Governing Council Business Board releases reports on endowment, capital projects

Recommendation for revision of workplace harassment, violence policies also presented

On October 10, the Business Board of U of T’s Governing Council held its second meeting of the 2017–2018 academic year at Simcoe Hall. Comprised of 42 members, the Business Board is responsible for monitoring the cost-effectiveness of the university’s resource allocation and approving its business policies and major transactions.

Among the 22 slated agenda items for the meeting were the annual endowment financial report for the previous academic year, revisions to the Workplace Harassment Policy and Workplace Violence Policy, and the status of capital projects on campus costing over $2 million.

The endowment report, presented by Sheila Brown, U of T’s Chief Financial Officer and a member of the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation (UTAM) board, states that as of April 30, 2017, the university had “over 6,000 individual endowment funds totalling $2.4 billion market value,” a net increase of $282 million from the previous term.

Established in 2000, UTAM oversees the management of U of T funds, which includes the university’s endowment and pension funds. U of T is the only Ontario university that owns a distinct not-for-profit for investment management; other universities use their governance committees and staff members.

According to Elizabeth Church, the university’s Issues and Media Strategist, “the Business Board sets the targets for investment returns and risk tolerance. The responsibility for asset allocation is delegated to the administration and then further delegated to UTAM.”

The largest contribution to the increase in endowment funds was the university’s investment income, totalling $341 million. In comparison, the 2015–2016 academic year’s investment income totalled $13.1 million. In the latest Endowment Annual Financial Report, Brown attributed the approximate $327.9 million increase in investment income to a “favourable” investment market, compared to “years, such as 2015-16, when investment markets are poor.”

In the 2016–2017 academic year, the university also received $36 million in endowed donations and $8 million in transfers from its unrestricted funds, while it incurred net losses of $22 million on fees and expenses and $81 million on spending allocation.

The endowed donations comprise part of the $2.24 billion raised by the Boundless campaign, surpassing the campaign’s original $2 billion goal six months ahead of schedule. According to its website, the Boundless campaign “is a transformational fundraising effort that embodies the University of Toronto’s bold vision for the future.” Its three priorities are strengthening the university’s role within Toronto, establishing strong international partnerships with leading institutions globally, and reimagining undergraduate education.

Amendments to the Workplace Harassment and Workplace Violence Policies were also presented for recommendation at the Business Board meeting; if applicable, approval will be decided on October 26 by the Governing Council. The amendments “add specific references to the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment and the Sexual Violence and Prevention Centre.”

The Business Board also released the Report on Capital Projects as of September 15, 2017. Of the nine properties undergoing construction listed in the report, the overall total project cost (TPC) budget is at least $342,026,121, with the Faculty of Architecture cost remaining in camera. The UTM Deerfield Hall North Building Phase B has the largest TPC budget on the list at $120,086,121; it is currently 49 per cent complete and slated for completion in September 2018.

The UC Revitalization project, set to start in 2018, and the renovation of the Davis Building’s Meeting Place in UTM are two major capital projects that will start this academic year.

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