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Senate Policy Framework

Policy Information Details
Related Documents:

Draft Senate Policy Template

Policy Checklist

1. Purpose

To establish a framework for Senate policies that supports the mission, vision, and values of Toronto Metropolitan University (the “University”) as described in the Toronto Metropolitan University Act and the University Academic Plan.

2. Application and Scope

Applies to all University policies subject to the approval of the University’s Senate. It does not apply to administrative policies.

3. Definitions

Definitions must be provided in policies where the words are uncommon or have a specific meaning in that policy.

NOTE: Definitions applicable to all Senate policies can be found in the Senate Bylaws or the Glossary in Senate Policy #2: Undergraduate Curriculum Structure.

The following definitions apply to the drafting, revising, approving, consolidating, and retiring of Senate policies.

3.1 Academic Policy
A Senate Policy (see below).

3.2 Contact Person
The person to be contacted with any queries related to the policy or procedures.

3.3 Guideline
General statements, recommendations, administrative instructions, best practices or interpretation of policy or procedures to assist users in carrying out the mandatory processes stipulated in a policy’s procedures.

3.4 Policy
A formal statement of principle or a plan that reflects the University’s values, goals, expectations or desired results related to an area under the purview of Senate. NOTE: Policy determines WHAT is to be achieved; procedures determine HOW it is to be achieved.

3.5 Policy Consolidation
The process of redrafting and consolidating into one policy a number of policies that address the same issue or subject matter, or are otherwise duplicative.

3.6 Policy Reconciliation
The process of ensuring policy statements do not conflict and that policy duplication is minimized.

3.7 Procedures
The appropriate and necessary steps required to comply with the policy.
NOTE: Policy determines WHAT is to be achieved; procedures determine HOW it is to be achieved.

3.8 Policy Review
The process undertaken to evaluate whether the stipulated purpose of the policy is still relevant and satisfied by the policy.

3.9 Policy Retirement
The process for bringing to an end the application of a policy.

3.10 Policy Update
The process for making minor amendments to a policy to reflect a change that has taken place in the University, legislation or government directives and policy.

3.11 Procedures Review
The process undertaken to evaluate whether the stipulated procedures are still relevant and satisfactory to fulfill the requirements of the policy.

3.12 Procedures Update
The process for making minor amendments to a procedure to reflect a change that has taken place in the University, legislation or government directives and policy, or process adjustment needed to carry out the requirements of the policy.

3.13 Responsible Office
The office responsible for administering or applying the policy.

3.14 Review Date
The date before which a review of the policy or procedure must commence. A Review Date will be no more than 5 years from the completion of the last Policy Review or approval by Senate of the last Policy Update.

3.15 Senate Policy
A policy that requires the approval of Senate. Senate policies relate to the academic aspects of the University and are sometimes referred to as Academic Policies.

4. Values and Principles

*The quotes below have been taken from the University’s 2020-2025 Academic Plan. Future versions of this Framework may need to be updated as the Academic Plan is updated.

4.1 Values:

4.1.1 Academic Excellence: We aspire to excellence in all our work, both inside and outside the classroom, in a way that is positive and authentic. Inclusive excellence means that a commitment to inclusion is infused throughout the University, from recruiting and admissions to curriculum development, faculty and staff hiring, administrative structures and leadership. At the same time, a focus on inclusion informs the ways in which we measure or assess excellence. Overall, the University’s commitment to providing an exceptional postsecondary experience depends on the actions and accomplishments of the entire university community.

4.1.2 Equity, Diversity & Inclusion: Equity and diversity are essential components of a modern, accessible post-secondary institution. Teaching, learning and SRC at the University are influenced by the diversity of ideas and experiences that members of our community bring. A major strength of our university comes from the diversity in our University family, which reflects the very essence of Toronto, the diverse, multicultural community we call home. Additionally, we recognize the relationship between the social and physical environment and disability, focusing on solutions to remove barriers. All students, staff and faculty are respected and appreciated as valuable members of the University community, and a commitment to equity is embedded in our everyday thinking and actions.

4.1.3 Mutual Respect and Shared Success: Respect and a commitment to shared success underpin how we work together and how we treat one another. Collaboration for mutual success shapes our work and the ways in which we measure achievement. While our daily activities might be largely independent, there is value in working toward common goals. Mutual respect must be evident in the way we communicate our ideas, how we debate and listen to each other, how we lead and make decisions, how we conduct ourselves, and how we articulate and comprehend our identities in all their diverse forms. Learning can be transformative but can also, naturally, generate discomfort – it is important, therefore, to create safe spaces for difficult conversations. Healthy discussion, where differing viewpoints are expressed, is a cornerstone of higher education. That discussion is most effective when it occurs with integrity, responsibility and respect.

4.1.4 Sustainability: Sustainability involves behaving in ways that reflect our responsibility to future generations. Sustainability also means taking meaningful action to protect the environment and being fiscally responsible while ensuring a high-quality, student-centred experience. The University is committed to pursuing environmental, social and economic sustainability through our academic programs, SRC activities, built environment, operations and policies. We recognize our individual and collective responsibility for our campus, our community and our planet.

4.1.5 Boldness: The University champions creativity, innovation and ingenuity, encouraging students, faculty and staff to think boldly, take initiative and demonstrate resourcefulness. This includes civic, cultural and social advancements that enrich society’s fabric, improve quality of life and drive responsible change. This is how we approach all our work, from how curriculum is developed and taught, to how services and systems are delivered to support the operation of the university.

4.1.6 Wellbeing: The University is committed to the success of its community by creating a safe, secure, collegial, healthy, and inclusive environment that puts people first, is supportive of the whole person and enhances the development of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Wellbeing is fundamental to positive social and academic outcomes and healthy communities. It focuses on the strengths individuals bring to our community, honouring and learning from each person’s lived experiences. It involves creating welcoming, accessible and accommodating work, learning, and social environments.

4.1.7 Access: Access to education can transform lives and communities. The University is committed to providing access to education and employment opportunities for students, faculty and staff, particularly those from marginalized, under-represented and equity-seeking groups. Access includes lifelong learning, expanding our individual and collective horizons through professional development and learning opportunities that meet students’ needs. Building on a principle of shared responsibilities, the University continues to create an environment where barriers to participation can be removed. We foster partnerships across the institution that make education more accessible to all students.

4.2 Operational Principles

4.2.1 Procedural Justice and Fairness: Perhaps the most basic operational principle is that policy and procedure should reflect procedural justice and fairness, which, in turn, involves:

4.2.2 Clarity: Policy and procedures should be clear, easy to understand, implement, and navigate, written in plain language and presented in a way that promotes clear communication. Transparency: Academic policies and the decisions derived from them should be transparent; all stakeholders involved or interacting with the policy should be able to see and understand what actions are being performed and why, and see and understand how and why outcomes are arrived at, and decisions are made. The right to be heard: Policy should ensure that there is opportunity to present one’s case and to make arguments for one’s case before decisions are made. Timeliness: Processes should be both timely and include practical timelines. Consistency: Within a framework of equity and flexibility by design policy should support and advance consistency of rules and procedures, and their application.

4.2.3 Collaborative: Policy should promote a collaborative approach in which informal resolution and problem-solving are encouraged; this collaborative approach should involve mutuality and respect.

4.2.4 Accountable: Policy should provide rules and processes that promote the acceptance of both rights and responsibilities that, therefore, lead to accountability and hold all parties answerable for their actions.

4.2.5 Educational: A central value motivating policy is to provide the best possible educational environment and policy itself should provide for the principles, rules, and practices involved in policy being well taught and well known and understood by all stakeholders.

4.3 General Principles

A policy should:

4.3.1 contain focused statements of the University’s intent, governing principles or desired results related to the subject;

4.3.2 include use of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy Lens, included as an Appendix to the Procedures;

4.3.3 be developed and reviewed through a consultation process;

4.3.4 be reviewed on a regular basis;

4.3.5 give substance to the University’s mission, vision, and values statements and the Academic Plan;

4.3.6 comply with legislation, government directives, and policy requirements;

4.3.7 provide a basis for communicating operational expectations;

4.3.8 specify the person/office to be contacted if queries related to the policy or procedures arise.

5. Roles and Responsibilities

5.1 Academic Governance and Policy Committee (AGPC) is responsible for:

5.1.1 proposing, overseeing, and periodically reviewing Senate bylaws, policies, and University procedures regarding any matter within the purview of Senate, except those matters for which responsibility is specifically assigned, to the SRCAC;

5.1.2 recommending to Senate the establishment of Policy Review Committees, each mandated by Senate to undertake a periodic review or special review of an existing policy or policy area;

5.1.3 proposing new Senate policy in areas when and where the absence of policy is demonstrably necessary or prudent, and to propose, when advisable, the formation of a Policy Development Committee to draft such policies;

5.1.4 requesting reports from other University committees, sub-committees or departments whose business has an academic policy dimension, or a substantial effect on the academic mandate or performance of the University;

5.2 Policy Development Committee (ad hoc) is responsible for:

drafting new policies in areas when and where the absence of policy is demonstrably necessary or prudent as determined and mandated by AGPC.

5.3 Policy Review Committee (ad hoc) is responsible for:

undertaking a periodic review or special review of an existing policy or policy area, as mandated by Senate;

5.4 Scholarly Research and Creative Activity Committee (SRCAC) is responsible for:

5.4.1 recommending to Senate, when necessary, the establishment of policies to promote, support, and regulate SRC activity involving the University, and to review any such existing policies;

5.4.2 initiating periodic review of the terms of reference and policies governing the Research Ethics Board by establishing a Review Committee and bringing proposed changes in such policies forward to Senate for approval.

5.5 Responsible Office is responsible for:

5.5.1 ensuring the content of policies and procedures is up-to-date and valid with respect to the stipulated purpose of the policy;

5.5.2 interpreting policies and procedures;

5.5.3 regularly reviewing policies and procedures, which includes reconciliation of the Responsible Office’s policies and procedures where applicable;

5.5.4 ensuring coordination of policies within the Responsible Office’s area of responsibility.

5.6 Secretary of Senate is responsible for managing Senate policies including:

5.6.1 assisting with development, drafting, legal review, consolidation, and retirement of policies;

5.6.2 identifying policy gaps;

5.6.3 coordinating requests for legal advice related to the drafting, revising, approving, consolidating, and retiring of Senate policies;

5.6.4 overseeing and providing advice on Senate policies and procedures, including the appropriate process to be followed for drafting, revising, approving, consolidating, and retiring of Senate policies and procedures;

5.6.5 referring inquiries about specific policies to the Responsible Office or Contact Person;

5.6.6 maintaining a directory of the current policies and procedures of Senate on the Senate website;

5.6.7 maintaining an Archive of retired Senate policies;

5.6.8 managing the Policy Review process to ensure that Senate policies are reviewed by the stipulated Review Date, or reporting to Senate reasons for scheduled reviews not occurring;

5.6.9 developing and overseeing processes for informing the University community about policies being developed, reviewed, consolidated, retired, and policies that have been approved;

5.6.10 undertaking any other policy management administration that is required.

6. Distribution and Communication

All Senate policies are posted on the Senate website. The version posted on this website is the official version.

7. Procedures

The procedures for drafting, revising, approving, consolidating, and retiring Senate policies and procedures can be found in the following Senate Policy Framework Procedures and in the Policy Template.

Senate Policy Framework – Procedures

The Toronto Metropolitan University Senate Policy Framework Procedures (the “Procedures”) establishes the processes by which Senate policies and procedures are developed, reviewed, updated, approved, consolidated, and retired.

1. Policy Review Determination

1.1 All policies (and their related procedures) must be reviewed every 5 years, or sooner if requested by the Responsible Office, AGPC or Senate. The review is to commence within 5 years of last review or update.

1.2 The Secretary of Senate will prepare a list of all policies within the purview of AGPC that are due for review in the coming year and present it to AGPC. AGPC will consult with the Responsible Office for each policy on the list to ascertain if it is up-to-date, meeting its purpose, and that the Procedures are an accurate reflection of what is actually occurring, or if a Policy Review Committee should be established.

1.3 If AGPC determines that a review is NOT necessary, a new review date will be determined, and Senate will be informed.

1.4 If AGPC determines that a review IS necessary, a Policy Review Committee (PRC) will be established.

2. Policy Review Process

2.1 If a PRC is required, the Responsible Office for that policy will recommend to AGPC the membership of the PRC, including a recommended number of people to ensure an effective, efficient, and timely process, and including whether the PRC Chair will be the Responsible Office, a designate from the Responsible Office, an AGPC member or another appropriate person.

2.2 At least one member of the PRC will be a liaison from AGPC, nominated by AGPC.

2.3 The Responsible Office may identify Resource People whose expertise may be required for the deliberations of the PRC. Resource People will not be required to attend all meetings of the PRC, but may be consulted by the Committee or invited to those meetings when their expertise is required.

2.4 Policy Review Committees will normally report to AGPC in order to ensure that appropriate coordination with other existing policies occurs, but AGPC may direct that a PRC report directly to Senate.

2.5 The PRC will gather feedback from the Responsible Office, related offices, and community stakeholders to identify policy gaps or needs (which may include recommendations for policy reconciliation and/or policy retirement). They may request support as described in the Policy, including but not limited to requesting legal advice, drafting and research assistance, and advice from the Office of the Vice President Equity and Community Inclusion.

3. Policy Development Process

3.1 Part of AGPC’s mandate is “To propose new Senate policy in areas when and where the absence of policy is demonstrably necessary or prudent, and to propose, when advisable, the formation of a special task force or sub-committee to draft such policies.”

3.2 Such Policy Development Committees will be created following the same principles that guide the formation of Policy Review Committees.

4. Incidental Amendments

4.1 The Secretary of Senate may make incidental amendments to University Senate policies and procedures, such as typographical and grammatical errors, adding definitions for clarity or making secondary changes resulting from other related policy decisions, without a full policy review, provided it does not significantly alter the meaning of the policy.

4.2 Incidental amendments are reported to AGPC, and thereafter to Senate, for information.

5. Procedures Update Process

5.1 Recommending procedural updates is normally the responsibility of the Responsible Office. Such updates will typically not alter the meaning of the policy, significantly change the procedures, or place additional responsibilities on students. Where the updates are within the purview of the Responsible Office, that office will determine the most appropriate process to draft the updates required.

5.2 Procedural updates will be recommended to AGPC, typically through the Secretary of Senate. If AGPC is satisfied that the changes are truly procedural, these will be recommended for Senate’s consent agenda (i.e. they will only be discussed at the Senate meeting if a Senate member requests a discussion). As an additional safeguard to ensure that procedural updates are not an attempt to change a policy or to make significant procedural changes without consideration by Senate, the Senate Priorities Committee (SPC) makes the final determination about what goes on the consent agenda versus what should be included for discussion and approval by Senate.

5.3 If AGPC determines that the proposed changes go beyond procedural updates, AGPC will present an appropriate motion to Senate for its consideration, one outcome of which could be that Senate establishes a Policy Review Committee to address the proposed changes.

6. Scholarly Research and Creative Activity Committee (SRCAC)

The SRCAC performs the same functions as stipulated for AGPC in these Procedures in relation to the area of responsibility specified in the Senate Policy Framework, Section 5.4.