Senate Meeting Synopsis for September 1, 2020

Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2020

The first and a special Senate meeting of the 2020-21 Senate Session was held on September 1, 2020 and was chaired by President Charlotte Yates. 

University Secretary Gen Gauthier-Chalifour commenced the meeting with a territorial land acknowledgment, and Senate orientation. 

Leadership Updates

The President, Dr. Charlotte Yates, opened the meeting expressing excitement for her first Senate meeting as President and Vice-Chancellor, and Chair of Senate. The President began by welcoming Interim Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dr. Gwen Chapman, and interim deans Dr. Byron Sheldrick and Dr. Gerarda Darlington. Dr. Yates also extended condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Paul Rowntree, Chair of the Department of Chemistry, following his sudden passing. 

Dr. Yates provided an update on the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and groups anticipated to be on campus in the Fall, the importance of  continued consultation with and updates delivered to Senate, and anticipated changes once the University enters the next phase of re-opening. Dr. Yates noted that due to the pandemic, a virtual convocation ceremony will be scheduled for October 28, 2020 and an official communication would be forthcoming. 

Dr. Yates provided an update on the ongoing search for the Vice-President (Finance and Operations), and noted the upcoming search for the Provost and Vice-President (Academic) while encouraging Senators to consider becoming actively involved. The President also announced the search for a new Chancellor will commence in Fall 2021. 

Dr. Yates highlighted consultation with government over the summer months, particularly around efforts to address concerns of international students. 

Finally, Dr. Yates highlighted emerging presidential priorities, including the acceleration of goals associated with the Strategic Framework and fulfilling the University’s mission to Improve Life in a sustainable world.  Dr. Yates noted that development of presidential priorities will include a listening phase over the upcoming months and in four key areas – to build on the University’s global reputation for excellence, to ensure financial sustainability of the University today and in future, to prioritize interdisciplinary thinking in curriculum, research and sustainable operations, and to commit to build an equitable and diverse community. 

Assistant Vice-President (Diversity and Human Rights) Indira Naidoo-Harris provided an update on the work of the Office of Diversity and Human Rights, including efforts to address racist incidents within the University of Guelph community and the development of new resources for the University community around equity, diversity and inclusion. 

The Provost delivered a presentation to Senate, including an update on the renewal of the Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA3), Fall planning and enrolment tracking, and key areas of focus for the upcoming year. Dr. Chapman noted that in consultation with the Vice-President Academic’s Council, academic priorities for the year will include internationalization, student success, and program innovation, with financial sustainability and equity, diversity and inclusion woven through the three priority areas. 

The Vice-President (Research), Dr. Malcolm Campbell, provided an update on the work of the Office of Research including the introduction of a new protocol to phase-in research, and the University’s role as a leader amongst Ontario universities in this regard. Dr. Campbell noted the University’s Strategic Research Plan as being leveraged to aid in this success.

A written update from the Return to Campuses Steering Committee was provided. Dr. Andrew Bailey, member of the Steering Committee, responded to questions and concerns regarding the return to campus.

Key Business Items and Approvals

Other key items of business at the meeting included:

•    Approval of a co-op option in the Criminal Justice and Public Policy Program.
•    Approval of a co-op option in Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics.
•    Approval of a new Certificate in Indigenous Environmental Governance.
•    Approval of the temporary extension of alternate tests of English Proficiency for admission and SAT admissions pilot at the undergraduate level.
•    Approval of regularizing alternate tests of English proficiency for admission purposes at the graduate level.
•    Items presented for information, including: synopsis of the Board of Governors meeting held on June 21, 2020, update on the Senate Governance review, undergraduate curriculum changes, update on the Senate standing committee membership for 2020-21 and student medal announcements for the 19-20 academic year.

More Information

The complete meeting agenda package is available on the University Secretariat’s Governance Portal and includes detailed information on the items listed above.  The official record of the meeting is the meeting minutes, which will be available following their approval at the next regularly scheduled Senate meeting.

Upcoming Senate Meetings

The next regular meeting of Senate is scheduled to take place on Monday, October 5, 2020.

Meetings are open to the public and visitors who wish to attend should contact the University Secretariat at

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