The final Academic Board meeting of the 2022–2023 governance cycle took place in the Simcoe Hall Council chamber on May 25. The board members approved plans for a more than 2,000-square-metre renovation and expansion of Innis College, as well as for a new UTSC music and technology program in collaboration with Centennial College. 

Renovation and expansion

In a presentation to the board, Charlie Keil, the principal of Innis College, said that the redesign process focused on making sure that “every space serves students.” 

The project will include a new building addition and renovations to critical areas of the college, including classrooms, the commuter lounge, and the rooftop terrace. The university also plans to increase the Innis Library’s accessibility by moving it to level two and creating entries from all wings of the building. 

One component of the project is the expansion of the space that previously held the Innis Café. Keil confirms that a café will be returning to the space with major expansions: increased seating, a larger kitchen area, and more windows to provide visual accessibility. 

Due to the renovation, the university terminated the lease for the original Innis Café in June. The university plans to open the contract for the renovated café space to all instead of giving the original owners priority. 

In an interview with The Varsity, the owners said that they did not know if they would be able to come back to the space. 

The Academic Board approved the project, which will receive funding from the reserves, fundraising, financing, and a student levy. However, the project must also receive confirmation at the Executive Committee’s June 15 meeting and approval at the Business Board’s June 20 meeting. 

While Innis College will still be operating during the construction period, students can expect to have reduced access to certain areas of the college. The Nichol Lane entrance will be maintained, but other areas will be affected. Access along the south of the Max Gluskin Building will be reduced, and reduced access may impact the west and north neighbours of the college. Construction is set to begin in July 2023, while the finished project is scheduled to be completed by July 2025. 

Music industry and technology

The Academic Board also approved a music industry and technology specialist program, which will be offered through a partnership between Centennial College and UTSC.

UTSC currently offers three joint programs with Centennial. “It’s a really powerful relationship that we’ve developed over the years, and this is another example of how that’s moving forward,” said Professor William Gough, vice-principal, academic and dean.

According to Susan McCahan, vice-provost academic programs, the new joint specialist will blend UTSC’s academic strengths with Centennial’s career-oriented courses, allowing students to engage with music and culture. The program, which aims to prepare students to work in sound recording, performing arts companies, and as independent artists, writers, and performers, will consist of 15.5 credits — 7.5 credits through UTSC and 8 credits through Centennial. Students will also take part in an internship through Centennial in their third year. 

Students who complete the four-year program will receive a U of T Honours Bachelor of Arts degree and a Centennial certificate. 

The university plans to offer the program — which must still receive confirmation from the Executive Committee at its June 15 meeting — starting in September 2024.