Report: September 14, 2004

UNVERSITY OF TORONTO AT MISSISSAUGA

Erindale College Council

ACADEMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

REPORT OF THE ACADEMIC AFFARS COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council held on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 at 3:10 p.m., in Room 3129.


PRESENT: S. Aster (in the Chair), I. Orchard, C. Misak, U. Krull, R. Beck, D. Crocker, M.A. Mavrinac, A. Lange, D. Schulze, K. Blankstein, Y. Karshon, N. Copeland, M. Lord, S. O’Connell, S. Abrahim, M. Overton, L. Thomson, B. Thompson, P. Franks, I. Graham
Guests: M. Tavakoli-Targhi, L. Schmidt
REGRETS: M. Rennie, T. Rogers, S. Munro, Y. Li, J. McCurdy-Myers

The Chair welcomed returning members of the Committee and called on members to proceed with introductions.

1. Adoption of the Agenda

The Agenda was approved. (B. Thompson / A. Lange)

2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

The report of the previous meeting dated March 16, 2004 was approved. (B. Thompson / A. Lange)

3. Business Arising from the Minutes

a) Minor change to the terms of reference for the Advisory Committee to the UTM Library – Mary Ann Mavrinac

The terms of reference of the Advisory Committee to the UTM Library were distributed to members and are attached to this report as Appendix A. The Chief Librarian explained that the minor change to the terms of reference concerned the appointment of faculty onto the membership of the Committee, which in the past was done by the Associate Deans. This task has now been assigned the Dean, as Associate Dean positions no longer exist at UTM.

It was duly moved and seconded,
THAT the terms of reference of the Advisory Committee to the UTM Library be approved.
(M. A. Mavrinac / K. Blankstein)

The motion was approved.

4. New Business

a) Revision of the terms of reference of the Academic Affairs Committee – S. Aster

The Chair explained that due to the administrative and academic restructuring and other administrative changes over the past several years, he undertook the review of the terms of reference of the Academic Affairs Committee (AAC). The terms of reference of the AAC and an accompanying memorandum from the Chair, with background information and proposed changes were, distributed to members and are attached to this report as Appendix B. The Chair explained that the list of subcommittees were not current and needed revision to reflect the current state of administrative operations. To this end, he proposed the deletion of the Committee On Standing as a subcommittee, because the Academic Appeals Board reports regularly to the AAC on these same matters. He also proposed the deletion of the Scholarships and Awards subcommittee as this group no longer exists in committee form and because this item is included in the existing terms of reference of the AAC. The Chair also explained that the Curriculum subcommittee existed in the form of three subcommittees (Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences) and that the terms of reference should reflect this division into these three components. In addition he proposed the deletion of references to instructional media, technical services and computer services from the terms of reference as these topics are a part of the terms of reference of the Computing Committee, which is a standing Committee of Erindale College Council. He further noted the minor change in the name of the Library subcommittee, to the Advisory Committee to the UTM Library.

It was duly moved and seconded,
THAT given that the Computing Committee is a standing committee of ECC, it is recommended that “Instructional Media, Technical Services” and “Computer Services” be deleted from the terms of reference of the Academic Affairs Committee and that the corresponding change be made in section 2.1 of the Erindale College Council By-laws.
and
THAT given that information regarding the Committee On Standing flows through the Academic Appeals Board, the Standing subcommittee be deleted and that the corresponding change be made in section 2.6 of the Erindale College Council By-laws
and
THAT the Curriculum subcommittee be listed in its three present components: Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences Curriculum subcommittees and that the corresponding change be made in section 2.6 of the Erindale College Council By-laws.
and
THAT the name of the Library subcommittee be changed to its present designation as the Advisory Committee to the UTM Library
and
THAT given that issues regarding scholarships and awards are covered in the Academic Affairs Committee terms of reference, the Scholarships and Awards sub-committee be deleted and that the corresponding change be made in section 2.6 of the Erindale College Council By-laws

(S. Aster / G. Anderson)

The Chair opened the floor to discussion of the motion.

Concerning the removal of the issues dealing with computing services from the Academic Affairs Committee, a member asked whether the Computing Committee contained student membership. The Chair confirmed that the Computing Committee had one full-time, one part-time and a graduate student member. The Vice-President and Principal noted that the Executive Committee had previously discussed the review of the terms of reference of the Computing Committee, which would be considered at that Committee’s next meeting.

In response to a member’s question, the Chair explained that the Committee On Standing no longer reports to the AAC, but that the Academic Appeals Board gives yearly updates to members of the AAC.

The motion was called to question. The motion was approved.

b) Change in the Religion Program at UTM – Cheryl Misak

The Chair called on the Vice-Principal: Academic to introduce this item. A memorandum from the Vice-Principal Academic with background information and proposed changes was distributed to members and is attached to this report as Appendix C.

The Vice-Principal: Academic noted that due to the loss of two senior faculty to impending retirement and limited success in making new appointments, the Religion program was faced with a very small faculty complement of 2.6 FTE faculty. She explained that during last year’s planning process the UTM Executive Planning Committee had the opportunity to reinvigorate the Religion program in order to achieve critical mass and excellence. In the midst of these discussions, an opportunity arose to recharge the program through the recruitment of a world renowned scholar in ancient Judaism, a hire which enjoyed the support of the graduate chairs of Classics, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, and Religion. As a result, it was decided after much consultation that a program in the History of World Religions would be developed. The UTM plan calls for 6 new faculty into the program, 2 at the rank of Associate Professor. The Vice-Principal Academic noted that this program had a more natural fit with UTM’s strengths in history and classics than with strengths in anthropology. The Department of Anthropology and Religion wholeheartedly supported the proposed move of the Religion program to the Department of History and Classics, which would become the Department of Historical Studies.

The Vice-Principal Academic stated that current faculty in religion were given the option of remaining in the Department of Anthropology and continuing their teaching in the anthropology of religion.

It was duly moved and seconded,
THAT the program in religion be moved from the Department of Anthropology and Religion to become part of the Department of History and Classics.
and
THAT resulting from the above change, the name of the Department of Anthropology and Religion be changed to the Department of Anthropology
and THAT the name of the Department of History and Classics be changed to the Department of Historical Studies.
(C. Misak / U. Krull)

The Chair called on Professor Larry Schmidt, from the Department of Anthropology and Religion to address members. Professor Schmidt distributed a prepared statement to members and spoke against the motion. He agreed that the religion program complement was always small and was even further reduced since 1999, when a Christian Studies CLTA was not replaced. He added that the diminishing strength of the department was also largely due to the fact that a faculty member has been on persistent sick leave. He further explained that UTM considered, but rejected, the possibility of closing the Religion Program largely because of its popularity with students. He pointed out that the proposed relocation of the Religion Program, despite having received the support of the graduate chairs in Classics, History and Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, did not receive the support of the graduate chair or the director of the Centre for the Study of Religion. He added that under Professor Tavakoli-Targhi’s able leadership, the proposed department of Historical Studies would likely prosper, but may do so at the expense of the Religion program, if the Religion program is simply subsumed. He suggested that the constitution of the department of Historical Studies make it clear that the study of religion is not limited to historical studies, but includes anthropological, sociological, and philosophical methods as well as religious ethics as its mandate. He also suggested that the five-year plan be revisited with Professor Tavakoli-Targhi leading the review.

The Chair called on Professor Tavakoli-Targhi, Chair of the department of History and Classics to address members. Professor Tavakoli-Targhi spoke in support of the motion stating that the proposed changes would complement UTM’s thriving program in Classical Civilizations, which already offers courses related to Judaism and Christianity. He further noted that the department of History and Classics featured a substantial faculty complement already teaching religion courses. He added that the move of the religion program would invigorate the Study of Religion and would allow UTM to develop a unique and coherent program in the History of Religions, which would be an appropriate fit with UTM’s highly diverse student body. While acknowledging the existence of many methods and approaches in the study of religion, he asserted that UTM must focus its limited resources on the history of religion.

The Chair opened the floor to further discussion of the motion.

The Vice-President and Principal stated his strong support for the proposed change, and added that the proposal would capitalize on the new hires in the religion program. Another member expressed support for the motion, as a sound academic planning decision.

The motion was called to question. The motion was approved, with six abstentions.

5. Other Business

The Vice-President and Principal announced that this was the final full meeting of the Academic Affairs Committee that would be chaired by Professor Sidney Aster. He thanked Professor Aster for his dedication and contribution to the work of the AAC over the past three years.

6. Next Meeting

The Chair noted that the Committee would meet on Tuesday, October 26, 2004.

The meeting adjourned at 3:45 p.m. (G. Anderson/ A. Lange)

Secretary of Council __________________ Chair __________________

October 15, 2004