Report: March 22, 2005


Erindale College Council


REPORT OF THE ACADEMIC AFFARS COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council held on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 at 3:10 p.m., in Room 3129.

PRESENT: A. Wensley (in the Chair), C. Misak, A. Lange, M.A. Mavrinac, M. Lord, K. Blankstein, N. Copeland, D. Crocker, D. Schulze, S. Munro, B. Thompson, B. Khan, D. Aldouri, S. Khan, J. McCurdy-Myers, L. Thomson
REGRETS: U. Krull, Y. Karshon, M. Kasturi, M. Rennie
In attendance: Ms. Lynn Snowden, Assistant Dean

1. Adoption of the Agenda

The agenda was approved. (M. Lord/N. Copeland)

2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting (February 22, 2005) were approved. (M. Lord/K. Blankstein)

3. Business Arising from the Minutes.

There was no business arising from the minutes.

4. New Business

a) Report from the Dean’s Office – Professor Cheryl Misak, Dean

i) Research Opportunity Program
ii) Undergraduate Advisory Committee

Professor Misak provided a snapshot of the Office of the Dean and its personnel. She reported that the office oversees a wide range of responsibilities including, academic human resources (hiring, promotion, tenuring, performance evaluations, grievances, retention matters,) academic discipline, academic planning, curriculum development (overview and initial approval), and department reviews. She added that UTM will begin a rigorous set of departmental reviews as the term of each Chair comes to an end. This review process will inform the selection of the each new Chair.

The Office of the Dean also oversees academic priorities and during the current year established the Undergraduate Advisory Committee, which spearheads teaching and educational reforms.

Ultimate responsibility for the budgets of all academic departments and all teaching related matters also rest with the Office of the Dean as do the following areas of responsibility:

  • Training workshops for administrative staff in all departments
  • Student opinion surveys
  • Monthly meetings with department Chairs
  • Academic Skills Centre
  • Working with the Provost’s office, which has final approval authority particularly in the academic human resources area.

In addition to the UTM governance committees, the Dean is also a member of the following committees: tenure review, tri-campus decanal promotions, Principals, Deans, Academic Directors & Chairs (PDAD&C), and the current Presidential Search Committee.

Professor Misak discussed some of the milestones reached by her office during the last two years. She explained that the restructuring of Associate Dean’s offices and the formation of the current departmental structure was a large undertaking, noting that this process was still being fine-tuned, as in the case of the move of religion from the Department of Anthropology and Religion to the Department of Historical Studies. She added that much effort was put into the selection process of Chairs. She noted that because of the enrollment growth, academic hiring has increased substantially, with 19 new positions last year and 26 this year, not including retirements. Professor Misak reported that UTM is competing with prominent universities for these appointments, but the campus has been successful in fighting retention battles. Once these faculty members are appointed, workshops and a mentorship program help integrate them into the campus and guide them through the tenure process.

Professor Misak discussed the Research Opportunities Program (ROP), which is designed to provide second year students with an opportunity to do intensive research work with a faculty. The program has grown from approximately 20 students (several years ago) to 62 last year, with places available for 130 students next year, which is more than the Faculty of Arts & Science. She credited both Department Chairs and faculty for promoting the program and making these spaces available. The Undergraduate Advisory Committee is also examining how to how to include more writing into the curriculum. To this end, a questionnaire will be distributed to departments and program directors to obtain more information on the issue. The Committee is also looking into how to inject academic content into student clubs.

The Dean also reported that the area of tri-campus relations has improved significantly over the past several years. Professor Misak has weekly meetings with the three Deans from the Faculty of Arts & Science and the Dean from Scarborough to discuss any challenges that may arise and have established policies about tri-campus teaching and secondment matters. She noted that similar structures will need to be implemented for the Faculty of Management and OISE/UT in response to the concurrent B.A./B.Sc./B.Ed. offering. In addition, intensive negotiations are ongoing with the Faculty of Medicine to bring an Academy of Medicine to UTM.

The Chair opened the floor to questions.

In response to a member’s question about whether the ROP would in future be open to third and fourth year students, Professor Misak replied that some programs already have this availability. She explained that although this was considered, the feedback was that if the program is extended to third year students, second-year students would be overlooked and faculty would select the former. She added that department would be encouraged to create alternate research opportunity programs for upper year students.

A member asked whether student advisory committees would be implemented for all departments. Professor Misak reported that this initiative was in the planning stages, but added that the plan was to establish student organizations under each department that are academically robust and involved in the decision making procedures of the departments, including academic searches. These groups would be developed under the heading of student clubs. The departments of English and Drama, Anthropology, and French, German and Italian already have students participating in important academic decisions.

A member commented that it should be left up to the department to build these research opportunities into their own programs.

A member asked about what specific plans were in place to add more writing components into the curriculum. The Dean explained that these plans were at the initial stages and that a questionnaire was currently being developed to be sent to department chairs and program directors. She noted that she would report back to this Committee on the progress of the project. In the meantime, Cleo Boyd from the Academic Skills Centre would give workshops to departments to teach interested faculty members how to use her methodology for improving writing.

In response to a member seeking more details about a possible UTM Academy of Medicine, Professor Misak explained that its establishment depends on the decision of Province of Ontario on allocating available funding and sites. Professor Misak added that she would report back to this Committee on the progress of these talks.

5. Other Business

There was no other business.

6. Next Meeting – fall session.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:45 p.m. (A. Lange/M.A. Mavrinac)

Secretary of Council _______________________ Chair_______________________

September 2005