Letters from Santa

Letters from Santa

UBC: Proud to be a Pacific Rim university


Earlier this week, I took part in the annual presidents’ meeting of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU). The 50 member institutions are located in Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Indonesia, the United States and 10 other countries, and include some of the world’s most prestigious and influential universities.

UBC is the only Canadian member of the group, which was founded in 1997 by the presidents of the California Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California to bring together thought leaders, researchers, and policy-makers to exchange ideas and collaborate on effective solutions to the challenges of the 21st century.

The annual meeting, which took place in Taipei, Taiwan, allowed us to exchange ideas, discuss common issues, and cement partnerships. The theme of the meeting was Our Digital Future in a Divided World, and I participated in a panel discussing Public Trust and the Changing Role of Universities. I was also honoured to be appointed to the APRU Steering Committee.

An APRU session on the impact of AI on the workforce of the future.

The APRU meeting took place at National Taiwan University, which was founded in 1928 and is one of the top-ranked universities in the world. I was very impressed by NTU, its students, faculty and facilities. Thank you, NTU President Dr. Tei-Wei Kuo, for being such a gracious host.

The campus of National Taiwan University in Taipei.

Besides National Taiwan University, UBC has many significant links with Pacific Rim universities. Here are just two examples:

  • Cascadia corridor: Thanks to a $1-million donation last year from Microsoft Corporation, UBC and the University of Washington have an unprecedented opportunity to transform the Cascadia region into a technological hub comparable to Silicon Valley and Boston. The donation allows UBC and UW to establish a Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative (CUAC), an applied, interdisciplinary, regional centre that brings together academic researchers, students and community members to address urban issues facing citizens of the so-called Cascadia region – usually defined as the province of British Columbia along with Washington State and Oregon.
  • Quantum Materials: Last year, trilateral agreement which joined the University of Tokyo to the existing partnership in Quantum Materials between UBC and Germany’s Max Planck Society. The new partnership will create the Max Planck – UBC – UTokyo Centre for Quantum Materials.The signing represents the culmination of decades of informal collaboration and will create one of the world’s foremost centres for research in this field. (Find out more about the agreement at https://science.ubc.ca/news/ubc-max-planck-joined-utokyo-quantum-materials-collaboration).

While in Taiwan I also met with Ms. Linda Liu, president of the National Council of Women of Taiwan, and Ms. Jean Liu, chair of the Taipei Culture and Education Foundation. We are forever grateful for their family’s gift that made the Liu Institute for Global Issues possible at UBC.

With Linda and Jean Liu.


I also had the honour to meet with Master Cheng Yen, founder of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation and one of the most influential figures in the development of modern Taiwanese Buddhism. She is an amazing woman, leading a major international humanitarian and non-governmental organization with more than 10 million members worldwide throughout 47 countries.

With Master Cheng Yen (centre) of the Tzu Chi Foundation.

I’m proud of UBC’s membership in the Association of Pacific Rim Universities. Borders should have no meaning when it comes to knowledge discovery and dissemination. We benefit most when we work together. Indeed, UBC was recently named North America’s most international university thanks in large part to its extensive and intensive international collaborations, many of which are with other Pacific Rim universities. I look forward to increasing and deepening those collaborations in coming years.

Best wishes

Professor Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor

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