Back to Skule™ 2020: Message from the Chair

Professor Grant Allen, Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry

To all ChemE students, faculty and staff,

I hope you’re as excited as I am for the start of another Skule™ year. While things certainly look much different than what we might be used to as we all get ready for classes this Fall, I’m confident each of you will rise to the challenges ahead in true ChemE spirit to make this year another great success for yourself personally, and for the Department as a whole.

As you learned in a recent message from Dean Yip, there will be several important changes to life on campus in 2020-21. New signage and building protocols will be in place to ensure the safety of all members of the U of T community. This includes restricted access to some facilities, with others remaining closed to begin the year. While many U of T buildings will be open after Labour Day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., please note that the remote access guarantee remains in place, and no one will be required to be on campus in-person to complete their academic requirements. The return to campus will take place gradually and will be informed by a formal evaluation and approvals process as each space reopens. We anticipate a small fraction of the typical capacity in all buildings, including the Wallberg Building, for the foreseeable future. I encourage everyone to learn and understand what you need to do to keep yourself and those around you safe if you need to be on campus.

Your ChemE faculty and staff have been working hard over the summer to prepare for a successful start to the year, and to ensure that students are well-supported under this new set of circumstances. Here are a few things you may find helpful as you get ready for the Fall term:

Student services

The Undergraduate and Graduate Student offices will not be open for in-person meetings to begin the Fall semester, but they are ready to support you virtually with additional services such as live chat sessions. I encourage you to be in contact with your advisors as you otherwise would. They’re still here for you, and dedicated as ever to your wellbeing and success:


ChemE Graduate Office

ChemE Undergraduate Office

Wallberg Building updates and access

Access to the Wallberg Building will be limited to the two main entrances at 184 and 200 College Street from 8am to 6pm, and physical distancing measures will be in place at all times. While we expect a small amount of traffic within Wallberg for those going to and from classrooms or those with approved access to research labs, if you wish to work in a lab or office you will still need to go through the appropriate approval process.

The following policies and procedures will be in place to ensure the safety of yourself, and other members of our community:

  • Washrooms will mostly be limited to one person at a time, and common rooms, conference rooms, study rooms, and offices will not be open to start the year. It is not possible for students or researchers to book rooms at this time.
  • Access to Wallberg is restricted to members of the University community only. If you are on campus you may be asked for ID or documentation to confirm that you are entitled to be on-site.
  • Signage is posted throughout the building communicating occupancy limits for all spaces, and direction of travel on stairwells. Please ensure that you are following these directions.

Staying safe on campus

Wearing non-medical masks on campus will be mandatory in all common-use indoor spaces on University property, including hallways, labs, meeting rooms, shared offices, and classrooms.

  • U of T is providing all students, staff and faculty with two non-medical masks. Students can pick theirs up at these locations:
  • Masks for faculty and staff will be distributed through home units, with first priority given to those who are working on campus.
  • The Engineering & Computer Science Library in Sandford Fleming will be closed for a dramatic renovation designed to improve your experience (look for updates from Dean Yip as this project progresses). Gerstein and Robarts will be partially reopening, though the stacks will remain off-limits.
  • Our Engineering Computing Facility (ECF) labs and printers will remain closed, but the entire ECF environment is remotely accessible from any internet connection. Remote access instructions and a complete list of resources is available on the ECF webpage.

Additional COVID-19 resources

While this may not be the way any of us had hoped to begin the Fall, and we’re all looking forward to the time when we can be together in person again (hopefully soon!), I’m still as energized and optimistic as ever about what this new year will bring. Though this pandemic isn’t over yet, I’m certain that won’t be the only thing we’ll remember about the year to come.


Prof. Grant Allen

Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry