Latest Faculty of Information News

Dean Wendy Duff’s COVID-19 Messages

Submitted on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

May 1: May Day Message

Dear Faculty of Information Students,

As we enter the month of May, I wanted to update you on what to expect at the Faculty of Information moving forward. But before I get to that, I would like to first say that I hope you and your families are all doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. We’ve all been through a lot since March, and I would like to thank everyone for your incredible contributions, made at a time of genuine personal duress for many of you.

If you’ve had time to follow the news, you may have come across stories about when and how universities are expected to reopen. Much remains uncertain and that is also the case at UofT,  but there is one thing we can say for sure. The Faculty’s Fall 2020 semester will continue to offer you the excellent academic experiences for which we are known and recognized the world over. We are committed to ensuring that our students receive an exceptional education during the 2020-2021 academic year. This will apply whether courses are delivered in person or, as a temporary measure, through online instruction, or through a combination of methods.

Right now, we are contemplating and working through possible scenarios for the fall. While it was the University that made the original decision to move online, it will be public health authorities and governments who decide when groups can gather again and how big those groups can be.

As we head into the summer term and prepare for the fall, here is where things stand at the Faculty of Information. Please understand that this situation is constantly evolving as more and more information about the coronavirus becomes known and this information will be updated regularly. You will find updates and relevant links on the Faculty’s dedicated Covid-19 page as well as the University’s page.


  • All Faculty of Information summer-term courses will be offered with remote delivery. Visit the Summer 2020 Information Page for details on what courses are available and important dates.
  • Some summer co-op opportunities are still open to applicants and there are other summer job opportunities available. For more information, please contact our Careers Officer.
  • The Virtual Inforum remains open all summer long with drop-in Student Services hours.

Work-Integrated Learning Opportunities (Co-op, Internship  and Practicum Placements)

  • While these are challenging times, our careers office is working closely with our employer partners to encourage virtual onboarding and remote work arrangements as employers are making adjustments to their business continuity plans. Where possible, our employers are accommodating this change and making the necessary adjustments to provide co-op and other job placements.
  • In response to covid-19, the federal government is providing wage subsidies to support the recruitment of students in co-op/Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programs. In the Faculty of Information, the minimum requirement for a co-op placement has been changed to 8 weeks. We are optimistic that these changes will increase our co-op placements in the coming weeks. As a result of the subsidies, the Faculty of Information is also recruiting co-op students for a variety of exciting job opportunities at the Faculty.
  • Please refer to the careers section of our student information page for contact our Careers Officer.


  • The Chancellor, who is the Chair of Convocation, will convene a virtual Convocation to be broadcast on or before June 2, 2020, incorporating the core elements of a Convocation ceremony. Convocation FAQ.
  • The Faculty of Information will host an in-person celebration as soon as we’re able to gather together again in 2020 or 2021. There will be both a ceremony with academic regalia and a reception. The details will follow.
  • Diplomas will be couriered to all graduates on a rolling basis starting June 2 through June 19.

Recruitment & Admissions

  • We’re excited to welcome our incoming undergraduate and grad students this September — our recruitment and admissions cycles are on track and on schedule, with online and virtual recruitment events reaching prospective students all around the world.
  • If you would like to attend a Virtual Meet & Greet, you can sign up here.
  • We’re also holding a Weekly Check-in (Starting May 14, 2020) for our incoming students. Drop by the virtual front-desk on Thursdays from 11am to 12pm EST to chat with us live and ask your questions. Here is the access link.

Fall Semester

  • As we look to the Fall term and beyond, the Faculty is setting up an advisory council to assist our Fall Academic Scenario Planning team, led by Kelly Lyons, Associate Dean Academic. This council will include students, alumni, faculty, staff, lecturers and other stakeholders.
  • We welcome input and/or representation on this advisory council. Please email if you have feedback you wish to share.

Emergency Aid

  • Please know that we understand that the COVID-19 situation has impacted people in very different ways, with some members of our community feeling the effects more than others. The Faculty, working together with the University, is committed to finding outcomes that are as equitable as possible.
  • If you need emergency financial aid, please see the “Emergency Grants” section at the top of the Faculty’s Financial Aid web page.
  • Counselling and mental health services are available through the University’ Student Life services.

While we promise to keep you updated as the situation evolves at both the Faculty of Information and the University, I would also like to invite you to reach out to us. Whether you have a specific question or request, or just want to share your thoughts, we want to hear from you.

As always, please stay as safe and healthy as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Wendy Duff


April 3: Last Day of Classes

Dear Faculty of Information Students,

Today we mark a milestone – the end of classes for a semester unlike any other. I felt it was important to take this opportunity to write to you and say that I hope you’re all keeping as safe, secure and healthy as possible as this semester winds down.

From the personal but online conversations I’ve had with members of our community, I know that while there is certainly overlap in how we’re all experiencing this COVID-19 crisis, no two people are having the same experience.

At the Faculty, we’ve tried our hardest to take this into account as we’ve dealt and continue to deal with the current situation. We know your personal circumstances are unique and we are ready and willing to work with you to do everything we can to allow you to complete your semester successfully. Please know too that you can always reach out to me or the staff and faculty members here at the Faculty of Information about everything from emergency financial aid and volunteer opportunities to a chance to chat with someone outside your immediate social circles.

To mark the end of classes, we have scheduled a virtual version of our traditional iTea for next Thursday April 9 from 3-4 p.m. Alas, we can’t supply the tea and sandwiches this spring, but we’re planning out activities and hope to pleasantly surprise you.

Many of you will also have already seen today’s message from the President about Convocation. The Faculty of Information is committed to holding our own Convocation event, complete with all the regalia, pomp and ceremony that graduates so rightly expect. There will also, of course, be a fabulous reception. While we can’t yet commit to a date, we can commit to a future Convocation for the Class of 2020. In the meantime, we will keep in touch via our web pages (UofT and Faculty of Information), social media, the Virtual Inforum and email. Please, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.


Wendy Duff

Professor and Dean

March 24: Bissell Building Closing

Dear Students,

Before I get to the central message of this email, I wanted to acknowledge once again what a privilege it is for me to be the Dean of this Faculty with its incredibly engaged students, who have been an ongoing source of inspiration to all of us throughout these difficult past weeks.

Earlier today, I received notice from the Provost outlining the steps the university will take to comply with the province’s Essential Services announcement, made earlier this week and effective as of midnight tonight.

We have been asked to close the Bissell Building to anyone has not been designated an essential services employee of the Faculty of Information. For you, that means two things:

  • It is no longer possible to study or work in the building
  • If you have items you need to retrieve from the building in order to continue to study and work at home, you should contact

The Provost is also aware that a small number of students have continued to use the university’s libraries in recent days in order to access their courses. Efforts are underway on all three campuses to support individual requests. Students should use the Contact Us button located at the top of the FAQ section on the University web site in order to receive additional information.

Likewise, if you have continued to use the Bissell Building, perhaps because your other options are limited, you should not hesitate to reach out to me if you need assistance to successfully complete your academic work. The team here at the Faculty is committed to working with you and enabling you to complete your studies successfully.

Yours sincerely,

Wendy Duff

Dean and Professor

March 23: Emergency Bursary available for Covid-19 related expenses

Dear Faculty of Information Students,

After more than a week of major changes, I wanted to give you some news about special funding available to help students who have experienced financial hardship due to the impact of COVID-19.

How to deliver relief most effectively to University of Toronto students has been under discussion for several days. I have had meetings with all UofT Deans as well as the School of Graduate Studies. As a result, I am able to announce today that the Faculty of Information has transferred funds to a special emergency bursary for impacted students.

I urge Faculty of Information students facing financial hardship due to the Coronavirus to fill out this form and start the process as soon as possible. If you have questions about the bursary before or during the application process, please contact Sherry Dang

If you have concerns about non-financial issues, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at And, as always, you can check the Faculty’s dedicated COVID-19 web page for updates and links.

Yours sincerely,

Wendy Duff
Professor and Dean

March 20: Messaging and socializing from a distance

Dear members of the Faculty of Information Community,

As our first week of being an online university and online Faculty draws to a close, I wanted to check back in with everyone to say that I sincerely hope you are able to take some time to care for yourselves and your family this weekend.

What we have all accomplished in just one week is truly amazing. I hope you can savour that achievement even as you experience the complications of coping with the coronavirus and transitioning to an online environment for learning, teaching and research.

I’ve attended a number of online activities this week and can say that it truly raised my spirits. Next week, we are starting up a Virtual Inforum and hope we’ll see a lot of you there. Stay tuned for more news about that and the virtual coffees and teas organized by students, faculty and staff. I highly recommend this socializing from a distance.

As you almost certainly know, both the Faculty and the University have go-to web pages where you should be able to find links to all the information you need.

The Faculty of Information’s COVID-19 page with information specific to our Faculty

The University of Toronto’s main COVID-19 page

If there’s anything missing or anything you think others would benefit from knowing, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. I really want to hear your feedback.

Once again, I wish you all the best weekend possible.

Very sincerely yours,

Wendy Duff

Professor and Dean


March 17: Update for Faculty of Information students re services and facilities

Dear Faculty of Information Students,

The situation with COVID-19 is evolving faster than we could have anticipated. Earlier today, the Premier of Ontario declared a state of emergency and the Prime Minister has encouraged all Canadians to stay home whenever possible. 

In response to these announcements, the University has taken steps to scale back on-site operations and allow employees to work from home. At the same time the University remains open and committed to ensuring that our students can complete their term. I’ve already heard from a number of you that many of your courses have successfully moved online and are going well.

Depending on your individual situations, you may prefer to leave Toronto and return to your homes. Given that we are moving all academic activity online, this is a perfectly acceptable option. 

At the Bissell Building, our essential operations will be managed largely, if not entirely, online.  While the building itself remains accessible by fob, you would need to direct your queries and your paperwork electronically. Queries should go to the same people you usually deal with or if you don’t have a regular contact for the issue in question, please email 

If for some reason you do not have a fob and need one, please email 

If you require a technology loan, please see the Faculty of Information’s COVID-19 webpage  for details.

To maintain our sense of community, some professors have already arranged online tea and coffee groups. You should expect more updates about these types of activities. We want to stay connected with you.

Going fully online is new territory for the Faculty of Information and our community. I appreciate your support in making this a success, and I encourage you to share your feedback with me at Above all else, we want to ensure that our collective efforts are successful in meeting the needs of students, staff and faculty at this uncertain and challenging time.

Our primary concern is the safety and health (both physical and mental) of all the members of this wonderful community. Please take all the steps needed for you and your family to stay healthy.

Yours sincerely,

Wendy Duff

Professor and Dean