> Home Completing the term: Messages from the Dean Further Arrangements to Complete the Academic Term

Further Arrangements to Complete the Academic Term

March 30, 2015

To:                    Undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff in the Faculty of Arts & Science
From:                David Cameron, Dean
Re:                    Further Arrangements to Complete the Academic Term

I would like to say how relieved and happy I am that, effective Friday, March 27, the CUPE 3902 Unit 1 strike is over. We are now in the process of welcoming back our colleagues – our course instructors, teaching assistants, lab assistants, markers, graders, and invigilators. Now is the time for us all to re-affirm the values of civility and generosity that characterize the Faculty of Arts & Science at its best. These qualities will serve us well as we work together to return to more normal operations.

It is clear that we are not yet back to normal. Our most immediate priority remains ensuring that undergraduate students will be able to complete their courses and progress in their degrees and that those who are on track to graduate in June are able to do so. Our Grading Practices Policy has helped us to make some of the necessary adjustments. As well, the commitments we have made to our students as outlined in my March 23, 2015 email entitled Completing the Term still hold. That is, we are still extending the deadline for students to choose Credit/No Credit (CR/NCR) or cancel (drop) courses without academic penalty until after they have seen their final grades (up until May 20, 2015).

While the strike is now over, the impact on some courses has been significant, and additional measures will be needed to resolve some key issues. In some cases, for example, because we are now in the final week of classes, there may not be time for the instructor to give advance in-class notice of a vote to change the course marking scheme as required by the Grading Practices Policy.

The University of Toronto Policy on Academic Continuity permits us, where necessary, to make adjustments to our academic offerings in order to achieve a constructive outcome for this academic year. Under this policy, a declaration of academic disruption will furnish our instructors and departments with the tools necessary to enable our undergraduate students to complete their courses.

In order to provide further clarification, the FAQs below will be posted to the Faculty of Arts & Science Current Students website.

It is important that we all work together to complete this academic year as effectively as we can. In particular, I ask instructors and departments to be as flexible and as understanding as possible of the needs and anxieties of our undergraduate students. The end of the academic year is stressful for all students at the best of times; this year, as we recover from the labour disruption, it is even more so.


What is a declaration of academic disruption in a course and how does it work?   

Under the Policy on Academic Continuity, a declaration of an academic disruption in a course indicates that the academic operations in that course will not proceed as normal, and that changes may be made in areas such as course requirements and modes of evaluation.  Declarations will be made on an individual course-by-course basis as needed for Faculty of Arts & Science Y and H courses offered during the 2015 Winter term. 

Instructors have primary responsibility and authority to make changes to their courses. It is expected that the request for a declaration in a course will be initiated by the instructor in consultation with the unit head. Requests will be submitted to the Dean’s Office via the head of the department or other academic unit offering the course.  Final approval will be at the Provostial level. These requests will be expedited by the Dean’s Office, and the Provost’s Office will turn them around quickly.  The Dean’s Office will maintain a record of all approved declarations.

What are some examples of the kinds of changes that could be made under the declaration of an academic disruption?

One example would be where a change to a marking scheme is deemed necessary to ensure students are fairly assessed, but without sufficient time for a class vote as required by the Grading Practices Policy. Another example, which will be relatively rare, would be where there is a very limited ability to obtain and mark student work. In this example, a change in grade scale may be required. This might mean assigning all students in the class a general grade (A/B/etc.) or Credit/No Credit (CR/NCR), rather than the normal refined grade (A+, A, A-) plus numeric mark. 

When and how will students know if they are in a course that is subject to a declaration of academic disruption?

If feasible, the instructor will discuss the need for such a declaration with students. As soon as possible after the declaration has been approved, the instructor or the department will inform students, via Blackboard or email, of the reason for the declaration and of the changes that will be made to the course under this provision.