Report: UTSC Academic Affairs Committee - October 29, 2019

UTSC Council Chamber, Arts and Administration Building, Room AA160


To the Campus Council,
University of Toronto Scarborough

Your Committee reports that it met on October 29, 2019 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), Heinz-Bernhard Kraatz (Vice-Principal, Research), Sauliha Alli*, Shelley Brunt, Radhapriya Chawla, Curtis Cole, Shadi Dalili, Suzanne Erb, Arda Erturk*, George Fadel*, Sarah Guay, Alen Hadzovic, Angela Hamilton, Margaret Kohn, Patricia Landolt, Alfonso Manalo, Gillian Mason, Mari Motrich, Mahinda Samarakoon, Larry Sawchuk, Mark Schmuckler, Mary Silcox, Dorinda So*, Michael Souza, Liana Williams

Regrets: Syed Ahmed, Maydianne Andrade, George Arhonditsis, Sandra Bamford, Corinne Beauquis, Christine Bolus-Reichert, Glenn Brauen, Barry Freeman, Alexander Irving, Thembela Kepe, Jacob Koudys, Christopher Kouyoumdjian, Lisa Labine, Michael Lambek, Katherine Larson, Andrew Mason, Karen McCrindle, Michael Molloy, Juvenal Ndayiragije, William Nelson, Natalie Rothman, Annie Sahagian, Rania Salem, Sonia Sedivy, Grace Skogstad, Wisdom Tettey, Shelby Verboven, Jessica Wilson, David Zweig

Non-Voting Assessors: Annette Knott (Academic Programs Officer), Varsha Patel (Assistant Dean, Student Success)

Secretariat: Rena Prashad (Secretary), Emma Thacker

In Attendance: Andrea Charise (Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Centre for Health & Society), Sarah Chaudhry (Programs & Curriculum Coordinator), Marla Hlady, (Associate Professor, Department of Arts, Culture, and Media), Cynthia Jairam-Persaud (Associate Director, Student Services, Arts and Science Co-op), Paul Kingston (Director, Centre for Critical Development Studies), Jennifer Tigno (Manager, Advising & Learning Skills Services),

Telephone Participants *

  1. Chair’s Remarks

The Chair welcomed members and guests to the meeting.

She congratulated Liana Williams, Global Mobility Coordinator, who was elected in the Fall 2019 By-Election, to serve as the Administrative Staff member on the Committee for a term effective upon election until June 30, 2021. 

  1. Minor Undergraduate Curricular Modifications – Out–of- cycle New Courses

Mark Schmuckler, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, presented the proposal for out-of-cycle new

courses. He explained that the new courses were being proposed to be taught in Winter 2020 and that one course, IDSB11H3: Global Development in Comparative Perspective, was the core course for the Certificate in Global Development, Environment and Health (U of T Global Scholar). Professor Schmuckler thanked and acknowledged the faculty representatives and staff member present at the meeting to support the new courses: Andrea Charise, Marla Hlady, Paul Kingston, and Cynthia Jairam-Persaud.

On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,


THAT the minor modifications to undergraduate programs, submitted by UTSC undergraduate academic units and co-op offices, as described in Undergraduate Minor Curriculum Modifications for Approval, Report: New Out-of-Cycle Winter 2020 Courses, dated October 29, 2019, and recommended by the Acting Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, Professor Maydianne Andrade, be approved effective for the academic year 2019-20.

  1. Strategic Topic—Arrive UTSC: Striving Towards Academic Resiliency

The Chair invited Jennifer Tigno, Manager, Advising & Learning Skills Services, to present the strategic topic to the Committee.

Ms Tigno described the Arrive UTSC: Striving Towards Academic Resiliency pilot program (i.e. a voluntary not-for-credit group-based program for which students would receive a certificate of completion), which would be launched in January 2020. The objective of the six-week program was to promote successful academic performance and student retention. The framework for the program was based on positive psychology in combination with study skills to enhance academic performance. Ms Tigno remarked that the initial offering of the program would be advertised to students on academic probation, suspension, or at risk of suspension through an outreach email. Students had the option to self-select and register. At the conclusion of the program, students would obtain a certificate of completion. The AA&CC was exploring whether completion of the program could be recognized on the Co-Curricular Record (CCR). Finally, Ms Tigno encouraged members, who have regular contact with students, to share this upcoming program with them.

In response to a comment regarding the involvement of faculty in the program, Ms Tigno explained that there were no faculty members involved in the program developed by the Academic Advising and Career Centre (AA&CC). The member suggested that faculty be included in the program. Ms Tigno thanked the member for their suggestion.   

A member asked what the cumulative CGPA was to be identified for the program. Ms Tigno explained that approximately 2000 students with a CGPA of 1.85 or lower would receive the outreach email. Uptake for the pilot was expected to be between 30-40 students.  

The Vice-Chair commented that the program could be a relevant and helpful tool for the broader student population. She asked whether there were plans to offer the program though a modular platform. Ms Tigno remarked that the program would first be introduced as a group-based pilot program, but that the AA&CC would consider options for expanding the program. Angela Hamilton, Interim Chief Librarian, added that the UTSC Library offered a workshop called
Lib4Life, and suggested that the AA&CC direct students who were unsuccessful getting into the Arrive UTSC program to the Lib4Life workshop as an alternative.   

A member asked how the impact of the program would be measured. Ms Tigno remarked the current plan was to conduct a pre and post test survey, gather feedback and satisfaction data from participants, and develop a framework to evaluate the impacts on academic success and student retention.

A member expressed concern regarding the number of students with a CGPA of 1.85 or lower. The member asked if there were specific disciplines where CGPAs of 1.85 or lower were saturated. Curtis Cole, Assistant Dean (Enrolment Management) & Registrar, explained that the highest proportion of students with a CGPA of 1.85 or lower was in the Social Sciences disciplines, which had the lowest admission requirements. Dr. Cole remarked that it was not uncommon to see students on the border of the 1.85 CGPA in their first year of study. With experience and skill students generally improve their academic standing through their upper years. Lastly, Dr. Cole expressed interest in the early identification of students at academic risk.

  1. Report of the Presidential Assessors

The Chair invited Professor Schmuckler to deliver the Assessor Report on behalf of Maydianne Andrade, Acting Vice-Principal, Academic and Dean.

Professor Schmuckler updated the Committee on the following:

  • The implementation of the Strategic Plan would impact academic planning over a five-year horizon. Participation in the October 31st Town Hall was encouraged;
  • The Office of the Vice-Principal, Academic and Dean, would be undergoing an external review in Spring 2020. Opportunities to review and comment on the self-study would occur in November 2020 through the Dean’s Office website;
  • Students who had completed all of the requirements of an Honours Bachelor of Arts or Honours Bachelor of Science degree program, but with a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) between 1.6 and 1.85, could choose to graduate with a non-honours degree and have any specialist program they had completed certified on their transcripts.
  • The Office of the Registrar, in consultation with the Dean’s Office was reviewing a number of academic regulations including: academic standing, policies related to suspensions, and the Course Retake Policy; and
  • Finally, the Academic Handbook had been revised for 2019 to recognize changes to policy and process. In the new year, a working group would be struck to completely revise the Academic Handbook 2020-21.
  1. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 39—Thursday, September 12, 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 – Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 4:10 p.m. 

The Chair advised members that the Committee would meet again on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.

  1. Other Business

No other business was raised.

The meeting adjourned at 4:53 p.m.

November 7, 2019