Establishment of the University Resilience Project Team (RPT)

From: Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President and Provost 
To: PDAD&C, PM listserv 
Date: March 4, 2022

As the University of Toronto moves forward from the past two years of pandemic management, I would like to thank all members of the University community who have stepped forward to steer our course through this historic and difficult time. As a result of your hard work, we are balancing the diverse priorities and challenges that have arisen as a result of COVID-19, all in service of our educational mission to offer outstanding learning experiences to our students.  

This work has been led by the immensely dedicated members of the Response and Adaptation Committee (RAC) and the Response and Adaptation Unit (RAU), expertly chaired over the past year by Professor Salvatore Spadafora, Presidential Advisor on COVID-19. Their competence and commitment to the health, safety, and wellbeing of our students, staff, faculty and librarians have been invaluable over the past two years. This team has been supported by the tremendous efforts of multiple working groups with membership from across the University.   

As of March 31, 2022, we will begin shifting from critical incident response to an approach that focuses increasingly on long-term adaptation and evolution. As U of T embarks on this next stage, it is essential that we build upon the work and insights gained over the past two years. I am therefore pleased to announce the formation of the University Resilience Project Team (RPT), which, through consultation with the current RAC/RAU team, will guide the University’s gradual transition to this next phase. The RPT will be supported by an Executive Advisory Committee and a transitional operations team comprised of representatives from across the three campuses. 

The RPT will work across institutional offices to enable a safe and full return to campus, to capitalize on the innovations developed during the pandemic, and to build strategies for long-term institutional resilience. At the same time, the RPT will work with academic divisions and tri-campus portfolios to co-ordinate specific, short-term, and immediate decisions that may be presented by COVID-19.  

The RPT will be comprised of an expert team of senior administrators and led by the Provostial Advisor on University Resilience, Professor Nicholas Rule, who currently services as Chair of the Department of Psychology and recently completed a term as Interim Vice-Dean, Undergraduate in the Faculty of Arts & Science. Appointed to the University Resilience Project Team are: 

  • Professor Nicholas Rule, Provostial Advisor on University Resilience 
  • Chris Boutet, Director, Digital Content and Engagement, University of Toronto Communications
  • Elizabeth Church, Senior Lead, Strategic Projects and Initiatives, Office of the Vice-President and Provost 
  • Elizabeth Cragg, Director, Office of the Vice-President, Operations & Real Estate Partnerships
  • David Lock, Coordinator, Academic Planning & Reviews, Office of the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs
  • Cherilyn Nobleza, Executive Director, HR Transformation and Analytics, Office of the Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity and Culture
  • Meredith Strong, Senior Lead, COVID-19, Students Matters, Office of the Vice-Provost, Students 
  • Rachel Zand, Director, Human Research Ethics Unit, Research Oversight and Compliance Office, Division of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation
  • Jas Seahra, Administrative Assistant 

Brief biographies of the RPT members can be found below.

Members of this team will marshal resources from their respective portfolios to contribute to the RPT’s work. Divisional and campus processes and committees that have been established over the past two years to respond to pandemic concerns will continue their work as needed and, to coordinate efforts, will liaise with the RPT, which will run through June 2023.  

The pandemic has been immensely challenging for many members of the University community, and I commend all levels of our staff, faculty, and librarians for their dedication. I look forward to moving into this new phase under the skillful guidance of the University Resilience Project Team. Please join me in welcoming all of them to their new roles. 

More about the University Resilience Project Team 

Professor Nicholas Rule: Professor Rule was recently appointed Provostial Advisor on University Resilience. Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts & Science, his research focuses on social perception and cognition. A former Tier-II Canada Research Chair, Professor Rule has received numerous awards, including from the International Social Cognition Network, the International Academy for Intercultural Research, and the Ministry of Research and Innovation of Ontario. He formerly served as Interim Vice-Dean, Undergraduate in the Faculty of Arts & Science. 

Chris Boutet: Chris Boutet is an award-winning digital storyteller with over 14 years’ experience creating impactful and engaging content strategies on social media, video, web and mobile. Chris has been the Director of Digital Content and Engagement at University of Toronto since 2016, where his team manages the University’s main social media channels and the design, development and content strategies for and the UTogether website. 

Elizabeth Church: Elizabeth Church has supported the University’s pandemic response since March 2020, and serves as Senior Lead, COVID-19 Strategy and Communications with the RAU. A former national reporter with the Globe and Mail, Liz has served as Issues and Media Strategist and Director of Stakeholder Relations with University of Toronto Communications and has significant expertise in working with divisions and senior leaders on major institutional projects.  

Elizabeth Cragg: Elizabeth Cragg has extensive experience at U of T, having worked in various areas at DUA and since 2015 within the Operations & Real Estate Partnerships portfolio. As Director, Office of the Vice-President, Operations & Real Estate Partnerships, she manages the University’s Risk Assessment Review and Business Continuity processes for the shared service portfolios and has provided key logistical and operational oversight and support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  

David Lock: David Lock is Coordinator, Academic Planning and Reviews in the Office of the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs (VPAP), managing and supporting several aspects of external reviews of academic units and programs. An expert in data analysis and information retrieval, David has been an important contributor to the Academic Continuity Working Group during the pandemic. Prior to joining VPAP in 2019, David was Senior Information Systems Analyst in U of T’s office of Enterprise Applications and Solutions Integration (EASI) where he gained knowledge of the full range of academic programs and divisional and institutional academic processes. 

Cherilyn Nobleza: A senior member of the People, Strategy, Equity & Culture leadership team, Cherilyn Nobleza oversees institutional compliance, analytics, and transformation activities, such as business process assessments and change management. She established and chaired the HR COVID-19 working group that was responsible for assessing the impact of legislated changes on the workforce, making recommendations to senior University leadership, and implementing decisions related to the pandemic. Cherilyn also led cross-portfolio internal communications activities to share administrative news, decisions, and policy changes with the U of T community.  

Meredith Strong: During the pandemic, Meredith has been seconded to the position of Senior Lead, COVID-19 Student Matters, in which she has been responsible for the implementation of student-focused mitigation initiatives, such as the quarantine program residence protocols, vaccination requirements, and student communications. Prior to her secondment, Meredith Strong served as Director, Office of the Vice-Provost, Students and has over 20 years of experience in senior administrative roles across the University. 

Rachel Zand: As Director of the Human Research Ethics Unit in the Research Oversight and Compliance Office (ROCO), Rachel Zand has broad experience with institutional research committees and boards. She was Chair of the TAHSN REB Administrators’ Working Group, which was established to facilitate processes between the University and affiliated hospitals. Throughout the pandemic, she has worked with ROCO colleagues to support the adaptability and recovery of research processes.