Minutes: January 26, 2011

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO MISSISSAUGA

MINUTES OF THE ERINDALE COLLEGE COUNCIL meeting held on Wednesday January 26th, 2011, at 3:15 p.m. in the Council Chamber, Room 3130, William G. Davis Building

Present: A. Wensley (in the Chair), D. Saini, P. Donoghue, D. Crocker, A. Mullin, U. Krull, M. Mavrinac, M. Overton, C. Boyd, A. Burnett, C. Capewell, L. Collins, D. Clancy, P. Goldsmith, P. Handley, D. Kreuger, J. Lim, E. Martin, J. McCurdy-Myers, B. McFadden, D. Mullings, L. Paris, A. Stelmacovich, J. Stirling, A. Vyas, J. Lukkarila, T. Braukmann, K. Ercit, M. Zandawala, L. Barber, M. Berger, A. Birkenbergs, C. Bryson, L. Gaspini, D. Hill, K. Horvath, D. Iafrate, R. Lala, L. Oliver, A. Lange, D. Schulze, L. Bailey, P. Macdonald, J. Halfar, P. Piunno, A. Daniere, J. Shin, N. Woolridge, D. DiCenso, R. Beck, D. Dunlop, I. Still, S. McCarthy, R. Ahdab, S. Ahmad, T. Ahmed, O. Aladesuru, M. Aziz, M. Baig, T. Bhandari, A. Bin Arif, J. Boutilier, A. Chakraborty, S. Chaudhary, J. Cruz, B. Diaz, D. Dicenzo, T. Didiano, F. Gure, C. Hung, N. Inniss-Boston, E. Javier, T. Karkaria, S. Khajeh Hassani Mohammadian, S. Khalid, V. Khanam, J. Korelin, S. Kumar, A. Madhavji, A. Niaz, T. Oseivhi, A. Pasha, S. Percy, K. Rajakulendran, C. San Jose, T. Suliman, S. Sumra, P. Taylor, M. Tremis, X. Wang, S. Zohaib, Z. Zubari, V. Bhatt, D. Dong, D. Cassar, K. Giles, H. Mohyeldin, M. Sajjid, G. Yuen, M. Chowdhury, M. Pilar Galvez, J. Khalil

Regrets: J. Delves

In attendance: A. MacIsaac, J. Johmen, R. El-Kadri, A. Lopatriello, R. Mehta, A. Noor, A. Ali, C. Deng, L. Yuan, J. He, S. Amertorwo, A. De Vito, S. Marotta, S. Borg, G. Yu, L. Sankaro, D. Nowab, M. Fabiano, D. Kohli, N. Huda, A. Sheikh, R. Abraham, N. Rem, A. Mana, T. Sidhu, N. Dhanju, C. Solonenko, L. Peria, E. Kobluk, M. Hashim, N. Alin, V. Santiago, E. Zammit, D. Ponte, J. Lim, J. Chacon, D. Cervoni, S. Koicheva, J. Fonsela, P. Unachandran, S. Singh, S. Subratee, S. Sivanesavajar, S. Khan, C. Mina, E. Ali, D. Sandhu, E. Cai, E. Acheson, M. Johnson, A. Joseph, D. Sanderi, J. Sign, M. Khan, C. Demirez, S. Hyder, J. Machado, R. Hermond, N. Joshi, G. Crasto, L. Arissato, S. Sheikh, C. McColeman, B. Mazur


1. Approval of Minutes of Previous Meeting (December 15, 2010)


The minutes of the last meeting were approved. (Crocker/Mullin)


2. Reports of Standing Committees and Officers


a) Resource Planning & Priorities Committee: Report of January 11, 2011-Professor Lee Bailey


For the benefit of guests of Council Professor Bailey provided a brief explanation of the Resource Planning and Priorities Committee (RPPC) and its composition. He explained that RPPC is a standing committee of the Council, that there are three student representatives, one for full time undergraduate, one for part time undergraduate and one for graduate students. As well there are eight faculty members from various disciplines along with the Dean, CAO, staff members and the Vice President and Principal.


He advised that on November 9th RPPC first heard the ancillary budgets and a brief outline of them. RPPC looks at year over year changes. At the January 11, 2011 meeting the final version of the budgets were presented and the RPPC members voted to recommend the budgets to ECC for approval. Professor Bailey reminded Council that it is the budgets, rather than the level of service, that is being recommended for approval at this meeting. He noted that the budgets are available on the Council website.

Professor Bailey called on the Chief Administrative Officer, Mr. Paul Donoghue, to provide an overview of the guidelines that the ancillaries must adhere to during the budgeting process.


Mr. Donoghue reminded Council of the University of Toronto policies under which the ancillaries must operate. He detailed the Service Ancillaries Review Group (SARG) guidelines that the ancillaries must abide by as follows:


1. Subsidies from the operating budget, both direct and indirect, must be expressly identified and eliminated.

2. Operating revenues must be sufficient to support regular capital renewal of both buildings and equipment. Deferred maintenance must be eliminated and provision made for regular replacement of furniture and equipment.

3. Having achieved objectives (1) and (2), ancillaries will create an operating reserve.

4. Having achieved (1), (2) and (3), ancillaries will contribute net revenues to the operating budget.


Mr. Donoghue explained that the complication to this, which is where discussion usually focuses, is in fact the exception to the overall policy that was set in 2000 to enable building construction for student residences to be undertaken. If strict application of the forgoing policy had been adhered to it would have prohibited UTM from building additional residences to accommodate the huge expansion in enrolment. To allow for growth, the exception was granted. The exception allows an ancillary to go into debt for major capital expansion, on approval but even there it needs to be accomplished in a way that allows the ancillary to reach a break even position as follows:


- Achieve annual breakeven position 5 years after opening a new building

- Achieve a cumulative breakeven position 8 years after opening a new building


The Chair opened the floor to questions.


There being no questions, Mr. Donoghue acknowledged the concern expressed by the financial pressures the University of Toronto guidelines impose upon the ancillary operations. He outlined the budget review process. He will be at the SARG meeting where the ancillary budgets will be presented and he will bring the ongoing concerns expressed at UTM to that Committee's attention.


i. Parking Services - Ms. Christine Capewell, Director of Business Services


The parking services management report and budget is attached hereto as Appendix A.


Ms. Capewell reported on the space availability on campus and acknowledged that the spaces available in September 2010 were lower than in September 2009 and that it made parking a challenge in that month. She then confirmed that with the opening of the parking deck in November 2010 the number of spaces should adequately meet the requirements. She provided some statistics on the parking availability and demand. She noted that September is always challenging for space but the rest of the year there is adequate parking. She noted that we cannot build to accommodate easy parking in the peak time as it would lead to a large increase in parking rates and too many empty spaces the rest of the year.


She then reviewed the financials that are posted on the Council website. She began by advising that the budget includes a 3% increase to parking permits but that pay and display rates will not increase. She then summarized the 2010-11 forecast and highlighted the major differences. Parking permit revenue was less than budget due to the delay in opening the parking deck some of which was offset by an increase in pay and display revenue. The other significant variance in the current year relates to the loan principal and interest expense line. She explained that the original plan was to enter into an external loan to finance the parking deck construction however an external arrangement was not entered into. The result is interest expense being $630k less than what was budgeted. She noted that it is directly related to the $420k transfer out of the ancillary on Schedule 2 and explained that the $420k transfer represents the part of the year the deck was open. The full $630k will be transferred going forward.


Ms. Capewell then reviewed the 2011-12 budget. She advised that she anticipates that permits should be available to all that require them in September 2011 and that is reflected in the increase in permit revenue. Pay and display revenue is also estimated to increase as the campus grows. She noted an increase in expenses as: salaries for additional staffing in the customer service area and to better reflect the direct cost for campus police services; furniture & equipment repair expense is the increase in maintenance to the pay and display meters. She noted that the loan principal and interest expense is only for the CCT garage and does not include any expense for the parking deck. The net result is $585k and as previously mentioned there will be a $630k transfer to the UTM operating budget which will leave a small negative result of $44k which will be absorbed by the unrestricted surplus.


She then explained the closing fund balance portion of Schedule 2. The university dictates that the ancillaries reserve a small cushion (the operating reserve) to help absorb any unforeseen business transactions that would affect revenue or expenses. For 2011-12 that amount will be $189k. The final unrestricted surplus, after the absorption of the negative result of $44k will be $180k.


Ms. Capewell noted that there seemed to be some misconception around the ancillary's contribution to the operating budget. She clarified that the original plan was to obtain external financing for the parking deck construction which would have led to an annual expense of $946k. Because of the internal financing that was arranged there will be an annual contribution of $630k to the UTM operating budget resulting in a net benefit to Parking of $316k annually.


She concluded by reviewing the reasons for the parking permit increase. She explained that the increase is necessary for the ancillary to cover operating costs and the annual contribution to the UTM operating budget and that the permit increase does not quite cover the 2011-12 costs and contributions. The $44k net shortfall will be absorbed by the unrestricted surplus. She advised that it is possible that there will be a small negative result in 2012-13 as well however the plan is to continue to limit the permit price increase to 3% and it is hoped that thereafter, barring unforeseen events, results should be positive.


It was duly moved and seconded,
THAT the Parking Services Operating Plan and Management Report for 2011-12 be recommended to Erindale College Council for approval. (Capewell/Krull)


The Chair opened the floor to discussion.


The President of the UTMSU spoke against the motion. She provided several points in opposition to the approval of the budget. She noted that the annual reserved parking permit cost is slowly reaching the cost of a full credit. She further noted that Parking Services made a surplus of $548k in 2010-11 and yet the ancillary is asking for an increase of 3%. UTMSU constructed a list of justifiable reasons for an increase and these were used to determine if the ancillary met the threshold. The first reason is an increase in the services provided. The management report states that there are adequate spots available. Since no additional spots are available UTMSU believes this means there is no additional service provided. The second reason would be if the ancillary was not making enough money. Since the ancillary had a net operating result of $128k and that without an increase they have $453k before the contribution to the operating budget. The final reason would be if the service did not have any capital reserve. The university policy recommends a capital reserve of 10% however the current reserve is 19.3% which is almost double the recommendation. She summarized that the service has a very healthy surplus and no significant increase in expenses. She believes that there is no justifiable reason for an increase. She asked members to read the UTMSU report on the issue of parking fees that was being distributed. She asked to submit a petition after the meeting that has been signed by over 1000 students against the 3% increase to parking fees. She strongly encouraged members to vote against the motion. She feels that there is an opportunity to save students, faculty and staff hundreds of dollars while still allowing the ancillary to be financially responsible. She concluded by stating that education is a right and transportation to and from university should be accessible and affordable to all users.


The Chair recognized the effort of the student body in their analysis of the budgets. He then asked Mr. Donoghue to address the points made.


Mr. Donoghue supported the Chair's comments and congratulated the UTMSU President and her colleagues for their efforts in developing their report. He questioned some of the analysis and reasoning in the paper but felt it was a very thoughtful approach. He encouraged members of Council to read the report if they had not already done so. He highlighted two fundamental points of differing perspective. The first related to the remarks made concerning the contribution to the central operating budget and that there is no rational justification for this transfer. The argument that was made is that there will be no increase in supply and therefore there should be no increase. As Ms. Capewell pointed out in her report construction on the parking deck was completed in 2010-11 at a cost of $6.4M. Mr. Donoghue noted that the Council had provided approval for the project and that he had provided Council with numerous updates over the past year in terms of progress and costs. He further noted that the construction was completed without having to go to external sources for financing, as had first been anticipated, and that had saved several hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are no immediate plans for additional capital construction however that position may change if we experience significant growth.


In response to UTMSU's position that a building was placed over a number of parking spaces and the number of spaces added with the deck did not replace those spaces, Mr. Donoghue noted that there was excess capacity at that time. The old calculation for parking space was based on the assumption that 30% of the individuals on campus would drive. Due to changes in commuter patterns and the efforts of UTMSU with the UPass initiative, the utilization rate has dramatically changed and is now closer to 18%. He explained that this point is important so that we do not end up in the same situation as three years ago with a significant excess and because limiting the parking spaces reinforces better behavior by putting pressure on those that have a choice to find alternate modes of transportation. He acknowledged that a time will come when more spots must be added and it will be accomplished with another deck to comply with the demands to reserve green space and because it is the most economical way to add spaces.


A member remarked that the explanation for last year's increase was to pay for the deck and it seems to be the same explanation for this increase. She asked if the 3% increase last year was not enough to pay for the deck. She further noted that last year there was a clear and tangible plan but she does not see the same planning with this increase and does not feel the increase should be approved.

The Chair asked Mr. Donoghue to respond. Mr. Donoghue explained that because we are required to submit the budget annually it may cause some misconception. In reality it is a multi-year plan, typically budgeting is prepared by looking ahead five years. It is clearly evident that a $6.4M parking deck cannot be paid for with a one year 3% increase. The plan was a 3% increase in each of five years in order to allow us to cover the cost of building the deck. He pointed out that we were able to develop a better financing approach that allowed us to limit the annual increase to 3%. He noted that he understands that there is no support from the students for an increase of any kind however the ancillary was pleased that it could develop a plan that could limit the increase.


A member inquired about the pay and display machines. He pointed out that our rates are higher than the St. George campus. The Chair thanked the member for his observation but again advised that it is an alternative strategy and not relevant to the current motion.

A member inquired why the opening budget last year was over $250k different than projected and asked for an explanation. The Chair called on Ms. Capewell to address the question. She was not clear which item on the budget the member was referring to. She did note that the actual net operating result last year was negative $181k and that may be part of the explanation.


The Chair clarified the function of Council. He noted that Council is not a management body and that the university has in place many competent professional managers and they produce the budget with input from many different sources.


It was duly moved and seconded,
THAT Council limit debate to 10 more minutes. (Crocker/Krull)

The motion was carried.


The Chair asked if there was further discussion.


A member questioned the 18 year amortization period and asked for clarification. By his calculation he felt that at the current repayment amount of $630k per year the interest free loan from UTM should be paid off in 10 to 11 years. Ms. Capewell again clarified that this is not a conventional loan that has a prescribed interest rate. If you make the comparison to external financing you would have to make an assumption about what that interest rate would be, which has been estimated at between 6 - 8%, the amortization rate would be approximately 18 years.


The Chair asked to move to new questions.


A member asked if there is a mechanism for students to be involved during the budgeting process. Mr. Donoghue noted that there is student representation on the Resource Planning and Priorities Committee (RPPC) which provides students with an opportunity for input. The preliminary budgets are presented at that standing committee at which time the members of RPPC provide input which is then taken under consideration by the ancillary managers as they fine tune the budgets. The membership of all of the standing committees and sub committees is available on the Council website. He added that both his office and Ms. Capewell's office would be happy to sit down with students to answer questions and hear suggestions on what can be done in preparation for next year's budgets.


A member asked why the transfer cannot be frozen at the current level. Mr. Donoghue noted that this is the same question that had already been answered and could offer nothing more to the explanation that had already been provided.


The Chair noted that the 10 minutes for debate had expired.


The motion was put to a vote. A division was called. The motion carried.


ii. Residence - Dale Mullings, Director Student Housing and Residence Life


The residence services management report and budget is attached hereto as Appendix B.


Mr. Mullings reviewed the 2010-11 operating plan forecast. He noted that the operating result before transfers is projected to be a surplus of $63k which is $26k less than budget primarily related to a shortfall in occupancy revenues. The total fund balance closing forecasts a cumulative deficit of $5M which has resulted from the rapid expansion of student residences since 1999. Highlights in 2010-11 include in collaboration with UTM Conference and Event Services the establishment of a housing and conference service agreement, a new residence application management system became operational, and the development and implementation of an experiential learning program. In terms of revenues, fall/winter occupancy was below projections at 95% rather than the 96% that was projected resulting in a deficit of $269k, summer occupancy was higher than projected resulting in a surplus of $101k and the $95k increase in commissions and other incomes is related to the Conference Service Agreement. He then reviewed the expenses noting that they are higher than planned by approximately $80k due to construction issues with Erindale Hall. Other discrepancies are related to the associated costs with the new Conference Service Agreement. Replacement of depreciable assets indicates a negative variance and a corresponding increase in the furniture and equipment depreciation because of significant furniture purchases for the townhouses and bachelor units which were capitalized rather than expensed. He advised that this year the ancillary will make a $26k contribution toward the fund deficit.


Mr. Mullings then reviewed the 2011-12 budget. He noted that it reflects a positive operating result of $347k. He reviewed the anticipated revenue streams as follows: fall/winter occupancy revenue based on a 95% occupancy rate; summer residence revenue will decrease due to the closure of Ivor Hall for necessary repairs; the commissions and other incomes revenue includes anticipated conference business, a $2 per connection monthly increase in rezNET fees and an annual $15 increase per first year student in rezONE fees. He then reviewed the anticipated expenses as follows: salaries, supplies, and cleaning costs now reflect the expenses related to the Conference Service Agreement; increases in cable fees and UTM Computing Services fees are reflected in the telephone, cable and internet expense; annual and major maintenance expenses will decrease as some projects are completed internally; and furniture and equipment depreciation will increase with the purchase of new desk chairs for Roy Ivor Hall and furniture for the Shared Bachelor units.


Mr. Mullings concluded his report by noting that residence fee rates are planned to increase at a combined rate of 5%. This will be achieved through a proportional increase model based on weighted revenues from the two specific residence areas (undergraduate and family & graduate). Oscar Peterson Hall will increase by 6.48% to match similar campus rates, whereas all other undergraduate rates will increase by 4.4%. 12 month family and graduate rental rates will increase by 4.15%. Housing demand for graduate and family units has seen a decline over recent years while the demand for undergraduate housing continues to rise. New partnerships with graduate faculties and greater housing options should help to offset the decline. The ancillary's long range plan is to remain on pace towards a positive fund balance in year 9 (2015-16) of the plan.


It was duly moved and seconded,
THAT the Residence Operating Plan and Management Report for 2011-12 be recommended to Erindale College Council for approval. (Mullings/Capewell)


The Chair opened the floor to discussion.


The UTM Residence Council President noted that the Residence Council worked extensively on the budget with the ancillary and commented that they did not have a say on the rates but they did have a say in areas to help improve the residence experience. The Residence Council's position is that the fees continue to increase but they do not see any additional services. They recognize the costs associated with residence growth however feel that managing the growth could have prevented the SARG guidelines coming into play. On behalf of residence students he remarked that alternatives are not there for students to assist with this cost and many no longer live on campus because they can't afford it and thus the residence students do not support the budget.


Mr. Mullings noted that during the past three years the ancillary has expanded the services offered to students in residence and that they have received numerous awards for the initiatives. They have also increased the number of student positions within the department. He also advised that, when compared to both the local market and other universities that have similar style units, the ancillary has consistently been competitive and even beaten most other institutions.


The Chair granted speaking rights to a guest. The asked if the cost to live on residence was compared to the local residential area or just other institutions. Mr. Mullings noted that both comparators were used.


A member asked for clarification if it was the GTA or Hamilton that was used for comparison as she thought that it was Hamilton that was mentioned at RPPC. Mr. Mullings answered that it is in fact the GTA and that was what presented at RPPC. However, since the question arose at RPPC, Mr. Mullings analyzed the data for Hamilton and while there is an approximate savings of $120 per month for housing in Hamilton that savings would be more than offset by the cost of commuting to the campus.


A member asked what the legal rate is that private landlords are able to raise the rent per year. Mr. Mullings answered that he believes the rate is 3% but we are exempt from that rule.


The motion was put to a vote. The motion was carried.


iii. Food Services - Bill McFadden, Director of Hospitality and Retail Services


The food services management report and budget is attached hereto as Appendix C.


Mr. McFadden reported that 23 distinct food service counters and five dining facilities are currently being operated across campus. Additionally meal plan holders can have a number of items delivered. The addition of the food service outlet in the new instructional centre will increase the space allocated to food service on the campus to .36 NASMs per FTE. That still leaves a shortfall of the targeted .43 NASMs and initiatives in the instructional centre and the meeting place will bring the ancillary closer to that target.

He then reviewed the 2010-11 forecast as follows: the total food and beverage revenue is forecasted to exceed budget by $415k which is primarily attributed to the students recognizing the value of the meal plan and self selecting larger meal plans; the total cost of sales and service exceeds budget by $335k which is a direct result of increased sales; the contribution margin of the net revenue is $79k higher than budget; the total direct expenses are expected to exceed budget by $187k primarily due to replacement of non-depreciable assets that were $115k more than budgeted. He advised that the forecasted operating result before transfers is an expected surplus of $32k and the closing total fund balance is a positive $522k.


Mr. McFadden then reviewed the 2011-12 budget. He advised that total food and beverage revenue is budgeted to be 7% higher than the forecasted year end for 2010-11 as a result of a projected 2.5% weighted average increase to the cost of food sold on campus, a 2.3% increase to the meal plan rates, and a 15% increase in cafeteria sales. He further explained the increase for meal plans noting that the increase for the Group A meal plan is 1% and the Group B meal plan will increase by 3% to adhere to government legislation and ensure students receive the tax savings. The total direct expenditures are expected to be $1.23M with significant expenses falling under furniture and equipment repair, and depreciation. He concluded by advising that the operating result before transfers is budgeted to be a surplus of $129k and the closing total fund balance will be a positive $652k.


It was duly moved and seconded,
THAT the Food Services Operating Plan and Management Report for 2011-12 be recommended to Erindale College Council for approval. (McFadden/Bailey)


The Chair opened the floor to discussion.


The UTM Residence Council President commented that the Food Committee works closely with the food services ancillary and they are pleased with the initiatives they have seen implemented. He distributed a document that outlines what has been accomplished. He noted that the Residence Council supports the budget on the premise that improvements and growth will continue.

The Chair commended the Food Committee for their efforts and Mr. McFadden thanked the committee for their suggestions and assistance.


The motion was put to a vote. The motion was carried.


It was duly moved and seconded,
THAT Council extend its meeting adjournment time by 20 minutes.

The motion was put to a vote. The motion was carried.


iv. Conference Services - Mr. Bill McFadden, Director of Hospitality and Retail Services


The conference services management report and budget is attached hereto as Appendix D.


Mr. McFadden advised that an operating agreement between the department of conference services and the department of student housing and residence life has resulted in a significant change to the way in which the hotel operation is managed. It has given student housing full control over the accommodation inventory year round and enables both departments to focus on their core strengths, increase overall efficiency, and improve the value to customers.


He then reviewed the 2010-11 forecast. He noted that the total revenue is expected to exceed the budget by $237k because all areas of revenue are higher as a result of a number of bookings occurring after the formation of the budget. It is forecasted that direct expenses will exceed the budget by $116k and noted that expenses are directly proportional to sales. The total operating result before transfers is expected to be $119k higher than budget and the total closing fund balance is expected to be $181k better than budget after the transfer of $100k to the operating budget.


Mr. McFadden then reviewed the 2011-12 budget. He advised that a conservative approach was taken in terms of budgeting revenue and that only confirmed bookings are included in the budgeted $955k. He added that there are several bids still outstanding but they are not included in the budget amount. Total direct operating expenses are directly proportional to sales and have been budgeted to be $759k. The operating result before transfers is budgeted at $104k and a transfer of $100k to the operating budget is planned leaving a total closing fund balance of $481k for 2011-12.


It was duly moved and seconded,
THAT the Conference Services Operating Plan and Management Report for 2011-12 be recommended to Erindale College Council for approval. (McFadden/Crocker)

The Chair opened the floor to discussion.


There being none, the motion was put to a vote. The motion was carried.


b) Academic Affairs Committee: Report of January 12, 2011 -Professor Nick Woolridge


Professor Woolridge reported that at the Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) meeting held January 12th, Ms. Diane Crocker, Registrar and Director of Enrolment Management presented four items, two for information and two for approval.


He began by describing the two information items. He advised Council that Ms. Crocker reported to the ACC that, following consultation with the Vice Dean Undergraduate and the academic departments effected, a minimum grade of 70% has been set in the calendar for the following high school courses where they are required as prerequisites: MHF4U - Advanced Functions; MCV4U - Calculus and Vectors; SCH4U - Chemistry; SBI4U - Biology; and SPH4U- Physics. This is consistent with admission policy which requires a minimum of 70% in these courses where they are prerequisites. This was done in an effort to ensure that students choosing these courses are better prepared to succeed.


Professor Woolridge then outlined the second information only item which is the move to earlier registration for returning students. At present the enrolment timeframe is compressed into a three-week timeframe in July. It places high demands on academic and frontline advising in a very short period of time and creates a situation where some students cannot get advising assistance and may not be able to enrol in courses that are requirements to graduate. As well the late summer enrolment timeframe leaves departments very little time to alter course offerings or add sections. Moving to earlier registration for returning students should eliminate these challenges. For this year, the revised registration dates for returning students will be:

  • fourth-year students will enrol on April 5;
  • third-year students will enrol on May 2;
  • second-year students will enrol on June 13; and
  • first-year students will enrol on July 6.

First year courses will not be available for upper year registration until after first year students have enrolled. The registrar has detailed a communications strategy to ensure that students are adequately informed of these changes.


i. Credit/No Credit Policy


Professor Woolridge then detailed the first item for approval which is the proposal of a Credit/No Credit policy. He explained that this would be a policy that would allow students to request up to 1.0 credit of non-core course to be designated as Credit/No Credit. Ms. Crocker had advised the AAC that the policy has been successfully in practice since 2008 on the St. George campus in the Faculty of Arts and Science, and was implemented in the summer 2010 on the Scarborough campus. Following a careful review of the experiences in the other divisions, UTM is now prepared to implement this policy.


The purpose of this policy is to allow students to explore areas outside of their program without danger of affecting their GPA. The policy is only available to UTM students for UTM courses. A course designated as Credit/No Credit will not be reflected in the student's GPA. Students can elect to have 1.0 credit of a 20 credit degree designated as a Credit/No Credit and once chosen this decision is not reversible. It will be available for elective courses and distribution requirements but cannot be used to fulfill program requirements. Instructors will not be informed that a student has requested Credit/No Credit status for a current course.


The policy is being brought forward for implementation in September 2011. Professor Woolridge noted that Ms. Crocker had pointed out that the one difference between our policy and the other campuses is that the course credit will be issued if the student attains a grade of 50% at UTM rather than 60% as is the case on the other campuses. The rationale for this was that 50% is a passing grade at UTM. It seemed an unfair practice to have a student who attained a grade of 50% pass the course while another would not if they had chosen the Credit/No Credit option.


There was considerable discussion at the AAC meeting regarding the 50% versus 60% credit issue. Some members voiced concern that setting the credit threshold lower at UTM than the other two campuses might be perceived as lower standards. Others argued that this could be seen as UTM making the fairer, more reasonable approach. A friendly amendment to change the level to 60% was voted down.


It was duly moved and seconded,
THAT the Credit/No Credit Policy be recommended to Erindale College Council for approval. (Woolridge/Mullings)


The Chair opened the floor to discussion.


The President of UTMSU spoke in favour of the motion. She noted that universities were created for exploration and education. A student having the opportunity to explore outside their current paradigm and discover new and exciting advancements is key to an individual's ability to think outside the box. There are instances where this exploration may provide students with new horizons and lead to a new direction for their future. This policy allows students to enroll in courses in which they have an interest without it affecting their grades or program requirements. She asked to present a petition with over 1000 student signatures in support after the meeting. She noted that UTMSU has been working on this initiative for the past nine months and has compiled a comprehensive report. She concluded by thanking Ms. Crocker and Professor Mullin for their work on this initiative in response to students' requests.


A member noted that the faculty in her department met to discuss the proposed policy and do not support the motion. She urged students to reconsider their support of the motion. She noted that there was concern from faculty that with a Credit/No Credit policy faculty will make an assumption that the student's grade in the course was 50%. While it may not affect the student's GPA, she feels that it will hinder other opportunities for students such as research work. She referred to an earlier comment about education being a right not a privilege and she argued that the students are selling themselves short with that attitude as their marks have earned them the privilege to be at the university. She added that the students they went to high school with that got 50% did not earn the privilege to be here. She noted that a student's transcript belongs to them and they need to consider whether they want a pass/fail credit on it. She suggested that if students wish to expand their horizons they should audit a course. She further noted that should the option be chosen the course could not be counted towards the program requirement if the student should change their program specialty. She concluded by cautioning that this policy could limit a students' future academic choices.


The Chair asked Ms. Crocker to address the comments. Ms. Crocker began by citing university policy on auditing courses and emphasized that auditing courses is not permitted. She thanked the students involved in preparing the UTMSU report. Ms. Crocker explained that the Credit/No Credit policy is an option and no one will be obligated to make this choice. She commended the member for her comments and acknowledged that there were some valid statements on how some people may view a Credit/No Credit. She continued that there are courses currently offered in this manner that have not presented a problem and then provided some statistics from the other two campuses that invalidate the member's assumption that students choosing a Credit/No Credit option will only achieve 50%. Of 26,000 students over the course of the past two years there have been 1,827 students that have chosen the option. The statistics indicate that only 8.4% of the students that chose the option got less than a C and that 22% got As and 44% got Bs. She believes that the statistics prove that these are hard working students that are exploring their options. She further noted that the data clearly indicates that they are exploring areas that they would not normally take courses in and invited members to review the data.

Professor Woolridge addressed the implications this policy will have on students wanting to switch programs. He noted that Ms. Crocket had advised the AAC that there was the potential for the acceptance of the course however it will be left up to departments if they wish to accept the actual mark in consideration of entering a program. Ms. Crocker clarified that the actual mark for the Credit/No Credit course will still be recorded in the Registrar's database if the need arises for the mark to be shared with a department for these purposes. However she added that the course itself cannot be applied towards the program and the student will need to take an additional course.

Professor Mullin advised that she received an e-mail from the Department of Psychology and was asked to share the contents with Council. The e-mail indicated that the department is opposed to lowering the pass requirement from 60% to 50%. Another concern they expressed was that students could petition and departments would be forced to accept this credit and she clarified that Ms. Crocker has made it very clear that this will not be the case. Departments may choose, if they wish, to recognize that the student has completed the course but it cannot be petitioned by the student. The final point made by the Psychology Department was that standards are being lowered. Professor Mullin noted that she failed to see this argument since a passing grade is 50% the same should hold true for the Credit/No Credit policy.


A member stated that as a front line faculty member he congratulated the Registrar for the initiative and is in full support of the motion. He noted that this is not an uncommon practice at the graduate level and is in no way disreputable. He added that the expectation at the graduate level is more intense than at the undergraduate level and this practice is widely used at that level. In his opinion the Credit/No Credit policy is in no way beyond the norm.


It was duly moved and seconded,
THAT Council extend its meeting adjournment time by 10 minutes.

The motion was carried.


A member asked if students opting for the Credit/No Credit choice would prevent other students, for which the course is a requirement, from enrolling. Ms. Crocker advised that enrolment controls can be used to assist with this concern. She further noted that students will enrol in the usual manner and they will not choose the Credit/No Credit until the second week of classes.


Professor Saini spoke in support of the motion. He identified himself as the member at the AAC meeting that had concerns with regards to the 50% vs. 60%. His concern was based on the optics of the 50% choice as he would not want anyone to think that our students are below standard. He will continue to work with Ms. Crocker to pressure the other campuses to lower their policy to 50% to provide consistency on the three campuses.


It was duly moved and seconded,
THAT the pending motion be put to an immediate vote. (Beck/Bailey)

The motion was put to a vote. The motion carried.


The main motion was put to a vote. The motion carried.


ii. Change to SDF Policy


Professor Woolridge explained that if a student misses an exam they must petition to write a deferred exam. Until the student has written the deferred exam the student's mark for the course has the notation SDF. If for some reason the student does not write the deferred exam they must petition for a second deferral. If they are successful in deferring a second time, they must wait to write the exam until the next time the course is offered. At this point, under the current policy, the SDF notation is removed and they receive a partial grade for that course which usually will reflect a failing grade until the deferred portion of the course work has been graded and the amended grade approved. The incomplete grade can affect a student's GPA, change their academic status, place a student on suspension or probation, and hinder enrolment and application to graduate or professional school. This has been identified as overly punitive given that the student has been granted permission to defer.


The change to the policy will allow the SDF notation to remain on the transcript until the course work related to the second deferral is completed and the mark is approved and submitted.


It was duly moved and seconded,
THAT the revised SDF Policy be recommended to Erindale College Council for approval. (Woolridge/McFadden)


A member asked if the policy change will apply to this year. Professor Mullin noted that it will be applied going forward and is not retroactive. Ms. Crocker added that, if approved, she plans to implement the change immediately so it will apply as of the April 2011 exams forward.

The motion was put to a vote. The motion was carried.


The Chair announced that the next meeting was scheduled for Wednesday March 9, 2011.


The meeting adjourned at 5:30 p.m.