As the first month of the 2019-20 academic year comes to a close, I’d like to discuss my strategic priorities for the year.
These priorities include research excellence & innovation, sustainability, leveraging our physical presence, the Indigenous Strategic Plan, and the Integrated Renewal Program.
My first priority is driving research excellence and innovation.
UBC is committed to supporting the development of clusters of research excellence. Research cluster awards are specifically targeted at catalyzing advanced research initiatives with the expectation that awards will be used to enable the cluster to have more significant impact than otherwise possible.
In order to provide the best localized funding support to clusters, UBC has established distinct, coordinated programs for clusters that are led by researchers at each of our Vancouver and Okanagan campus.
My second priority is creating sustainable solutions for our planet.
UBC embraces sustainability as part of an urgent societal conversation about the kind of world we live in, informed by an understanding of the ecological, social and economic consequences of our individual and collective actions.
As a living laboratory testing and advancing sustainability practices through research, learning and engagement, UBC sets a standard reflecting our leadership role in a more sustainable future.
UBC established some of North America’s most aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets in 2010 and has, despite a significant increase in student population and building growth, achieved a 34 percent reduction since 2007. UBC is on-track to reduce GHG emissions by 67 percent as of 2021, and targeting 100% by 2050.
My third priority is leveraging and enhancing our physical presence.
We are blessed with two vibrant campuses in British Columbia, along with other facilities. The locations of our campuses and multiple learning and research sites at the western edge of Canada enable fresh perspectives in a fast-changing global landscape. UBC’s location further enables connections with Asia and the Pacific Rim that position the university as a unique place for discourse, learning and engagement.
UBC supports the ongoing development of sustainable, healthy and connected campuses and communities by promoting regional prosperity, affordability and sustainability through a regional transit network that connects research and education, health, employment and housing destinations.
Through engagement, fostering public discourse, cultural activity, and the meaningful exchange of knowledge and resources, UBC creates connectivity on a local, a regional, a national and an international scale.
The fourth priority is the Indigenous Strategic Plan. The plan is informed by the acknowledgement of our university’s location on unceded Indigenous territories, the role universities have played in Canada’s colonial history, and the realization that, if we fail to develop and enact better ways of thinking about our processes and relations, we may simply continue to replicate the worst aspects of our past.
Last week, UBC students, faculty, staff and Board members gathered at the Richard S. Hallisey Atrium at UBC-O, along with members of the Sylix Okanagan Nation, to witness UBC Okanagan’s declaration of Truth and Reconciliation commitments, formally committing the university to deliver on five recommended actions toward reconciliation.
Those actions are:
- Development of an Indigenous culture orientation program for all faculty and staff
- Establishing a senior advisor on Indigenous affairs for the Okanagan campus
- Developing activities that support the revitalization of Indigenous language fluency
- Advancing Indigenous teaching and research
- Expanding health and wellness services to better support Aboriginal students
And on October 2, I will present to Musqueam a plaque commemorating the Statement of Apology that I made on behalf of UBC to residential school survivors in April 2018.
The plaque will serve as a reminder of the commitments we have made; commitments to improve access for Indigenous people to higher education, to develop new courses and programming that will enable our faculty and students to better understand issues of importance to Aboriginal communities, and to build collaborative relationships that work to the benefit of communities rather than their detriment.
My final priority is the Integrated Renewal Program.
As you may know, next April, we will be replacing our core HR and Finance systems with Workday. This is one of a number of programs underway to transform our systems and processes to improve how we collaborate and innovate.
Success is a shared accountability, and we all need to be ready for this change.
UBC faculty and staff will be supported through this journey. We have created a Transition Network, people who are volunteering their time and expertise to support their faculties and units through the coming change.
I’m excited to see Workday. The IRP team recently attended the welcome back BBQs on both campuses where they were able to provide short Workday demos people who visited their booth.
If you missed that event, there are a lot of other ways you can get a peek at Workday.Most notably, there are large-scale Workday demos scheduled for October 1 and 30. You can find more information about these and other upcoming events on the IRP website at irp.ubc.ca, where you’ll also find recordings of past demos. While on the website, consider signing up for the IRP newsletter, and check out the training page to see what kinds of training opportunities will be available. Please also keep an eye out for a readiness survey, which will launch in early October. Your input is important in ensuring that UBC has the right support and tools in place to enable a successful transition to Workday.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor