Minutes: January 19, 2009

Report of the meeting of the ACADEMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council held on Monday, January 19, 2009, at 1:10 p.m. in Room 3129, South Building.

Attendance: D. Kreuger; A. Madhavji; K. Poloz; A. Lange; J. McCurdy-Myers; D. Crocker; G. Averill; J. Poe; S. Meza; R. Reisz; G. Crawford; G. Kambourov; A. Wensley; R. Gerlai; N. Woolridge; M. Mavrinac;
Regrets: C. Evans; N. Copeland; M. Lippincott; B. Katz; K. Khanin; S. Eswarakumar; H. Chaudhary;
Guests: S. Watson; C. DeMarco; M. Berger; M. Josifovska; J. Eldridge;

1. Minutes of the previous meeting (November 25, 2008).
The minutes were approved.

2. Reports of the Committees and Officers

a) Implications of the 12-week term and discussion on the definition of the study period, directed by Diane Crocker, Registrar and Director of Enrolment Management, and Gage Averill, Dean and V.P., Academic

Crocker disseminated a schedule of dates and proposed ‘study break’ text for reference/information.

The Calendar required revisions to instructional time to all courses. Revisions have been distributed to divisions and to academic instructors for review. Corrections will be sent back to the Registrar’s Office.

The Study-Break terms were presented, defining what can and cannot happen during the break. Study break will be a minimum of five days. In the summer it will not be a full five-day period. There will be a two day minimum break between the end of classes and the start of final exam period. The break may include review sessions; a time for handing-in assignments; make-up tests may be held, but no term tests; and instructors may offer extended office hours. Averill clarified that the instructor office hours aren’t necessarily mandatory during the study break.

In response to a member’s question, Crocker reiterated that the information will be online, in the course calendar and syllabus, so students will be well informed.

A member explained that students might complain the optional-review session might offer a better explanation of the content, giving the students that attend an advantage. Averill responded that any optional-study session would have the same effect. A member suggested that the optional-study session be included in the course information submission form.

In response to a member asking for clarification on make-up tests, Crocker explained that the normal rules for make-up tests would still apply.

A faculty member encouraged all course instructors to make use of the period, as it would ensure that some students are engaged during the week. Crocker would also like to encourage instructors to schedule term tests as final exams, as this frees up more course instruction time.

Crocker explained that students require a certain amount of term work back before the deadline to drop the course; they need at least one significant assignment as early as possible. The issue came up that it not be one significant assignment, but it should be at least 15% of the course grade. A member noted that the “one significant assignment” was old terminology held over. The friendly change to the calendar was generally accepted.

The 12th week is now simply the last week of classes, so no other major changes.

One member expressed that they would like it to be made absolutely clear that the start date of classes is the first true day of classes (e.g. Sept. 7). Crocker said that in communicating with students, the Registrar’s Office will aim to encourage students to review the course syllabus in advance, and this may clarify for students who traditionally expect the first class to be informational only; there indeed will be critical content introduced in the first class.

A student member asked about textbook purchases and whether they should happen prior to the first class. Crocker suggested that if the student thinks he/she may drop, they might hold off, but course syllabi are available in advance so students can arrive the first class well equipped.

3. New Business:

a) CTEP P/J Proposal presented by Dean Gage Averill

Every student much choose an anchor subject and an additional teachable.

Currently CTEP anchor options are limited, but are growing to meet student demand. This is also in response to the Ministry, who is in need of teachers. When CTEP discussions started, anchor capacity was mentioned in Psychology, and UofTM committed to only secondary teacher training. This is our first primary/junior teacher training proposal, which leverages expertise in Psychology.

Averill made the motion that the CTEP P/J proposal be approved. The motion was seconded. (A. Madhavji)

Averill said that the proposal has been discussed at OISE with enthusiasm and widespread consent since there is a need for teachers in this area. We currently have a target of 90 students, and this proposal could allow an additional 30 students. Currently there is an expectation that the 30 would fall into our 90 students, but talks in the future will explore looking at increasing our number to 120.

In response to a member’s question about whether mature, part-time students were being considered, Crocker expressed that this is a full-time program, and that executive programs are available for mature students.

The proposal was put to a vote: Averill asked whether the Academic Affairs Committee approves the Primary/Junior Concurrent Teacher Education Program proposal. The committee unanimously approved the proposal.

b) 2007-08 Departmental reviews & responses addressed by Dean Gage Averill

AAC is seeing these for the first time, which is a new requirement of the provost’s office.

Council of Ontario Universities (COU) allows the university a modicum of self-governance with respect to improving programs. Through an academic undergraduate review audit committee, COU audits the governance of this review process. When a Chair’s term is coming to an end, they supervise an internal review of undergraduate programs. UofT asks that we also review the unit itself, graduate programs, research, etc. The internal self-assessment, which is conducted by two external consultants, is turned over to an external review committee, who interviews faculty and students and look at key statistics, and results in a report. The Report usually requires a response from the department and the division. The response report moves to the Academic Board of Governing Council for discussion and approval. AAC is seeing these reports in advance of the Academic Board. COU’s audit of how UofT Mississauga is stewarding this process suggested that the year delay in the Dean’s response forbids a level of attention to the Governing Council; COU would like to see the timeline truncated.

Certain problems are consistent around the campus, such as the need for more staff and faculty, and improved facilities. Yet there are limits to what the Dean can do, due to fiscal constraints.

A member commented that there is a notion UofTM is taking the brunt of the enrollment growth, taking on more tuition revenue, but not seeing equivalent budget increases to hire more faculty and staff. Averill explained that the new budget model shows historically UofTM has paid 16% of its revenues into the University Fund, when it was only supposed to pay 10%. Plus FAS, which is twice our size, has also been paying 16%. There are also professional faculties that receive money from the Fund, but do not contribute to it. This significant disequilibrium in the funding is long-standing, but cannot be fixed quickly; they are looking to eventually erase this problem. Also, we receive no revenue for our graduate teaching; UofTM is contributing to that work, but FAS receives the revenues. The goal of the administration is to work year-by-year to narrow those gaps and to eventually redirect the flow of graduate funding.

With respect to growth in student numbers, Crocker made the observation that we are almost at the goal of 11K students. There isn’t significant growth currently, but current enrolment is remaining consistent. Applications from high-school student applicants are up 5%, so the goal is to be taking in better students.

Another member made the observation that themes seem to show up in the report, e.g. St. George relations, etc., and asked the Dean his thoughts on St. George relations. Also, the member noted that all the reports indicate excellent research faculty, and wondered about the other common threads of note. Averill said that the reviewers are notably surprised by the research excellence, which is wonderful. Other notable themes include a positive frame of mind and enthusiasm by students. The desire to see more faculty and better facilities on campus is always going to exist.

On the research front, sometimes the facilities are here, but with some areas, like humanities, they are intrinsically enmeshed with downtown. Some departments have stress with the downtown department, while other relations are harmonious. There is no ‘one size’ solution.

One member asked why, if there are more applicants, doesn’t UofTM take on more students in order to take in more revenue. Averill said that it is tempting to take on more students to get the revenue, but it creates logistic issues in terms of classroom space, waiting lists, faculty/student ratios worsen; etc. From an administrative point of view, one needs to achieve a balance. Crocker reiterated that space is the main issue and that UofTM does not have the space to take on new students.

Crocker mentioned the serious concern in the MCS review about the course registration process and admission standards. The reviewers received incorrect information, which is alarming. The standards at UofTM are just as high as St. George. In 2.2 about corporation and course credits, the information is completely incorrect. It may be worthwhile for the RO to make these issues clear to the departments. Averill said that at this stage we are also taking information from Chairs, and it is common for the external reviewers to get things like this incorrect.

c) By-Law Revisions presented by Devin Kreuger, Acting Director, Governance

Governance structures have been reviewed in order to improve governance processes and to clarify in the By-Laws what authority has been delegated to standing committees.

Kreuger has been working with Louis Charpentier to redraft the by-laws of the AAC.

Kreuger will be drafting a chart to map what AAC deals with, and the aim is to facilitate the process and make things smoother.

In February, the AAC will review the changes, which will go forward to ECC in March.

A member asked if this was an exercise being conducted with all the standing committees. Kreuger replied yes, that he is working to clarify all by-laws.

One member noted that they should be cautious in modelling structures after the Governing Council since the member suggested that they are not equivalent and do not have the same powers as the Academic Board.

Kreuger invited the AAC members to direct any questions, comments or suggestions to him.

4. The next meeting is Tuesday, February 24, 2009.

5. The AAC meeting adjourned at 2:07 pm.