Amy Mullin, UTM’s vice-principal, academic and dean, held a town hall last Friday in the Faculty Club to discuss the UTM Academic Divisional Plan, a detailed outline of the vision for the future of UTM.
The plan was compiled through feedback from departments, institutions, faculty, and students, and dealt with a wide range of issues facing UTM. It was intended to focus on the core values that make U of T an internationally renowned institution. The August draft of this document has been available for over a month now to the UTM community, and some town hall meetings have been held since then to establish a dialogue between staff and students and to gather students’ opinions on the plan itself.
A total of four students attended the meeting, including Andrew Ursel and two staff members of The Medium. Mullin sat down at the table to address questions about the Academic Plan and issues that have been raised over the past year, such as potential changes to how writing skills will be taught at UTM. She also discussed the steps being taken by the vice-dean to better inform the student body about the Academic Code of Conduct and what constitutes an academic offence, with a focus on prevention.
Mullin was asked about the plan’s measures for improving students’ writing skills. “The approach I favour is the ‘writing for the disciplines’ approach,” she replied. “That is to say that instead of a mandatory, expository writing course that students have to take, we should instead invest more writing skills in courses students want to take already, where they can learn academic writing for their discipline.”
On the one hand, this method would put the responsibility on the professors in each department to teach content-specific writing skills. On the other hand, it would provide students with more specialized writing skills for their industry.
Other topics discussed were the changes to the Work-Study program (which is no longer funded by the government), the integration of experiential learning in different departments, the hiring of new faculty, and the reworking of the utmONE program.
Mullin encouraged students to read the Academic Plan, which can be found by searching “divisional plan” on UTM’s website, and emphatically requested feedback.
“I just think it’s important if students are unhappy with some of the ideas they should make their views known, just as if they are happy with them,” she concluded. “We just think it’s important to recognize the distinctiveness of what we are here at
U of T.”