Faculty Council: Priorities, Admissions, the TRC, and the Student Experience

Amani Rauff (2L) and Shari Nathan (2L)

The first Faculty Council meeting of the semester took place on October 5.

Priorities for the Year

Dean Iacobucci opened the meeting by discussing the Faculty’s priorities for the coming year.

The first was “enhancing student experience,” illustrations of which included Yukimi Henry’s hiring as Manager of Academic/Personal Counselling and Wellness, and the initiation of the Leadership Skills Program.

Second was continuing to prioritize the pursuit of partnerships and collaborations of various kinds, such as better collaboration between full-time and adjunct professors within the classroom, and the new office at the Faculty of Law designated for a Justice from the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The final priority was “improving our financial position.” According to the Dean, while fundraising efforts for student financial aid continue, they are in a “quiet phase where we are contacting and soliciting support… We think we’re making some significant progress but it’s still at the quiet stage at this point.” On the other side of the coin, the Faculty is looking at its spending—for instance, sharing the costs of the new library more equitably across campus.

SLS Priorities

SLS President Sarah Bittman (3L) mentioned issues that the SLS hopes to explore with the Faculty this year, including the limited spots available in competitive moots as well as the allocation of study spaces and kitchens in the new law building. Bittman also flagged mental health and wellness issues, and specifically students’ eagerness to have their voices heard and to contribute to Faculty accommodations policies. Finally, she inquired into the status of the deemed days policy. The Dean responded that a committee will be struck this fall to look into the issue.

Admissions Update

Professor Alarie presented the report of the Admissions Committee. According to Professor Alarie, “We remain a very diverse group.”

SLS Vice-President Katie Longo pointed out that, although applicants were 56% female and 44% male for the past two entering classes, offers of admission were sent out to 46% females and 54% males in 2015-2016, and 48% females and 52% males in 2016-2017. Asked to comment on possible reasons for this, the Admissions Committee only responded that more women than men tend to pursue undergraduate studies.

TRC Implementation Committee Update

Professor Sanderson gave an update on the deliberations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Implementation Committee, which has come to the conclusion that a mandatory Aboriginal Law course is not appropriate for the time being, but that Aboriginal Law material should be incorporated into existing curricula. For more detail, see “TRC Implementation Committee Update: No Mandatory Course, For Now.”

Student Experience Survey Update

Assistant Dean Archbold presented results from the Law Student Experience Survey, which was administered by the Faculty of Law.  Although students may already respond to the standardized Law School Survey of Student Engagement, which is administered at law schools across North America, the U of T Faculty of Law wanted to develop its own survey of student experience in order to tailor the questions more effectively to its student body.

The selected results presented focused on the extent to which the Faculty of Law was successful on a number of measures, including supporting students’ academic and employment success, creating an inclusive learning environment, and connecting students to the alumni network.  Student responses were generally positive, with 50% or more respondents feeling that the school was successful or very successful in those respects.  Notably, when asked about the extent to which the Faculty of Law succeeds in supporting students’ overall well-being, only 34% of respondents felt that it was successful or very successful.

For the full report of any of the committees or for the Student Experience Survey Presentation, log in to to E.Legal and click on the ‘Faculty Council’ tab.