Erindale College Council

MINUTES OF THE ACADEMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council held on Tuesday, April 8, 2003 at 3:10 p.m., in Room 3129.

PRESENT: S. Aster (in the Chair), I. Orchard, C. Misak, U. Krull, M. Lettieri, R. Baker, D. Crocker, J. Poe, M. Overton, M.A. Mavrinac, L. MacDowell, S. Tenenbaum, J. Lester, P. Macdonald, I. Graham, G. Allen, S. Munro, B. Green, G. Anderson, W. Ghobriel, M.L. Smith, B. Thompson, J. Borchenko, S. Kibria, J. McCurdy-Myers, C. Boyd
REGRETS: B. Welsh, M. Marji

  1. Adoption of Agenda
    The Agenda was approved. (M. Overton/D. Crocker)
  2. Minutes of Previous Meeting (March 11, 2003)
    The report of the previous meeting was approved (G. Anderson/M. Lettieri)
  3. Business Arising from the Minutes
    a) Departmental Planning Announcement – I. Orchard / C. Misak

    The Vice-President and Principal began by saying that the 2002/2003 academic year represented a time of change and excitement for UTM. In the Fall of 2003, Erindale College Council heard discussion on the tri-campus restructuring framework document and gave its unanimous endorsement for the creation of departments and the resulting planning process. The departmental groups were then asked to create and submit their departmental plans. These plans were then reviewed by an advisory group consisting of the three associate deans, Professor Ulli Krull, Vice-Principal Research, Professor Sidney Aster, Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, Professor David Cook, Principal of Victoria College, and Professor Hugh Gunz. The Advisory Group agreed that the Vice Principal Academic should be integrated into this review process, and therefore the committee waited to finalize a model until she commenced her tenure at UTM. Professor Misak met with all relevant departmental groups to discuss their plans and to provide feedback in consultation with the advisory group. I. Orchard remarked that, since much discussion of departmental plans had previously occurred, the plans were accepted in the majority of the cases.

    The Vice-President and Principal referred to the planning document that was distributed to the Academic Affairs Committee and was posted on the College Council website. He stated that, although the terms of reference of the Academic Affairs Committee did not require it, he was seeking endorsement of the planning document from this Committee.

    The Vice-President and Principal proceeded to detail the departmental structure at UTM, as outlined in the relevant document, starting with the announcement that there were two changes in the department names since the last revision of the planning document. The Department of Biological Sciences has been changed to the Department of Biology and the Department of Modern Languages, has been changed to the Department of French, German and Italian. Both of these changes were in response to requests from the affected departmental groups.

    He invited the Vice-Principal Academic to continue the presentation. On the process of departmental consultation, she reported that she had met with every group in its current form, not in its proposed amalgamated form. She explained that during the past several weeks there was intensive meeting activity, discussion and consultation with the various groups on the details of the amalgamations. She remarked that the feedback from the various groups was very positive overall, while some groups raised some reservations.

    The Vice-President and Principal stated that Resource Planning and Priorities Committee would discuss the funding reserved for departmental restructuring at its April 9, 2003 meeting. He explained that the budget contained approximately $1M to support the administrative portion of restructuring, the proposed chair offices, and the establishment of the offices of the Vice-Principals. This budget also received favourable response from the Office of the Provost. As a result, UTM has the resources in place in order to establish the administrative infrastructure for each of these departments. He also commented that the University of Toronto at Scarborough’s restructuring resulted in six or seven departments, and the St. George campus has 35 departments, divisions or centres. The Vice-President and Principal ended his presentation by stating that the current amalgamation of departments creates very strong areas. He added that UTM would become increasingly attractive to students, faculty and staff as it continues to grow and evolve in response to its 60% expansion.

    It was duly moved and seconded,
    THAT the “Departmental Structure of the University of Toronto at Mississauga”, effective July 1, 2003, be recommended to Erindale College Council for approval.
    (I. Orchard / C. Misak)

    The Chair opened the floor for discussion.

    A member suggested that the name of the department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences be changed to that of Mathematics, Computer science and Statistics, referring to the word Computational as too contrived. The Vice-Principal Academic replied that there was a considerable amount of discussion regarding department names in consultation with the relevant groups. She further stated that the intention of the amalgamated names was not to simply list each participant group, but to reflect the whole department’s new identity. The Vice-President and Principal remarked that there was limited opportunity for revision of the departmental plans at this late stage, as consultative discussions with the different amalgamated groups have concluded and the plans have been submitted for approval to the Planning and Budget Committee of Governing Council. He nevertheless agreed to consult with the affected department regarding this suggested change in department name. A member suggested that the Academic Affairs Committee endorse the restructuring plan, subject to final confirmation of this departmental naming dispute.

    A member commented on the possibility of the proposed new departmental structure failing to achieve synergy. Professor Orchard stated that the goal during the entire consultative process for departmental restructuring was to create strong and successful amalgamated groups. In the Fall, these groups will create their own planning documents in response to the White Paper.

    A member expressed concern that the Chemistry department would lose the strength it derived from being a part of the University of Toronto as a whole, while also commenting that this concern only arose in the group very recently and that the group was generally prepared to support the new amalgamated department. The Vice-President and Principal stated that some anxiety is understandable, in light of such fundamental changes, but added that UTM would always maintain a graduate link with the St. George Campus. Citing the reason that the reservations of Chemistry faculty needed to be recorded, a member stated that she would vote against the motion.

    After some discussion about the structure of the new departmental titles, which fall under current divisional titles, the Vice-President and Principal explained that this segregation was an administrative convenience, to be used for example in the consideration of curriculum changes. He further clarified that the Institute of Communication and Culture was an entity onto itself and does not fall under a division. The Vice-Principal Academic further noted that this arrangement is an informal structure and allows “like minded” people to discuss relevant issues. A member emphasized that one of the outcomes from the Constitutional Review Committee was the designation of a member from each department to the Academic Affairs Committee. Thus, the resulting group could be used to consider curriculum matters.

    In response to a question regarding teaching load, the Vice-President and Principal responded that this issue is dependent on the department’s culture and collegiality. A member questioned whether the restructuring process reduced the amount of time faculty have for teaching and research. The Vice-President and Principal stated his belief that because of the addition of new faculty, the restructuring process has not produced any undue hardship on current UTM faculty.

    The Motion was called to question. The Motion was carried with three opposed and one abstention, subject to the review of a departmental title as brought forward during discussion.
  4. New Business
    a) The Canadian “Innovation Agenda” and the opportunity for creation of a Convergence Centre for sciences, health, management and policy at UTM – U. Krull

    The Chair called on Vice-Principal of Research, Professor Ulli Krull to begin his presentation on the proposed Convergence Centre at UTM.

    Professor Krull explained that this proposal was formulated approximately two years ago, under the tenure of the previous Principal, Robert H. McNutt. The purposes of the proposed Convergence Centre are to achieve the development of capital infrastructure (possibly a new Science Building), the creation of a mechanism for bridging the divisions and developing funding opportunities and the design of programming that is relevant to both UTM students and the external community. Professor Krull explained that UTM is not eligible by COU standards to seed funding for a new science building. UTM has to find innovative ways of creating research space. At the same time, he emphasized the importance of UTM promoting its own academic agenda, which would cater to the needs of students as well as industry.

    The federal government’s “Innovation Agenda” provides an opportunity for novel funding sources. In a document entitled “Achieving Excellence”, the federal government describes what Canada needs to do to move ideas from Institutes (universities, teaching hospitals) into economic reality. This stance by the federal government has created a secondary response by the Provincial government to support this “Innovation Agenda.” A number of Ontario taskforces have pointed to areas of industry that UTM already strongly links to – for example, the life sciences, information technology and biotechnology. These initiatives by the two levels of government provide UTM with the opportunity to promote itself as fitting into their agendas.

    The overall proposal is a Convergence Centre, which in its basic form takes knowledge and makes it commercial. The common theme is the promotion of the life sciences, by creating the Ontario Biotechnology Corridor, which is a geographical corridor where each city represents a node in the corridor, and each cluster brings its own specialty in terms of research strengths and enterprise. These nodes consist of a consortium of universities, institutes, local government, and local industry and other capital investment firms. The City of Mississauga has taken centre stage within Canada as a leading Biotechnology cluster with over 400 companies and over 19,700 people employed within this Bio-cluster. The Mississauga node will therefore reflect these strengths in the life sciences and information technology, featuring UTM, where significant activity already exists in these areas.

    There will be three components of the University of Toronto Biosciences and Biotechnology Cluster. Two critical pieces that are already in place are: The Toronto Academic Health Sciences Complex and CCBR and The MARS (Medical And Related Sciences) Discovery District. The third crucial element in this triad is The Biotechnology Convergence Centre (BIOTECC) at UTM, which represents the next and last major step in the development of the University of Toronto Cluster.

    The Vision for BIOTECC is in two parallel streams. The Academic Stream includes work in new technologies for drug discovery and proteomics, training, business modelling and policy/management. The second stream is the Institute Stream, which focuses on how to apply new technologies to selected targets of commercial interest, training, government and economic modelling. The Institute would be arms-length from the university, but would have cross-appointed faculty.

    Professor Krull emphasized that UTM had many potential partners in this endeavour, including the City of Mississauga, Sheridan Science and Technology Park, and the Ontario Ministry of Health, to name a few. In addition, UTM is poised to impact several well-established areas of strength, such as medical/health, water quality and safety, and health and environmental monitoring. He listed potential linkages in the areas of CABB, Languages/Communication, Management and Biological Communications and Mathematics. He cited examples of real outcomes, already implemented. Among these is the Mississauga Technology Business Accelerator (MTBA), which helps Mississauga based high technology and life sciences companies accelerate their development. In addition, he pointed to the “Mississauga Model”, a partnership with the WHO at the mayoral level that features Mississauga as an example of how a city should be run in terms of an overall concept of ‘health’.

    Regarding the entire Convergence Centre project, there are plans for on and off site construction and renovation needs. For on-site operations, the need exists for laboratories, seminar and workshop space, distance education facilities, and integration of space for life science, mathematics, management, medicine, engineering and culture/communications. For off-site operations, there is a need for space that allows for entrepreneurial activity, advisory boards, innovations foundation, space for promotion of commercialization, IRAP headquarters in targeted areas of investment and offices for venture capital presence.

    Professor Krull concluded his presentation with several possible considerations for discussion by the UTM community, which are as follows:
    1) Does the proposed structure for BIOTECC provide value and impact for UTM and Mississauga?
    2) How should the Convergence Centre be structured and what would be a recommended blend of participants?
    3) Who might be the champions and who might be the supporters of this initiative?

    Professor Ulli Krull provided the following Notice of Motion to the Academic Affairs Committee:
    THAT the Academic Affairs Committee recommend the approval of the UTM Convergence Centre as becoming part of the Campus’ overall strategic plan.

    The Chair opened the floor to questions and comments by Committee members.

    In response to a member’s query regarding complement planning, the Vice-Principal Research explained that the proposed Convergence Centre would take advantage of existing UTM projects and assets. He added that instead of responding to the project’s requirements UTM needs to look for opportunities in the development process of the venture.
  5. Other Business
    None.
  6. Next Meeting
    The Chair explained that if needed a meeting of the Academic Affairs Committee would be scheduled and the membership notified.
  7. Adjournment
    The meeting adjourned at 4:30 p.m. (S. Tenenbaum / P. Macdonald)