Academic Dons Employment

Terms and Conditions of Employment as an Academic Don at Trinity College 2021-2022


Our principal aim in this document is to give a clear and comprehensive statement of the responsibilities of Trinity dons.

Experience tells us that our dons are able to fulfill their responsibilities within the number of hours they are expected to work per week on average over the academic year. If, however, a don becomes concerned about workload as the year proceeds, they should speak with the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Arts.

1.0 Terms

a. Term of employment: On or about August 20, 2021 to April 30, 2022.

b. Dons live at Trinity College during the tenure of employment, except for the break between the fall and winter terms, and take up residence prior to don training (August 2021). More specific move-in details will be communicated from the Office of the Dean of Students in early summer (July 2021).

c. Dons participate in pre-service Don training, which has both a Trinity and collaborative University of Toronto component. The pre-service training period takes place from August 20 2021 – September, 5, 2021. In addition, Dons are expected to attend in-service training (e.g., case study and training workshops) throughout the academic year, as required by the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Arts. The exact date for in-service training will likely be in January 2022 and the specific timing will be confirmed. Returning dons assist with the training and orientation of new dons in these sessions.

d. Dons are required to be present and on-campus for residence move-in days (expected Sunday September 5, 2021 and Monday September 6, 2021, however, due to the nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, additional dates may be required).

e. Dons are members of the academic staff of the Faculty of Arts of Trinity College and are senior members of the College community. As such, they are expected to participate in the life of the Senior Common Room, of which they are members by virtue of their appointment as dons. Expected participation includes attendance at Wednesday evening SCR dinners.

Requests for special consideration or for arrangements different from the above must be discussed with and approved by the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Arts. Reappointment following the completion of this contract is at the discretion of the Dean of Arts and the Dean of Students, in consultation with the Dons’ Selection Committee and following a review of the don’s performance.

2.0 Time Commitment & Division of Duties

All don positions at Trinity College are considered “Academic Donships” and contain two primary components: academic and student life. The total time commitment is 12-15 hours per week on average. Percentage estimates of the division between academic and student life duties are assigned to each don upon appointment and serve as a guide in allocating the approximate number of hours per week to be spent on academic duties and the approximate number to be spent on student life duties. For the 2021-2022 academic year, these allocations will be as follows (each totaling 12-15 hours per week):

% Academic Approx hrs/wk % Student Life Approx hrs/wk
60 7.0 – 9.0 40 5.0 – 6.0
50 6.0 – 7.5 50 6.0 – 7.5
30 3.5 – 4.5 70 8.5 -10.5
20 2.5 – 3.0 80 9.5 -12.0


3.0 Academic Responsibilities

a. Dons provide academic assistance in designated areas to Trinity undergraduates in one-onone tutorials/consultations and small-group sessions or seminars.

In individual consultations with students, dons review assignments, answer questions arising from course work or exam preparation, help students develop their own ideas and critical insights, and advise students on graduate-school and professional-faculty applications.

Dons offer group consultations to help prepare students for an assignment, test or exam, and may offer seminars to help students develop particular academic skills – e.g., research skills. They are encouraged to run their group sessions with the assistance of Trinity peer counsellors.

b. A Trinity don is not required to provide academic assistance to a student from another College but may do so if this does not interfere with the don’s obligations to Trinity students.

c. Dons assist College staff with the academic orientation and matriculation of new students, with a spring session for first-year students on choosing a program of study, and with counselling sessions for upper-year students on careers and applications for postgraduate study.

d. Dons provide information to students about the academic support services offered by the College’s Registrar’s Office, Writing Centre and Math Aid Centre and refer students in academic difficulty to the Registrar’s Office.

e. Dons involve themselves in the activities of any College student society there may be in their academic areas (e.g., the College’s English Society, Philosophy Club, International Relations Society).

f. Dons promote interaction between faculty and students. At least once a term, every don, either individually or with one or more other dons, holds a “High Table” – a Senior Common Room event at which Trinity students meet professors, especially Trinity professors, in their area of study.

g. In fulfilling their academic responsibilities, dons are expected to respect and uphold “the integrity of the teaching and learning relationship” (University of Toronto Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, Preamble).

4.0 Student Life Responsibilities

4.1 All dons

Trinity dons play an essential role in enabling the College to provide its students with an appropriate standard of care and quality of life. As senior members of the College community, Dons are expected
to be visible and approachable. They are expected to engage with the Trinity community by helping to foster a safe, secure, diverse, vibrant, and cooperative environment that is conducive to academic
success and personal development. Dons are also expected to work in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) (training to be provided).

All dons have the following student life responsibilities:

a. Encouraging an academic atmosphere, mutual respect, and cooperation in residence so that the rights and needs of all students to study, learn, and rest are met. This will include (i) holding an initial meeting with 1st year students on their move-in day (expected Sunday September 5, 2021 – typically sometime between 1:00 – 6:00 pm, depending on the Orientation Week schedule) in order to orient them to residence and university life and the role of a don, (ii) holding a second meeting with all assigned residence students within 1 week of their move-in and (ii) establishing and maintaining contact with each student in the don’s assigned area (learning their names etc).

b. Assisting with supplying information on residence life and student services provided by College and university facilities.

c. Helping to maintain reasonable standards of conduct, safety and security, including upholding the Trinity College Code of Student Conduct.

d. Serving as an initial contact for students who are in emotional, psychological, physical, social, economic, or academic difficulty, and referring such students when appropriate to the professional services offered by the College, the university, and the wider community.

e. Responding to crises of a varied nature (e.g., illness, mental health, etc.), providing initial care (e.g., until the Assistant Dean or Dean is reached and the student no longer needs help) and in some cases providing on-going follow-up (e.g., brief check-ins).

f. Reporting to the Dean of Students to advise them with regards to issues in the residences.

g. Serving as “duty dons” on rotation and reporting each shift, including any incidents occurring during a given shift, to the Dean of Students, in the form of a written “duty report.” Note that the duty don shift begins at 5:00 pm and ends at 9:00 am, the following day.

h. As part of the Trinity College community, assisting with the reading and assessment of Trinity College Student Profiles during the College admissions cycle. This profile reading will take place over the span of a weekend, usually taking place in early February.

i. Serving as role models for students. This responsibility requires, among other things, that dons be beyond reproach in their personal conduct, including their academic conduct.

j. Dons are expected to work with the Community Advisor(s) in their area to provide ongoing support and community development for students. Dons and Community Advisors will host joint floor meetings, promote programming, follow-up with students, and other duties as required.

k. Participate in running at least one stressbuster activity, organized through the Office of the Dean of Students during each of the exam periods in November/December and March/April.

4.2 Dons with more than 40% student life responsibilities

Dons with student life duties comprising more than 40% of their duties play an enhanced role in the student life of the College. In addition to the responsibilities listed in 4.1 above, they have the following

a. Overseeing more students in the residence than do dons with a 40% student life appointment.

b. Helping to oversee Orientation Week events and activities.

c. Serving as “event dons” on rotation, directly supervising major evening-time student events, particularly those involving the use of alcohol. The majority of these events are anticipated to run an average of 4 to 5 hours.

4.3 Dons with 80% student life responsibilities

Dons with student life duties comprising 80% of their duties play an even greater role in the student life of the College. They serve as “event dons” more often than do other dons with more than 40%
student life responsibilities and have the following responsibilities in addition to the responsibilities listed in 4.1 and 4.2 above:

a. Acting as a liaison with the Senior Community Advisor, student heads, in particular, and with other student leaders to support student-run and/or student-developed initiatives and/or to develop joint initiatives (e.g., programming events, student clubs, Orientation Week, Conversat);

b. Programming events and promoting awareness of resources on behalf of the Office of the Dean of Students (e.g., specific events hosted by the Dean’s Office, events and resources at the University of Toronto);

c. Running student life sessions organized by the Assistant Deans in such areas as transition planning.

4.4 Further student life responsibilities

Any assignment of student life responsibilities not covered above will be discussed in advance with the don(s) concerned.

5.0 Remuneration

Dons are paid at rates comparable on an hourly basis to the rate of pay for SGS (School of Graduate Studies) Teaching Assistants. Compensation is sufficient to cover the cost of residence accommodation and a full meal plan (including High Table privileges). Returning dons are paid a small premium.

6.0 Accountability

Dons report to the Dean of Students and the Dean of Arts. In general terms, for matters relating to the student life component of employment, dons report to the Dean of Students and for matters relating to the academic component of employment they report to the Dean of Arts. However, there is some overlap in supervision.

7.0 Evaluation:

The performance of the dons will be evaluated regularly and will include the following:

  1. Don self-evaluation and reflection;
  2. Questionnaires to students(administered by Deans);
  3. Performance assessment by the Dean of Students and the Dean of Arts.

If performance is deemed to be below standard, the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Arts will discuss the matter in confidence with the don in question. In cases where there are serious concerns about conduct unbecoming a don, dereliction of duty or other misconduct, the don shall be removed from his or her duties while the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Arts conduct an investigation into the don’s conduct. As part of the investigation, the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Arts shall provide the don with an opportunity to respond to the concerns. If the investigation discloses that the don engaged in conduct unbecoming a don, dereliction of duty or other misconduct, they shall be subject to discipline, up to and including immediate dismissal for cause and without notice. Depending on the nature of the misconduct, the don may also be subject to academic sanctions.

8.0 Restrictions & Requirements

a. Dons are not permitted to accept other employment (with the exception of Teaching Assistantships) or to take on commitments with external organizations that would require their absence from the College for long periods of time.

b. Dons must refrain from conduct that is, or that could reasonably be foreseen to have the potential to be, harmful to the students of Trinity College. This includes engagement in intimate relationships with Trinity College students.

c. Dons are required to use their standard-issue College telephone (with a recorded personal greeting), personal cell phone and Trinity email account which has been or will be issued for all Trinity College business. Responses to phone and email messages are expected within 24 hours.

d. Dons are required to meet regularly as a group with the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Arts.

e. Dons are required to keep a record of their consultations and hours of work and to submit periodic reports on these matters, including an end-of-year report, to the Dean of Students and the Dean of Arts.

f. Dons will typically be granted permission to attend a field-specific academic conference over term of the appointment (typically up to one week, inclusive of travel). Absences for other reasons (e.g., holidays) are not consistent with the job expectations and terms of appointment and will not typically be granted. This document supersedes any supplementary training documents or discussions therein, which may suggest otherwise. Any requests for absence from the College of more than 48 consecutive hours must be approved by the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Arts with adequate notice. Requests for multiple monthly absences of more than 48 hours are typically not granted.

g. At the end of a don’s employment, the don shall immediately return to the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Arts all of the property and materials of Trinity College in his or her possession, including keys and any materials such as notes or pictures containing students’ personal information. The don shall also delete any electronic record containing students’ personal information from his or her electronic equipment, such as computers or cellular phones.

h. Any exceptions to any of the above conditions must be discussed with and approved by the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Arts.

9.0 Termination

Employment of a don may be terminated prior to the end of the term of appointment in the following ways:

  1. By the don, giving one month’s notice in writing to the Dean of Students and/or the Dean of Arts
  2. By Trinity College, giving one month’s notice in writing or payment in lieu of notice
  3. By Trinity College, with cause, immediately, and without notice.

The don will be required to vacate the don suite immediately upon termination of employment prior to the end of the term of appointment.