Report: UTSC Academic Affairs Committee - May 29, 2023

UTSC Campus Council Chambers, AA160


MAY 29, 2023

To the Campus Council, 
University of Toronto Scarborough 

Your committee reports that it met on May 29, 2023 at 3:10 p.m., with the following members present: 

Present: Sonja Nikkila (Chair), Gillian Mason (Vice-Chair), Katie Larson (Vice-Dean, Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs), Rene Harrison (Vice-Dean, Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies), Syed Ahmed, Corinne Beauquis, Christopher Cochrane*, Sotirios Damouras*, Suzanne Erb*, Fatima Formuli*, John A. Hannigan, Joseph Hermer*, Irmi Huftless*, Randy Lundy*, Elizabeth Ann O’Brien, Alice Maurice, William Nelson*, Laura Risk*, Anthony Charles Ruocco*, Zoreh Shahbazi, , Rachel Sturge*, Judith Ann Teichman*, Shelby Verboven, Lianna Williams, David Zweig

Regrets: Wisdom Tettey (Vice-President and Principal), William A. Gough (Vice-Principal Academic & Dean), Irena Creed (Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation), George B. Arhonditsis, Iris Au, Sandra Bamford, Joshua Barker, Elyse Caron–Beaudoin, Rana Behzadi, Shelley-Anne Brunt, Divya Dey, Barry Freeman, Paula Hastings, Qusai Mahmud Hassan, Angela Hamilton, Martha Harris, Joseph Hermer, Thembela Kepe, Philip Kremer, Michelle Lone, Nathaniel Luces, Andrew Mason, Sharlene Mollett, Michael Molloy, Juvenal Ndayiragije, Natalie Oswin*, Cheryl Regehr, Phil Triadafilopoulos, Paulina Rousseau, Mahinda Samarakoon, Valentina Shamoun, Mark A Schmuckler , Grace Skogstad, Michelle Silver, Sofia Suleman,  Liana Williams, Marco Zimmer-De Iuliis, Jessica Marie Wilson

Non-Voting Assessors: Kyomi Hastings Duncan*, Varsha Patel, Suzanne Sicchia*

In Attendance: Shohini Bhattasali, Michelle Buckley, Kyle Danielson, Katherine Shwetz, Walter Tavares

Secretariat: Lydia Gill (Secretary), Tracey Gameiro*

* Participated remotely 


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the final meeting of the Academic Affairs Committee for the year. She also welcomed guests that joined to speak to item number 3 on the agenda.  
  2. Update on the Working Circle Curriculum Review UTSC

    The Chair invited Professor Katie Larson (Vice-Dean, Teaching, Learning and Undergraduate Programs) to deliver a presentation on the Update on the Campus Curriculum Review at UTSC. The Chair reminded members that the Curriculum Review was part of priority 1.2 of the UTSC Strategic Plan, Inspiring Inclusive Excellence and was part of a broader framework of curricular innovation and renewal. Highlights from Professor Larson’s report were as follows:
  • The Working Circle’s report, “Recommended Actions, Learnings, and Next Steps,” was released last year and brought forward to the Academic Affairs Committee for information.
  • Over the last year, the Committee worked toward implementing the 56 recommendations across 7 areas:
    • Curriculum Development
    • Pedagogical Development and Related Supports
    • Dedicated Academic Homes, Programs, and Spaces for Indigenous and Black Excellence at UTSC
    • Faculty, Librarian, and Staff Hiring
    • Community Engagement
    • Institutional Structures and Supports
    • Future of the Working Circle and Foundations for Implementation
  • A framework was developed to guide compensation for guest speakers bringing community-based knowledges into classes.
  • Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Anti-Racist training supports were made available for Teaching Assistants. Modules were developed with the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation (CTSI).
  • UTSC would launch an Online Resource Hub to support the work of faculty, librarians and staff in responding to the Curriculum review.
  • The Pedagogies of Inclusive Excellence Fund (PIE) was a new fund dedicated to inclusive, accessible, holistic, and anti-racist and pedagogical development. This would also include the Pedagogies of Inclusive Excellence Forum to showcase PIE funded projects.
  • 2025 would be the initial milestone date for the recommendations of the Work Circle to be implemented. It was noted that the work of the Working Circle would not end in 2025 but would be ongoing for long-term change. Annual reports would be collected from Departments to ensure that the Campus was progressing towards the recommendation.

    A member commended Professor Larson and the Working Circle committee for their efforts in advancing the recommendations from the Report. They also inquired about when receive updated data from the Working Circle. Professor Larson noted that the data sets would be developed to track progress on curriculum development, curricular landscape, and the PIE fund.  

    Another member inquired about how soon the framework for the compensation for guest speakers would be available. Professor Larson noted that it was still development and should be made available later in the year.
  1. Minor Modifications: Undergraduate Curriculum Changes (Out of Cycle Courses, Fall 2023), UTSC

    Professor Larson presented that the Department of Arts, Culture, and Media had proposed an Out of Cycle program modification and a new course. Professor Larson noted that the program modification was for the Major Program in Studio Art and the proposed change was being made to reduce the overall credits required for the program from 8 to 7.5 to better manage enrolments in the program. She also noted that the Departments of Health and Society, Historical and Cultural Studies, Human Geography, Global Development Studies, Language Studies, Psychology, and Sociology had each proposed a number of new courses.

    A member inquired about how the proposed Language Studies course intersected with Computer & Mathematical Sciences courses.  Professor Bathassali noted that the proposed course overlapped with some introductory Computer & Mathematical Sciences.

    On motion duly made, seconded and carried, 


    THAT the proposed out-of-cycle undergraduate curriculum changes for the 2023-24 academic year, as detailed in the respective curriculum reports, dated May 18, 2023, be approved effective May 29, 2023.
  2. Report of the Presidential Assessors

    There was one report for the committee’s attention.

    Professor Katie Larson, Vice-Dean, Teaching, Learning and Undergraduate Programs delivered a report on behalf of Professor Bill Gough, Vice Principal, Academic and Dean (VPAD) on the work of the VPAD unit, sharing the following information:
  • Committee members were recognized for their commitment, dedication, and careful consideration of the items of business that the administration brought forward to the committee this year.
  • A special thank you was shared with the outgoing Chair, Professor Sonja Nikkila for her stewardship of the committee over the past three years.
  • The new Specialist (Joint) in Music, Industry and Technology was recently approved by the Academic Board.
  • As part of the Strategic Planning process, the Dean had requested that all academic departments develop academic plans based on Strategic Plan priorities. It was noted that these plans would most likely come to the Committee in the latter cycle of the governance year for 2023-2024.
  • The University was ending the Absence Declaration that was established during the pandemic. The provision allowed students to declare illness without documentation. The University would develop a new proposal based on learnings from the pandemic.
  • Professor Suzanne Sicchia was appointed to the role of Acting Vice-Dean, Teaching, Learning and Undergraduate Programs, UTSC starting July 1, 2023 for one year while Professor Larson was on leave. A replacement for Dr. Sicchia as the Associate Dean Programs and Curriculum was being sought.

    Members had no questions.


On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried


THAT the consent agenda be adopted and that Item 6, the Report of the Previous Meeting, be approved.

  1. Minor Modifications: Undergraduate Curriculum Changes (Out of Cycle Course Changes, Fall 2023), UTSC (For Information) **
  2. Report of the Previous MeetingReport Number 64, May 1, 2023 (For Approval) **
  3. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting
  4. Date of Next Meeting – September 21, 2023, 3:10 p.m.
  5. Other Business

    The Chair thanked members for their commitment and service to the Committee and governance over the past year and recognized those whose terms had ended. She also thanked the assessors to the bodies for their diligence in bringing business forward for governance consideration.

    Ms Lydia Gill, Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council, recognized the outgoing Chair, Professor Sonja Nikkila, and formally thanked her for her many contributions to governance during both her terms as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, and as a member of Campus Council. A chair with an engraved plaque, was presented to Sonja Nikkila in recognition of exemplary service and leadership as Vice-Chair of the UTSC Academic Affairs Committee from 2018 to 2020, and as Chair of the UTSC Campus Council from 2020 to 2023. The Chair expressed her thanks to members for their service and to the University of Toronto for providing her with the opportunity to serve the University.

The meeting adjourned at 4:10 p.m.

June 7, 2023