Members look to improve tri-campus relationships at Planning and Budget Committee meeting

Members discuss Tri-Campus Review, SCI, new KPE academic plan
JACQUELINE RENEE/THE VARSITY
JACQUELINE RENEE/THE VARSITY

The Planning and Budget Committee (PBC) discussed key recommendations aimed at improving the relationship between U of T’s three campuses on January 9.

During the meeting, Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr discussed updates regarding the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) and the Academic Plan Extension for the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE).

The PBC is overseen by the Academic Board, and reviews and makes recommendations on the use of U of T’s resources like funds, land, and facilities.

Regehr noted that the university has been experiencing increasing friction between the three campuses.

“We’ve seen these tensions arising over a number of things, [with] one being the balance between autonomy and collaboration, [and] another being the balance between global aspirations and institutional roles,” said Regehr.

In 2018, U of T began a process called the Tri-Campus Review, which focused on five pillars of the tri-campus relationship: academic planning and academic change, graduate units, student services, administrative structure, and budget relationships.

The Tri-Campus Review identifies issues experienced between UTSG, UTM, and UTSC.

After over a year of consultations and meetings, the working groups that focused on each of the five key pillars of the review identified the key problems faced by the tri-campus relationship, and put forward their recommendations to the steering committee, which Regehr presented to the PBC.

A recurring issue brought to the attention of members of the PBC was the miscommunication between the institution as a whole and the campuses.

This included the confusion around responsibilities of senior leaders on different campuses who share the same title, but have different roles at their respective campuses.

“So for instance, the role of the dean [at the] St. George campus, everybody reports to the Dean and the Dean is responsible for the entire vision,” said Regehr.

However, for the UTM and UTSC campuses, Regehr noted that the “[the policy] states very clearly that the principal is both chief academic officer and the chief executive officer on the [satellite] campuses.”

“What had happened over the years is that [it] created confusion around who should be in charge of various aspects of university life, such as budget, [and] such as faculty hiring,” said Regehr.

Another issues raised by the review was the hiring of graduate chairs, which is complicated by the fact that for some departments, the department chair is automatically considered the graduate chair, while for other departments the graduate chair has to be hired.

The working groups recommended that there should be increased clarity in terminology to outline clear responsibilities for senior leadership members, and to avoid miscommunication across the three campuses.

The recommendations have been submitted to the Tri-Campus Steering Committee, and a final report will be produced by the end of the academic year.

Student Choice Initiative on pause, KPE academic plan discussed

Regehr reported that U of T will wait for the results of the provincial government’s appeal of the decision that struck down the SCI as unlawful before deciding on what to do regarding incidental fees for the winter term.

The SCI, which took effect last fall, had previously allowed students to opt out of “non-essential” incidental fees, as determined by the provincial government.

Access to the opt-out portal on ACORN remains suspended.

The Dean of KPE Ira Jacobs presented the KPE’s academic plan extension for 2018–2022, which had been unanimously approved by the KPE’s Faculty Council.

The strategic goals of the plan include improving participation rates of of co-curricular physical activity and sport programs, strengthening research and scholarship, and investing in infrastructure and partnerships.

The next PBC meeting will be held on February 25, 2020.

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