Welcome to the 2020-21 academic year at the University of Toronto Mississauga! Over the past months, our UTM community has displayed the resiliency, sympathy, and creativity necessary to thrive in these unusual times. Amid the isolation of a global pandemic, we have united in support of each other’s success and planned together for a productive year unlike no other.
UTM has designed the Fall semester with a focus on safety and flexibility. We are offering most of our courses in online formats; we have instituted mask policies, social distancing guidelines, and other health protocols across campus; and we will continue to adapt our approach, including plans for on-site testing, as the science on COVID-19 develops.
What won’t change is the exceptional quality of education that students receive from Canada’s top-ranked university. We will work diligently to exceed expectations—to ensure that students can access our amazing resources, services, and learning activities wherever they are.
Some of that activity has already resumed on-campus. The UTM Library has partially reopened its main floor and hopes to open the stacks as soon as safely possible. Meanwhile, digital copies of more than 2.5 million books remain accessible via the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service. Our librarians will continue to offer Curbside Pickup Service for UTM print titles not available digitally.
Student Services are also providing outstanding experiences in new forums. Our Health and Counselling Centre is supporting students in virtual environments. Our residence buildings are housing students according to best practices in public health. Our athletics staff are sharing online fitness programs for community members’ physical and mental wellbeing.
Meantime, our academic mission is thriving. We’re launching our new Institute for the Study of Undergraduate Education, which will advance innovative methods in pedagogy. We have three new Canada Research Chairs, signalling both the brilliance of our individual faculty members and our growth as a site of international research excellence. Our physical spaces keep growing, too! Those of you who come back to campus will see the construction on our new Science Building, which will house cutting-edge laboratories and enable discoveries that have global impact.
As UTM’s Principal, I hope to enable meaningful research and inspire student success both during this unusual year and in the years beyond. I also want to prioritize transparent, open communication: to share ideas across our community and listen carefully to the response. I hope that UTM can gradually restore more in-person activities over the coming year. I envision this slow return to campus as a consultative, dynamic process, one that adapts to your feedback as it does to the pandemic’s realities. I want this to be a campus and a community that can meet each of you safely, wherever you are.
In that spirit I say: WELCOME. I look forward to connecting after the long weekend. In the months ahead, I encourage you to consult U of T’s Covid-19 FAQ page and UTM’s COVID information page for updates about the pandemic. But I also encourage you to do what people at UTM have always done best: to share important insights and to devise solutions to new challenges, so that we can learn, adapt, and grow together.
Professor Alexandra Gillespie
Vice President and Principal
University of Toronto Mississauga