Senior College is a community of retired academics and librarians in the University of Toronto. Its membership includes all retired academics and librarians of the University. These members have access to the facilities and programs offered by the Senior College Centre, a physical space provided by the University at 256 McCaul Street on the southern edge of the St. George campus in downtown Toronto. The administrative offices of the College, a lounge, study and meeting space are also located there on the fourth floor.
Members of Senior College who wish to be more actively involved in the activities and running of the College may opt to become Fellows upon payment of an annual fee. Spouses and partners of Members and academic retirees from other post-secondary institutions may also become Fellows. Fellows also become members of the University of Toronto Faculty Club where many of the Senior College events take place.
In 2005, members of RALUT (Retired Academics and Librarians of the University of Toronto) held a one-day symposium to hear about the ongoing research of some of the University’s retirees. After a few years of these symposia, a group of participants decided that once a year was not enough and undertook to form a College which could sponsor on a continuing basis intellectual exchange and activities within the academic retiree community. To this end, Senior College was founded in 2010. The founding Fellows had a clear idea about the kind of college they wished to create. The college’s primary mission was to build a community in which senior scholars from all of the academic disciplines could share the fruit of their continuing scholarship and enjoy intellectual exchange without the constraints of their academic careers. The raison d’etre of Senior College continues to be the support and stimulation of the intellectual interests of its members. To this end it has launched a wide range of programs which are outlined below. The College began as a program of the University of Toronto’s Academic Retiree Centre (ARC) at 256 McCaul Street. The creation of ARC was one of the conditions in the 2005 agreement between the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto Faculty to end mandatory retirement. In 2014, the five-year Provostial Review of ARC recommended that ARC become the Senior College Centre and be merged with Senior College, and that all retired University of Toronto faculty and librarians should become Members of Senior College with the option of paying a fee to become a Fellow of the College. The Review Panel’s recommendations were accepted by the Provost and Senior College to be implemented in 2015.
Senior College operates at two locations.
The Senior College Centre is at 256 McCaul, suite 412, where it has a reception lounge, open from 9 to 4:30, Monday to Friday. The College’s administrative offices and meeting rooms are also at this location, directly across the street from the Examination Centre.
The College can be contacted:
The College’s seminars, colloquia and other events take place at the University of Toronto Faculty Club, 41 Willcocks Street.
The College has two levels of membership. All retired faculty, librarians and senior administrators of the University of Toronto are automatically Members of Senior College. No fee is charged for being a Member of the College. Members who are interested in becoming actively engaged in the College’s academic programs have the option of becoming Fellows of Senior College. Fellows of the College pay an annual fee, to support both College activities and cover membership in the Faculty Club.
Information about the current Fellow’s fee and how to become a Fellow is on the College’s website.
Retirees from other colleges and universities, or knowledge-based institutions, senior alumni of the University of Toronto, and spouses of Fellows may also be Fellows of Senior College. They pay the annual Fellow’s fee. Spouses of Fellows pay the College portion of the fee.
The Fellows govern the College, organize its academic programs and have priority in seating at the College’s academic events.
Members of the College who are not Fellows have access to the Senior College Centre’s services, are kept informed of the College’s academic programs and can attend College events to the extent that seating is available.
Weekly Seminars: Once a week during the fall and winter terms the College hosts a seminar at the Faculty Club. These weekly meetings are at the centre of the intellectual life of Senior College. Many speakers are Fellows who talk about recently published work. Some speakers are not-yet-retired scholars with whose work College Fellows have been closely associated.
A multidisciplinary Program Committee ensures the academic diversity of the topics covered. Questions and comments in the second hour of the seminar provide opportunities for lively exchange. In no other part of the University are assumptions about the very nature of knowledge and intellectual inquiry so frequently cross-examined.
For many Fellows the seminars are an opportunity to explore subjects for which they had no time during their academic career.
A light lunch is available before or after the seminars, and light refreshments are provided
at the “break” in the seminar.
Monthly Colloquia: Colloquia enable small groups of Fellows to engage in more intensive and sustained discussions than is possible at the seminars. The Colloquia Committee canvasses the Fellows for interesting topics. Some of the topics arise out of discussion at the larger seminars. There is no speaker at colloquia. A short reading list is provided for participants. Participation is capped at fifteen.
Annual Symposium: In the spring of each year, the College hosts a one-day public symposium on a subject of current importance. Speakers include scholars at the frontier of research on the subject as well as community leaders active in the field at the practical level. There is ample opportunity for the audience to question speakers and add their own comments. Over the years, the Symposium Committee has arranged outstanding programs on such themes as “Immigration and Multiculturalism”, “Challenges Facing the City” and “The Brain and Us.”
The University’s Living History: Among the Fellows of Senior College are many who helped to build the disciplines, faculties and centres that not only have shaped teaching and research at the University of Toronto but have also been major influences on scholarship in Canada and the world. It is their living memory that is building a digital encyclopaedia/history of the University of Toronto. This Wikipedia-like reference work has accumulated thousands of entries covering the University’s academic leaders, institutions, student life and major events. It draws heavily on the College’s life-writing program and the University’s oral history.
University-in-the Community: In partnership with Innis College and the Workers Education Association (WEA), Senior College provides university-level education to Torontonians who for financial, health, family or other reasons are unable to attend university. WEA recruits students for the program through a network of community centres. Innis College provides class-room space. Senior College assists WEA in designing the program, finding volunteer lecturers and raising funds to support the program’s administrative needs. Courses are humanities oriented. Recently a second “campus” of the program was opened at the Canadian Association of Mental Health (CAMH).
Continuing Research and Scholarship: For the Fellows and Members of Senior College “retirement” is a misleading term. Many scholars in their post-salary years continue to contribute to their universities, their academic fields and to the larger community. The College produces the Senior Scholars Annual, a compendium of information about the awards, honours, publications, invited lectures, teaching and community contributions of retirees in the previous year. Although the Annual is by no means a complete account of retirees’ research and community activities, it is impressive evidence of the on-going achievements of academic retirees.
While the research of some Fellows and Members of the College continues to be supported by large grants from the national granting Councils, small grants for hiring research assistants, doing field wok and presenting research results at scholarly conferences are generally not available for retirees. One of the College’s fund-raising priorities is to provide small grants for Fellows of the College.
The office of the Senior College Administrator is at the Centre on McCaul Street. With the help of volunteers the Centre is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday, to take phone calls or receive visitors. The Centre assists callers with questions about retiree benefits or pensions by finding the appropriate office of the University to contact.
The Centre provides or finds space for committee meetings. It organizes social events and displays of retiree art in its lounge area. The Centre maintains a Speakers Bureau that enables retires to share their knowledge with groups in the community ranging from high schools to seniors homes.
The Centre publishes an online newsletter with articles about policy and health issues of interest to seniors, news about retiree achievements, as well as obituaries. It organizes instructional sessions on CPR and the use of defibrillators, and the use of the Internet.
The Centre plans to assist Members in organizing retirees at the Faculty and Departmental levels to provide, among other things, mentoring services and social events.
The Fellows of Senior College constitute the Senate, the College’s governing body. The Senate adopts and amends the College’s Constitution and annually elects the College Council. The College’s Constitution is posted on its website.
The College Council directs the academic activities of the College and elects from its membership the College’s officers – the Principal, Vice-Principal, Registrar, Bursar, Communications Director, and the Chairs of the College’s Standing Committees.
The College’s Executive Committee is responsible for implementing decisions of Council and making recommendations to Council. It consists of the officers of the College and the chairs of Standing Committees.
The College’s Standing Committees do most of the detailed planning and monitoring of the College’s academic activities. They include committees for the following purposes: Budget, Fund-Raising, Membership, Nominating, Program, Annual Symposium, Colloquia and University-in-the-Community.
The Board of Management of the Senior College Centre directs the activities of the Centre. The Board comprises representatives of the University of Toronto’s Office of the Vice-President and Provost, officers and members of Senior College, representatives of UTFA, including its retiree committee, and representatives of University of Toronto faculty and librarians who have not retired. The Board is chaired by a representative of the Provost’s office. The Principal of Senior College is the co-chair.
How is the College Staffed?
The College has only one paid staff, the College Administrator, whose position is not yet full-time. The College relies on volunteers to keep Senior College Centre open from 9am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday. Chairs and members of committees are expected to play a major role in organizing the College’s academic programs.
The University of Toronto funds the Senior College Centre. The fees paid by Fellows contribute to the funding of the College’s academic programs. With the assistance of the Office of Advancement, the College engages in fund-raising activities. The priority targets of its fund-raising, approved by the Provost, are small research grants for Fellows, editorial assistance for the digital university encyclopaedia/history, the Annual Symposium and University-in-the-Community.
To view this as a booklet please click here:Senior College Booklet