Report: UTSC Academic Affairs Committee - September 13, 2021



September 13, 2021

To the Campus Council,
University of Toronto Scarborough,

Your Committee reports that it met virtually, on September 13, 2021 at 3:10 p.m., with the following members present:

Present: Sonja Nikkila (Chair), Gillian Mason (Vice-Chair), Trevor Young (Acting Vice-President and Provost),Wisdom Tettey (Vice President and Principal), William A. Gough (Vice-Principal Academic & Dean), Irena Creed (Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation), Jamie Donaldson (Vice-Dean Recruitment, Enrolment & Student Success), Katie Larson (Vice-Dean, Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs), Mary Silcox (Vice-Dean, Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies), Beheshta Ali Dad Khan, George Arhonditsis, Corinne Beauquis, Glenn Brauen, Shelley Brunt, Elyse Caron-Beaudoin, Curtis Cole, Shadi Dalili, April Franco, Vina Goghari, Connie Guberman, Angela Hamilton, Joseph Hermer, John Hannigan, Irmi Hutfless, Faizah Islam, Margaret Kohn, Randy Lundy, Sharlene Mollett, Karen McCrindle, Michelle Ramnaraine, Laura Risk, Paulina Rousseau, Larry Sawchuk, Michelle Silver, Sofia Suleman, Michael Souza, Jinny Tsang, Phil Triadafilopoulos, Kenneth Welch, Liana Williams, Marco Zimmer-De Iuliis

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

In Attendance: Joshua Brandt, Shehna Jabbar-Javeed, Lisa Fenton Lemon, Tanzina Mohsin, Gillian Morrison, David Palmer, Melissa Pullara

Regrets: Patricia Landolt, Syed Ahmed, Sandra Bamford, Suzanne Erb, Barry Freeman, Paula Hastings, Thembela Kepe, Neil ten Kortenaar, Daniel Lysak, Michael Molloy, Juvenal Ndayiragije, Malaika Rashid, Mahinda Samarakoon, Sonja Sedivy, Jessica Wilson

Secretariat: Emma Thacker (Secretary), Tracey Gameiro


  1. Chair’s Remarks

The Chair, Professor Sonja Nikkila, welcomed members and guests to the first meeting of the academic year. She introduced the Committee’s Presidential Assessors, members of the administration, and new members.

  1. Bicentennial Campaign Priorities

The Chair invited Mr. David Palmer, Vice-President, Advancement, and Professor Trevor Young, Acting Vice-President and Provost, to present the item for information. The presentation discussed the framework for gifts and donations at the University of Toronto in the context of academic priorities and the Provostial Guidelines on Donations (updated in 2021). Mr. Palmer also shared with members the planning and consultation process and reviewed the benefits and opportunities of a campaign. Seven themes provide the campaign’s platform to advance the University’s commitment to inclusive excellence. They are: Next Generation, Healthy Lives, Sustainable Future, Equitable Cities & Societies, Creativity & Culture, Vanguard of Discovery, and Bold Innovation. The presentation offered the following highlights:

  • the campaign would advance a wide range of priorities for equity, diversity & inclusion, and transform capital projects and research priorities;
  • the campaign would support the implementation of 84 marquee and institutional strategic initiatives;
  • the campaign had two main goals - 1 million instances of alumni engagement and $4 billion in donations which would be achieved across two phases (quiet and public);
  • a virtual launch was planned for late fall 2021.

Members had no questions.

  1. Annual Report – UTSC Subcommittee on Academic Appeals

The Chair invited Dr. Curtis Cole, Registrar & Assistant Dean Enrollment Management, to present the Annual Report, noting for members that Ms. Shehna Jabbar-Javeed, Assistant Registrar, Petitions, was in attendance for questions. Dr. Cole provided an overview of the petition and appeal process for undergraduate students at UTSC. He highlighted the following points:

  • This past year, there were 1462 petitions filed, which was lower than the previous year (1895 in 2020);
  • The number of appeals to the Dean’s Advisory Committee had been trending down over the last seven years, and down from 12 in 2020 to 4 in 2021.
  • Overall, the number of appeals heard by the Subcommittee on Academic Appeals was very low, with one heard in 2020/21.

Members had no questions.

  1. Revisions to the UTSC Subcommittee on Academic Appeals Terms of Reference

The Chair invited Emma Thacker, Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council, to present the item. Ms Thacker explained that the proposed changes to the Terms of Reference arose from an increase in the overall number of UTSC departments and academic units. As such, the total number of teaching staff within the Subcommittee pool was proposed to increase from 14 to 17 to align with the number of academic units. Further to this, it was proposed to increase the number of undergraduate students in the pool from two to four, to allow for more flexibility in meeting scheduling and to ensure that student members of the Subcommittee were able to participate. The remainder of the changes were minor updates in language and to clarify process. Members had no questions.

On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,


THAT the proposed revisions to the UTSC Subcommittee on Academic Appeals Terms of Reference be approved, effective September 13, 2021.

  1. Revisions to the UTSC Academic Affairs Committee Terms of Reference

The Chair invited Emma Thacker to present the item. Ms Thacker explained that the proposed changes to the Terms of Reference arose from the recent approval to convert the Centre for Critical Development Studies (EDU:B) to the Department of Global Development Studies. The creation of this new academic unit required a membership composition change to reflect an additional ex-officio departmental Chair, and an elected teaching staff member. This proposed change would increase the overall membership from 64 to 66. Members had no questions.

  1. Minor Modifications: Undergraduate Curriculum Changes, Out of Cycle Courses, UTSC

The Chair invited Professor Katie Larson, Vice-Dean, Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs, to present the item. Professor Larson explained that the item was reported for information and noted that each of the curriculum changes had been made to correct errors in the UTSC Undergraduate Calendar and would be effective for the 2021-2022 academic year. The Department of Philosophy had corrected one course length (H to Y), the Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences had corrected a course exclusion, and the Department of Arts, Culture & Media had corrected a program requirement. Members had no questions.

  1. Report of the Presidential Assessors

The Chair invited Professor William Gough, Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean, to present his report. Professor Gough reported that Professor Jessica Fields had been appointed as Vice-Dean Faculty Affairs, Equity & Success, and Professor Lynn Tucker was appointed as the inaugural Associate Dean Experiential & Global Learning.

Professor Gough provided an update regarding the fall session, reporting that academic planning was ongoing, and that UTSC Departments were making decisions on the distribution of in-person and remote courses to support their needs and circumstances which varied across the units. He referred to the University-wide vaccination approach, exemptions, and testing protocols in place. He reported that although the Province had relaxed the classroom distancing requirements for fall, UTSC did not make any late adjustments to classroom capacity, noting that course waitlists for in-person classes were quite small, and therefore there was no urgent need to change the mode of delivery.

Planning was underway for a fully in-person winter 2022 session. The uneasiness among faculty, staff and students was recognized, and it was hoped that this would be mitigated by more widespread deployment of vaccinations. Circumstances of the fourth wave would be monitored closely, and should any adjustments to winter planning be required, it was hopeful that these announcements would be provided in October of 2021. Lastly, Professor Gough reported that staffing issues had caused a brief delay in the implementation of the CR/NCR Working Group. The Working Group was now planning to move forward, and more would be reported at a subsequent AAC meeting.

The Chair invited Professor Irena Creed, Vice-Principal, Research & Innovation (OVPRI) to present her report. Professor Creed reported that she was in the process of continuing to meet with research leadership, chairs, vice-chairs, and directors of research to hear about their challenges and priorities. The Office of the OVPRI was focused on prioritizing the impacts on researchers because of the COVID-19 pandemic and exploring research administrative supports for institutional and strategic initiatives.

Members had no questions.

  1. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 51 – May 27, 2021

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 – October 21, 2021 at 3:10 p.m.

The Chair advised members that the Committee would meet again on Thursday, October 21, 2021 at 3:10 p.m.

  1. Other Business

No other business was raised by members.

The meeting adjourned at 4:19 p.m.