I give many speeches in my role as president and vice-chancellor of UBC. This past week alone, I’ve spoken at graduation ceremonies at UBC Okanagan, at a luncheon for the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, at a dinner for the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference and on other occasions. Later this week I’ll be speaking as a member of a panel on green technology at the Pacific Institute for Climate Studies annual forum. In a typical month, I give more than 20 speeches (you can read some of my past speeches here).
But two speeches I gave this week were particularly close to my heart, because they gave me a chance to thank the people who make this university the outstanding institution that it is.
I’ve said before that being a university president is a little like being an orchestra conductor. You get to stand at the front. You get to wear the bowtie. But no amount of arm-waving will call forth success if you don’t have a brilliant ensemble that is working well – together. And UBC’s faculty and staff are integral to that brilliant ensemble.
The first speech I gave this week was at the annual Faculty and Staff Coffee Break where I met with and thanked faculty and staff members who donated to UBC.
I told the donors that they should feel proud. As members of the Faculty and Staff Society, they are part of a special community who recognize the power of philanthropy and are important ambassadors for UBC.
Faculty and staff donors – almost 1,200 donors each year – give so much to the university, not only by sharing their expertise and talents in their daily work, but by going beyond that and supporting UBC philanthropically.
Faculty and staff giving to UBC signals to the internal and external community that we support our own institution. This is especially important when we ask the external community to support our efforts.
How can we ask others to support us, to believe in us, if we ourselves don’t do so? The generosity of faculty and staff donors is proof that we do believe in and support UBC. (You can learn more about the Faculty and Staff Society here.)
Also this week, I join with many of her colleagues in paying tribute to Anji Redish, who is stepping down on June 30 after serving as serving as Provost and Vice President Academic pro tem for the past two years.
The new Provost and Vice President Academic will be Professor Andrew Szeri, who joins us from the University of California at Berkeley, where he served as Vice Provost for Strategic Academic and Facilities Planning. I look forward to welcoming him to UBC and working with him.
I had the honour of speaking about Anji to her friends and colleagues, although others have known her for far longer than I have.
Anji has been associated with UBC for 35 years, first coming here as an assistant professor in 1982. A renowned economist, she has served as special advisor to the Bank of Canada, was the head of UBC’s Department of Economics for several years and acted as a senior advisor to former UBC president, Stephen Toope. I like to consider her as a colleague and a friend – her experience, wisdom and advice to me as a new president has been invaluable.
Anji Redish typifies the dedicated faculty and staff members at UBC who tirelessly and quietly give to the university, whether through teaching, research or administrative, clerical or other work. Without people like Anji, the faculty and staff donors or the other thousands of people who work here, this university would not be the world-class institution that it is.
The recent graduation ceremonies on the UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan campuses provide a good example. My heartfelt thanks to the people in the Ceremonies Office, the Registrar’s Office, the Chan Centre, the UBC Bookstore and all the others who worked so hard to make graduation the success that it was. But it wouldn’t have happened without the almost 100 faculty and staff members who volunteered to help out as marshalls and ushers as well.
Thank you, all of you.
Professor Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor