Report: March 24, 2008


Report of the RESOURCE PLANNING AND PRIORITIES COMMITTEE meeting of Erindale College Council held on Monday, March 24, 2008 at 3:10 p.m. in the Ante Room, #3129, South Building.

Present: R. Reisz (in the Chair), I. Orchard, U. Krull, D. Crocker, T. Al-Sarraj, V. Barzda, Y. Li, C. Jones, D. Pond, S. Munro
Regrets: R. deSouza, N. Basiliko
In attendance: Mark Overton, Dean of Student Affairs; Gale Richter, Manager of Conference Services; Alex MacIsaac, Manager of Parking and Transportation; Bill McFadden, Manager of Retail Planning, Development and Operations 

1) Approval of Minutes of the Previous Meeting (February 25, 2008)

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

2) Reports of Committees and Officers:

a) U of T Mississauga Ancillaries: Successes, Challenges and Opportunities

i) Residence – Mark Overton, Dean of Student Affairs

Mr. Overton noted that although Student Housing and Residence Life is an ‘ancillary’ service, its mission and objectives remain strongly rooted in the academic mission of the university. The department’s mission is to “energize, engage and educate” students.

The Dean of Student Affairs offered highlights from the 2007-08 academic year and distributed a handout to members detailing his presentation.

He noted that much of the focus of the Department of Student Housing and Residence Life was on issues related to expansion and operational transitions in Oscar Peterson Hall. He reported that the addition of 423 beds to the undergraduate residence inventory has had a significant impact not only on the department’s finances, but also on the ways in which the operation serves students and supports the academic mission of the university.

Mr. Overton reported that the department’s heavy investment in student leadership development continued to reap rewards and in the spring of 2007 was recognized for leadership: five of the eight Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award winners and four of the seven Principal’s Involvement Award winners were student leaders from residence.

The Dean of Student Affairs talked about the rezOne program, the residentially-based first year experience program, which won the Program of the Year Award from the Ontario Association of College and University Housing Officers in the spring of 2007. The program serves 600 students and benefits from partnerships with the library, the Academic Skills Centre and the Office of the Registrar.

Mr. Overton talked highlighted the UTM International Residence Guarantee, which in the fall of 2007, welcomed the return of over 100 international students. The policy, which is in its second year, guarantees residence to high fee-paying international students for the duration of their undergraduate degree.

He noted that the departure of the Director of Student Housing and Residence Life prompted an ongoing review of the department’s management and organizational design in the winter of 2008.

The Chair opened the floor to questions on the presentation.

The Director of Business Services asked the Dean of Student Affairs to comment on the obvious financial challenges facing the Residence operation. Mr. Overton noted that this past year New College increased their residence rates by substantial amounts, prompting much discussion during their governance approval process. He explained that during the past year, residence rates for UTM undergraduate students increased by 8% and for family and graduate housing by 3 to 4 %. He further noted that the operation understands the need to be sensitive to the market, while at the same time making sure that facilities are kept in good working order. The challenge for residence lies in balancing these rate increases with expenses.

ii) Conference – Gale Richter, Manager of Conference Services

The Manager of Conference Services offered highlights from the 2007-08 academic year on the department’s successes, challenges and constraints and distributed a handout to members detailing her presentation.

Ms. Richter talked about the missing of Conference Services. She noted that the department is a unique service area within the university and the university and college conference industry in that it provides services to all academic departments, administrative departments, student groups and external clients. She noted that in the near future, the department would be undergoing a re-organization, moving under the umbrella of the Hospitality and Retail Sales and Services group.

Manager of Conference Services discussed the successes of the department. Between May 2007 and March 2008, the department managed 5400 room bookings, the majority of which were for internal meetings and events. Also during the same period, 1650 food requests were handled. Ms. Richter noted that UTM has many returning customers, some of whom have been holding their conferences on the campus for the past 20 years. Each year, there are approximately 5 new groups holding summer conferences, requiring full service from the department’s staff.

The department also plays a central role in the work related to major and high profile internal university events, such as the building openings of the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre, Oscar Peterson Hall and the Recreation, Athletics and Wellness Centre as well as the many 40th anniversary events of the current year. She thanked Ms. Carol Solonenko, events specialist, for all her efforts to make these events successful.

Ms. Richter noted that UTM internal events do not generate any revenue for conference services.

She proceeded to discuss the department’s operational challenges and constraints, which include the following:

• A serious deficiency of meeting rooms an multi-use space for conference events as well as internal departmental events
• Residence bed availability: the conference operation requires advance availability (room guarantee) in order to book potential clients. UTM loses clients who cannot be given a guarantee 2 years in advance
• Lack of storage space for hotel inventory items
• No check-in area for residential delegates
• Difficulty in booking Athletics and Recreation space during the summer for Adult and Youth groups due to existing programs and community use
• Lack of upscale dining facilities

Looking forward, Ms. Richter reported that the department’s focus will be on developing the youth target market for the summer months, with the help of the Athletics department.

Ms. Richter concluded her presentation by listing new and returning clients for the summer conference season. She noted that there were seven new adult conference groups and four new youth groups booked for the summer of 2008.

The Chair opened the floor to questions on the presentation.

In response to a member’s question, Ms. Richter confirmed that internal groups are not charged for room bookings.

iii) Parking – Alex MacIsaac, Manager of Parking and Transportation

Mr. MacIsaac discussed some highlights from the past year for the parking and transportation group, all with the common theme of customer service focus. He noted that student lineups and wait times had been substantially reduced. Improved signage, particularly for the CCT garage had been installed. In addition, the parking services web page has been re-designed to feature daily updates and easy navigation.

 The Chair opened the floor to questions on the presentation.

In response to a member’s question about the effect of UPASS on parking, Mr. MacIsaac explained that no impact was noticed in September, beyond a slight jump in parking demand. The department will do a year end review in the near future.

The president of AGSAE thanked Mr. MacIsaac for introducing a weekend parking pass for residence visitors.

A member thanked Mr. MacIsaac for the additional signage that was installed in the CCT underground parking garage. In response to a member’s question, the Manager of Parking and Transportation confirmed that the past year had seen an increase in CCT garage parking, but added that most people still preferred to park on outside surface lots.

iv) Food – Bill McFadden, Manager of Retail Planning, Development and Operations

Mr. McFadden noted that the largest change in the food operation over the past year was the introduction of the meal plan. He reported that the residence meal plan has 1100 students enrolled and the campus value plan has over 300 participants. The system allows for online meal plan selection, which is then invoiced as part of student fees through ROSI. The meal plan system also represents the first e-commerce site on the student portal, allowing students to check their meal plan enrolment status and add value to their plan, in addition to other options. Blackboard was customized to make it work for the meal plan system.

The Manager of Retail Planning, Development and Operations reported that another major project over the past year was the opening of the Colman Commons dining hall; the hall posed some initial challenges with the campus’ food operation, Chartwells, which have since been resolved.

Other projects, which have proved successful, have been the opening of Starbucks, the renovation of Pizza Pizza as a result of market research and enhancements to other existing locations. The food operation also worked with residence staff to ensure that no meal plan increases were handed down to returning students.

Mr. McFadden talked about the challenges of the food and retail area. He pointed out that the shortage of food services space has been substantially reduced from a shortage of 24000 square feet to one of 15000 square feet over the past year. Most of this pressure has been taken up by Colman Commons, which poses yet another challenge, that of customer fatigue. He emphasized the continued need to enhance food services square footage over the coming years.

Mr. McFadden further reported that although the residence meal plan has and continues to be a success, challenges exist around attracting new students subscribers. Many returning students have not been used to having a meal plan and many residence students have kitchens.

Mr. McFadden remarked that over the next year, the food operation’s goal will be to provide more value in the offerings of Colman Commons and continue to offer an increased number of choices to reduce customer fatigue. The food operation will also be working to pay back the accumulated debt and further improve customer responsiveness.

The Chair opened the floor to questions on the presentation.

In response to a member’s question, Mr. McFadden confirmed that both Starbucks and the hot dog stand would remain open during the summer. He added that the department would also be developing a plan to expand the offerings of On The Go.

There was no new business. The Chair announced that the next meeting of the Committee would be ion the fall of 2008. The meeting adjourned at 4:00 p.m.

Secretary _____________________________ Chair __________________________________