The first town hall meeting of the academic year, held last Tuesday, discussed various projects the University of Toronto Mississauga will undertake over the next five years, intended to address the issues of campus learning and study spaces.
With UTM’s enrolment growth, the campus’s principal, Ulrich Krull, elaborated on the Campus Master Plan, which focuses on the reconstruction of the North Building Phase B.
The new building will house the departments for English and drama, philosophy, historical studies, language studies, political science, and sociology, along with new active learning classrooms and administrative space.
“What I want to do is give you a sense as to how we’re treating this amalgamation, holistically, including programs, space—where we’re going in the plan in terms of improving the overall capability of students here. There are multiple pieces that have to fall into place. If you want to attract students, then we have to worry about things like recruitment, scholarships, and the kind of programs we put in,” stated Krull.
According to UTM’s principal, the administration is looking to revitalize the research component of the university, creating innovative ways to hone students’ skills and prepare them for the university experience and post-graduation.
“Now we have to take a look at what the mantra, the vision, is at the University of Toronto. This is an institution that prides itself on excellence in research, which feeds the undergraduate experience,” Krull said.
Krull added that the provincial government has largely been interested in funding the construction of classrooms and teaching laboratories.
According to Krull, the science departments that have the ability to hire staff are unable to due to lack of research class space.
The university has invested over $100 million dollars in the construction project to build a science building, according to Krull. “It will be one of the investments we make to change the nature of this campus and how we are all perceived.”
Krull also spoke about innovative ways of learning that will enhance undergraduates’ skills with a focus on communications, including writing, numeracy, verbal, and visual.
The intention is to create “modules” designed to teach students a specific skill. The modules will be held outside of a student’s regular program, but will still be embedded in the program they’re interested in.
Krull stated that the modules are still in their earliest phases of being developed.
There will be one module for every year a student is at UTM in a traditional four-year degree.
Krull sees these modules as a new and innovative way to help foster the best learning environment for students coming to UTM.
“The end result is that students coming through will be expected to take these modules because we know they will help them survive the university experience and prepare them so they can be leaders on graduation. It’s something that can really help students so that they’re better prepared in the university and when they leave. All of these projects have been conceptualized. None of it is fully developed,” Krull concluded. “It is something we will be coming to the community to develop over time.”
The town hall meeting also discussed changes to the library. UTM’s interim librarian, Shelley Hawrychuk, wants to focus on hiring more staff and librarian positions, as well as creating a more studious atmosphere in the library.
“There have been noise and food problems in previous years, and we want the library to have a more academic image,” Hawrychuk stated. To tackle this problem, the library has removed all the large tables on the fourth floor and has replaced them all with study carrels.
“We want to create a culture that the library is quiet or silent at all times,” she added. “It’s not a different library, it’s a better library.”
The next town hall meeting is scheduled to take place on October 23rd in IB150.