February 2021


Welcome to the February 2021 issue of Letter to the Board, a regular communication to members of the UBC Board of Governors.



Climate Emergency Task Force Report and Recommendations

I am pleased to note that the Climate Emergency Task Force has presented its report and recommendations. Despite the exceptional circumstances caused by the pandemic, the Task Force consulted widely with the UBC community and has produced a comprehensive, forward-looking report and recommendations.

I would like to thank co-chairs Walter Merida and Michelle Marcus and all the members of the Task Force and working groups for their hard work and dedication over the past several months. I’d also like to thank everyone who participated, whether by attending in-person or virtual town halls, answering surveys or sending in emails.

I respect the recommendations that have been made and the careful work that has gone into them. All the recommendations will be taken into account as we plan the path forward. I look forward to the Board discussion on February 16.

Micro-credential Program Support

UBC is grateful for BC government support for four new micro credential programs which will help learners build capabilities in high-demand fields like blockchain, climate change adaptation, industrial automation and technical communications.  The program offers adults opportunities to upgrade skills or change career paths without committing to a long-term post-secondary program.


Terms of Engagement with Musqueam Signed

Earlier this week, I, along with Chief Wayne Sparrow, signed terms of engagement on a renewed memorandum of understanding between UBC and Musqueam, with a view to building upon and improving our relationship as good neighbours and partners. This is an important step along the road to reconciliation. UBC recognizes that we are connected with Musqueam through our shared past and future, and a meaningful and enduring relationship will strengthen our respective communities.

We have also recently opened a new Office of Indigenous Strategic Initiatives, which will coordinate the implementation of UBC’s 2020 Indigenous Strategic Plan.

It is part of an innovative, Indigenous-led and Indigenous human rights-based governance structure that is being set up to support the Plan’s implementation across both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses.

New UBC professorship to advance addiction medicine in B.C.

Dr. Nadia Fairbairn has been named the inaugural Philip Owen Professor in Addiction Medicine at UBC.

The newly established professorship—the first of its kind in Canada—will help close the evidence-to-practice gap to strengthen the addiction treatment system in British Columbia.

The professorship was established in honour of former Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen and his commitment to addiction research, education, and training.



Support for innovation in clean technology and sustainable materials

Thank you to the Government of Canada for $1.9 million in funding to UBC Okanagan campus to develop an innovation hub that will promote clean technologies that convert carbon-based additives and components into new, sustainable products. With this funding, UBC-O will work with manufacturing, mining and lumber companies in Western Canada to research how industrial waste can gain a second life as high-quality carbon products.


Congratulations to New Killam Professors

Clockwise from top left: Janice Eng, Tina Loo, Bonny Norton, Dolph Schulter, Rashid Sumaila, Dominique Weis

I am pleased to announce the appointment of six new University Killam Professors. The highest honour UBC can confer on a faculty member, a University Killam Professorship recognizes exceptional teachers and researchers who are leaders in their fields, and who have received international recognition for their talents and achievements.

Congratulations to Janice Eng, Tina Loo, Bonny Norton, Dolph Schluter, Rashid Sumaila and Dominique Weis.


UBC Okanagan Downtown Plans

In June 2020, I announced the next major step in the evolution of UBC’s presence in the Okanagan — plans for a new building at 550 Doyle Avenue in Kelowna.

As many of you are aware, planning is well underway for UBC Okanagan’s downtown Kelowna site with a number of community-accessible facilities being considered, including a new public gallery, creative innovation spaces and a public engagement and learning suite.

In a virtual open house on January 19, 2021 community members had an opportunity to share their thoughts in a discussion forum. We still welcome you to share your views at ok.ubc.ca/downtown


Review of Provost and Vice-President Academic

I have established an Advisory Committee to review Professor Andrew Szeri’s performance as Provost and Vice-President Academic and to make a recommendation to me concerning his reappointment. The Advisory Committee is now seeking feedback regarding Professor Szeri’s performance. Please submit your feedback to president.staff@ubc.ca before February 19.







News from around UBC

The Faculty of Education is launching its first international, online cohort of itsTransformative Educational Leadership Program (TELP), to commence in August 2021. TELP, a one-year program that brings together professionals in the K-12 system, is designed to build capacity to lead system change in educational settings. Program participants engage with the latest leadership research, interact with world-class scholars, and learn from innovative practices from around the globe. The result is a network of like-minded change-makers ready to tackle the big and small issues currently facing our education systems.

Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies: On February 1, G+PS launched a Black History Month campaign, to celebrate the contributions of our Black graduate students, present and past. Over the course of the month, we will be sharing student and alumni stories and research spotlights on our website and through social media channels. Please join us in honouring their achievements. • The Board of Directors of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) named Dr. Susan Porter, Dean and Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies as the fifth recipient of the Debra W. Stewart Award for Outstanding Leadership in Graduate Education, for her passionate advocacy and invaluable contributions to UBC and the international graduate education community. Visit the G+PS website to read more.

Faculty of Land and Food Systems: Frederik Noack is a new Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Economic and Environmental Interactions. Dr. Noack is an Assistant Professor in LFS’s Food and Resource Economics Program, and he researches interactions between improved market access and property rights on land use and natural resources, such as fish stocks, forests and biodiversity.· LFS has now completed its cluster hire in Sustainable Agriculture and Environment, part of the Applied Biology research program: Jean-Thomas Cornelis started at UBC on Feb. 1 as Assistant Professor, joining Gurcharn Singh Brar, Risa Sargent and Thorsten Knipfer, who started at UBC in 2020.

Peter A. Allard School of Law: Access to Justice Week BC was held last month to inspire engagement in the access to justice movement and to plant the seeds of change to benefit all Canadians. One of the goals was to draw attention to the efforts and projects already underway at BC’s law schools to improve Access to Justice. Faculty and students at Allard Law, through their research projects, experiential learning programs, and legal clinics, are helping to address the gap in access to justice.

The Faculty of Medicine received a $750,000 grant from the 2020 TD Ready Challenge to launch a new initiative in collaboration with First Nations partners that will deploy drone technology to fly necessary health care supplies into rural and remote communities of B.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic. · Dr. Adam Lund, a UBC emergency medicine clinical professor, is working with Netflix on COVID-19 safety plans.

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences: 2021 marks 75 years since the University of British Columbia Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences was established as the sixth school of pharmacy in Canada under the leadership of Dean Esli Woods. Originally the Department of Pharmacy in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences was formally recognized by the Board of Governors as a standalone Faculty in May, 1949.

Faculty of Science: A new Centre for Indigenous Fisheries (CIF) is being launched with Indigenous fisheries scientist, conservation biologist and Nisga’a Nation member Dr. Andrea Reid joining as Principal Investigator. The CIF, which will be based at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, aims to support the management of aquatic ecosystems and fisheries in Canada and beyond by combining Indigenous knowledge systems and modern science.

UBC Okanagan: On January 14, the Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic, UBC Okanagan and the Office of the Vice-President, Health (UBC Health) hosted a ‘Using data to advance human rights’ webinar, sparking an important conversation between UBC and BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on the collection of disaggregated data to advance human rights. • In support of UBC’s commitment to address racism and injustice, on January 20, 2021, Dr. Ananya Mukherjee Reed, Provost and Vice-President, Academic, UBC Okanagan, hosted part two of a three-part series discussing systemic racism in science — Indigenous Perspectives. In the coming days we will host many more events that support anti-racism efforts toward a more inclusive community.

UBC Sauder: On November 27, 2020, two members of the UBC Sauder School of Business faculty were appointed to the Order of Canada, one of our country’s highest civilian honours. Congratulations to Izak Benbasat, Professor Emeritus, Accounting and Information Systems Division and Stanley Hamilton, Professor Emeritus, Urban Land Economics and Finance Division.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments on this newsletter. I look forward to seeing you (virtually) at the full meeting of the Board on February 16.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor