4,422 U of T employees made over $100,000 in 2019

Annual Sunshine List shows increased earnings for business school-related professions

4,422 U of T employees made over $100,000 in 2019

The Ontario government released its annual public disclosure of salaries above $100,000, colloquially known as the Sunshine List, on March 20. It shows $715 million earned by 4,422 employees at U of T, Victoria University, Trinity College, and the University of St. Michael’s College in 2019.

Daren Smith, President and Chief Investment Officer of the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation, topped the Sunshine List for U of T with a salary of $800,749.46, a decrease from his $989,308 last year, and a knock-down from being the second highest-paid public employee in the province to the fifth. President Meric Gertler also moved down from being the third highest-paid employee at U of T to the 13th, having earned $438,892.04 in 2019 — a pay cut of nearly $50,000 from last year.

Gertler’s ranking on the Sunshine List was below multiple vice deans, finance and accounting professors, and three professors of strategic management who are, respectively, the second, third, and fourth highest-paid employees at U of T: Will Mitchell, Brian R. Golden, and Joel A. C. Baum.

The number of university employees whose salaries appear on the Sunshine List has steadily increased from 3,626 in 2016 to 4,422 in 2019 — an addition of about 400 employees every year. The average U of T employee listed made $161,710.11, with a median income of $146,587.39, indicating that those earning closer to $100,000 make up a majority of U of T’s Sunshine List.

The Breakdown: U of T’s 2020–2021 budget

International fees to rise about five per cent, funding allocated to mental health and diversity initiatives

The Breakdown: U of T’s 2020–2021 budget

The University of Toronto recently released its budget report for the next academic year, with long-range budget guidelines for 2020–2021 and the following four years. 

International enrollment, developing new revenue streams, and implementing the recommendations of the Presidential & Provostial Task Force for Mental Health are all central aspects of the report, which was profoundly shaped by the third Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA3), the first such agreement negotiated under the Doug Ford government. 

SMAs are agreements between postsecondary institutions and the province on how much funding schools will receive.

Domestic and international enrollment

The Ontario government first announced a 10 per cent cut to domestic tuition in January 2019, and announced at the same time that tuition would be frozen for the 2020–2021 and 2021–2022 academic years.

International fees are unaffected by the cuts, and will rise by an average of 5.3 per cent next year.

The university’s revenue, the majority of which comes from enrollment tuition and fees, is expected to rise by 8.6 per cent, taking into account the domestic tuition freeze and increased international tuition and enrollment.

The decision to increase international fees was made in consideration of the province’s choice to reduce operational grants by $750 for every international student enrolled in an undergraduate or master’s program.

Divisions still aim to increase the amount of international students, and to diversify that population to be more reflective of U of T’s global partnerships. The university expects the proportion of international students to rise to 28 per cent in the next academic year.

Furthermore, up to six per cent of each division’s international tuition will go to a scholarship fund for top international students. These scholarships will be awarded based on a variety of factors, including merit and need, and the amount invested is expected to grow from $14.7 million in 2020–21 to $75.8 million in 2024–25.

The provost has also planned to allocate money from the University Fund — a non-formulaic portion of the budget that’s used to meet institutional academic goals — to increase staff to provide international students with services like immigration advising.

International enrollment represents the greatest source of revenue for the university as of last year. However, in light of changes in funding from the provincial government and caps on tuition and enrollment, U of T has developed a plan for a new revenue stream called the Four Corners Strategy.

This strategy aims to generate $50 million in revenue per year by 2033 through the development of 3.5 million square feet of new space dedicated to campus services, amenities, and new office and retail space.

U of T would use ongoing leasing revenue to fund the early stages of proposed projects, and would invest the money made back into research and teaching.

The SMA3

Under the SMA3, which will be implemented starting in the 2020–21 academic year and ends in 2025, performance-based funding will rise from 25 to 60 per cent of total provincial operating grants by 2024–25. This would represent an increase within the university’s total revenue from 5.6 per cent to 11.7 per cent.

In addition, the university must maintain enrollment within a flexibility range of three per cent of a fixed amount. While the university continues to advocate for another 1,000 master’s and 1,000 doctoral spaces, these have not been approved under the current agreement.

Mental health and diversity

The University Fund has been allocated across four categories, including Student Success and Experience, which receives $6 million, and Faculty Diversity and Renewal, which receives $2.3 million.

Support for mental health service is one of the major pillars of the Student Success and Experience category. Efforts will focus on implementing the recommendations of the Presidential & Provostial Task Force for Mental Health, which includes restructuring mental health services, appointing a tri-campus clinical director, and expanding counselling options. 

Faculty Diversity and Renewal notably aims to support the hiring of 20 Black and Indigenous faculty members. This is consistent with U of T’s previous goal of hiring 80 faculty and 20 staff members from underrepresented groups.

COVID-19 and university comments

The future of the budget is deeply uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an email to The Varsity,  a U of T spokesperson wrote that the cost implications of the pandemic are still unknown, and that the budget was created under the expectation of normal circumstances.

The spokesperson added, “the University’s focus is on ensuring our students complete their term, provide a place for those students in residence who cannot return home, and support critical COVID-19 research. We are also providing emergency assistance grants for undergraduate and graduate students impacted by COVID-19 and who need immediate short-term financial relief because of unexpected expenses.”

The spokesperson also reaffirmed that the university’s “budget commitments to student mental health and our response to the task force [remain] the same.”

The Governing Council will vote on the proposed budget on April 2.

Opinion: The credit/no credit deadline must be extended across all campuses, not just at UTSG

UTSC and UTM students should be afforded the same accommodation

Opinion: The credit/no credit deadline must be extended across all campuses, not just at UTSG

The impacts of COVID-19 have made all of our school lives more difficult. At the University of Toronto, the credit/no credit (CR/NCR) policy has been key in ameliorating academic difficulties. After all, being able to see your grade before deciding to CR/NCR is a sigh of relief in the face of heavily-weighted — yet now uncertain — finals. 

However, this is not a privilege afforded to all U of T students. In fact, UTSC and UTM students, who face the same difficulties in light of the spread of COVID-19, are making their CR/NCR choices without knowing their final marks.

UTSC and UTM students can only make their decisions until April 25 and April 22 respectively, and “no final grades will be released until after this date” per the UTSC website.

UTSG’s Faculty of Arts & Science was the first to announce its updated CR/NCR policy on March 15. It would have made sense for UTSC and UTM to follow suit, but instead, their announcements came two days after, with different CR/NCR deadlines.

The rationale that was offered for the differences between campuses is what is truly frustrating. 

The UTM website helpfully outlines that “the regulations and procedures that govern these decisions… may vary among the divisions across the University, as is normally the case.” These differences aim to “[maintain] academic standards of degrees and programs.”

In other words, differences in regulations and procedures, academic standards, and more are the cause of differences in policy.

Yet I do not believe that academic standards are so different across the three campuses as to warrant such a substantial variance. 

To be clear, the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and the Rotman School of Management at UTSG have both taken identical positions to the Faculty of Arts & Science. If three widely differing divisions with differing academic regulations and policies can arrive at the same decision downtown, then UTSC and UTM ought to as well.

For students who are dependent on final marks for employment, graduate school, and beyond, the ability to CR/NCR without knowledge of final marks is not sufficient when faced with writing a final that’s worth 40–50 per cent of their grade in an experimental, untested format. UTSG, the University of Waterloo, and Ryerson University all seem to agree on offering students the ability to CR/NCR after viewing their grades.

Fundamentally, this is an equity issue. UTSC and UTM students are U of T students too; they face the same academic standards, graduate with the same degree, and are equally impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Every U of T student deserves the same accommodations in the face of this pandemic.

Perhaps the university needs to listen to the petitions being circulated by those who have been impacted.

George Chen is a fourth-year Management and International Business student at UTSC.

Dear U of T, I bid thee farewell — even if it’s not the way I imagined

Reflections from a journalist at the end of an undergraduate degree

Dear U of T, I bid thee farewell — even if it’s not the way I imagined

As I sat down to write this piece — my final article for The Varsity — I wondered what I could say about this university that hasn’t already been said. How was my story any different, any less tumultuous than that of any other student?

I came to this university four years ago as a scared first-year student lugging a suitcase of expectations and dreams behind her, smiling sheepishly with braces, ready to bite into the fruit of so-called adulthood. I can barely comprehend that it’s already time to graduate.

I was the first in my family to go to university overseas, like many other students I’m sure. Leaving the comfort of home and familiarity behind was difficult, but I was so excited to be independent and to discover myself that it rarely mattered.

Before I knew it, I had immersed myself in university life. Classes, assignments, and extracurriculars became a routine. Friends became family; study sessions ended up in late-night dinners, and, unbeknownst to me, U of T became my home. 

It was at U of T that I made lifelong friendships, reconnected with old friends, and met my roommate and best friend. I fell in love here, and also learned that life isn’t always as you imagine it to be.

I got the chance to learn from some of the smartest and accomplished professors in the world. I failed and learned to stand back up, and even stumbled a little here and there. The nights I spent at Robarts Library will always be etched in my heart; it was often comforting — and even a little funny — to look around at midnight and see everyone in the same hellhole as I was.

The food truck in front of Sidney Smith Hall, Friday nights at the Ein-stein Bierhalle, and laughing in the residence halls at early morning hours are some of the things that I’m never going to forget. 

But more than anything else, U of T has helped me discover who I am. I found my love for writing, decided to pursue journalism instead of medical school, and landed an internship with one of the largest newspapers in the country. It was here that I transformed from a shy 16-year-old into a bold, independent, and still a little shy adult. 

The last few weeks have been unprecedented. With so many closures and cancellations, everyone — especially the graduating class — is uncertain and worried about the future.

On Wednesday, a lot of my peers and I were left heartbroken by the news that the June convocation was cancelled, and as such, we, the graduating class of 2020, are not going to get the send-off we were so eagerly waiting for. 

We didn’t get to say goodbye to our friends the way we thought we would. Our parents are not going to see us walk on the stage while they call out our names. We won’t be able to don the U of T black gown and stand proudly as the class of 2020.

Although it’s the best decision in light of the ongoing pandemic, it’s still going to hurt a little. 

We are not going to be able to enjoy our last summer before we are flung into full-fledged adulthood. We might not get to travel and explore the world like we planned. We’re entering into a harsher world, and an economy with fewer jobs. But there’s comfort in knowing that we’re all in this together — and we’ll get through this together.

Dear graduating class of 2020, no matter what happens, trust that we’ll be fine, and know that it’ll be one hell of a story to tell.

Dean of Arts & Sciences promises in-person ceremony in lieu of convocation

Postponing convocation deemed impossible by the university

Dean of Arts & Sciences promises in-person ceremony in lieu of convocation

In an email sent to Arts & Science (A&S) undergraduate students, Dean of the Faculty of A&S Melanie A. Woodin promised prospective graduates that, in lieu of a traditional U of T convocation in June, the university will be organizing an “in-person ceremony” to recognize their efforts in completing their degrees. This announcement comes one day after U of T cancelled spring convocation due to social distancing efforts in response to COVID-19.

In a statement made to The Varsity, a university spokesperson confirmed that postponing convocation will not be possible “[g]iven the size of Convocation Hall and the fact that it is needed for lectures during the term.” They pointed to the fact that U of T’s convocation “includes 32 separate ceremonies for over 12,000 graduates and 34,000 guests” as a reason why convocation at a later date posed too many logistical challenges.

The Faculty of A&S have yet to decide when this replacement ceremony will take place and notes that it “may not look like the traditional U of T Convocation.”

However, Woodin acknowledged that both students “and [their] families have sacrificed a great deal to get [] to this major moment.” She wrote that she understands the desire to celebrate this accomplishment with students, professors, and the university at large.

As such, Woodin is committed to mark the graduation of A&S students leaving the university at the end of this semester with an event or events. “[T]his will be a special occasion,” she writes.

Woodin also clarified that the decision to cancel convocation was made in consultation with public health experts. In addition, a university spokesperson added that “[o]ther universities across North America such as UBC, the University of Michigan and McGill University have also called off their spring graduation ceremonies.” 

There is an online petition circulating that is calling on the university to postpone, instead of cancelling convocation. As of publication time, the petition has garnered just under 20,000 signatures.

Editor’s Note (March 27, 3:57pm): This article has been altered to include comment from the university and to update the number of signatures garnered by the online petition.

Opinion: What happened to the smoke-free policy at U of T?

Why students have been ignoring the policy since its enactment

Opinion: What happened to the smoke-free policy at U of T?

I was standing outside Sidney Smith Hall when one of my friends lit a cigarette. He closed his eyes and took a nonchalant long drag, as if he were a character in a James Bond movie.

I, on the other hand, glanced around nervously to check if anyone saw or was bothered by it. Didn’t he know smoking on university grounds had been banned for a year now? I shot him a dirty look.

“What? No one cares,” he said laughingly.

I stood there, slouching in the corner, waiting for him to finish smoking his cigarette, and watched people pass by. No one looked up or glanced our way, let alone tried to stop my friend from smoking. He was right — no one cared. But the real question was, why?

On December 13, 2018, U of T’s Governing Council passed a smoke-free policy. Starting January 1, 2019, smoking, holding a lighted tobacco or cannabis cigarette, and using an e-cigarette or any other vaping device on university property would not be allowed. It didn’t matter if you were smoking on a locked roof somewhere or in one of the many secluded gardens around the university — smoking was banned everywhere.

The policy was introduced to provide a healthy environment for everyone at U of T and to protect students from second-hand smoke. This was both a bold step and a sign of good will, considering that “800 non-smokers die each year from lung cancer and heart disease through exposure to second-hand smoke,” according to U of T.

However, the policy failed to work for two reasons.

First, U of T’s administration didn’t clarify the penalties for smoking on campus. The policy simply reads, “Enforcement measures will depend on the individual’s relationship with the university, the nature of the infraction, and the place in which it occurred.” Thus, lack of clarity around consequences failed to stop people from smoking on campus.

Second, unlike UTSC and UTM, the administration at St. George also apparently didn’t think it was important to create accessible designated smoking areas, noting that community members can smoke on “city-owned property.” There were so many problems with this. For starters, people don’t know which streets are part of campus and which are not, meaning that they are not sure where they can and can’t smoke.

Further, it just doesn’t make sense for U of T to have people walking around policing students on where they can smoke and where they cannot. Hence, the policy didn’t quite take off like it was supposed to.

As a result, people are still smoking everywhere — especially with the popularity of e-cigarettes. I started noticing people taking Juul hits inside classrooms, under the table in study areas, or sometimes even in university bathrooms. While walking around, I started looking out for cigarette buds as well. I found most of them lying in front of Robarts Library, followed by the Bahen Centre for Information Technology. The findings made sense though. Those are two of the many populous places for late-night study sessions on campus, and students usually take a lot of cigarette breaks.

It was finally after these multitude of observations that I realized where students’ apathy toward the policy was coming from. It was simply from the lack of enforcement and penalization connected to the policy, and hence, we chose to ignore it.

And therefore, the smoke-free policy only exists now as a stark reminder of something that is well intended, yet ridiculous.

Business Board identifies rising international tuition as barrier to recruiting from developing countries

Gender pay gap among librarians also reviewed 

Business Board identifies rising international tuition as barrier to recruiting from developing countries

On February 3, the Business Board of U of T’s Governing Council discussed outreach efforts to international students, university debt, and annual net income, as well as shared the administrative response to gender-based salary gaps.  

U of T sees large growth in student recruitment from China, India, and the Middle East

Vice-President International Ted Sargent presented an update on the International Strategic Plan to the board, providing members with updates on U of T’s efforts in global outreach and presence. 

Sargent noted that China, India, and the Middle East were the regions that saw the most growth in the number of students at the university.

When members inquired about regions that did not see much growth, particularly Africa, Sargent acknowledged that the university did not see enrollment growth in students from lower-income regions. Sargent pointed to rising international tuition as a cause to the lack of growth in recruiting students from these regions.

“We recognize that with international intuition continuing to increase at this university, [attracting students from lower-income regions] poses a challenge for us,” said Sargent.

While Sargent did not elaborate on what actions the university plans to take to address this disparity, he affirmed that the university is taking ongoing steps “to develop strategies where [the university] can have students that are truly best of the best academically and [who want] to come to the University of Toronto.”

Debt review and financial forecast

Chief Financial Officer Sheila Brown presented the key takeaways of the Annual Review on Debt Strategy, which evaluates whether U of T’s debt strategy provides sufficient debt capacity to meet its needs. 

Brown reported that the financial forecast for the university estimates a reduction of $103 million in net income “due to a smaller projected increase in revenues for this year as compared to last year,” but did not explain further.

Brown also affirmed that the current debt policies, which were approved in 2012, continue to support the university’s capital needs. Earlier this year, U of T’s credit rating had improved from Aa2 to Aa1 by Moody’s Investor Service, a bond credit rating company which conducts analysis of the credit ratings of universities in Canada, the US, and the UK. 

The Aa1 rating is the second highest rating in Moody’s credit rating scale, and signals that the university’s income obligations are “judged to be of high quality and are subject to very low credit risk.” The improved rating means that there is a higher confidence in U of T to pay back its loans without any issues.

Addressing the gender-based salary gap

Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr explained the university’s administrative response to findings of the November 2019 report concerning gender-based salary equity among librarians at the university. The report found that on average, female librarians at the University of Toronto earn 3.9 per cent less than “comparably situated” male librarians.

Regehr announced that the university has set aside funds so that every woman librarian — of which there are 125 — will receive an increase to their 2019 base salary.

The next Business Board meeting will be held on March 18.

U of T offers emergency grant for students affected by COVID-19

Short-term financial aid for domestic, international students

U of T offers emergency grant for students affected by COVID-19

U of T is offering an emergency grant for all domestic and international undergraduate students who have been affected by COVID-19. The grant is meant to provide short-term financial support for students who have found themselves in unexpected need due to the outbreak of the virus.

The application asks students to list their sources of income and family income along with their monthly expenses in order to determine need. Students will also be asked to provide a statement detailing why they are requesting the grant. The grant has no stated minimum or maximum amount that it will provide. Instead, students total their financial need as part of their application.

Applications must be submitted directly to a student’s faculty, college, or registrar, and anyone who submits an application will receive a response within two business days. 

The university has not released any information regarding what kinds of requests will warrant the allocation of funds under this emergency grant. However, the personal statement section of the application asks students to “explain how you planned to finance your studies at the beginning of this school year, what happened to change or affect your budget and why you now require assistance.”

Ontario declared a state of emergency today, closing many businesses, such as restaurants, bars, and movie theatres. This, as well as the recent news of border closures, may contribute to added financial burdens for students.