Report: UTSC Campus Council - November 17, 2020

Via Virtual Meeting

November 17, 2020

To the Governing Council,
University of Toronto
Your Campus Council reports that it met on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 4:10 p.m. virtually, with the following members present:

Present: Paul Kingston (Chair), Grace Westcott (Vice-Chair), Wisdom Tettey (Vice-President and Principal), William Gough (Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean), Andrew Arifuzzaman (CAO), George Cree, Shadi Dalili, Tarun Dewan, George Fadel, Irmi Hutfless, Brenda Librecz, Dorinda So, Jason Glover, Elaine Khoo, Gillian Mason, Sonja Nikkila, Tayyab Rashid, Silma Roddau, Paulina Rousseau, Lara Zink

In Attendance: Ellen Hodnett (University Ombudsperson), Katie Larson (Vice-Dean, Teaching, Learning and Undergraduate programs), Desmond Pouyat (Dean, Student Experience & Wellbeing)

Secretariat: Emma Thacker (UTSC Campus Council Secretary), Tracey Gameiro, Patrick McNeil

Regrets: Liben Gebremikael, Daniel Lysak, Xiaoyu Yuan, Changmiao Yu


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the second Council meeting of the governance year. The Chair reported to members that the 2021 governance elections would be underway in January, and that an information session would be hosted by the Secretariat later in the month.
  2. Report of the Vice-President and Principal

    The Chair invited Principal Tettey to provide his Report. Principal Tettey thanked Professor Emeritus Ellen Hodnett, University Ombudsperson, for all her work and dedicated role as a University citizen, acknowledging that her term as Ombudsperson would conclude in June of 2021.
    1. Principal’s Report

      Principal Tettey acknowledged the ongoing challenges faced by members of the community due to the pandemic. He assured members that the University was preparing for the term ahead with safety as a priority. He reported to members that the partnership with the Scarborough Heath Network was confirmed, and that UTSC would provide indoor space to serve as a COVID-19 assessment and testing centre. Principal Tettey also provided some senior academic administrator-related related updates, confirming that the reappointment process for the Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean was on course, and that the search for a new Vice-Principal Research & Innovation was underway. Search plans were also being finalized for Directors of the three research institutes, i.e., the Institute for Integrated Health Research, the Institute for Environmental, Conservation & Sustainability Research, and the Institute for Globalization, Transnationalism, and the Advancement of Resilient, Inclusive Suburbs & Economies. He also reported on the recent MOUs with the Toronto Zoo and with another partner in relation to the Golden Mile redevelopment in Scarborough. The partnership with the Toronto Zoo reflected shared priorities in education and research in the areas of conservation and biodiversity, environmental sustainability and innovation. The partnership with the Golden Mile reflected the UTSC’s commitment to community development and engagement, and will directly impact socio-economic development.

      A member asked how COVID-19 and the recent trending of cases was impacting the mental health of students. Principal Tettey responded that the administration was aware of the challenges, and there was a great deal of focus and engagement on this topic across the University and campus to support student needs.
    2. Administration Portfolio Updates

      The Chair invited Professor William A. Gough, Vice-Principal, Academic & Dean, to present his report. Professor Gough thanked members and guests for their ongoing efforts during the pandemic, and he acknowledged that some members of the community were struggling with challenges. He commented that the anticipated vaccine had provided some hope for better times ahead. He reported that the winter session would be offered mostly online, with only essential course elements (e.g., teaching labs) in-person. He noted that these plans may change in response to any Public Health advice or regulation. Decisions regarding the summer session would be finalized in mid-march, providing time for course preparation. It was hoped that the summer session would offer a hybrid format and that the Fall of 2021 will return to in-person delivery, however this will depend upon the COVID situation at that time. Professor Gough explained that had been a spectrum of responses to the changes in course delivery mode. The Facilitated Study Groups (peer to peer mentoring program) program was expanded to support more students, across more departments. Time zone accommodation for final exams had been established. Self Declaration of Illness was also an option for students, which had been used by only 1.5% of students. Teaching Assistant support had also been increased to support faculty members and students. Guidelines around triggering issues had also been established.

      The Chair invited Mr. Desmond Pouyat, Dean, Student Experience & Wellbeing, to present his report. He reported that since the beginning of the pandemic, the services within his portfolio have pivoted to address student (domestic and international) needs in accessible and flexible ways. He provided several examples of this support, such as hybrid student services (in-person and online). Other examples included embedded counsellors in all academic departments, online group counselling sessions, same day health appointments, and online dance classes. He highlighted a new initiative for students on the autism spectrum, to build community and develop new relationships. He also noted that while some students were thriving in an online learning space, others have had challenges. He commented that while some students had dropped online courses, others had benefited from the increased access (i.e., no commute to campus) and have returned to complete their degrees. Student demand for Career Services and prospective student use for the International Student Centre had also increased. He closed with noting the efforts to address student loneliness, boredom, and homesickness during the pandemic.

      The Chair invited Mr. Andrew Arifuzzaman, Chief Administrative Officer, to present his report. Mr. Arifuzzaman provided an overview of the work related to maintaining the campus buildings, also reporting to members that all building air filters had been replaced. The number of people on campus was significantly reduced, with about 100 students per day. There were two public access points on campus for contract tracing. He also discussed the partnership with the Scarborough Heath Network to provide indoor space to serve as a COVID-19 assessment and testing centre, and explained it would be open on December 1, 2020. There were discussions underway with Swim Canada about facilitating Olympic trials. The space plan was also under discussion. Given the success of remote working it was anticipated that post-pandemic, there would be an increased use of common shared spaces with fewer days on campus.

      A member asked if there were discussions about extending the winter break period. Professor Gough responded that yes, this was under consideration, and that more information will be shared in the coming week.
  3. Report of the Office of the University Ombudsperson for the period July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020, and Administrative Response

    The Chair invited Professor Emeritus Ellen Hodnett, University Ombudsperson, to present her report.

    Professor Emeritus Ellen Hodnett began by thanking Principal Tettey for his remarks, and for noting the prompt responses that her office had received over her time as Ombuds in response to any issues brought forward. She then highlighted some of the content of her Annual Report. She reported that the number of individuals who had sought the assistance of the Office in 2019-20 had increased from the previous year, from 288 to 341, and that the increases occurred across the categories of undergraduate and graduate students, and administrative and teaching staff. For UTSC, cases had increased from 11 to 16 during the same time period. She reported that, as in past years, the most common actions taken by the Office had been providing information and referrals, and that cases seemed to be either uncomplicated or quite complex.

    Professor Emeritus Hodnett noted that all of her recommendations were straight forward and focused on the theme of communication. She expressed her satisfaction with both the administration’s acceptance of her recommendations and their proposal of concrete actions to implement them. She noted that while she had drafted her recommendations before the pandemic hit, they were even more relevant now given the heavy reliance of the University community on websites and email. She reported that she had reviewed seven cases managed under the University-Mandatory Leave of Absence Policy and, like last year, it was clear to her that every case had been handled fairly and compassionately, with strict adherence to the Policy. Professor Emeritus Hodnett concluded her remarks by observing that the Review of the Office of the Ombudsperson was underway. Following the review, the search for and appointment of her successor would occur. She noted her confidence in the current Ombuds Team and her anticipation of a smooth transition. She also reported that Emma Thacker (UTSC Ombuds Officer) was recently appointed to the Executive Committee of the Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons (ACCUO).

    A member asked about the Ombudsperson’s priorities during the final year of her term. Professor Hodnett responded that she would follow up on the recommendations that had been made in previous Annual Reports. She would also focus on orientation for her successor.
  4. Status Report on Campus Strategic Priorities

    The Chair explained that this item reflected the first step in the governance process for consideration of budget matters. He invited Mr. Andrew Arifuzzaman, UTSC Chief Administrative Officer to present the status report. Mr. Arifuzzaman reported that the budget process had changed, and that this presentation would provide members with information about the priorities going into the Academic Budget Review (ABR) process. Mr. Arifuzzaman reported the following highlights, noting that the priorities were connected to the UTSC Strategic Plan, Inspiring Inclusive Excellence: A Strategic Vision for the University of Toronto Scarborough (2020-2025):
    • Key priorities for the ABR included: support for senior and equity hires, Indigeneity initiatives, support for renewable scholarships, support of research institutes, organizational structures to support the Strategic Plan, supporting research, start-up packages, facilities, and capital project plans;
    • Key space pressures for the campus included: core academic facilities, innovative classroom space, teaching labs (more and upgraded), faculty & administration office space, research space, student residence, parking structure, the Arts Centre (cultural centre), hotel centre, partnership/incubator centre, and the ‘Four Corners’ real estate plan; and
    • Related to the COVID-19 impact, he spoke to enrolment, student service budgets, and ancillary operations.

      A member asked about the campus wide curricular review and if there was an example of this work. Principal Tettey responded that Professor Larson would provide an example in the following presentation, however he noted that the goal was to support an inclusive campus.
  5. UTSC Curricular and Pedagogical Priorities, 2020-21

    The Chair invited Professor Katie Larson, Vice-Dean, Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programs, to share some highlights of the curricular and pedagogical initiatives for the 2020-21 year. She began by providing an overview of her new role, within the restructured decanal structure at UTSC. She noted that her role holds responsibility for undergraduate curriculum development and pedagogical innovation. Professor Larson explained that an explicit part of the role was to think about curriculum and pedagogy through an inclusive and equity-based lens, with particular attention to Indigenous ways of knowing, racialized perspectives, and international and intercultural experiences. Professor Larson reported on the challenges and opportunities provided by the COVID-19 pandemic, and acknowledged the critical role of the Centre for Teaching & Learning.

    Professor Larson reported on several initiatives responding to the UTSC Strategic Plan, Inspiring Inclusive Excellence: A Strategic Vision for the University of Toronto Scarborough (2020-2025). One priority initiative was a campus wide curriculum review to ensure UTSC’s commitment to inclusion, Indigeneity, and anti-racism across programs and within pedagogical approaches and supports. The Terms of Reference for this work was included with the agenda package. Recommendations would be developed by the summer of 2021. She added that the Campus Council would receive an update on the activities of the Working Circle at the January 2021 meeting. A writing support task force, co-chaired by Hugh Laurence (Acting Associate Dean Undergraduate Programs & Curriculum) and Karen McCrindle (Associate Dean Teaching & Learning and Director, Centre for Teaching & Learning), was also established to support student writing. In addition, Corinne Beauquis (Associate Professor, Teaching Stream in the Department of Language Studies) has been appointed for a one-year term as Special Advisor on Experiential Education in the Office of the Dean, and was Co-Chair to the Experiential Learning Steering Committee. Professor Larson shared some of the new academic programming that was under development.

    A member asked about the curricular review and if there was an example of this work. Professor Larson provided the example of ensuring a diversity of authorship and knowledge’s in a course reading list.
  6. Capital Project: Report of the Project Planning Committee for the University of Toronto Scarborough Indigenous House

    The Chair invited Mr. Andrew Arifuzzaman, UTSC Chief Administrative Officer to present the capital project for the UTSC Indigenous House. Mr. Arifuzzaman reported the following highlights:
    • The Indigenous House would provide spaces for Indigenous students, staff, and faculty and would serve as communal space for the suburban and beyond Indigenous community. It would also provide spaces for teaching and research along with spaces for social connection, reflection gathering and ceremony;
    • Indigenous House and was a clear signal of the commitment to fully address the findings and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada .
    • In consultation with the Elder Circle and the Indigenous community a vision statement was jointly created for an Indigenous House at UTSC:

      The Indigenous House at the University of Toronto Scarborough brings together our community of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous lifelong learners, by supporting and celebrating diverse Indigenous Ways of Knowing locally and from across Turtle Island.
    • The Indigenous House would represent a highly visible step in the heart of our campus and moved UTSC into a new chapter of rehabilitating the relationship with Canada’s Indigenous population with the aim of being an integral part of our academic mission.
    • The 10,700 sq. ft. space, would be located south of the Instructional Centre and would be visible from Ellesmere Road. Placed on a gradual sloping piece of land, it would offer a view of the surrounding Highland Creek ravine.
    • The Indigenous House was proposed to be built with two storeys. The first floor would comprise offices, lounge area, library, kitchen and a multi-purpose space, gallery/vitrine space. The upper floor included gathering spaces and meeting rooms.

      A member asked for further details regarding consultation with the indigenous community, noting that the community was not homogenous. Mr. Arifuzzaman responded by agreeing that there were significant differences among various indigenous groups, and as such the architect’s design reflected agreed upon principles with a modern representation. He further explained that various indigenous groups would be represented inside the space through its use, activities, and with visuals such as art pieces.

      A member inquired about the inclusion of indigenous apprentices and companies in the procurement and construction of the building. Mr. Arifuzzaman responded that the University would welcome bids from Indigenous companies in the tendering process.

      On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,


      THAT the Report of the Project Planning Committee for the Indigenous House at the University of Toronto Scarborough, dated September 18, 2020, be approved in principle; and,

      THAT the project totaling 481 net assignable square metres (nasm) and 962 gross square metres (gsm), be approved in principle, to be funded by UTSC Major Capital Project Reserve, the Major Capital Construction Account, and a fundraising campaign.
  7. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 43 – October 7, 2020

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

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  9. Reports for Information

    Members received the following reports for information.
    1. Report Number 44 of the UTSC Agenda Committee (November 5, 2020)
    2. Report Number 47 of the UTSC Academic Affairs Committee (October 22, 2020)
    3. Report Number 40 of the UTSC Campus Affairs Committee (October 26, 2020)
  10. Date of the Next Meeting – Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 4:10 p.m.

    The Chair advised members that the Council was scheduled to meet again on January 27, 2021 at 4:10 p.m.
  11. Question Period

    Members had no questions.
  12. Other Business

    No other business was raised.

    The Council moved in camera.


  1. Capital Project: Report of the Project Planning Committee for the University of Toronto Scarborough Indigenous House – Total Project Cost and Sources of Funding

    The Chair invited Mr. Andrew Arifuzzaman, UTSC Chief Administrative Officer to present the item. Mr. Arifuzzaman presented the total project cost and sources of funding. Members had no questions.

    On motion duly made, seconded, and carried,


    THAT the project scope of the University of Toronto Scarborough Indigenous House, as identified in the Report of the Project Planning Committee for the University of Toronto Scarborough Indigenous House, dated September 18, 2020, be approved in principle.

    The Council returned to open session.

    The meeting adjourned at 6:12 p.m.

November 26, 2020