Report: UTSC Academic Affairs Committee - September 21, 2023

UTSC Campus Council Chambers, AA160



To the UTSC Campus Council,
University of Toronto,

Your Committee reports that it held a meeting in the Council Chamber, Arts and Administration Building, on Thursday, September 21, 2023 at 3:10 p.m. with the following members present:

PRESENT: Elaine Khoo (Chair), Gillian Mason (Vice-Chair), William A. Gough (Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean), Irena Creed (Vice-Principal, Research & Innovation), Syed Ahmed, Muntaha Almahjub, Iris Au, Shelley Brunt, Susannah Bunce, Elyse Caron-Beaudoin, Christopher Cochrane, Sébastien Drouin, Suzanne Erb, Sandra Hanington, John Hannigan, Rene Harrison, Irmi Hutfless, Mariana Jardim, Randy Lundy, Alison Mountz, Natalie Oswin, Hadiya Roderique, Anthony Ruocco, Suzanne Sicchia, Shennel Simpson, Michael Souza, Sofia Suleman, Judith Teichman, Mauricio Terebiznik, Lianne Tripp, Shelby Verboven, Marco Zimmer-De Iuliis, Niyonta Zulfiquar, David Zweig

REGRETS: Wisdom Tettey, Georgios Arhonditsis, Sandra Bamford, Joshua Barker, Corinne Beauquis, James Bremer, Dhra Chourey, Sotos Damouras, Angela Hamilton, Joseph Hermer, Alice Maurice, Karen McCrindle, Sharlene Mollett, Sonja Nikkila, Julia Nefsky, William Nelson, Elizabeth O'Brien, Kamini Persaud, Thy Phu, Bavan Pushpalingam, Mahinda Samarakoon, Karyn Sethi, Michelle Silver, Phil Triadafilopoulos, Liana Williams, Jessica Wilson

NON-VOTING ASSESSORS: Martha Harris, Varsha Patel, Michael Souza

SECRETARIAT: Emma Thacker, Megann Davidson


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair, Professor Elaine Khoo, welcomed members and guests to the meeting. She introduced the Committee’s Presidential Assessors and members of the administration.
  2. Assessor Portfolio Overview & Priorities for 2023-24
    1. The Chair invited Prof. William A. Gough (Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean) to share his report. Highlights of the report included:
    • Professor Katie Larson (Vice-Dean Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs) was on leave for 2023/24. Suzanne Sicchia was appointed as Acting Vice-Dean Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs. While Professor Sicchia was in this Acting role, Professor Michael Souza was appointed Acting Associate Dean Undergraduate Programs & Curriculum.
    • Curriculum change portfolio has grown, with Dr. Martha Harris overseeing a larger team and a number of proposals that would come to the Academic Affairs Committee.
    • Professor Alison Mountz had joined the OVPRI on July 1, 2023 as Associate Vice-Principal Research-Strategic Initiatives.
    • UTSC had encountered an international student enrolment shortfall for summer session 2023. This had impacted revenue and the budget. The student melt rate (admission accepted then later declined) had also been less than anticipated. Domestic enrolment was slightly higher than previous year.
    • Strategies were under development to address enrolment (e.g., more direct offers), however several enrolment initiatives were already in place to support admissions (e.g., new residence) and student visa processes (IRCC) had improved.
    • A ‘flexible’ strategic enrolment plan was under development to help with short and long-term enrolment planning.
    • Recent salary settlements (in part in response to Bill 124), while equitable, had led to some financial pressures, leading to some delays in hiring faculty and staff over the next couple years.
    • New program was approved (May 2023) - Specialist (Joint) in Music Industry and Technology, leading to an Honours Bachelor of Arts (H.B.A) degree. Students in the Joint Specialist would also earn an Ontario College Certificate in Music Business and Technology from Centennial College. The program was effective in Fall 2024, so was open to applications.
    • Upcoming programs for governance - Major in Public Law (Department of Political Science), also other, Politics, Philosophy and Economics (in development) and a minor in Entrepreneurship (developed).
    • Renewal of MOA with Centennial College, with three joint programs now complete.
    • Cyclical review of departments and programs will come forward for information.
    • CR / NCR undergraduate regulation was reviewed with assistance from Professor Mark Schmuckler which included consultation with students. More consultation was occurring, as current set of recommendations did not find agreement across the three campuses. There had been discussion with the SCSU. Further discussions were needed to consider consequences, institutional risk, and reputation.

      The Chair allowed a question from a non-member, who asked about course selection processes. With the Chair’s permission, Dean Gough invited Shelby Verboven (Registrar & Assistant Dean Strategic Enrolment Management) to comment. Ms Verboven responded to clarify some of the tensions that existed related to course selection such as wait lists.
    1. The Chair invited Prof. Irena Creed (Vice-Principal, Research & Innovation) to share her report. Highlights of the report included:

      Building Communities Through Inclusive Health Conference
    • Upcoming conference called ‘Building Communities Through Inclusive Health’, an inaugural national conference jointly hosted by the Scarborough Health Network (SHN) and University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus (UTSC). The conference was being held from October 13-14, 2023, at UTSC’s Highland Hall.
    • Conference marked the beginning of research training and community engagement process to build community and to build relationships and address the important area of health inequities. The conference would lay the foundation for a ‘New Frontiers Research Fund – Transformation Stream grant’ which would have opportunities for students.

      Sam Ibrahim Centre for Inclusive Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Leadership (SICCIEL)
    • SICCIEL was announced in the spring of 2023 and aimed to contribute to UTSC’s goal of providing all undergraduate (and potentially graduate students) with experiential learning opportunities by creating experiential learning pathways through entrepreneurial activities.
    • In collaboration with Institute for Environment, Conservation and Sustainability there was a new initiative called ‘EaRTH Switch.’ There would be a Hackathon and showcase this fall.
    • In collaboration with academic units, OVPRI was exploring new curricular and cocurricular offerings.
    • The iRISE (Institutes for Resilient Societies and Ecosystems) was approved as an EDU:C and was comprised of four entities: Institute for Environment, Conservation, and Sustainability; Institute for Inclusive Health and Well-Being; Institute for Inclusive Economies and Sustainable Livelihoods; and the SDGs@UofT Institutional Strategic Initiative.

      Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Scholars Academy
    • The SDGs Scholars Academy would enable training for convergence research through experiential and entrepreneurial learning opportunities for undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers working alongside U of T faculty, local, national, and global communities, and policymakers at all levels to address the SDGs.

    • The OVPRI was working to establish UTSC as a Hub for the United Nations University (UNU) Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) called UNU-RISE.
    • Aimed to provide UTSC and graduate students with international recognition, access to global UN networks and sources of funding (e.g., World Bank), and pathways for global diplomacy.
    • Plans were underway for a site visit by the UN undersecretary and the UNU Rector (Professor Tshilidzi Marwala) on November 3, 2023 for the signing of a memorandum of understanding.
  3. Presentation - Overview of the University of Toronto Quality Assurance Process (UTQAP)
  • The Chair invited Dr. Martha Harris to share a presentation about the University of Toronto Quality Assurance Process (UTQAP). Highlights of the presentation included:
    • All publicly assisted universities and colleges were subject to a quality assurance process.
    • At U of T this was the UTQAP which outlined protocols for new programs, major modifications, closures, and cyclical review of programs, in conformity with the quality assurance framework for the Province of Ontario.
    • The Office of the Vice Provost, Academic Programs administered the UTQAP for U of T and was a resource and reference for much of the process.
    • The UTQAP delegated responsibility for minor modifications to the divisions. As such, curriculum change proposals (e.g., new courses, changes to courses) were tabled at the AAC for consideration.
    • A program review began with a self-study that identified strengths, opportunities and strategic priorities. The review identified recommendations for change, which may then be realized in a revised curriculum, and then monitored through updates halfway between review cycles.
    • External reviews of programs would be brought for information as a final stage of the review to AAC, to keep AAC informed about reviews outcomes, and inviting discussion.

      A member asked about the frequency of cyclical program reviews. Dr. Harris responded that the reviews occurred approximately every 7 years, as per the UTQAP.

      A member asked about the pathway to transition a graduate field into a new program. Dean Gough noted that a process existed for new programs and suggested that the member connect with Dr. Harris to explore the idea further.

      A non-member asked if students were invited to participate in the program review process. Dr. Harris responded that yes, students were involved and invited to provide feedback.
  1. Report of the Presidential Assessors

    The Assessors had no reports.
  2. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 65 – May 29, 2023

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

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  4. Date of Next Meeting – Thursday, October 19, 2023, 3:10 p.m.

    The Chair advised members that the Committee would meet again on Thursday, October 19, 2023 at 3:10 p.m.
  5. Other Business

    No other business was raised by members.

The meeting adjourned at 4:08 p.m.

October 2, 2023