Quotes from our feedback...
- On the Mission
- On the Campuses and Colleges
- On the process
- On Libraries
- On Faculty
There seems to be one most important strategic question missing from the draft Report. On page 23 the question is put: "what is the optimum student enrolment for the University?" And on page 41 the question is put: "What is our ideal mix of disciplines?" The missing question would be: "What is our ideal relative weighting of each discipline in the ideal mix of disciplines"?
If the university feels that "national centers of excellence" are the wrong method to advance research, it should say so at every opportunity, and not try excessively to rearrange itself to fit the appropriate criteria. I feel somewhat similarly about the current fashion that research has to serve a commercial purpose (no use harking back to the times that even companies did basic research, leading to inventions such as the laser ... whose use was far from immediately obvious).
In society at large, universities seem to be one of the few public institutions not viewed with general cynicism. It would seem worthwhile to ensure this remains the case. In consequence, I feel any long-term view should include, for example, a commitment never to undertake paid-for research with strings attached concerning publication.
Scholarship takes many different forms. In the teaching stream, faculty are engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning, in research (in both the sciences and the humanities), in teaching technologies, in community-based learning, in administration related to teaching, etc. Many professorial faculty are also engaged in these activities.
Maintain the emphasis on scholarship and research and, at the same time, support teaching-stream faculty to fully participate in innovative projects which involve undergraduate students: provide research grants for pedagogical research in order to expand and develop internship programs, mini-conferences and roundtable discussions with an interdisciplinary focus.
... in the most advanced cultures throughout civilization, the performing arts have led the way. Please encourage the University of Toronto to support the arts as central to the healing and transformation of Canadian society.
Superior lifelong learning is a critical element of every top-tier university. It adds to those universities’ abilities to contribute to individual, public, and economic well-being. Done right, it raises their profile on the international stage and makes them global contributors to the creation and export of essential knowledge.
Encouraging the integration, strategic alignment, and complementarity of U of T’s continuing education efforts will, we believe, generate an economy of scale capable of realizing significant quality benefits. This is one of the exciting prospects we see when we set our sights towards 2030.
Looking ahead to 2030, we see ... opportunities for alumni support and cultivation as critical in our effort to strengthen U of T’s third century. Standing tall among our efforts in this regard will be finding ways, as our peer institutions in the United States and the United Kingdom are doing, to answer the call for ongoing learning among the growing cohort of later-life learners (many of whom are and will be U of T graduates).
[Eventually, after spawning off its two or perhaps three suburban campuses,] the U of T would eventually revert to its roots on the St. George Campus and, through the continued expansion of the physical facilities of that campus and the faculty and staff that support that campus, the U of T could focus all of its efforts, both academically and administratively, on becoming North America’s pre-eminent educational research institution, which is a role currently not perceived to be held in Canada, and which is a role which the U of T, through its present and future faculty, staff, and student bodies is, and would continue to be, eminently qualified to achieve.
The priority of the university must be and remain to develop an excellent undergraduate student experience while increasing enrollment. The personal benefits of attending undergraduate studies are well-documented and include greater societal involvement, greater intellectual freedom, greater self-confidence, individuality, and even greater personal freedom. The financial and societal benefits are also clear. While research is certainly important, it pales next to the difference the University of Toronto makes en masse to thousands of individuals every year. I have already noted a significant change in myself. To make such improvements to people's lives is a great privilege and responsibility.
It is only sound pedagogy to nuance communicative media and channels to maximize substantive interaction with students, but I urge President Naylor and others ... to consider the university's role in maintaining as well as setting goals for societal and cultural patterns of behavior, including interpersonal interaction and the expression of ideas. ... Full accommodation to the increasing inability of students to engage in any form of meaningful expression and debate in a physical (i.e., classroom) setting is greatly undesirable.
Regardless of the different expectations, time commitments and the social norms among commuter students, the educational literature consistently notes that the classroom is their primary place of engagement with the University. We need to think hard and at length about how to assist our colleagues to use the classroom - and its virtual extension through electronic means - as a way to connect students with each other and with the institution.
More attention needs to be paid to accommodating resident students, and to government policies that enable students to afford to go out-of-town for their university education.
Under Undergraduate education, [it says that] enhancing the student experience is the University's number one priority. I agree with this perspective, but then why do we have so many students and why are we growing? These facts seem to be in contradiction with each other.
U of T is not a regional university that is striving to be an international university. It is a provincial and especially a national university, drawing the best and the brightest from across the province and Canada to the nation's most vibrant metropolis.
I think undergraduate enrolment at St. George should not increase in the future, perhaps even decrease so we're not pushing our staff and facilities past their limits. Given our already high faculty-student ratio, I certainly wouldn't want our undergraduates to see less of faculty (esp. tenure and tenure-track faculty) in the future than they do now.
As for where additional undergraduates should go if St. George doesn't take them, I like the idea (and the current fact) of UTM and UTSC growing faster than St. George. I like too the idea of considering a fourth campus in an area of population growth. Besides the other benefits, connecting to more communities in the GTA and helping reduce commute times are themselves valuable.
[Task Forces should consider] the University’s response to the changing demographic patterns in our country and especially in our Province. Within the next decade the proportion and the absolute number of people over 55 years will be around 20% and will likely continue to escalate. The challenge is to articulate how the learning needs of this group will be met, including the expansion and realignment of formal and informal academic programs and later life learning initiatives.
Two of the critical issues discussed are the extent (size) and mix (undergraduate/graduate) of future enrolment and the accommodation of growth without compromising quality. Regardless of the enrolment level ... there will be the need to attract and maintain the highest calibre of students (and of course academic and administrative staff) especially if the vision of being a leader among the world's best teaching and research universities is to be pursued.
Under Education, [it says that] that U of T is first and foremost a public university with a mandate to provide education to Ontario residents. My question is why are we loading the deck like this? Why don't we just take the best students irrespective of where they come from? Making decisions based on a meritocracy would improve the substance and image of our University.
... there was also little question of the vision of current and past 5 year plans, to be “among the world’s best public universities”. I think different, more practical ... visions are conceivable. My personal favourite is to be “Canada’s National University” in the way that Harvard/MIT and Oxbridge are in their national contexts.
I am not sure we have looked deeply enough into differing student expectations and into how they affect the way in which commuter students engage with the University. The NSSE data are not as fine-grained as one might like for such a diverse campus, with the consequence that we may tend to see commuter students mote monolithically than they really are, I would encourage institutional research to determine whether different 'communities' of commuter students exist at the University and how they wish to engage with the campus.
I am a St. George professor, but I have taught at UTM. It is clear to me that any university campus is most successful when everyone on that campus - undergraduates, graduate students, faculty - are focused on that campus. I believe the best model for the three campuses of UofT is the University of California model, where the campuses are independent, award their own degrees, and earn their own reputations.
The tension between the pedagogical value of coordinating course offerings across campuses and the administrative burden of such coordination must be resolved.
If it were my decision I would certainly be exploring very thoroughly the opportunity for U of T, over the next few years, to create a fourth campus in the northern part of the GTA. It is clear that more University level institutional space is required in the GTA and it would be, in my opinion, very appropriate for the U of T to provide leadership in filling at least a portion of that need. The U of T is certainly the most obvious leader in this regard. The U of T has, more so than any other institution, the creative knowledge, the experience and the current staffing to successfully accomplish such a project with a greater prospect of immediate success. Expansion of the existing suburban facilities would not, in my opinion, be as satisfactory a solution in terms of the potential student bodies of the future.
Colleges should be encouraged to differentiate themselves to create unique atmospheres, as Trin, Vic, and Innis have successfully done. These atmospheres should be noted in college guides to assist students in finding a home and body of students that fit their personal goals and styles. ... The balance of identity and freedom at colleges must be carefully calibrated.
The President [has] acknowledged the excellent job we have all done here at UTSC dealing with the “phenomenal growth”. I think it is very fair to say that many of us shifted our career priorities during this period and did much more administration work that would be typical of an “enrollment stable” university. This was especially true of our new hires, many of whom we could not help but ask to serve on important committees that they would normally be protected from. We simply needed bodies on building committees and hiring committees and planning committees and curriculum committess, etc ... What's more, in the sciences we hired these people and gave them very little space as we simply didn’t have it yet (and still don’t, though there is a light at the end of that tunnel that we are pretty sure is not a train). ... To now suddenly be thrown in “planning for 2030 … how do you want to grow? How much more enrollment? What new buildings? Where?”
College membership should remain as diverse as possible. We would argue against the view that there should be a greater differentiation of students across colleges, primarily for the reason implied in your document: homogeneity in a college would narrow students’ experiences. We feel that diversity is a particularly important element for residential students.
I suggest a significant effort be made to encourage our whole community, a city in of itself, to take the leadership role in restructuring our own energy infrastructure so we are more self sufficient.
• How could we encourage university staff and students to live near the workplace? Look at a variety of residential projects that would be given priority access to staff of different salary levels. Incentives to buy a condominium downtown? University and City projects to bring apartment units near the campus' so lower paid staff can also afford to live near work.
• How could we encourage staff and students to use cleaner transportation? Incentives like free or partially paid metropasses, bicycle repair, or pedometers. The costs for these services could be placed on increased parking fees.
UofT should put some resources (faculty members? Programs?) into creating the strongest possible “workforce needs prediction group” and does so in a very non-selfserving way with a “citizen of Canada” perspective.
A crucial part of the education at a great university is the encounter with people of diverse geographic [and other] backgrounds who bring their own experiences and perspectives.
What we believe you are missing is a reference to the outstanding research talents and opportunities available in Europe! ... Especially Germany has become a platform and magnet for scholars and scientists from all over the world.
Public partnerships that have their raisons d’être in a commitment to serving the “two-Gs” ought, we believe, to be a major focus for SCS moving forward. Our local communities are increasingly globalized. As a result, when we position U of T as a learning partner with resident groups of newcomers – including many highly skilled foreign educated professionals – we are simultaneously associating it with the international networks in which they are highly active.
Canada is in a metric doldrum caused mainly by the foot-dragging of the USA. The University of Toronto should be completely metric by its two hundredth anniversary.
Is the document ambitious enough? Big issues have been identified, but the questions have largely been framed in conservative tones. What is the right balance between “x” and “y”. There is little challenge of the fundamental basis of what we do – at least not overtly. ... I am more inclined to challenge the basic assumptions, reject the challenge through careful argument and thereby strengthen the case for the “radical conservatism” that is expressed in this document.
Everything from reducing ... costs to students (time, books and tuition) and faculty frees up resources for imagination and research. Do it with pizazz.
2030, not a real good name for a “long-term vision” process. In optometry terms is suggests someone who can see at 20 feet what most people can see at 30 … basically a short-sighted individual. 2020 would have been better, but clearly too ambitious. I just thought I’d mention that as sometimes optics matter, and this could become a joke that lingers for, oh, 23 years.
The dramatic increase in the number of electronic resources ... has serious implications for staffing the technical services departments of the various libraries around U of T... . In my opinion it is time to start the process of completely restructuring the libraries at U of T in terms of reporting relationships, staffing, management, and funding – beginning with our subscription and electronic acquisitions funds. We could be using our total library resources more efficiently and effectively by reallocating existing funds to ease the burden on central acquisitions.
How the faculty is organized, how their work is conceived and motivated within the system, their ability to carry growing expectations regarding research and teaching together with new fiscal responsibilities, the role of the tenure system and other reward systems, the wage gap and the comparative quality of working conditions between academia and other work/career milieux, the availability of new faculty for growth - all must be factored into the preparation for successful planning and change.
On creating a better pedagogic environment for undergraduates: Increasing the number of teaching-stream faculty can help, but only in conjunction with a more uniform recognition of the importance of those faculty members -- we need to ensure that teaching-stream faculty are consistently treated as full-fledged faculty members and not only as "glorified TA's". Currently, there appears to be considerable variation in this regards, depending on the academic unit.