Minutes: February 16, 2011

MINUTES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO MISSISSAUGA ACADEMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council meeting held on Wednesday February 16, 2011 at 2:10 p.m. in Council Chambers, William G. Davis Building.

Present: N. Woolridge (in the Chair), A. Mullin, U. Krull, M. Mavrinac, S. Kamenetsky, A. Rosenbloom, S. Radovic, S. Metso, G. Rattan, Z. Shi, P. Desrochers, T. Bowen, E. Cruz, A. Madhavji, G. Yuen, J. McCurdy-Myers, T. Braukman, D. Rodrigues
Regrets: D. Crocker, D. Saini, A. Lange, L. Florence
In attendance: S. Speller, M. Berger


1. Minutes of the previous meeting (January 12, 2011)


The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.


2. Reports of Committees and Officers


a) 2009-10 Departmental Reviews - Annual Report: Professor Amy Mullin, Vice-Principal Academic and Dean


The departmental reviews annual report presentation is attached hereto as Appendix A in its entirety.


Professor Mullin reminded members of the new Quality Assurance Framework that was presented to the committee by Lynn Snowden at the November 3, 2010 meeting. She reviewed the framework highlighting that external reviews are now supervised by the new provincial Quality Council and that body is also responsible for conducting audits. She then provided an overview of the role of, and steps in, the external review process. The three departments that were reviewed in 2009-10 were Anthropology, Forensic Science and Historical Studies.


Professor Mullin then provided a summary of the Anthropology departmental review. She highlighted the positive elements of the major findings. The reviewers found the department was doing an excellent job of course development, gave high praise to the faculty and commended the choice of new hires for their strong research productivity. The reviewers identified some concerns in terms of stagnant enrolment and curriculum and issues surrounding governance, students' writing skills, organization of staffing, tri-campus relations and space needs.


The Dean provided the members with an update on the initiatives that have been undertaken in response to the review, namely an emphasis on curriculum renewal, attention to developing students' writing skills, reassessment of staff duties, space allocation, establishment of an advisory committee to the chair, increased use of graduate expansion funds to stimulate interaction between graduate and undergraduate students and research activities, and ongoing discussions with the graduate chair to balance the weighting of faculty members' service to the graduate and undergraduate students.


The Chair opened the floor to questions.


A member asked if there were any suggestions for addressing the issue of stagnant enrolment. Professor Mullin advised that the suggestions given were to develop broader courses that would promote interest from a wider student population interested in exploration in the field of anthropology, to change course titles to make them more dynamic and appealing, and to work to simplify the prerequisites.


Professor Mullin continued her report by giving a summary of the Forensic Science departmental review. She highlighted the positive elements included in the major findings. The reviewer recognized the department's excellent reputation, good placement record, ability to attract high caliber students, and support from external stakeholders. The reviewer identified some significant concerns related to the location of the program within the anthropology department and the related authority of the program director, course content and coordination, faculty complement, the program not meeting accreditation standards and lack of dedicated teaching laboratories.


The Dean advised that the program was temporarily halted in response to the concerns raised in the review until some changes could be made. A new director has been appointed who is committed to the program and is working more cooperatively with other departments and faculty, there was a curricular review and subsequent implementation of initiatives to ensure the program meets the requirements for other specialist streams and accreditation only when applicable, and plans are underway to hire a limited term lecturer in forensic biology or biochemistry, with more permanent hiring to be contemplated in the future. She also noted that upon examination it was found that the teaching laboratories are adequate and have been expanded with access to Thomas Cottage for crime scene analysis.


The Chair opened the floor to questions.


A member asked what had been done to address the program's location within anthropology. Professor Mullin noted that with the initiatives that have been undertaken this is no longer a concern.

Professor Mullin continued her report by giving a summary of the Historical Studies departmental review. She highlighted the positive elements included in the major findings. The reviewers recognized how enthusiastically the integration of several disciplines into one department had been received by faculty, faculty dedication to students, how sensitive the curriculum is to student interests, and that the faculty are talented researchers and teachers. The reviewers identified some concerns related to the need for a clearer department intellectual identity, a greater presence at UTM of faculty and graduate students, faculty with continuing appointments to teach large courses, a greater faculty involvement with student advising, a clearer governance structure, and increased staffing.


The Dean advised that in response to the review the intellectual identity continues to evolve within the department, new appointments have been made to bridge areas of scholarly and teaching interests and to connect faculty from different disciplines, a clearer governance structure has been established and staffing has been increased by 0.5 FTE. She also noted that a Director of Intellectual Community has been appointed to address the presence of faculty and graduate students at UTM and that upon examination it was found that faculty are involved in academic advising and continuing appointment faculty do routinely teach at least one large course each.


There were no questions.


b) Advisory Committee to the UTM Library - Mary Ann Mavrinac, Chief Librarian


Ms. Mavrinac explained the minor revisions that had been made to the committee's Terms of Reference. She advised that the changes have been posted on the Council website within the agenda for this meeting.


There were no questions.


3. New Business:


a) 2009-10 Library Annual Review - Mary Ann Mavrinac, Chief Librarian


The library annual review report is available online and linked hereto as Appendix B.


Ms. Mavrinac noted that the purpose of the annual review is to excite people by highlighting the breadth of services the library offers. Every year there is a theme chosen for the review and the theme for 2009-10 was "More than a Library". She advised that there are certain areas that are always included namely, refining our spaces and services, enhancing teaching excellence, leading learning, advancing research and extending our reach. Within those areas thematic content is selected. For example the "Living for Literacy" initiative, where students camped in the library to raise awareness, was included in the extending our reach section.


Ms. Mavrinac then highlighted the major initiatives in the 2009-10 year including the inception of a new website that better meets the needs of undergraduate students and continued aspects of website development focus on the faculty and graduate areas of the site. There has been more active support of research in relation to open access and scholarly communications including support to faculty in publishing in open access journals.


There were no questions.


b) 2009-10 Research Report - Professor Ulrich Krull, Vice-Principal, Research


The research report presentation is attached hereto as Appendix C in its entirety.

Professor Krull reported on the research in the 2009-10 year compiled from the Cognos data model based on data uploaded from the Research Information System. He explained that the report only deals with the dollar value of research and cautioned that the research revenue not be equated to the impact of the research on campus. That the impact is much greater than one would appreciate based on a quantitative count of the number of dollars. And in fact, the dollars do not reflect the large portion of research done within the UTM community. He then reviewed the complexity involved in capturing the data including that not all UTM revenue may be reflected as UTM awards as faculty designate the administrative unit which means it may be captured somewhere else at U of T, that the data is only linked to the principal investigator (PI), that co-PIs would not typically be identified in the data. While the data is not perfect, consistent application of the data can be used to map trends, obtain quantifiable data about research performance and provide comparisons between the campuses.


Professor Krull then touched on the change that is taking place in some programs, including the changes to support provided through the Connaught Fund that was made to find the best teams of researchers within the university. He explained that the change was made to encourage the very best by providing them with stimulus money to make an international impact. He noted that by looking at the changes it provides insight into the mindset of the university in relation to research funding.


He advised that UTM received just over $9M in research revenue funding in 2009-10. He reviewed the breakdown of source of research revenue and noted that the largest amount comes from the tri-Councils namely, Social Sciences and Humanities, Canada Institute for Health Research and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. He reviewed the importance of the number that comes from the Councils. UTM has a cluster of Canada Research Chairs that are funded through a specific program (CRC program) and that funding is driven by the proportion of money that the faculty at UTM brings from tri- Council support. If the amount of research support from the tri-Council agencies shrinks then there is the potential to lose funding for the CRC program. That is a major problem right now for all of U of T.


Research funding trends at UTM from 2000-10 were then reviewed. He identified a situation that we are currently experiencing where we are undergoing expansion but also renewal. This renewal is a transition as proven researchers, who generate large amounts of funding, retire and new researchers, who have not yet become well established, are hired. It will lead to fluctuations in funding until the new hires have proven themselves and can reach a point where they are able to generate large amounts of funding. Another issue relates to growth, where UTM has run out of scientific research space and that places limits on funding since new faculty will not have access to research space.


In reviewing the number of active awards the trend indicates a drop from 2008-09 to 2009-10. This is due in part to retirement and in part to changes in how the tri-Councils granting is structured. The government has asked the granting councils and universities to be more accountable for use of tax payers' dollars and as a result they have become more selective as to what they are willing to fund. All institutions are experiencing this. In part, a consequence of this change is that while NSERC funding has been retained and SSHRC funding has fluctuated somewhat, the CIHR funding has been significantly impacted across Canada. He noted this is an issue particularly in the medical stream. He added that that previous success will no longer be a predictor of future funding and it is imperative that the proposals be written to fulfill the new granting criteria.


Professor Krull then provided a review of where we stand relative to the university. The data indicates that overall UTM is not performing as well as St. George in terms of per capita income when considering those in tenured and tenure-stream positions, but that this quantitative indicator suggests UTM income is ahead of that attracted by colleagues at UTSC. According to data generated by the UofT Vice-President for Research for NSERC operational funding, the competitiveness of UTM faculty is equal to those on the St. George campus. Stability in the UTM pool is illustrated by the trends. He advised that the Chairs have all received the data and information for their specific departments and drew the committees' attention to the fact that there are particular departments on the UTM campus that outperform the St. George campus counterparts when measured in terms of per capita research funding.


He concluded by speaking to the infrastructure. He noted that we are out of space in terms of research infrastructure which provides challenges to attract new faculty and new areas of research. He drew attention to the vision of UTM and the efforts underway to align the campus with community partners to drive the vision forward. Research can be a driver to attract funding that can further the vision and assist with the expansion. The other aspect in regards to infrastructure relates directly to managing the transition of leadership in the research office. To assist with the transition Carmen Bryson has taken new duties in her portfolio and is now also the contact for all research related common-use infrastructure needs; Devin Kreuger has taken on responsibility to assist in driving external community relations in terms of strategic planning and project management; and Carla DeMarco has added the activity of awards promotion to assist students and faculty as they strive to be recognized by the outside community for the work they do.


The Chair opened the floor to questions.


A member asked if we have any other indices of research productivity. Professor Krull noted that all indices have flaws and that was why he prefaced his report with a caution that the data only looks at revenue generation and he agrees that trying to ascribe how to measure impact is very challenging. He suggested members review the departmental five year plans because in that process each department is challenged to put forward a measure of its impact and in that process the department must also provide an explanation of how it measures impact.


A member noted that not all departments have graduate programs, and asked if that factor limits the ability to attract research funds. While he is not aware of any specific studies, Professor Krull believes that departments whose faculty members have the opportunity to work with graduate students do have an advantage. He noted that one of the parameters within the granting criteria addresses training of high quality personnel, and this directly relates to graduate students as well as other levels of trainee.


c) New Program Approval Timelines - Ms. Melissa Berger, Program and Planning Officer, Office of the Dean


The Chair advised that one other item of new business had been brought forward to him prior to the meeting regarding a new graduate program proposal and called on Ms. Melissa Berger to provide a summary. Ms. Berger advised that at their meeting held February 9, 2011 the Graduate Curriculum Subcommittee had approved the proposal for the Masters of Science in Sustainable Management Program to be sent for external review. She outlined the approval process timeframe and the implications it held for the next Academic Affairs Committee meeting. She noted that the reviewers are aware of the next meeting and will work to have their findings ready for submission for the committee's consideration at the March 30, 2011 meeting, however should there be a delay it might be necessary to reschedule the meeting date to the first week in April.


The Chair opened the floor to questions.


A member asked if the proposal will be distributed before the next meeting. It was confirmed that it will be.

There being no other new business. The next meeting of the Academic Affairs Committee is scheduled for Wednesday March 30, 2011.

The Chair advised members that the Secretary will contact them should the date change.


The meeting adjourned at 3:10 p.m.