UTM celebrates first meetings under its new governance structure

John Switzer
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 10:30am
Sharon Aschaiek

U of T Mississauga’s new governance structure launches in September with the first meetings of its senior governance body and accompanying committees.  Campus Council, UTM’s senior governance body that oversees campus-specific academic, business and student affairs, was designed to meet the needs of a large, academically diverse campus.

“The suburban campuses are now as big as midsized universities, so this change will give them greater authority over a number of matters,” says John Switzer, chair of U of T Mississauga’s new Campus Council and a distinguished alumnus who is a member of UTM’s first graduating class of 1970. “But there will still be fairly strong institutional coordination to ensure we are doing things that are appropriate and consistent for the whole university.”

The previous governance structure at UTM was largely advisory to the Vice-President and Principal on matters of campus life and had specific authority for particular academic matters. That structure did not provide for the needs of a three-campus organization the size and complexity that U of T has become. The tremendous expansion in recent years of the Scarborough and Mississauga campuses created a need for a more decentralized approach to university operations and governance.  “I envision a U of T system where each campus would be analogous to what would otherwise be a university in its own right, yet woven together by a common university,” says Professor Deep Saini, Vice-President, U of T and Principal of U of T Mississauga, further noting that “the new governance structure is a major and welcome step toward fulfilling this vision.”

In 2007, as part of the Towards 2030 university-wide planning process, Governing Council established the Task Force on Governance to assess the current governance system. Its June 2010 report featured 32 recommendations, including one to create campus affairs committees to handle campus-specific responsibilities. UTM began its own governance review process, in close collaboration with the Governing Council, in the fall of 2011 to determine how to meet this recommendation.  In June of 2012, the Governing Council approved the establishment of new governance structures for both UTM and UTSC.

What emerged last July was the new UTM Campus Council (UTMCC), which consists of 28 members from within and outside the university community. Reporting to the Governing Council, the UTMCC will now exercise more decision-making responsibility over areas such as academic affairs, capital projects, fundraising and budgeting. Three groups report into Campus Council: the Agenda Committee, which sets the agenda for Council meetings; the Campus Affairs Committee, which focuses on matters directly concerning the quality of student and campus life; and the Academic Affairs Committee, which deals with matters affecting teaching, learning and research at UTM.

“There’s so much to be proud of at UTM—the quality of programs, the students’ grades, the relationships we have with the community,” says Switzer, a former vice-chair of the University Affairs Board who helped develop the recommendations, and the current Business Board chair. “This new model completes the package—it preserves the unity of U of T, but devolves many authorities to UTM, which is empowering.”  The first meeting of the UTM Campus Council takes place on September 30, 2013.  More information on UTM’s new governance model and its operations can be found on the website of the Office of the Campus Council.