Report: UTSC Campus Affairs Committee - March 26, 2020

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Virtual Meeting Room

REPORT NUMBER 37 OF THE CAMPUS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

To the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Council,
University of Toronto Scarborough

Your Committee reports that it met on Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 4:10 p.m. virtually, with the following members present:

Present:
Tayyab Rashid (Chair), Tarun Dewan (Vice-Chair), Wisdom Tettey (Vice-President and Principal USTC), William Gough (Vice-Principal Academic & Dean), Andrew Arifuzzaman (Chief Administrative Officer), Desmond Pouyat (Dean, Student Affairs), Kyle Danielson, Hanan Domloge, Obidimma Ezezika, Soaad Hossain, Sheila John, Paul Kingston, Brenda Librecz, Tanya Mars, Naureen Nizam, Raul Salas Reyes, Annie Sahagian, Andrew Tam, Deena Yanofsky


Non-voting Assessors:
Helen Morissette, Jeff Miller, Nadia Rosemond

Secretariat:
Emma Thacker (Secretary), Anwar Kazimi, Cindy Ferencz-Hammond, Patrick McNeill

Regrets:

Olashile Adeyoyin, Janet Blakely, Jubayer Jalal, Elaine Khoo, Ken Howard, Alice Maurice, Ayesha Mir, Sylvia Mittler, Jack Parkinson

In attendance: Rena Prashad

  1. Chair’s Remarks

The Chair welcomed members and guests to the virtual meeting. He thanked members for their patience while everyone adjusted to governance in an online space.

  1. Reports of the Presidential Assessors

The Chair invited Dean Pouyat, Dean of Student Affairs, to share a report.

Dean Pouyat provided an update on how his portfolio had adjusted to support the academic and personal success of all students, during the circumstances of COVD-19. He thanked the staff of the Student Affairs portfolio, for their ability to adapt to support the students in the new online environment. He commented that while steps had been taken to reduce the number of students in residence, due to COVID-19, some students were still being housed at UTSC and at the Centennial College residence. These students were still able to access services and supports.

The Health and Wellness Centre and other key services were available virtually, with a small number of staff on campus to receive students, keeping in mind COVID-19 protections and protocols. The International Student Centre had been very busy, given repatriation efforts with students overseas. AccessAbility Services was offering services online. Heather Kelly, Executive Director, Student Life Programs & Services, was supporting the tri-campus coordination efforts for these services. The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre had closed its facilities, so efforts were in progress to provide some virtual opportunities.

The Chair invited Professor William Gough, Vice Principal and Academic Dean, to share a report. Professor Gough acknowledged the work that had been completed by the staff and faculty, and the remarkable ways in which the university community was moving forward. He reminded members that support services were available, during this time of isolation. Professor Gough reported on the recent changes while courses transitioned to online delivery. He discussed the consultations and changes to exam requirements, mode of delivery, and summer session start dates.

Professor Gough provided a summary of the remarks made at the March 25, 2020 Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) meeting regarding decisions made about the Credit/No Credit (CR/NCR) option and the related course drop date, which was not the same across all divisions. He noted that faculties had the authority to develop their own strategic directions, and as such, some academic and administrative decisions did not always align with other divisions. Professor Gough reported that in response to COVID-19, for the Winter 2020 session, UTSC students had been provided a later date to choose CR/NCR, and also had additional CR/NCR options this session (beyond the typical 2.0 FCE limit). While UTSC and UTM were not allowing students to receive their final marks before the end of exams, and thus could not use this piece of information to either drop a course, or declare it CR/NCR, students were being provided with an unprecedented amount of information from which to base their decisions. Professor Gough clarified the academic and practical rationale for these decisions, and assured members that the decision was made to support students, and that the University was doing what it could to support student learning, and to allow students to progress to graduate or to the next stage of their programs.

A member asked if existing summer courses were given the option to change to a 6-week course offering instead of a 12-week course. Professor Gough responded that there was still time, and faculty should work with their academic units so that students were aware of the delivery options.

A member commented that UTSC was not the only postsecondary institution that was allowing for some academic grading flexibility during COVID-19, and expressed a view that the CR/NCR position at UTSC was unfair to students. The member shared that the situation may be challenging for the Registrar, staff and faculty, however it was also challenging for students. The member asked for clarification as to why the UTSC position was different for UTSC students as compared to the Faculty of Arts & Science (FAS) and asked if graduating students could have the same options at FAS students. Professor Gough responded by reviewing the details of the CR/NCR option, including the amount of course material and information that a student will have received by the drop date. He commented that the intent of this decision had been to preserve academic integrity, while students moved from one session to the next, particular with regard to limited enrolment programs, and would be offered to all undergraduate students. Professor Gough added that following discussions with SCSU and in hearing from students, a series of FAQ would be developed and communicated widely.

Professor Tettey responded to a previously submitted member question regarding the President’s communication about the cancellation of spring convocation (2020). He commented that there was shared disappointment across the university that the event had to be cancelled, but noted that the decision was necessitated by the new reality of physical distancing during this unprecedented time. He clarified that the university would be looking at other ways of celebrating graduation and recognizing students’ accomplishments, although these other options and their timing had not been determined. He added that the University community would be informed of any developments regarding this issue, as soon as plans were further along.

  1. Inspiring Inclusive Excellence: A Strategic Vision for the University of Toronto Scarborough 2020-2025)

The Chair informed members that the Strategic Plan, ‘Inspiring Inclusive Excellence: A Strategic Vision for the University of Toronto Scarborough 2020-2025’, was an agenda item for recommendation, and invited Professor Tettey to address the committee.

Professor Tettey thanked those involved in the development of the Strategic Plan, and provided members with an overview of the consultation process, which began in November of 2018. Professor Tettey reported on the values embedded as part of the Strategic Plan which included intentional inclusion, students as partners, reciprocity, and accountable stewardship. In alignment with the University’s mission, Long-term Planning Framework document, and Three Priorities, the UTSC Strategic Plan is pursuing a vision that focuses on five priority areas:

1. Innovative, High Quality Undergraduate and Graduate Experience & Success;

2. Scholarly Prominence in Established and Emerging Areas;

3. Intentional Inclusion and Relational Accountability;

4. Deep and Enduring Local, National and Global Partnerships & Networks; and

5. Participatory Decision Making and Supportive Administrative Capacity.

Professor Tettey reviewed the five priority areas and commented that implementation strategies would be developed to operationalize each priority, and allow for constructive accountability. Implementation would be tracked and measured using a ‘balanced scorecard’ approach for reporting and evaluating progress.

A member commented on priority #5 (Participatory Decision Making and Supportive Administrative Capacity), remarking that the University needed to address the unconscious bias against teaching-stream faculty. The member suggested that steps should be taken to challenge and change a culture that unfairly limits opportunities available to teaching-stream faculty. Professor Tettey responded that this issue was raised in the Strategic Plan working groups by teaching-stream faculty. He commented that this culture can be addressed in part, through the Strategic Plans for equity, diversity and inclusion. He assured members that part of the plan was to recognize the value and contributions of our different community members. Professor Gough pointed out that teaching-stream faculty do hold academic leadership roles. In a recent analysis, of all administrative positions at UTSC, 34% were filled by teaching-stream faculty, while teaching-stream comprise 25% of faculty positions. He agreed that a cultural shift was still required.

A member shared agreement with the feedback provided on teaching-stream faculty, and asked about methods considered to support participatory decision making, referring to industry methods used in software engineering as an example. Professor Tettey responded that the various working groups engaged with individuals with various kinds of expertise, but also with stakeholders, for example through Town Halls, one expressly organized for students. He responded that working groups have engaged with the alumni community and community partners, and would continue to do so. Partnerships straddled the entire plan, from teaching and learning initiatives, through to scholarship and research activity.

On motion duly moved, seconded, and carried,

YOUR COMMITTEE RECOMMENDED,

THAT subject to confirmation by the Executive Committee,

THAT, Inspiring Inclusive Excellence: A Strategic Vision for the University of Toronto Scarborough (2020-2025), submitted by the Vice-President and Principal, Professor Wisdom Tettey, be approved in principle.

  1. Overview of the UTSC Campus Operating Budget: 2020-2021

The Chair informed members that, as per the Terms of Reference, the Campus Affairs Committee considered budget plans, and that the item was shared with the Committee for information. The Chair invited Andrew Arifuzzaman, Chief Administrative Officer to present.

Mr. Arifuzzaman prefaced the presentation with an acknowledgment that the budget was developed before the COVID-19 event, and so adjustments may be required to respond to economic changes from these unprecedented times. Mr. Arifuzzaman discussed the various university budgets, and indicated that the presentation would focus on the operating fund budget. This budget reflected student tuition and government grants for academic and administrative expenses. The presentation highlighted changes in enrolment, campus operating budget, sources of revenues and expenses, and key spending priorities for the coming year. The presentation also outlined other areas of focus for the campus including diversification of international and domestic enrolment, reputation and recognition, improved processes for planning and allocation of resources, facilities planning, organizational structures, and implementation of the UTSC Strategic Plan - Inspiring Inclusive Excellence: A Strategic Vision for the University of Toronto Scarborough.

A member asked for clarification about staff salaries and benefits, and asked whether student staff, such as those in work-study positions, were included in the percentage. Mr. Arifuzzaman clarified that the university contribution to student positions was included in the percentage.

A member asked for clarification regarding student financial aid, indicated at 1%. Mr. Arifuzzaman clarified that this percentage only represented the financial aid from UTSC, while most financial student aid was administered centrally. UTSC contributed to this central financial aid budget.

  1. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report 36 - Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Report Number 36 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 the Next Meeting - Monday, May 4, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
  2. Other Business

A member asked about communications regarding convocation for June 2020. The member commented that between university and media communications, confusion and misunderstandings may still exist among students and the university community. It was suggested that information be posted online or through social media to clarify and overcome any misunderstandings. Professor Tettey responded that upcoming UTSC email communications will include information about convocation. Professor Gough added that ideas for convocation were being considered for the fall, should the circumstances permit. He noted that it was too early at this time to consult broadly and confirm what opportunities and venues were available. Professor Tettey thanked members for their commitment to the mission of the university and their support of the community.

A member indicated that they had further comments to share about the CR/NCR concerns and shared a document with members. The member described the document as reflecting the views of UTSC students on the issue. The member shared a view that the Strategic Plan objectives were impacted by the winter session CR/NCR decision. It was explained how students were being impacted by the COVID-19 situation, and the member requested further review by the administration of the CR/NCR decision in regard to these considerations. Professor Gough responded that given the circumstances and the time required to read the document, which had just been shared, his previous comments on the matter remained unchanged. The Chair asked the member to please allow the administration time to respond to the document, following the meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.