September 2021


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



Orange Shirt Day | National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

On September 30, the UBC community will mark Orange Shirt Day | National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Every year on September 30th, people across Canada wear orange and participate in Orange Shirt Day events to recognize and raise awareness about the history and legacies of the residential school system in Canada.

The Canadian government has now designated September 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, beginning in 2021. This responds to Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action 80, which states that the federal government will work with Indigenous people to establish a statutory day to “honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process”.

The UBC community is acknowledging Orange Shirt Day | National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in a number of ways. For example, The Faculties of Applied Science, Forestry and Land and Food Systems are organizing an Intergenerational March. And the Faculty of Education is hosting two exhibits from the Legacy of Hope Foundation. Bi-Giwen explores the experiences of Survivors of the Sixties Scoop, which began in the 1960s, during which Indigenous children were taken from their families, often forcibly and fostered or adopted out to non-Indigenous homes. 100 Years of Loss details the stories of Indigenous children, some as young as four years of age, who were taken from their homes and communities and placed in Residential Schools, which were run by religious orders in collaboration with the Federal Government. Both exhibits are available for viewing in Rooms 204 and 205 of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, through the month of October.

Please see for more information on Orange Shirt Day | National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

UBC in Top 40 Globally in Times Higher Education Rankings

UBC has once again placed among the top 40 universities in the world in the Times Higher Education world university rankings. UBC placed 37th among the more than 1600 universities surveyed, second only to the University of Toronto in Canada.

Congratulations to UBC’s Millennium Fellows

Congratulations to UBC’s Duong Thuy Anh (Cathy) Ha, Elise Tavassoli-Worsell, Griffin Hay, Lauren Wu, Mary Kelly, Mika Han, Rishika Selvakumar and Shaiv Kamat, who were selected as United Nations Millennium Fellows. The Fellowship is a semester-long leadership development program that provides world class training, connections, and recognition for students interested in advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Twenty-five thousand applications were received from around the world, with only 2,000 Fellows selected.

Order of British Columbia Appointees

Seven of the latest appointees to the Order of British Columbia have UBC ties. In the words of Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin, “Their extraordinary leadership has been a source of strength for communities across the province. In difficult times, they have connected us through art, culture, public service and more. As we move with optimism toward the future, their achievements will be a foundation of success for future generations. It is with great honour I share congratulations to these remarkable individuals.” Congratulations to:

  • Debra Doucette (BA ’81),
  • Dr. Bonnie Henry (clinical associate professor, School of Population and Public Health), DSc ’21),
  • Carol A. Lee (BComm ’81, LLD ’19),
  • James McEwen, OC (BASc ’71, PhD ’75, DSc ’11),
  • Dr. Dolph Schluter (professor, Zoology),
  • Dr. Poul Sorensen (BSc ’80, MD ’84, PhD ’90),
  • Marvin Storrow, QC (LLB ’82, LLD ’14)


UBC Faculty Named to Royal Society of Canada

I’d like to congratulate the ten UBC faculty members named as Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada or as members of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

The fellowship of the RSC comprises over 2,000 Canadian scholars, artists, and scientists, peer-elected as the best in their field. These are distinguished individuals from all branches of learning who have made remarkable contributions in the arts, the humanities and the sciences, as well as in Canadian public life. The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists is Canada’s first national system of multidisciplinary recognition for the emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership. Please see Ten UBC Faculty Members Elected to the Royal Society of Canada | UBC Research + Innovation for more information.


IRP Student: UBC’s Renewal Journey Continues

The Integrated Renewal Program – Student project will include changes to many systems we use to support our students, with a goal to implement for the 2023/24 academic year. This renewal will provide much-needed security and stability to our student system environment. You can learn more at the IRP Student Town Hall on September 29 from 3 to 4 p.m.

News from around UBC

Faculty of Applied Science: A research and demonstration facility aimed at accelerating the development of low-carbon, market-ready bioenergy products and carbon-negative energy systems has opened its doors at UBC. Building on work conducted at UBC’s Clean Energy Research Centre (CERC) over the past 15 years, the new Biorefining Research and Innovation Centre will bring together top academic researchers and industry partners to create leading-edge technologies that could significantly reduce our reliance on carbon-intensive fossil fuels. • A new tool estimates how much affordable housing a city needs: The tool was developed by Dr. Penny Gurstein, head of the Housing Research Collaborative at UBC’s school of community and regional planning.

The Faculty of Land and Food Systems is building a stronger foundation to support equity, diversity, inclusion (EDI) and Indigeneity. The Faculty has appointed Will Valley in the new role of Associate Dean, EDI. He brings experience working with diverse community organizations as the Academic Director of the undergraduate core series of courses called Land, Food and Community, and is an Associate Professor of Teaching. • Tabitha Robin Martens is a new Assistant Professor (Indigenous Scholar) who started at UBC on September 1. Tabitha’s research focuses on Inninnew (Cree) Elders, traditional foods, ceremony and the social implications for Indigenous food sovereignty. She will be part of the Applied Biology Program during her first year, and is looking forward to furthering the scholarship and teaching around Indigenous food systems.

Faculty of Medicine: UBC resident doctor Willow Thickson is creating a safer space for Indigenous patients in B.C. and plans to one day practice as a family doctor in the Fraser. • Drs. Anita Palepu, Chris Carlsten, Teresa Liu-Ambrose and Lakshmi Yatham are leading studies on the long-term effects of COVID-19. • Dr. Shoukat Dedhar and colleagues have uncovered a weakness in a key enzyme that solid tumour cancer cells rely on to adapt and survive, which could pave the way for new treatment strategies. • Dr. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu and his team developed an innovative coating for blood vessels to reduce organ rejection following a transplant.

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences: The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) have committed $1,986,406 in funding across four years to support a large-scale UBC research project titled “IMplementing Predictive Analytics towards efficient COPD Treatments” (IMPACT). The IMPACT project will use a clinical tool embedded in Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to help improve prediction of lung attacks based on individual markers, and better communicate risks for such symptom exacerbation to patients. • Patient-centered care is a popular term used all across the healthcare continuum. But what exactly does it look like in day-to-day patient interactions? In Episode Four of the UBC Pharm Sci Our Practice podcast, Dr. Jillian Reardon shares how she puts patient-centered care into action.

UBC Okanagan: Congratulations to Professor Abbas Milani and his team on the award of a $1.6 million grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program to support UBCO’s newly-established CREATE Immersive Technologies (CITech) program. • If you haven’t been at UBC Okanagan recently, you’ll be excited to see some new buildings on campus including the two recently completed projects like our two new residence buildings—Skeena and Nechako, the 5100 square-foot plant growth facility and the newly complete innovation precinct one.

UBC Sauder has launched the Montalbano Centre for Responsible Leadership Development to build on the school’s vision to create a more just, sustainable and prosperous world. The focus is to promote responsible leadership as a core value, a skillset, and as an emerging field of discipline. Faculty member and scholar Daniel Skarlicki has been appointed as Academic Director.

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 September 21.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor