On September 14, the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus Affairs Committee had its first meeting for the 2020/2021 academic year.
The 34-member committee deals with matters directly concerning student and campus life, working to monitor, review, and make recommendations for the effective use of UTM campus resources.
Some items included in the agenda were key portfolio challenges and priorities for the year and the campus Fall re-entry plan. These agenda items included presentations from the Office of the Dean, the chief administrative officer, and Student Affairs and Services.
The Institute for the Study of University Pedagogy (ISUP) began operating this year after its debut in the 2017 UTM Academic Plan and is considered to be the centre for research on training and learning at UTM. The interim director of ISUP, Ruth Childs, will be overseeing the process of hiring five new faculty members at the institute.
Moreover, UTM has begun its search for the hiring of 29 new faculty positions for the development of research clusters at undergraduate and graduate levels. Additionally, efforts are underway to enhance diversity, specifically through mentor support programs for Black and Indigenous Faculty.
The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer presented their initiatives to manage Covid-19 impacts, which include ensuring staff and students have adequate resources, developing a long-range financial and ancillary plan, and revising the long-term strategy for Hospitality and Retail Services.
Saher Fazilat, UTM’s chief administrative officer, emphasized that they are also continuing to maintain relationships with public agencies like Metrolinx, working on hybrid course delivery models, and sustainability on campus.
The office of Student Affairs and Services stated that they would be continuing to develop the Student Services Common, which isn’t predicted to be completed this academic year.
While the department aims to maintain its available supports for students impacted by Covid-19, multiple projects have been postponed. Three of the delayed initiatives include the opening of the Health and Counselling Centre’s new counselling space, expansions to first-year student residence accommodations, and developments to the campus’ outdoor fields.
Regarding the fall campus re-entry plan, the meeting included detailed outlines on the Covid-19 prevention and maintenance initiatives, physical distancing measures, and the hybrid delivery of instructional courses. A total of 118 rooms were mapped out as well as the layout of public and outdoor spaces, which were all in accordance with the two-metre distancing policies.
Moreover, the physical distancing measures implemented include arranging wrapped seats as separators, direction signage to control traffic, and pre-installed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
On the administrative side, the committee discussed the effectiveness of the UTM Operational Readiness Committee and the Managed Mask Distribution Program which were established in the start of the summer, and have been enforcing the measures mentioned above ever since.
The next Campus Affairs Committee meeting will be held via a virtual meeting room on October 22 and is accessible through the Office of the Governing Council website.