Welcome to the May 2023 issue of Letter to the Board, a regular communication to members of the UBC Board of Governors.


President Frank-Walter Steinmeier viewing applied science research exhibit. From left: First Lady Elke Büdenbender, President Steinmeier, UBC President Deborah Buszard, and UBC school of engineering PhD candidate Ahmad Ghaffarkhan and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Hadi Hosseini. Credit: Geoff Lister/UBC.

German president’s visit to UBC highlights clean energy and climate change solutions

Last month, UBC hosted Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the president of Germany, as part of his first official visit to Canada. I was honoured to meet President Steinmeier and the German delegation as they toured UBC’s soon-to-open hydrogen research platform. Read more here.


Left to right: Heather Gainforth, Greg Garrard, Isaac Li

Okanagan research awards

Last week, UBC Okanagan celebrated six outstanding researchers with one of its most prestigious research awards—Researcher of the Year. The 2023 Researcher of the Year awards ceremony honoured faculty winners Dr. Heather Gainforth for health research, Dr. Greg Garrard for social sciences and humanities and Dr. Isaac Li for the natural sciences and engineering category.

Three graduate or postdoctoral researchers were also recognized for their excellence in scholarly activity and highlighted as researchers to watch in the coming years: Dr. Femke Hoekstra, Faculty of Health and Social Development; Melanie Dickie, Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science; and Hanna Paul, Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Spring Graduation ceremonies begin May 24

Spring Graduation ceremonies begin Wednesday, May 24 at the Chan Centre on the Vancouver campus and go until June 1. Ceremonies at UBC Okanagan take place June 8 and 9. Find out more here. Congratulations to all our outstanding students. I’m proud of all of your.

Besides honouring the thousands of students who will be receiving their diplomas, UBC will also convey honorary degrees on six distinguished individuals at the UBC Vancouver ceremonies and two at the UBC Okanagan ceremonies. My congratulations to all the recipients.

Larry Grant to be awarded Honorary Degree from SFU

I would like to congratulate Elder Larry Grant, who will receive an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University at SFU’s fall graduation ceremonies. Elder Larry Grant (sʔəyəɬəq | 洪禮興) is a widely-respected educator and community leader of Musqueam and Chinese ancestry whose tireless efforts have played a key role in revitalizing Musqueam language, culture, and presence throughout Metro Vancouver. An adjunct professor in UBC’s First Nations Endangered Languages program and manager of the Musqueam Language and Culture Department, he has inspired countless generations to learn more about Indigenous histories, rights, and relations in Canada, including the history of First Nations and early Chinese migrants.


Dr. Pieter Cullis and Dr. Sally Otto named 2023 Killam Prize winners

The National Killam Program has announced the 2023 Killam Prize and Dorothy Killam Fellowship winners, recognizing the inclusive collaborators, research leaders and barrier breakers who are driving the future of Canada. I am so pleased that Dr. Pieter Cullis received the 2023 Killam Prize in Health Sciences and Dr. Sally Otto received the 2023 Killam Prize in Natural Sciences. UBC is proud of these two outstanding scholars.


News from around UBC

Faculty of Applied Science:Engineering professor Dr. Madjid Mohseni leads a team that have developed a new water treatment that removes “forever chemicals” from drinking water. • Dr. Hirra Zafar is working to convert rotten fruit waste into electrical energyTexting intervention for lesbian and bisexual girls prevents teen pregnancy • Third Quadrant Design, a 60-member student engineering design team, have unveiled one of Canada’s first institutional spaces designed by students, and with near-zero embodied carbon • Indigenous Community Planning students partner with Indigenous Nations for 11th year 

Faculty of Arts: Dr. Richard Menkis, Associate Professor of History, is the recipient of the 2023 Dean of Arts Award, for his exceptional leadership and impact in his field, centering on Jewish studies and Holocaust education. Dr. Shannon Walsh, Associate Professor in Theatre & Film, has won a 2023 Governor General’s Award for Artistic Achievement in Visual and Media Arts. The UBC Centre for Migration Studies and its research partners were awarded $12.4 million from the Canada Research First Excellence Fund to study migrant integration in the mid-21st century.

Integrated Renewal Program: This year, IRP Student is focused on testing the system and preparing the UBC community for the upcoming transition. Click here to learn more about the activities, engagements, and milestones ahead as UBC prepares for the Launch 1 of Workday Student in October 2023.

Faculty of Land and Food Systems: This year marks the fourth growing season at Musqueam Garden. Through UBC’s Community-University Engagement Support (CUES) Fund, Patricia Isaak, Health Services Coordinator, Musqueam Indian Band, and Dr. Eduardo Jovel, LFS Applied Biology program and xʷcicəsəm Garden, will increase food production and distribution during the growing season as they endeavour to grow healthy, local, and culturally appropriate foods to unite the community and enhance food security. • The LFS development and alumni engagement team initiated a Young Alumni Council that officially launches this month. The council will engage up to 3,000 potential alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years through professional development, entrepreneurship support and community engagement opportunities. The new council will be led by 16 alumni who will take the initiative to establish programs.

The Faculty of Medicine is expanding the occupational therapy program in northern B.C. which will improve culturally safe care, accessibility and community inclusion. • Prescription contraception is now free for people in B.C. and Faculty of Medicine researchers, including Dr. Wendy Norman, were influential in bringing about this policy change. • Dr. Manish Sadarangani is among five Canadian scientists receiving funding for pandemic preparedness projects as part of a new partnership between CIHR and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. • Safer and more effective blood thinners could be on the way following a groundbreaking discovery by Faculty of Medicine researchers, including Dr. Jay Kizhakkedathu.

Peter A. Allard School of Law: Though Allard Law’s new Afghan Women Judges Program, three judges from Afghanistan have recently joined the law school. Judge Bibi Wahida Rahimi accepted a two-year position as a Research Associate. Judges Freshta Masomi and Zamila Sangar accepted two-year appointments as visiting scholars with the Centre for Asian Legal Studies.

UBC Okanagan launched its new Doctor of Education ProgramHeather Berringer was appointed Associate Provost, Academic Operations and Services • Robert Janke was appointed Interim Chief Librarian • UBCO hosted Giving Day, raising more than $200,000 for student causes • UBCO launched its inaugural debate to present the opposing sides of artificial intelligence.

Faculty of Science: A new training program housed at the University of British Columbia will help prepare graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in B.C. and Western Canada for a future driven by next generation AI and machine learning solutions.

UBC Sauder Faculty Advisory Board Chair Warren Spitz along with his wife Maureen and their family, have donated an additional $500,000 to the Spitz Fellows Program which is aimed at enabling and supporting Indigenous women to pursue business education. Launched by the Spitz family in 2015 with a $1 million initial gift, the program was developed in consultation with UBC Sauder and Ch’nook Indigenous Business Education, and with input from Indigenous and academic communities. • Dean Darren Dahl has been awarded the top honour by the Society of Consumer Psychology for his research on creativity and social influence. He has been named a 2023 Fellow for his outstanding contributions to consumer psychology through research and service. • The Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics and the UBC Sauder Dean’s Office congratulate the eight thought leaders who have been awarded Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Catalyst Grants for 2023. These grants provide seed funding to support research in the field of EDI.


As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments on this newsletter. I look forward to seeing you at the Board retreat tomorrow and at the full meeting of the Board on May 10.

Deborah Buszard
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor



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