Minutes: November 25, 2008

Meeting of the ACADEMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council held on Tuesday, November 25, 2008, at 3:10 p.m. in Room 3129, South Building.


Attendance: A. Lange; D. Kreuger; H. Gunz; R. Reisz; D. Crocker; G. Averill; C. Evans; N. Copeland; N. Woolridge; A. Wensley; J. McCurdy-Myers; B. Branfireun (for S. Munro); J. Poë; R. Johnson; M. Mavrinac; G. Kambourov; A. Bendlin; S. Meza; K. Khanin; B. Katz; M. Lippincott; H. Chaudhary; A.K. Madhavji; K. Poloz

Regrets: A. Fleming; G. Anderson; G. Crawford; C. Cranford; S. Munro

Guests: C. DeMarco; P. Handley;


1. Minutes of the previous meeting (October 28, 2008)
There were minor corrections made for clarity; the minutes were approved.


2. Reports of Committees & Officers

a) For approval: 2009-2010 Curriculum Reports
(Overview of major changes, for reference)


i. Sciences (Robert Reisz)

Reisz explained that the Science committee met three times and discussed the issues department by department, recognizing the impact of the changes on each other.

Science has two new programs:


1) Biology for Health Sciences, which fills an important niche, given the interest in medicine, and it is anticipated that it will be very attractive to students; this program does not require major resource implications except for a partial stipend.

2) New minor in Environmental Sciences; there is much interest in this as a minor program, and very minor resource implications.

Most other changes and deletions to the report are minor. New courses that have been added are related to new faculty coming on stream, and are related to existing programs. A new course on freshwater ecology will replace an older course that has been deleted.

The course changes reflect the departure of senior faculty and the introduction of newer faculty, all within the context of the programs and the whole departmental perspective. The resource implications for courses are really very minor, and some implications are even positive, saving money.

It was duly moved and seconded that the Sciences Curriculum report be approved by the Academic Affairs Committee and thereby be recommended to Erindale College Council for approval. (R. Reisz/D. Crocker)

The Chair opened the floor to questions:

  • A member asked about how Biology for Health Sciences will act as a bridge to medicine. Robert responded that Biology is repackaging existing BIO courses to make them an obvious first start for medicine. There are many first year medical students who find themselves unprepared, and this new program will help.
  • A member noted that the deletion of a year-long course replaced by a half-year course allows for cost savings, therefore allowing for the addition of new courses.

The call to vote on whether the Academic Affairs Committee approves the presented Sciences curriculum changes and recommends it to Erindale College Council for was upheld, and was approved unanimously.


ii. Social Sciences (Hugh Gunz)

Gunz explained that the only substantive change is the new Environmental Management program, and he called upon B. Branfireun to speak briefly about this. Branfireun explained that the field of Environmental Sciences is expanding, and it is a logical progression to give students more options.

It was duly moved and seconded that the Social Sciences Curriculum report be approved by the Academic Affairs Committee and thereby be recommended to Erindale College Council for approval. (H. Gunz; G. Averil)

The call to vote on whether the Academic Affairs Committee approves the presented Social Sciences curriculum changes and recommends it to Erindale College Council was upheld, and was approved unanimously.


iii. Humanities (Robert Johnson)

Johnson added some additional changes, which were mostly typographic, to the report. He had only minor changes in wording to programs, and there weren’t any new programs added.

A number of new courses were introduced, but resource implications are very minor. They are adding courses with the intention of offering them in rotation, so the overall budget has not been affected, with the exception of some library resources. They are introducing courses that have not been heavily taught previously, so they’re working with the library to reinforce the collection, but the course instructors are aware they will have to rely on internet-based materials more so than normal.

It was duly moved and seconded that the Humanities Curriculum report be approved by the Academic Affairs Committee and thereby be recommended to Erindale College Council for approval. (R. Johnson/B. Katz)

Since there were no questions, the call to vote on whether the Academic Affairs Committee approves the presented Humanities curriculum changes and recommends it to Erindale College Council was upheld, and was approved unanimously.

b) For approval: Proposal to amend the HBSc degree requirements in the 2009-2010 academic calendar (Diane Crocker)

Crocker explained that when U of T Mississauga’s Office of the Registrar separated from FAS, there were certain clean-up operations with regards to degree requirements that should have taken place. In November 2005 FAS introduced the HBSc degree-requirement amendment, and UTSC did it in Jan 2006. The idea is that students be eligible for HBSc if they have the requirements for science.

Crocker explained that all three campuses of U of T should have the same degree requirements. There is now a tri-campus committee of Deans and Registrars which attempt to ensure this is the case but this particular item is an example of something that should have happened at all three campuses but did not. The result is that we are now doing some clean up to our degree specifications. In November 2005 FAS introduced the HBSc degree-requirement amendment, and UTSC did it in Jan 2006. The idea is that students be eligible for HBSc if they have met the requirements for the science degree.

It was duly moved and seconded that the HBSc degree requirements be amended to allow an HBSc to those students who complete their Major in Science but their Minors in Arts, effective for the 2009-2010 academic year. (D. Crocker/B. Katz)

The Chair opened the floor to questions:

  • It was noted that the student will still need 12 distinct courses for the major.
  • A member asked about the consequences for past students. Diane replied that they received an HBA.

The call to vote on whether the HBSc degree requirements should be changed to allow students who Major in Science but Minor in the Arts to earn an HBSc degree was upheld and approved unanimously by the committee.


3. New Business


a) For approval: Proposal to adopt a 12-week term (Gage Averill)

The U of T Mississauga has historically been on a 13-week calendar, which includes a reading week in Spring. UTSC adopted a 12-week calendar (trimester system) many years ago. There had been no pressure to change things on this campus previously. However, FAS passed a motion for a 12-week term in the Fall of 2008.

The reasons for FAS passing the 12-week term are:

  1. So students could be done their exams by May 1 and could find jobs along with other recent graduates of the 12-week term.
  2. To balance out the two terms with a study week at the end of both terms – particularly important given the number of H courses we offer.
  3. Most Canadian universities were at or near a 12-week term, so the competition is adopting this practice.

Discussions at the Chair’s meeting raised support from some departments, especially those strongly linked to FAS. There has also been some opposition from departments with labs, since the loss of one lab session will have a significant impact on content of instruction.

It was moved and duly noted that the University of Toronto Mississauga adopt a 12-week academic term, effective for the 2009-2010 academic year. (G. Averill; A. Madhavji)

Discussion:

  • The committee discussed the many challenges of the 12-week term. For instance, the academic cost is significant and it could affect the image of the campus. Also it was felt by some that the ability to teach the same content is compromised, and that less time spent teaching will make things much more difficult both for instructors and students since the pace of the course work will be quickened.
  • Crocker informed the committee that she brought the proposal to QSS for student opinion. They discussed the fact that term tests could be scheduled outside of class time, so that students will not lose as much instructional time as it appears on first glance.
  • A member asked whether the possibility of dropping the reading week to gain some time was explored. Crocker replied that Reading week stays, partially because it’s a national tradition of sorts and it is still in place on the St. George campus.
  • A member noted that Sheridan doesn’t have final exams, so the 12-week term will make the CCIT program easier; currently their student use the 13th week for other course work.
  • A student member noted that FAS will have a fall reading-week equivalent, so there might be fairness issues if our students don’t have a similar week.
  • A UTMSU guest asked where they would place a study week in the fall. Crocker replied that the UTM proposal did not include a “reading week” in the Fall, as is the case with the FAS plan, but instead a 5-day break before exams, and a majority of students are in favour of this; students have expressed their need for the week before exams to study and prepare.
  • A member mentioned coordination with FAS on this issue may be essential for faculty retention.
  • A member mentioned that mid-term tests tend to be held during class hours, and if this changes, students will need to attend the class and write the mid-term at some other time, creating a particularly stressful week for students. Crocker noted that many universities already do this—scheduling tests early morning, late evening and on weekends. At UTM space is an issue, but right now the Registrar’s Office has already been able to schedule many tests outside of regular class time.
  • Averill mentioned that one issue that was raised was grievance issues for tenure, and that tenuring at U of T is a tri-campus system. If one faculty has a 13-week semester year after year, a tenure denial could come forward based on increased work-load.
  • The impact of starting classes mid-week was brought up with respect to lab scheduling: Labs require set up for teaching, so when the term starts in the middle of the week time is lost for logistic reasons.
  • The Chair mentioned that there is an assumption that instructors will modify their classes to accommodate the missing week. The impact on labs was acknowledged, but the benefit to the students is obvious.
  • One member felt the shortened term allows less instruction and less material while adding more study time. Other members disagreed, and explained that the content will be condensed, not decreased; faculty will take their own approach to concentrating course content.
  • A student member mentioned the deferred exams issue that was raised at the last meeting, and felt that this plan will likely reduce the number of deferred exams, since it will allow students more study time.
  • One student member mentioned that a 13-week academic term would create a disadvantage to UTM students, since they won’t have the extra study time that FAS students have. The member also wondered if this would discourage students from coming to UTM. Crocker agreed that if UTM retains a 13-week term there will be major challenges particularly with respect to fairness and scheduling, especially for UTM students taking courses on other campuses.
  • One member felt this change represented a significant change to academic practice at UTM, and that therefore it should be presented as a motion at ECC.
  • Averill reiterated that calendar changes do not require ECC approval, but accepted a friendly amendment to the motion.

It was moved and duly noted that the Academic Affairs Committee recommend to the Erindale College Council that the University of Toronto Mississauga adopt a 12-week academic term, effective for the 2009-2010 academic year. (G. Averill; A. Madhavji)

There were 11 votes in favour of the motion; 4 votes against; and 3 abstentions.

The motion was passed for recommending a 12-week term, and will be carried forth to the next ECC meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 5:02 p.m.

4. Next meeting: Tuesday, January 20, 2009.