, David Zweig, Niyonta Zulfiquar

REGRETS: Georgios Arhonditsis, Muntaha Almahjub, Elyse Caron-Beaudoin, Sandra Bamford, Joshua Barker, James Bremer, Shelley Brunt, Sébastien Drouin, Joseph Hermer, Sonja Nikkila, Julia Nefsky, Mauricio Terebiznik, Lianne Tripp, Jasmin Patel, Bavan Pushpalingam, Anthony Ruocco, Karyn Sethi, Sharlene Mollett, Natalie Oswin, Phil Triadafilopoulos, Liana Williams

NON-VOTING ASSESSORS: Michael Souza, Naureen Nizam, Kevin Mak, Varsha Patel

SECRETARIAT: Emma Thacker (Secretary), Megann Davidson


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair, Professor Elaine Khoo, welcomed members and guests to the meeting.
  2. Presentation – Publicly Engaged Scholarship & Innovation Framework (PESI)

    The Chair invited Alison Mountz (Acting Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation) to address the Committee. In her presentation, Professor Mountz shared updates on her work in collaboration with the broader research community. She provided an overview of the Publicly Engaged Scholarship and Innovation Initiative (PESI) and highlighted a recent internal event for researchers called ‘UTSC Engage.’ PESI aimed to enhance the interconnectedness between the University and the public by involving faculty members in public engagement throughout the research process. Other highlights included:
    • The PESI initiative began three years ago with initial consultations, leading to the first PESI Forum in November 2022. Subsequently, over the past academic year, there were consultations to revisit the collective action items established at the forum. Based on these discussions, researchers from across the three campuses convened at a workshop in April 2024 to share different approaches to engaged community research.

    • The goal was to strengthen the interconnectedness between the University and the wider community while incorporating engagement, sustainability, and social justice into knowledge production and mobilization. The workshop aimed to set the stage for a broader event in the fall to engage larger communities and bring together researchers and their community partners.
    • She emphasized the inclusive nature of publicly engaged scholarship, involving various stakeholders such as community groups, activists, nonprofits, local municipalities, governments, and industries. Ongoing efforts included establishing a community of practice, recognizing publicly engaged scholarship through awards, and developing metrics to measure engagement impact.
    • Highlighting plans for future events, she discussed purchasing a mobile knowledge mobilization unit, (an RV), to bridge the gap between campus and community. The unit aimed to enhance collaboration, reciprocity, and inclusivity by bringing researchers to engage with communities directly.
    • In conclusion, she emphasized the importance of continued recognition and resourcing of public engagement work, co-creation of research projects, and ongoing discussions around ethics and community access to research at the University.

A member asked for some examples of the kinds of work that was taking place, and for insight into the difference the work it is making in the community. Professor Mountz discussed several examples, such as SoundLife Scarborough, the Afrosonic Innovation Lab, and the Critical Digital Humanities Initiative (CDHI).

  1. Proposed Change to Academic Regulation: 5.5 Exceptions to Academic Regulations: Special Considerations, Petitions, and Appeals

    The Chair invited Shelby Verboven (Registrar & Assistant Dean Strategic Enrolment Management), to present the regulation change proposal. Ms Verboven provided the following overview of the two proposed changes to the UTSC undergraduate academic calendar.

    The first proposed change was to alter the deadline for deferred exam petitions from five days to three business days. The rationale behind this change included three main points. First, it aimed to align with the existing policies of the Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) and the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). Second, it brought the University in line with the requirements for graduating students, who already have a three-day deadline. Third, it was anticipated to support quicker processing of deferred exam approvals among the petitions team. Additionally, it was noted that this adjustment would send a clear signal to students about the seriousness of missing an exam, emphasizing the need for immediate action.

    The second proposed change involved establishing a deadline for late withdrawals (WDR) to be noted on the student transcript. Previously, such petitions had no specific deadline, but now a deadline of six months from the end of the session in which the course was taken was suggested. This change aimed to align with the current regulations of the FAS and UTM. It was emphasized that setting a deadline would ensure that students address transcript modifications promptly rather than waiting for an extended period to make such requests. Ms Verboven assured members that compassion would always be exercised in situations where students were unable to meet these deadlines due to reasons such as disability, illness, or serious personal extenuating circumstances. Under the current policies, and continuing forward, such cases would be considered with appropriate documentation.

    Members had no questions.

    On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried,


    THAT the proposed changes to UTSC Academic Calendar regulation 5.5, concerning exceptions to academic regulations relating to special consideration, petitions and appeals, as detailed in the accompanying report, be approved effective September 1, 2024.
  2. Minor Modifications: Undergraduate Curriculum Changes (including Program and Admission Requirements) – Department of Arts, Culture and Media, UTSC

    The Chair invited Professor Michael Souza (Acting Associate Dean Undergraduate Programs & Curriculum) to present the item. Highlights of the proposal included 26 new courses and 7 course modifications. The proposal also included 7 program modifications, which included admission and program requirement changes. 

    Professor William A Gough (Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean) acknowledged Professor Thy Phu (Chair, Dept of Arts, Culture and Media) and members of the department for their great work, which was reflective of their responsiveness to the recent reviews. The course and program changes were consistent with several strategic directions for the campus and supported other new programming.

    Members had no questions.

    On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried,


    THAT the proposed undergraduate curriculum changes, from the Department of Arts, Culture and Media, as detailed in the respective curriculum report, be approved, effective September 1, 2024.
  3. Minor Modifications: Curriculum Changes - Combined Degree Programs, BBA & MAccFin, Department of Management, UTSC

    The Chair invited Professor Michael Souza to present the proposed change for the combined degree program (BBA & MAccFin). The changes included adding a notation in the Program Requirements of the CDP indicating that students had to follow the prescribed co-op term and/or academic study sequencing options as determined and communicated by the Department of Management. Additionally, text was removed from the Program Requirements indicating that a degree-required course "replaced 1.0 FCE in C-level Economics courses," as this was no longer a requirement of the associated undergraduate BBA program. Finally, text was removed from the Application Process indicating that original transcripts were needed and that applicants were invited to an interview based on a ranking score.

    Members had no questions.

    On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried,


    THAT the proposed combined degree program (BBA and MAccFin) curriculum changes, as detailed in the respective curriculum change proposal, dated May 27, 2024, be approved, effective September 1, 2024.
  4. Reviews of Academic Programs and Units, UTSC

    The Chair invited Professor Michael Souza to present the two reviews.
    1. Specialist (Joint) in Journalism

      In the external review of the Specialist (Joint) Program in Journalism, which was conducted during the 2022-23 academic year, the program received praise for overcoming challenges inherent in a university-college partnership. Recommendations included developing a clear conceptual map, removing the personal statement requirement for admissions, fostering collaboration and community, improving governance processes, supporting students, and boosting marketing efforts. Program leadership and the Dean's Office were committed to articulating a unified vision, clarifying requirements, enhancing collaboration, supporting student transitions, strengthening alumni connections, documenting processes, exploring promotional opportunities, and establishing a joint programs coordinator role. The next review was scheduled for 2027-28.
    2. Specialist (Joint) in Paramedicine

      An external review of the Specialist (Joint) Program in Paramedicine, was held in the fall of 2022, highlighted the program's commitment to partnerships and collaborations, particularly praising the annual simulated disaster exercise. The program's high graduate success rates and employment rates were noted. Recommendations included improving program integration, clarifying fitness requirements, restructuring the curriculum for flexibility, enhancing research opportunities, and exploring potential program relocation. As of July 1st, 2023, the program was transferred to UTSC’s Department of Health and Society. Response initiatives include curriculum review, process streamlining, communication enhancement, and exploration of new research opportunities. The next review was scheduled for fall 2029.

      Members had no questions.

  5. Report of the Presidential Assessors

    Professor Alison Mountz thanked members for the opportunity to provide a brief update about the Office of the Vice Principal Research and Innovation (OVPRI). She noted that a more comprehensive update would accompany the Annual Report presentation which was scheduled for fall 2024. She reported on recent changes in leadership within the OVPRI, resulting in a period of transition over the last few weeks. Professor Irena Creed (VPRI) was on leave, and Dr. Ariella Lukach (Director, OVPRI) had left the University. She announced that Acting Director Dr. Patrick Fang, had joined the OVPRI. She acknowledged the hard work of the staff in supporting faculty and students in their research endeavors.

Providing examples of recent successes, she highlighted several of UTSC’s faculty researchers' achievements in grant competitions, particularly from the tri-agency. They had recently received results from the Insight Grant competition, where faculty had performed exceptionally well, securing a 51% success rate compared to the national average of 34%. Additionally, they had success in the Partnership Grant competition, with three faculty colleagues who secured funding for their projects. She briefly outlined these projects and congratulated the respective faculty members.

Moving on to other initiatives within the OVPRI, she mentioned the various services aimed at supporting outstanding faculty research and recognizing scholars. She also highlighted their support for researchers through various programs such as the Conference and Public Publication Fund and their efforts in preparing nomination packages for major national and international awards. She emphasized their progress in external partnerships, formalized through various agreements guiding collaborations with anchor institutions in the Eastern GTA and the advancement of innovation districts. Lastly, she mentioned the progress on building the Sam Ibrahim Center for Inclusive Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Leadership (SICIEEIL), which would officially open in its new location in September, with Meredith Best appointed as its Acting Director.

Professor William A. Gough provided a brief report, expressing gratitude for Professor Alison Mountz for stepping in as the Acting VPRI and commending her presentation on the PESI initiative. He congratulated several faculty members for receiving major research grants while serving as administrators, countering the notion that administration hindered research careers. He thanked Professor Suzanne Sicchia for her role as the Acting Vice Dean for Teaching, Learning and Undergraduate Programs, along with Professor Mike Souza for supporting her. He acknowledged Karen McCrindle (Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning) for her support as well.

He provided an overview of the year’s academic achievements, such as the development of a major in public law and a minor in aging and society. He expressed excitement about potential new combined degree programs and the forthcoming majors in climate change, and in film studies. Overall, he highlighted the progress and exciting academic programming developments at UTSC.


On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried,


THAT the consent agenda be adopted and that Item 9 and 10, as detailed in the agenda, be approved.

  1. Minor Modifications: Undergraduate Curriculum – Humanities, Social Sciences, UTSC (for information)
  2. Minor Modifications: Undergraduate Curriculum Changes (Out-of-Cycle Courses, Fall 2024), UTSC (for approval)
  3. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 71 – May 7, 2024 (for approval)
  4. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting
  5. Governance Meeting Schedule – 2024/2025

  1. Date of Next Meeting – September 12, 2024, 3:10 p.m.
  2. Other Business

    The Chair thanked outgoing members of the Committee and the Administration. Principal Linda Johnston thanked Professor William A Gough, who was stepped down as Vice-Principal, Academic and Dean, for his significant contributions to university governance.  Professor Gough's long service and role as Assessor to the UTSC governance bodies were particularly appreciated. She also thanked the members of the Academic Affairs Committee for their dedication and hard work throughout the academic year. With summer approaching, Professor Johnston encouraged everyone to take time to rest and wished them a restful summer.

The meeting adjourned at 4:27 p.m.

June 10, 2024