Dear members of the UBC community.
I would like to begin by acknowledging that I am speaking to you from the traditional and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.
I’d like to share the news that for most programs the winter break has been extended until January 11. Students should keep an eye out for information from their specific program. The withdrawal deadline has also been extended, until midnight, December 4.
Although most classes won’t resume until January 11, for those students in residence, you can still return starting January 3.
Last week we celebrated Fall Graduation. Although the ceremony was virtual, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a joyous occasion, not only for the graduates and their families, but for all of us. It included video messages from Prime Minister (and UBC grad) Justin Trudeau, Premier John Horgan and other leaders, and an inspiring keynote address by writer and activist Cicely Belle Blain, who is also a UBC alum.
I congratulate the graduates, who completed their final year in very unusual circumstances, and I would like to thank those who worked behind the scenes to make the ceremony memorable.
I hope you were able to attend the ceremonies and celebrated our amazing graduating class. If not, you can revisit it at virtual graduation.ubc.ca. We also celebrated the installation of our new chancellor, Steven Lewis Point. You can also watch that ceremony at virtualgraduation.ubc.ca as well.
Also last week, I announced the appointment of Dr. Handel Kashope Wright as my Senior Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence. Dr. Wright is a Professor in the Department of Educational Studies in the Faculty of Education. He is also Director of the Centre for Culture, Identity and Education.
The appointment of Dr. Wright is just one of the steps I am taking to address the serious issue of systemic racism at UBC. As I noted earlier this month, I have appointed Ainsley Carry and Ananya Mukherjee Reed as co-executive leads for anti-racism to provide a critical bridge between the UBC Executive and our IBPOC community members.
I have also been meeting with the UBC Black Caucus, Indigenous and Asian groups and other marginalized communities to listen to their concerns and stories. I will continue to listen as we move forward. I will be announcing more details about how UBC is combatting systemic racism in the weeks ahead.
This week my shoutout is to UBC student Brendon Tankwa, who has just been named a Rhodes Scholar. Brendon is the 72nd UBC student to receive this prestigious scholarship. This would place UBC in the top 6 universities in the US after Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Yale and West Point.
Brendon plans to study energy systems and business administration. Here at UBC, he has conducted research in the field of computational biology, developing models for predicting epidemics, and co-founded a start-up that builds Internet of things-based tools to help farmers manage their energy consumption. He also served as vice president of member learning at the UBC chapter of Engineers Without Borders and is working on a clean energy start-up called Audacious Energy.
Brendon, UBC is proud of you.
For my #songsofcomfort selection today, I’ll be playing an excerpt from Pezzo Capriccioso by Tchaikovsky. I hope you enjoy it.
Stay safe and best wishes.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor