The UTM Academic Affairs and Campus Affairs Committees held their first meetings of the 2022–2023 academic year on September 12 and September 13, respectively.
At the meetings, UTM administration provided various presentations on the campus’ strategic priorities for the year, including updates on the construction of the New Science Building and a Student Services Hub in the Davis Building. Additionally, administration also presented UTM’s fall 2022 enrolment report and announced minor modifications to the undergraduate curriculum at UTM.
Amrita Daniere — interim vice-principal, academic and dean — presented UTM’s fall 2022 enrolment report at the Campus Affairs Committee meeting.
According to the presentation, UTM admitted 2,697 new domestic and 785 new international students for the fall 2022 semester. The campus also saw the reenrolment of 11,566 students, with 8,064 domestic and 3,502 international students returning this month.
While the campus saw a total of 3,482 newly admitted students in fall 2022, it has experienced a drop in new enrolments since fall 2021.
In fall 2021, the campus experienced a 26.4 per cent rise in new enrolments, with the number of newly enrolled students increasing from 3,539 in fall 2020 to 4,473 in fall 2021.
Campus and administrative goals for 2022–2023
UTM Chief Administrative Officer Deborah Brown debriefed members of the Campus Affairs Committee on UTM’s ongoing capital projects and infrastructural improvements. Brown also shared the campus’ efforts to alleviate the pressure of returning to in-person learning.
UTM’s capital projects for the 2022–2023 academic year include the completion of the New Science Building in spring 2023 and the Student Services Hub in summer 2023. Additionally, UTM will begin planning the new F2 Building and a new student residence.
During the meeting, one committee member wondered whether the New Science Building would be able to accommodate room bookings for PhD committees or would instead be largely reserved for classes.
Brown said, “It shouldn’t be either the loudest voice in the room or a happenstance for somebody to be able to book space or to get new space. And that’s why [we have] the Space Committee.” Brown explained that the Space Committee is responsible for ensuring students’ space needs are met; the committee is informed by input from the campus community and plans out space allocation for the coming semester based on this input.
Another committee member asked whether the new student residence would accommodate on-campus housing for UTM faculty as well.
UTM Principal Alexandra Gillespie responded, “Faculty housing is one of the issues I’d really like to grapple with this year.” Gillespie doesn’t believe that faculty housing could be appropriately accommodated with student life in residence, but she did confirm that UTM plans on contacting real estate agents in the area to determine the best avenues of providing faculty housing on campus.
Mark Overton — dean of student affairs and assistant principal, student services — also expanded on some of the key portfolio challenges and goals for the upcoming academic year.
According to Overton, UTM is currently preparing for the fall 2023 opening of the new Student Services Hub in the Davis Building, which has been upgraded to include a variety of services including The First Stop service. The First Stop service will specialize in educating students on course selection and career exploration, study permit renewal advising, and personal counselling on coping with parental influence.
Brown also gave a presentation on how UTM’s balanced budget for the next five years will be created.
“The budget will reflect that UTM still needs to grow,” explained Brown.
“We need to continue to develop our campus infrastructure and employ new staff and faculty. We need to advance the priorities of the UTM strategic framework, and we need to deliver for our students and communities an experience that matches U of T’s global reputation for excellence,” Brown continued.
To facilitate the creation of the budget, a Budget Planning Committee was established this year. The committee will take into account the interests and needs of various groups at UTM and will meet monthly to complete the budget proposal.
Daniere introduced a plan to “revamp” academic advising services at UTM.
In the presentation, Daniere explained that UTM will introduce a dedicated unit that specializes in advising first-year students. She suggested that mandatory advising services for first-year students might help prevent “a lot of confused students [that will] remain confused for the first year or two.”
Daniere explained that a lot of the confusion comes with the acceptances in programs of study, since “[students] arrive thinking they’re going to do one thing, and for a variety of reasons, are not able to do it.”
She said that UTM needs to provide these first-year students with “better options” because UTM admits a lot of students into popular programs, which are “oversubscribed.” Enrolment in such programs then inhibits the students from planning out their second year and being admitted to their desired program “because of the competitive nature of the program and the limited number of spaces.”
Daniere also expressed concern about the “lack of bonding and lack of closeness in the community.” To address this issue, UTM has mandated a writing course that is now available to half of the first-year undergraduates. The writing course is expected to have smaller, more tight-knit classes of between 25 to 30 students.
Minor changes to UTM curriculum
Tracey Bowen — vice-dean, teaching and learning — proposed various curriculum changes to the committee.
The Humanities Divisional Undergraduate Curriculum Committee report made changes to three programs and 21 courses. As part of these changes, eight new courses will be added to the Humanities program by 2023–2024.
The Sciences Divisional Undergraduate Curriculum Committee included 22 program changes and 29 course changes, including the addition of a new course and 28 minor modifications to existing courses.
In the Social Sciences program, there were 52 course changes across seven programs, 19 of which were new courses and 18 of which were course retirements.
There were 19 new course proposals exclusively from the Department of Political Science because the department has undertaken a larger curriculum renewal project. The department is retiring many full-year courses in favour of new half-credit courses.
Across the curriculums of humanities, sciences, and social sciences, the Institute for the Study of University Pedagogy has proposed three new special topic courses — one at each of the 200-, 300-, and 400-levels.