Faculty Council: Dean Pulls Intersession Vote, Cites Lack of Discussion on Details

Exercising his authority as Chair, Dean Iacobucci chose to remove the proposed Intersession vote from the agenda of the January 17 meeting of Faculty Council. The meeting began with a discussion of the Federation of Law Societies’ recent decision to remove the national requirement that made Business Organizations a mandatory class at U of T Law. The Dean and others discussed the possibility that an Indigenous Law class would become a mandatory requirement in the future. Faculty members and the Dean expressed concern over the “continuing intrusion by the law society into our curriculum.”

The Dean announced that international SJD tuition will be lowered to match domestic tuition, following a university-wide change to international graduate student tuition. SLS President Katie Longo expressed concern that costs for Law Ball are increasing year over year. GLSA President Haim Abraham highlighted a donated espresso machine to their kitchen. The Faculty Council approved $314,120 CAD in endowment for financial aid.

Intersession Update

Dean Iacobucci, in light of consultation results, has deferred vote as Chair of Faculty Council. Consequently, there will not be an intersession for the 2018–19 academic year.

The Curriculum Committee will take this time to respond to student and faculty concerns. The proposal is still expected to be submitted later this spring.

Dean Iacobucci expressed disappointment at pulling the vote, but said that more time was needed to come up with answers for some of concerns raised in consultation. He said, “The details haven’t been out there for discussion, I get that.” Although the Dean does not expect that all stakeholders will be satisfied by the solutions offered, he is hopeful that the Intersession will be approved for the 2019–20 academic year.

SLS President Longo said that students are pleased that they have been heard. She stressed the importance of students having a say in what happens to their education and expressed gratitude that student concerns were met with a listening response.

Academic Plan Update

Next, the Dean discussed the academic plan prepared by his office to outline the Faculty’s direction until 2022. The plan, which calls the Faculty a “Canadian and global jewel,” was prepared with feedback and consultation from the Associate Deans, faculty, staff, graduate and JD students, and alumni. It is mainly intended to be read by stakeholders at the University of Toronto.

Presenting the plan, Dean Iacobucci highlighted student financial aid as a priority, and discussed his efforts to include statements combatting what he perceives as a push towards anti-intellectualism in legal education. Dean Iacobucci cited the new Ryerson law school’s focus on job skills as well as the emphasis by the government on schools that produce “job-ready candidates” as evidence that legal education is moving away from academic to more practical perspectives. The Dean called this approach “misguided” and said the faculty share his view that U of T Law should teach “not just what the law is but how to find the law and how to think about the law.” While the Dean’s plan acknowledges the suite of co-curricular skills-based opportunities available, he emphasized that U of T Law is fundamentally dedicated to an academic, intellectual approach to legal education.