Last Wednesday, the UTM’s Campus Council had its final meeting of the 2018 semester. Topics included enrollment rates, future construction plans, and fee increases in residence and parking were discussed.

Registrar and Director of Enrollment Management Loretta Neebar began the meeting with an update on enrollment in the past year.

This past year, intake from Fall 2018 to Fall 2019 increased by approximately 11%. At the same time, admission averages from Ontario Secondary School applicants increased from 84.5% to 84.9% and entrance awards will be at an all-time high. Neebar described the cumulative graduation rates as “quite healthy compared to some institutions in the province.”

“We’ve had a very strong year,” said Neebar. “Our intake was significantly higher than the previous year [because of a] higher yield than anticipated in offers of admission.” She went on to say that the increase in enrolment was good for UTM in terms of the university’s provincial and global profile.

Principal Ulrich Krull reported to council highlighted some future aspirations for the University. He expressed pride in the University Pension Plan, which is jointly sponsored with the University of Guelph and Queens University.  Krull reminded the council that while the University’s smoking policy comes into effect January 1st 2019, negotiations are ongoing regarding the policy’s requirement that smoking only occurs on public property.

Krull stated that there will be eight to twelve designated smoking areas scattered across the campus, which will be removed each year until they are fully eliminated from campus. Krull also showed the council building proposals for the new science building that will be connected to Davis.

“We all know that we have been growing and we have not been able to build as fast as we’ve grown. Those pressures have been with us for over 10 years and we’re still struggling,” said Krull.

According to the principal, a lot of pressure is coming from the sciences to have more space, and he sees an interesting opportunity for a “collision of disciplines,” which could indicate a new building for Arts, Culture and Technology (ACT).

Krull also wanted to focus on a vision for the University Fund, asking, “what could we do for our students to improve their abilities to graduate” with a focus on maximizing their overall experience. He says the university’s budget will try to focus more on experiential learning, paid co-op opportunities, and internship courses in the future. Krull also stated that the university is looking to plan counselling hours for all students with an advisor for their career success.

Krull later touched on the vulnerability of the university if international students were unable to study at UTM. The majority of UTM’s international students come from China, India, and Pakistan. In addition to the currency devaluation in African countries that are unable to support students studying overseas, Krull highlighted that UTM would be significantly impacted if China were to ever withdraw its students.

The University Ombudsperson Ellen Hodnett also spoke at the governing council meeting. The Ombudsperson is responsible to respond to requests for assistance from members of the university community as well as alert governing council of systemic issues meriting review. She made three recommendations to Council in the meeting. Her first recommendation was for a better system of protection for whistleblowers with serious allegations against academic units while investigations are underway. Hodnett also called for the campus police to be more responsive to the Ombudsperson’s inquiries. Lastly, Hodnett recommended that graduate schools review their internal policies to ensure greater transparency.

During the meeting, Chief Administrative Officer of the UTM Service Ancillaries Budgets Saher Fazilat announced that parking pass prices are set to increase. CCT parking passes will be increased by twenty per cent, and the rest of the parking prices will increase at only 2% instead of 3%. The percentage difference being supplemented by the increase of the CCT parking passes.

Fazilat stated that the increase was based on the popularity and needed improvements in the CCT garage.

Meal plans will increase by 2%. Other retail food outlets will increase by two to three per cent.

For residence fees, she says the majority will be increased by 4%-5%, with a substantial increase in Putnam place because of renovation costs. Fazilat stated that these changes are a preview for what will come in the January Campus Council meeting.

Nominations for elected campus council positions for students will open on January 7th and close January 18th. Four positions are available: two full-time, one part-time, and one graduate student position.

The next campus council meeting is scheduled to be held on January 30th, 2019.