Letters from Santa

Letters from Santa

Graduation: Sharing the Pride and Joy

This week marks the start of one of my favourite times of year at UBC: Graduation. It’s a special time on campus, as we honour the significant accomplishment students have achieved in their lives and the important contribution they have made to the university. I personally feel privileged to be a part of UBC Graduation and to share the joy and pride of the graduates and their loved ones.

Over the next few weeks, more than 8,000 students will cross the stage at the Chan Centre on the Vancouver campus and the gymnasium at UBC Okanagan, cheered on by their family and friends. UBC Ceremonies Office staff, assisted by almost 100 volunteers, will ensure that everything runs smoothly during the 28 ceremonies at the Vancouver campus and 6 at UBC Okanagan. (You can find more information at https://graduation.ubc.ca/and http://graduation.ok.ubc.ca/.)

Besides the official ceremonies, there are other events associated with #UBCgrad. I’d like to mention two in particular (you can find out about the others at the websites mentioned above).

First is the annual Baccalaureate Concert at the Chan Centre on May 23. It’s a free concert (tickets available on the day), starting at 8 p.m., and I will have the privilege of being a part of it (along with many talented UBC student musicians). I’ll be performing on cello along with Matthew Yep on violin, Amanda Pang on viola, and Susie Jiwon Yoo on cello in a performance of Movement I from Anton Arensky’s String Quartet No. 2. You can find the full program at https://graduation.ubc.ca/students/baccalaureate-concert/.

The other highlight for me will be the First Nations House of Learning Graduation Celebration, which takes place at the First Nations Longhouse on May 26. Approximately 200 Aboriginal students will graduate from UBC this year, and the Celebration will bring together many of them, along with their families. Coming shortly after the opening of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre and my Apology for UBC’s role in the residential school system, this Graduation Celebration holds special significance for UBC.

UBC is also awarding 10 honorary degrees at Spring Graduation. Since the first honorary degrees were awarded in 1925, recipients have included Louise Arbour, Emily Carr, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Julie Payette, Bill Reid, David Suzuki, and many others. (The full list can be found at https://archives.library.ubc.ca/heraldry-congregation-graduation/honorary-degrees-conferred-by-ubc/.) This year’s recipients are:

  • Peter Agre, physician and molecular biologist at Johns Hopkins University and the Director of Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute.
  • Ross Beaty, geologist, entrepreneur, and generous supporter of environmental conservation organizations and causes, including the establishment of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum and Beaty Biodiversity Centre at UBC.
  • Jonathan Fanton, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and one of the world’s leading advocates for an integrated system of international justice.
  • Patsy George, a social worker and internationally recognized advocate for human rights and social justice.
  • Ryan Holmes, founder of the social media company Hootsuite, which employs 500 people while being used by 10 million more.
  • Leroy “Lee” Hood, a biologist and a leader in the biotechnology field for his development of automated DNA sequencing.
  • Mary-Claire King, a geneticist and American Cancer Society Professor of Genome Sciences and a Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington, whose major research accomplishments include identifying the existence of a breast cancer gene, demonstrating that humans and chimpanzees are 99 per cent genetically identical, and applying genomic sequencing to identify victims of human rights abuses.
  • Naomi Oreskes, a Professor of the History of Science and an Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University; best known for her work on the consensus among climate scientists of global climate change and the forces behind climate denial.
  • Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and the Chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance.
  • Eden Robinson, an internationally recognized Haisla and Heiltsuk novelist and short story writer and graduate of UBC’s master’s program in Creative Writing.
  • Peter Trudgill, an internationally renowned socio-linguist, who will receive an honorary degree in the Fall.

I’m looking forward to #UBCgrad, and I’d like to thank all those who work so tirelessly to ensure that it runs smoothly – both staff and volunteers – so that the graduates and their families have a day to remember.

Graduation 2018 also marks the conclusion of my second academic year at UBC. I’m looking forward to beginning my third year here.

Best wishes

Professor Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-President

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