Report: UTSC Academic Affairs Committee - September 14, 2020

Via Virtual Meeting


September 14, 2020

To the Campus Council,
University of Toronto Scarborough,

Your Committee reports that it met on September 14, 2020 at 3:10 p.m. in a virtual meeting, with the following members present:

Present: Sonja Nikkila (Chair), Shadi Dalili (Vice-Chair), Wisdom Tettey (Vice-President & Principal), William Gough (Vice-Principal Academic & Dean), Jamie Donaldson (Vice-Dean, Recruitment, Enrolment and Student Success), Katie Larson (Vice-Dean, Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs), Heinz-Bernhard Kraatz (Vice-Principal, Research), Mary Silcox (Vice-Dean, Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies), Grace Skogstad (Interim Associate Vice-Principal, Research - Strategic Initiatives), Rakiya Abdullahi, George Arhonditsis, Glenn Brauen, Shelley Brunt, Corinne Beauquis, Christine Bolus-Reichert, Radhapriya Chawla, Curtis Cole, George Cree, Suzanne Erb, Jessica Fields, April Franco, Sarah Guay, Alen Hadzovic, Paula Hastings, Angela Hamilton, Margaret Kohn, Neil ten Kortenaar, Jacob Koudys, Brenda Librecz, Daniel Lysak, Parsa Mahmud, Andrew Mason, Gillian Mason, Juvenal Ndayiragije, Laura Risk, Silma Roddau, Paulina Rousseau, Larry Sawchuk, Michael Souza, Phil Triadafilopoulos, Liana Williams, Betel Woldu, Xiaoyu Yuan, Changmiao Yu

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

In Attendance: Genevieve Dewar, Sarah Chaudhry, Shehna Jabbar-Javeed

Regrets: Sandra Bamford, Barry Freeman, Thembela Kepe, Patricia Landolt, Michael Molloy, Karen McCrindle, Juvenal Ndayiragije, Natalie Rothman, Sonja Sedivy, Jessica Wilson

Secretariat: Emma Thacker (Secretary), Tracey Gameiro, Anwar Kazimi


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair, Professor Sonja Nikkila, welcomed members and guests to the virtual meeting. She introduced the Committee’s Presidential Assessors and new members. Principal Tettey welcomed members and thanked them for their service to governance, their collective commitment to health and safety throughout the pandemic, and to maintaining our academic mission throughout.
  2. Report of the Presidential Assessors

    The Chair invited Professor William A. Gough, Vice-Principal Academic & Dean to present his Report. He provided an overview of the commitment to UTSC students regarding remote course access. He noted that for all students who anticipated graduating in June of 2021, there was a pathway to graduation, which will include some course flexibility. He also noted that the distribution of T-Cards was in progress. The Office of Student Experience & Wellbeing was providing a full range of services, many of which had both online and in-person components (e.g. Academic Advising & Career Centre, AccessAbility Services, International Student Centre). Professor Gough commented that the Winter session would look quite similar to the Fall. It was hoped that some in-person offerings would continue to be offered, and he noted that some teaching labs may be able to open, however this was dependent on government regulations and Public Health advice.

    Professor Gough reported on staffing updates in the Office of the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, as of July 1, 2020. He introduced Professor Katie Larson (Vice-Dean Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs); Professor Jamie Donaldson (New and Inaugural Vice-Dean Recruitment, Enrolment & Student Success); Professor Hugh Lawrence (Acting Associate Dean Undergraduate Programs); Professor Karen McCrindle (Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning) and Professor Mary Silcox, whose title was revised to reflect the renamed portfolio of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Professor Gough noted the slightly changed title for Professor Maydianne Andrade, Vice-Dean Faculty Affairs, Equity and Success. In addition, he reported on four Special Advisory appointments. He introduced Professor Corinne Beauquis (Special Advisor on Experiential Education); Professor David Onley (Special Advisor on Disability); Professor Jessica Fields (Special Advisor on Transitional Year Programme); and Professor April Franco (Special Advisor on Management).

    He remarked that with equity and diversity issues as a priority in the Dean’s Office, 12 new teaching staff positions were part of the longer term plan for faculty augmentation. The Provost had provided a diversity fund to support the hiring of under-represented groups. Under the direction of the Vice-Dean, Faculty Affairs, Equity and Success, this program had locally manifested into a number of hires. Other initiatives to support indigenous faculty and those faculty who want to include indigenous curriculum in their courses were underway. Vice-Dean Katie Larson was undertaking a curriculum review to explore these issues. A consultative working circle will be created and will include students, and other portfolios as relevant. The recruitment of students also form part of the equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives. The Vice-Dean Recruitment, Enrollment, and Student Success will embark on strategic enrolment management initiatives, while recognizing that not all marginalized groups have the same barriers. Academic Program Review will be completed remotely this year. Professor Gough thanked the community for all of their hard work and dedication in response to COVID-19.

    The Chair invited Bernie Kraatz, Vice-President, Research to share his Report. He commented that since the beginning of the COVI-19 pandemic many initiatives were put in place to maintain critical research infrastructure, including the establishment of guidelines for research faculty, students and fellows to carry out their research on campus. He remarked that a working group had been established to help guide UTSC research efforts. Research involving humans was now permitted and was happening both on and off campus. Some research projects had been affected, and a relief fund was created to support those research centres that had been negatively impacted. UTSC, in conjunction with the Toronto COVID-19 Action Initiative awarded more than $500,000 in funding to support COVID research. He also reported that the UTSC Clusters of Scholarly Prominence Program (CSPP) will award 2.4 million over the next 3 years.

    Processor Kraatz made several faculty announcements including: Two UTSC faculty members were awarded new Canada Research Chair positions - Professor Hilary Brown (Department of Health and Society), and Professor Myrna Simpson (Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences); Two UTSC faculty members had recently been inducted as members of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists – Professor Marc Cadotte (Department of Biological Sciences), and Professor Diana Fu (Department of Political Science); and, Professor Grace Skogstad had agreed to serve as interim Vice-President Research and Strategic Initiatives until June 2021. This role will focus on the development and fostering of new clusters of scholarly prominence, and research initiatives.

    A member sought clarification of the meaning of the remote guarantee. Professor Gough responded that this means that incoming and graduating students can continue to progress towards their degrees without the necessity to be present on campus. A member followed up by asking about second and third year undergraduate students with respect to the guarantee. Professor Gough responded that these students have more flexibility but will have a full slate of courses available. Courses offered in person that have no remote equivalent will be offered again in the summer session or the following year.

    A member asked if the online courses were led by the instructor, or if they required independent learning. Professor Gough responded that the courses are led by the instructor. Teaching Assistant budgets were also increased by 10-20% to increase interaction with students. Vice-Dean Larson added that this circumstance provided a unique opportunity for faculty to re-engage with their courses from a new perspective, and had produced very positive results.
  3. Annual Report: 2019-20 Subcommittee on Academic Appeals

    The Chair invited Dr. Curtis Cole, Registrar and Assistant Dean Enrollment Management, to present the annual report. Dr. Cole provided an overview of the petition and appeal process for undergraduate students at UTSC. He highlighted the following points:
    • The number of petitions filed appeared to be rising, however the numbers were relatively consistent with the growth in student body enrolment;
    • This past year, there were (date for current year up to August 2020) 1023 petitions filed; the year prior was 1702. The reason for the drop in numbers was due to the rapid changes made at the conclusion of the Winter 2020 session due to COVID-19. At this time, the Dean had granted quite liberal dispensations to students to make decisions about their courses, such as deferring exams and use of credit/no credit (CR/NCR).
    • The number of appeals to the Dean’s Advisory Committee had been steadily dropping over the last 5 years; up slightly from 7 to 8 this year. Overall, the number of appeals heard by the Subcommittee on Academic Appeals was very low.

Members had no questions

  1. Undergraduate Curricular Minor Modifications - Out-of-cycle new courses

    The Chair invited Professor Katie Larson, Vice-Dean, Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs, to present the report for out-of-cycle curriculum changes that had been implemented for the 2020-2021 academic year. Changes to the Calendar were reported by the Department of Health and Society, the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, the Department of Management, and the Department of Psychology. The report was for information and covered minor curriculum changes that did not impact learning outcomes, or change the nature of programs or courses.

    Members had no questions.
  2. Revisions to the UTSC Academic Affairs Committee, Terms of Reference

    The Chair invited Mr. Anwar Kazimi, Deputy Secretary of the Governing Council, to present. Mr. Kazimi provided an overview of changes to the Terms of Reference for the Committee as a result of recommendations from the Report of the 2020 Committee to Review the UTM and UTSC Campus Councils , which was approved by the Governing Council at its June 25, 2020 meeting. He explained that a change was being made to membership, such that full-time and part-time undergraduate constituencies would be combined, with no change to the total number of seats. This would not preclude an outcome whereby there were students from each of these constituencies, but it was hoped that it would increase the likelihood that no student seats would go unfilled, which sometimes occurred within the part-time student constituency. This change would be reflected in the in the Election Guidelines 2021.

    Another change pertained to the Department of Health and Society, which became effective July 1, 2020. The conversion of this unit resulted in one additional ex officio Chair and one additional elected teaching staff member added to the membership of the Committee. In addition, given the internal focus of the AAC, the appointment of community members from the Campus Council to the AAC has been reduced by one, allowing for some flexibility in the assignments of Campus Council community members. Another revision was with regard to changes to the administrative structure of the UTSC Office of the Vice-Principal Academic & Dean and the Office of the Vice-Principal, Research, effective July 1, 2020. Two newly created positions, Associate Vice-Principal Research & Innovation and Vice-Dean, Recruitment, Enrolment & Student Success were added as ex officio members requiring a revision to section 1.1 of the UTSC AAC Membership Composition.

    A member noted that the cover sheet and presentation slide incorrectly indicated that the Health and Society unit change created an EDU:A. It was clarified that the unit conversion was from an EDU:B to Departmental status.

    Professor Gough provided an endorsement of the changes, specifically regarding the part-time student seats. He noted that historically it had been challenging for students to secure nominations in the part-time constituency.

    A community member sought clarification regarding the reduction of community member seats on the Academic Affairs Committee. Mr. Kazimi responded that historically there has been difficulty in filling the seats. Principal Tettey commented that we must ensure that our community members do not feel constrained when considering these positions.
  3. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 45 - May 27, 2020

    The report of the previous meeting was approved.
  4. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  5. Date of Next Meeting - Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 3:10 p.m.

    The Chair advised members that the Committee would meet again on Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 3:10 p.m.
  6. Other Business

    Members had no questions.

The meeting adjourned at 4:27 p.m.

September 24, 2020