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Governing Council creates COVID-19 special committee

Committee to make decisions on urgent pandemic-related matters
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RILLA WANG/THE VARSITY
RILLA WANG/THE VARSITY

As part of its broader response to the COVID-19 pandemic, U of T’s Governing Council has created the COVID-19 Special Committee of Governing Council.

According to a U of T spokesperson, the committee was created to rule on urgent matters related to COVID-19 that cannot be deferred to the next in-person meeting. The formation of the committee is “similar to the practice followed in the summer months (July – August)… when time-sensitive decisions can be made under the Summer Executive Authority,” they wrote.

The pandemic has brought a range of discussions to all three campuses, including mental health services and campus life after COVID-19. The special committee will aid this by acting as a support system for standing councils, committees, and boards. No matters have been handled by the special committee yet at this time.

Since the Ontario government declared a state of emergency on March 17, U of T’s boards, councils, and committees have been holding all meetings over the phone. The chair of any board, council, or committee can decide on an urgent matter, which would normally be held in closed session, and settle it through electronic vote.

In such cases, “when it has been determined that such matters cannot be reasonably considered by a standing committee, campus council, or board,” the special committee will be called to handle an urgent matter. It will do its best to consult with the chair of the standing committee, council, or board that was initially responsible for the matter. 

The special committee will be in place until the first regular Governing Council meeting, scheduled for September 9, when there will be an option to extend the committee’s existence. Any actions taken or decisions made by the committee before this meeting will be reported at that time. 

The council is able to create such a committee under the condition that a majority of its members are also on the Governing Council. The members of the committee include Chair Claire Kennedy, Vice-Chair N. Jane Pepino, and U of T President Meric Gertler. Additionally, they will be joined by Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr, who has deferred her planned six-month leave that was originally scheduled to begin on April 1. 

Professor Trevor Young, who was supposed to assume Regehr’s position for the duration of her leave, will now return to his previous position of dean of medicine and vice-provost relations with health care institutions. He was originally scheduled to return to this position on December 30, 2020.