The University of Toronto Scarborough Academic Affairs Committee (ACC) held its second meeting of the year on October 22. 

Members discussed future curriculum offerings, an assessment of UTSC’s transition to online teaching, and a comparison of enrolment and staffing from the 20192020 academic year. The meeting began with reports from members of the executive team, who explained their respective duties and upcoming plans for the school year.

Curriculum offerings 

Katherine Larson, Vice-Dean of Teaching, Learning and Undergraduate Programs, began the meeting by talking about upcoming course offerings at UTSC. Larson noted that “a number of programs are at various stages of development,” including a joint program with Centennial College in music business and technology, majors in public law and environmental chemistry, and a certificate in sustainability. 

Larson also shared that UTSC is “in the very early stages on the development of a potential certificate in queer studies.”

Following Larson’s speech, the ACC debated potential modifications to existing undergraduate classes for winter 2021. Several departments will be introducing new course offerings, including ENGC20 — The Antihero in Literature and Film, MGEC45 — Sports Data, Analysis and Economics, SOCB40 — Thinking Like a Sociologist, and SOCD13 — Sociology of Finance. Finally, the health studies program introduced two new courses: HLTB31 — Current Issues in Health II: Synergies Among Science, Policy, and Action and HLTB44 — Introduction to Pathophysiology and The Etiology of Diseases.

Transition to online courses

With regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vice-Principal Academic & Dean William Gough called the October 2 transition “seamless,” noting that “all elements already had an online equivalent.” Regarding the winter and summer 2021 sessions, Gough mentioned that UTSC’s offerings “will look much the same as fall.”

Gough described UTSC as returning to a mode of operation that is similar to that of the summer. He mentioned “check-in points” at the entrance of Bladen Wing for students needing to access UTSC’s library and computer rooms. Gough also commented that UTSC is “monitoring who is coming to campus to ensure contact tracing is possible.”

Starting next Monday, “all those coming to campus are now required to do UCheck,” an online portal which asks users to answer a series of questions to evaluate their risk for COVID-19. Gough noted that more details would be revealed soon.

Enrolment and staffing updates

According to Gough, UTSC has 252 more students enrolled than it did last year. Though Gough reported that there are less domestic students than last year, he notes that UTSC’s retention rates continue to improve. He also informed the committee that 140 students are still living in residence, and between 50–100 students continue to visit campus daily.

With regard to faculty, according to Gough, UTSC has 26 faculty openings for “half new positions and the remainder replacement positions.” He elaborated that the campus is proposing funds to ensure that its hiring is inclusive, “especially for groups that have been historically and systematically excluded from academia.” 

Karen McCrindle, Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning, briefly noted that UTSC has increased the staff within the Centre for Teaching and Learning.