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Business Board releases reports on financial statements, university operations

Alternative funding, gender pay gap equity also discussed

Business Board releases reports on financial statements, university operations

U of T’s 2018–2019 financial statements were approved and alternative sources of funding discussed in the June 18 meeting of Governing Council’s Business Board. The meeting included reports on university operations and real estate holdings, human resources and equity, and faculty gender pay equity. 

Chief Financial Officer Sheila Brown presented U of T’s financial statements to the board, saying that the university had achieved better financial results than what it had projected in January.

The university’s net assets grew by $507 million to a total of $6.5 billion. U of T has $809 million in reserves for necessary capital projects and infrastructure over the next few years. Its contractual obligations with external builders are valued at $576 million.

Brown called the university’s preference to fund capital projects with its own assets rather than through financing “very prudent.”

University operations

In his annual report, Vice-President Operations and Real Estate Partnerships Scott Mabury discussed the successes of his department, which encompasses several offices including Ancillary Services, Facilities & Services, and Information Technology Services. He also emphasized U of T’s ongoing work on the Greenhouse Gas Retrofits Program and cybersecurity, briefly floating the idea of working together with other universities to build a Canadian Security Operations Centre, not to “win the war,” but to “stay ahead” of bad cyber actors.

Mabury specifically highlighted the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre, a future hub for artificial intelligence and biomedical innovation created through a $100 million donation in March. He referred to this as an achievement that showcased all aspects of the operations department, calling the media rollout a “beautiful example of managing a narrative.” 

Mabury also discussed the development of the new student residence to be built at Spadina and Sussex, which he said exhibited how challenging the development process can be at times. U of T reached an agreement with the City of Toronto last year to develop the residence, after first proposing it in 2013. Mabury said that the period from the beginning of the project to occupancy of the building will have been approximately 12 years.

Alternative funding

Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr presented a report of the Alternative Funding Sources Advisory Group. The group’s work is structured around what Regehr referred to as U of T’s core strengths: knowledge, real estate and physical infrastructure, and financial resources. 

The report contains numerous recommendations for diversifying U of T’s income stream, ranging from developing joint undergraduate programs with a peer university, to investing in U of T startups. Regehr focused on recommendations related to the pillar of real estate and physical infrastructure, including expanding on the Four Corners approach to physical infrastructure that guides U of T’s expansion on all three campuses.

Gender pay equity

Regehr and Hannah-Moffat elaborated on the report of the Provostial Advisory Group on Faculty Gender Pay Equity, which was convened in fall 2016. One of the major findings of the report was that “on average, tenured and tenure stream women faculty at [U of T] earn 1.3% less than comparably situated faculty who are men, after controlling for experience, field of study, seniority, and other relevant factors.” 

Analysis suggests that U of T’s 12 per cent raw overall difference between tenure-stream men and women is explained by the fact that, on average, these women have fewer years of experience and work in lower-paying fields of study. There is no statistically significant difference between salaries for male and female teaching stream faculty. 

In her administrative response, Regehr announced that all female faculty who are tenured or tenure-stream at U of T will receive a 1.3 per cent increase to their base salary, effective July 1. U of T’s 834 eligible faculty were personally informed of this increase, which will cost U of T $1.8 million in the 2019–2020 fiscal year. This will be taken from the university’s central funds.

Other items

Vice-President Human Resources & Equity Kelly Hannah-Moffat discussed U of T’s smoke-free campus policy, noting that there have been no significant incidents since its implementation on January 1. She added that smoking on campus is not policed vigorously, contrary to previous concerns about enforcement of the policy.

The board also discussed the progress of the Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre, which opened in 2017. There was discussion of the difference between disclosures of sexual violence and reports of sexual violence. Regehr noted that disclosures of sexual violence made to the centre are often incidents that do not involve a second member of the U of T community and thus do not fall under university jurisdiction. According to the interim report on human resources and equity, the centre took steps to address 56 reports of sexual violence in the last year under university policy.

Uncertainty looms over Forestry’s identity ahead of final vote on closure today

Stakeholders weigh in on faculty’s impending restructuring under Daniels

Uncertainty looms over Forestry’s identity ahead of final vote on closure today

Governing Council will issue a final vote today on U of T’s proposal to disestablish the Faculty of Forestry and restructure it as a graduate unit under the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. The vote follows recommendations by the Planning and Budget Committee and the Academic Board, as well as an endorsement by the Executive Committee. If approved, Canada’s first forestry faculty will close on July 1, after 112 years of operation.

The university administration and the deans of Daniels and Forestry all maintain that, despite the faculty’s probable disestablishment, Forestry programs and research would continue as usual under Daniels. However, the Forestry Graduate Students’ Association (FGSA) and Forestry faculty members and alumni have criticized the proposal for its perceived failure to ensure that Forestry would still retain its distinct identity, a concern they say was brought up during the university’s consultation periods. The University of Toronto Students’ Union and the Arts & Science Students’ Union have additionally expressed concerns over the proposed disestablishment.

The root of the problem

U of T opened the Faculty of Forestry in 1907. At the start, the faculty endured a strenuous relationship with the U of T administration, which stunted its early ambitions, according to history professor Mark Kuhlberg. This issue was punctuated by Bernhard Fernow, the faculty’s inaugural Dean, who, in his 1912 report, wrote, “…it cannot be said that the Faculty has reached a permanent form”.

Since then, the faculty has continued to face issues of instability and, at times, volatility. In 2018–2019, it had the third-smallest attributed revenue of U of T’s 20 divisions and was home to just five tenure-stream faculty members and 122 students. In its restructuring proposal, the university notes that these factors indicate that, despite posting balanced budgets, the faculty is not financially sustainable.

Following stagnation within the faculty and ongoing informal discussions, the university hosted a consultation process in 2017 that would act as the source of its current proposal. The consultation considered a number of possibilities for Forestry’s future, including maintenance of the status quo, closure, expansion, and a merger with another division.

U of T opted to pursue the final option.

Sowing the seed

On July 1, 2017, the university appointed Robert Wright — the Director of the Daniels’ Centre for Landscape Research — as the Dean of Forestry. Wright was given a two-year term ending June 30, 2019. If the university’s proposal succeeds, that would also be the last day of Forestry’s existence as a faculty.

“I took the position because I believed… that forestry programs needed to continue at the University of Toronto,” Wright wrote to The Varsity. “The Faculty of Forestry was in serious trouble, and if it continued as such, it would quickly cease to exist. Our academic mission was paramount. We needed to focus our efforts on the long-term sustainability of existing programs, faculty renewal and new program initiatives.”

Following consultations, the university administration and Wright deemed that Daniels would be the best fit for Forestry, given that both are professional faculties and that there are numerous potential avenues for interdisciplinary research between the two. The proposal highlights “areas of bio products, landscape conservation, or mass timber use in building design and construction” as examples.

Daniels is also a more secure faculty than Forestry. In 2018–2019, its attributed revenue was $26.8 million greater and it had 22 more tenure-stream faculty members and 1,346 more students.

According to Daniels Dean Richard Sommer, the faculty only formally entered discussions regarding Forestry’s restructuring in November 2018, one month prior to the proposal’s first draft release.

The draft’s release in December then triggered a mandatory minimum 120-day consultation period, after which a final draft was released and entered formal governance, beginning with the Planning and Budget Committee meeting on May 9. There, U of T Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr said that restructuring Forestry under Daniels would be “a unique moment when the discipline can be redefined within the context of the university and wider society, and where the new synergies and opportunities can be realized.”

Indeed, the FGSA and Forestry faculty members and alumni all agree that restructuring under Daniels can be beneficial, but only with additional provisions. 

The consultation trail

The restructuring proposal notes that by the time Daniels entered formal discussions, “Forestry faculty members unanimously supported moving forward with a restructuring process that would move forestry activities into Daniels.”

However, FGSA Chair Nicole Tratnik said that this claim and the proposal misrepresents Forestry. In an interview with The Varsity, she clarified that some Forestry faculty members had left the faculty in the past few years and, while they did not wholly oppose restructuring under Daniels, nor did the university force them out, they felt that they would be more productive in other faculties.

Tratnik also noted that the proposal wasn’t voted on by Forestry’s faculty council. U of T’s academic restructuring policy does not require it to receive approval from either the affected or destination faculty’s council. Instead, it requires “potentially affected Academic Units [to] have had a reasonable opportunity to participate in a collegial, inclusive and deliberative process.” While Daniels’ faculty council provided a vote of confidence in the proposal, there was still opposition from remaining Forestry faculty members. Nonetheless, the university deemed this requirement to have been met.

While Tratnik said that Wright has been willing to meet with Forestry students, some of the FGSA’s concerns regarding the proposal draft were not addressed when U of T released its final draft in April.

Seeing the forest for the trees

In March, the FGSA sent a letter supported by 34 Forestry students to the university, asking it to clarify its intentions of establishing a distinct identity for Forestry, maintaining Forestry program accreditation, and continuing Forestry’s endowments.

The university addressed all these concerns to varying degrees of detail when it released the proposal’s final draft in April. It clarified the continued administration of endowments and communicated that the Master of Forest Conservation would remain an accredited professional program despite Forestry’s shift from a faculty to a graduate unit.

Maintaining Forestry’s identity is a decidedly more complex matter that the various stakeholders do not see eye-to-eye on. 

In a bid to ensure that Forestry maintains a degree of administrative and financial autonomy, the FGSA is requesting that Daniels recognize Forestry as a higher-level Extra-Departmental Unit (EDU). 

According to U of T, EDUs are “flexible and multidisciplinary entities organized around emerging research and teaching areas that span disciplines.” An example is the School of the Environment, which is an EDU:B under the Faculty of Arts & Science.

At this time, U of T has not communicated a stance on Forestry’s potential establishment as an EDU under Daniels. In an interview with The Varsity, Regehr wrote, “The program could evolve over time after the restructuring has taken place, but it would need to come about as a collegial process at Daniels.”

Sommer, however, believes that establishing Forestry as an EDU under Daniels contradicts the FGSA’s desire for a distinct identity due to EDUs’ multidisciplinary nature.

“How is it that Forestry would have its own EDU without forging it together with [Daniels] around our interdisciplinary interests?” Sommer told The Varsity. “[The FGSA’s] primary concern is a way for Forestry to have an identity… and some independence as a discipline within our faculty, which they will have [as a graduate unit.]”

According to Wright, “The main concern for [Forestry members] is to ensure Forestry programs are promoted and have a distinct identity if moved into a larger faculty… I believe this proposal [addresses] that concern and we can continue those discussions at Daniels.”

While the Faculty of Forestry’s 112-year history will likely soon come to an end, the rebuilding process of the Forestry community’s identity is set to begin in earnest.

Editor’s Note (June 26, 2:07 pm): This article has been updated to correct a quote from Sommer on Forestry and Daniels’ interdisciplinary interests.

U of T still awaiting final guidelines on Student Choice Initiative

University Affairs Board passes fee increases for Student Life, KPE, Hart House

U of T still awaiting final guidelines on Student Choice Initiative

In anticipation of the Student Choice Initiative (SCI), Vice-Provost Students Sandy Welsh gave some of the first comments on the university’s progress on the issue at the University Affairs Board (UAB) meeting for March. The UAB also passed fee increases for Campus Life incidental fees, which include those for Student Life, the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE), and Hart House.

As the Senior Assessor, Welsh reported that the university is currently waiting on the provincial government to provide more details on the SCI before any determination of essential and non-essential fees can be made.

The SCI is the provincial government’s plan to implement opt-out options for “non-essential” student fees, which could see many student clubs and services lose a significant portion of their funding.

Welsh brought up the current loose guidelines given for determining which fees are essential, showing a slide from a presentation made by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (TCU). The full presentation was obtained by The Varsity in early February and includes enforcement and rollout guidelines for the SCI.

The slide, titled “The Ancillary Fee Classification Framework,” listed athletics and recreation, career services, health and counselling, academic support, student ID cards, transcripts and convocation processes, financial aid offices, walksafe programs, student buildings and centres, and student transit passes as essential. Health and dental plans will also remain essential fees, while those with outside coverage can continue to opt out, which is in line with the current system for U of T.

Susan Froom, the UAB member representing part-time students, urged the university and Welsh to categorize as many fees as possible as essential.

Froom also raised concerns about how the SCI could impact Student Life, which provides services that could be categorized as non-essential, such as the Multi-Faith Centre, the Family Care Office, and the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office. Welsh replied that the university and her office do not have enough information about the classification process to provide further information, and are awaiting the final details from the provincial government.

Welsh also did not rule out the university centralizing or otherwise subsidizing impacted student societies when asked by another member of the UAB.

In a statement to The Varsity, TCU Ministry Issues Coordinator Ciara Byrne wrote that Minister Merrilee Fullerton had heard concerns from “many post-secondary students” about mandatory fees and that guidelines for the SCI would be released to institutions “shortly.”

The UAB also approved a 4.8 per cent increase for Student Life fees charged to full-time UTSG students, who will pay $164.24, an increase of $7.52 from this year. All fee increases must continue to move through the governance process and be passed by Governing Council before taking effect.

Senior Director of Student Experience David Newman also reported on Student Life, whose accessibility and Health & Wellness services would be considered essential. Newman explained that the administration would try to decrease reliance on student fees for Student Life programs and services, as additional staff had been hired this year.

The UAB also passed a $4.82, or 2.55 per cent, increase for KPE co-curricular programs, services, and facilities. Full-time students would pay $193.82 for services like U of T Sports & Rec, the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, Athletic Centre, Varsity Centre, and the David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic.

Pending approval by Governing Council, students could see a fee increase for Hart House of $8.56, a 9.57 per cent increase totalling to $97.96.

John Monahan, Warden of Hart House, reported to the board that Hart House was preparing for its centennial celebration and would use the funds for continuing renovations in the Arbor Room, replacing the pool skylight, and increasing security.

U of T acknowledges criticism of late UTSG class cancellations at Governing Council meeting

Council approves FitzGerald Building Revitalization funding, Gertler says Boundless campaign could fund additional student aid

U of T acknowledges criticism of late UTSG class cancellations at Governing Council meeting

University officials addressed recent criticisms about U of T’s policies on closing campuses during inclement weather at a Governing Council meeting held on February 28 at UTM.

In response to a question from graduate student member Sandhya Mylabathula, U of T Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr acknowledged recent criticisms about the multiple late closures of UTSG in the last few weeks, saying that there will be new considerations taken when assessing whether or not to close the campus.

Regehr is involved in determining UTSG’s status under adverse weather conditions alongside other university administrators.

Regehr also emphasized that Robarts Library will always be open 24 hours, even during harsh weather, adding that students could stay overnight during snowstorms.

The university has also hired additional staff, said Regehr, with current staff already working overtime to keep streets and entrances clear.

Vice-Provost Academic Operations Scott Mabury, who oversees operations to clear snow, assured the council that 350 workers should have entrances cleared by 9:00 am.

Building projects, Gertler’s report

Governing Council also approved funding for the FitzGerald Building Revitalization project, which would revamp the building to make it more efficient. Construction would start in May 2019, with occupancy expected by October 2020, though demolition and hazardous waste removal is slated to happen this month.

According to the project report, it currently costs around $50 per gross square metre to operate the building, and post-renovations should cost around $10 per gross square metre.

President Meric Gertler, who presented a report at the beginning of the meeting, reaffirmed the university’s access guarantee — which states that financial standing should not affect a student’s ability to attend U of T — and noted that contributions to the Boundless campaign could also be used to firm up student aid, in light of the cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

Seven students win seats on Governing Council

Results conclude elections for U of T’s highest governing body

Seven students win seats on Governing Council

Seven students have won seats on Governing Council, after an elections season that saw 39 candidates vie to represent students on U of T’s most powerful administrative body.

Out of Governing Council’s 50 members, there are eight seats available to students, spread across five different constituencies. One of the seats for Part-time Undergraduate Students was not filled as not enough candidates ran in that election. 

Yining (Elin) Gu and Apefa Adjivon won the race to represent the constituency of full-time undergraduate students of the Faculty of Arts & Science, UTM, and UTSC.

Gu, a UTSC student, received 371 votes and Adjivon, a University College student, received 303 votes. Twenty-one candidates ran for this constituency.

Representing the constituency of full-time undergraduate students of the Professional Faculties will be Mallory Estelle Jackman and Andrew Girgis.

Jackman is a Medicine student and received 104 votes, while Girgis is a Pharmacy student and 97 votes. A total of five candidates ran from this constituency.

Susan Froom, a Trinity College student, will represent the constituency of Part-time Undergraduate Students. She won uncontested, with the second seat available for this constituency unfulfilled. Froom has served in this position since the 2014–2015 academic year.

LP Veuilleux, a Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy student, won the seat to represent Constituency I of graduate students with 159 votes. Seven candidates from this constituency ran for a seat.

Amin Kamaleddin, a Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering student, won the race to represent Constituency II of graduate students with 338 votes. Five candidates ran from this constituency.

The university released election results on February 19, following its call for nominations in January and its election this month.

Editor’s Note (February 21, 5:10 pm): The article has been updated to correct that there are eight seats available to students and one of them remains unfilled.

Nominations for student seats on Governing Council open

Eight student positions to be filled by election in February

Nominations for student seats on Governing Council open

The Office of Governing Council has made its annual call for student nominations, open to all students in full-time and part-time programs. Nominations opened on January 7 and close at 5:00 pm on January 18.

The eight student positions on Governing Council are an opportunity to become involved in the university’s most powerful decision-making body. If elected, members are expected to contribute to the future direction of the university.

Collectively, Governing Council is responsible for areas of the university such as strategic direction, finances, human resources, infrastructure, and academic quality.

Of the eight student spots, four are reserved for full-time undergraduate students, two for part-time students, and two for graduate students. Previous experience in student politics is not required.

To nominate someone or oneself, students are required to fill out a nomination form. Paper versions of this form can also be found at room 106 of Simcoe Hall. UTM and UTSC Campus Councils will also be holding nominations for their respective students.

The online voting period begins on February 4, and ballots will be counted and announced on February 19. Elected winners will be declared on February 22.

Governing Council membership underrepresents women, analysis of past 10 years show

Men make up majority of U of T’s highest governing body

Governing Council membership underrepresents women, analysis of past 10 years show

Governing Council is the highest governing body at the University of Toronto, passing policy that broadly affects the lives of students, faculty, and staff — but what does it look like? The Varsity looked into the gender breakdown for Governing Council going back 10 years and found an almost two-thirds majority of men on Governing Council across the tenure of two presidents.

Out of the 50 members that make up Governing Council, 30 are elected: 12 teaching staff, eight alumni, four full-time undergraduate students, two administrative staff, two graduate students, and two part-time students.

Of the other 20 members, 16 are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council, the representative of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and two are appointed by President Meric Gertler. The remaining two members are Gertler and U of T’s Chancellor Rose Patten. While historically all positions of Governing Council are filled, in recent years a few government appointee positions have been left empty.

Together, these members propose and pass policies that affect all members of the university community. Notably, Governing Council sets tuition, approves new programs, and passed the controversial smoking and university-mandated leave of absence policies.

Despite Governing Council’s wield over university operations, the members do not accurately reflect the makeup of U of T. Women are widely underrepresented filling about 37 per cent of seats on Governing Council on average. The 2018–2019 session of Governing Council had 29 men and 13 women, totalling a 30.95 per cent representation for women — the third lowest across 10 years. The year with the highest representation was 2011–2012, which saw 46.81 per cent of Governing Council positions filled by women. Representation of women dropped sharply in 2015–2016 from 41.67 per cent to 30 per cent.

In 2017, almost 20 per cent difference in the proportion of men to women on Governing Council when compared to the representation of students.

The representation on Governing Council, however, does match the statistics for academic staff and faculty. Women represent 36 per cent of full-time tenured or tenure-stream faculty, as well as 41 per cent of part-time and full-time academic staff.

Planning and Budget Committee recommends FitzGerald Building revitalization

Plans in place for former medicine, dentistry hub to host new administrative offices

Planning and Budget Committee recommends FitzGerald Building revitalization

Governing Council’s Planning and Budget Committee (PBC) has unanimously voted to recommend the transformation of the FitzGerald Building from hosting research labs to space for administrative office spaces. Following the PBC’s recommendation on January 10, the Report of the Project Planning Committee for FitzGerald Building Revitalization must still go through the Academic Board, Business Board, and Executive Committee for discussion, prior to receiving final approval from Governing Council on February 28.

The FitzGerald Building, located on 150 College Street, was vacated by the Faculty of Dentistry and the Faculty of Medicine in July. Both have since moved to new or renovated spaces on campus.

According to the report, the Faculty of Medicine had conducted studies that demonstrated “significant challenges and costs” to continued use of the building. Further, the report states that “there have not been any significant upgrades to the building infrastructure in many years, and the wet research space in particular has deteriorated.”

Constructed in 1927, the FitzGerald Building has heritage status, meaning that it cannot be demolished. According to Vice-President University Operations Scott Mabury, the refurbished building will only provide half the occupancy space that is available at the administration’s current 215 Huron Street location, “but it’s going to be a much better space to work in.”

Administrative offices, including Financial Services and Human Resources & Equity, operate at 215 Huron Street, which Mabury said the university hopes to replace with a “data sciences kind of building… that will house a number of researchers across the campus.”

If the report is approved by Governing Council, construction on the building will commence in May, with full operational occupancy expected by October 2020.

This was the second committee meeting this academic year. The initial second meeting, scheduled on October 31, had been cancelled. PBC Secretary Joan Griffin told The Varsity in mid-October that there was “no business to transact by the Committee during [that] cycle.”