President’s Newsletter



Welcome to the March 2022 issue of Letter from Santa, a regular communication to the UBC community.


Provost and Vice-President Academic, pro tem appointments announced

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Rehan Sadiq (left) has been appointed Provost and Vice-President Academic, pro tem, UBC Okanagan, and Professor Gage Averill (right) has been appointed Provost and Vice-President, Academic pro tem, UBC Vancouver.

Dr. Sadiq is the former Executive Associate Dean in the School of Engineering at UBC Okanagan and a Professor of Civil Engineering. Named a UBC Distinguished University Scholar in 2021, Dr. Sadiq has also served as as a co-director of Digital Learning Factory Initiative and as a co-lead of Life Cycle Management Laboratory. He is a world-leading researcher in the areas of asset management of water supply systems, environmental risk analysis and lifecycle assessment of built environment.

Dr. Averill is the former Dean of Arts. A renowned ethnomusicologist whose research in Haitian popular music has earned him several awards, he has consulted for the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Smithsonian Institute, the Organization of American States, the Fulbright Foundation, and for films, festivals, and copyright law cases.

Please join me in welcoming them into their new roles. I look forward to working with them.


New scholarship program supports Black Canadian students at UBC

A new scholarship program is providing both financial and institutional support for Black Canadian students at the University of British Columbia. The Beyond Tomorrow Scholars Program is a first-of-its-kind initiative in Canada that provides both scholarships and a range of integrated institutional supports to help provide a pathway to success for Black Canadian students at UBC. Find out more here.


Annual report on UBC Okanagan’s Declaration of Commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action

In 2019, UBC Okanagan pledged to support Indigenous students, culture and scholarship through a public declaration of five commitments in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. On March 1, 2022, communities gathered online to share UBC Okanagan’s second annual progress report on its Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) commitments. Please read more here.


UBC–led research team finds nine new coronavirus species

A former UBC post-doctoral research fellow led an international research team in re-analyzing all public RNA sequencing data to uncover almost 10 times more RNA viruses than were previously known, including several new species of coronaviruses in some unexpected places.

Congratulations to 2021 UBC Faculty Research Awards recipients

I’d like to congratulate the recipients of the 2021 Faculty Research Awards, including Nemkumar Banthia, Civil Engineering (Applied Science), recipient of the Jacob Billy Research Prize, UBC’s premier award for research.


UBC scientists discover how to 3D print testicular cells

In a pair of world firsts, UBC scientists have 3D printed human testicular cells and identified promising early signs of sperm-producing capabilities.

The researchers, led by UBC urology assistant professor Dr. Ryan Flannigan (left, with research assistant Meghan Robinson), hope the technique will one day offer a solution for people living with presently untreatable forms of male infertility.




UBC launches open portal for sustainability data

UBC has launched a new open data portal for UBC sustainability data, providing open access to UBC’s latest sustainability performance across our academic, operational, and community-focused areas of work. Find out more here.

UBC recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers in 2022

UBC has been recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers in 2022. This designation recognizes employers across Canada with exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs. Find out more here.

News from around UBC

The Faculty of Applied Science  hosted a technical briefing after the December floods and landslides across B.C. More than 700 delegates registered to hear insights on managing the impacts of natural disasters on infrastructure such as highways, bridges, pipelines, dikes and rail lines. • Housing experts from the School of Community and Regional Planning have been awarded $1.9M to  support the national roll-out of tools that will help communities to accurately measure how much affordable housing they need, and identify the best land and buildings that can be used to meet those needs. | UBC Nursing researchers are leading a four-year study funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, to challenge stigma and discrimination against people living with dementia. • School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture faculty members feature on two teams shortlisted by the Canada Council for the Arts for Canada’s official representation at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

The School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture is now receiving nominations for the 2022 Margolese Design for Living Prize. The $50,000 prize recognizes a Canadian designer whose work in the built environment improves the lives of people and their communities. Candidates for the prize are Canadian citizens and early to mid-career practitioners whose design work demonstrates wide environmental and social impact across a diversity of design disciplines and geographies. Anyone can submit a nomination until the April 10 deadline.

Faculty of Arts: On March 17, President Ono announced that Dean of Arts Gage Averill has been appointed to Provost and Vice-President, Academic pro tem for UBC Vancouver, commencing April 4. Dr. Averill shared a letter with faculty, staff and students, reflecting on the highlights of his 11 years as Dean. • The Centre for European Studies launched on March 17 with a mandate to become a multidisciplinary home for the critical study of Europe. The Centre has been active in organizing, hosting, and coordinating events for the UBC community and broader public about Russia’s war in Ukraine. • The new Arts Student Centre  celebrated its opening on March 3.

The Faculty of Dentistry has begun constructing an innovative Simulation and Digital Dentistry Computer Laboratory (SDDCL). This new facility will enhance student learning experiences by incorporating state-of-the-art technologies and digital methodologies including 72 student simulation workstations and 10 digital dentistry units. This new laboratory will allow our students to practice cutting edge digital dentistry while also enhancing the Faculty’s capacity for our DMD program. This project was made possible through the generous gifts from 123Dentist ($1 million), Planmeca (over $3 million) and Dentsply Sirona (over $500,000). The SDDCL will be completed in August, in time to welcome our dental and dental hygiene students for the 2022/23 academic year!

Faculty of Education: Dr. Annette Henry is celebrated in 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women, which highlights the accomplishments of Black Canadian women in recognition of their social, educational, political and professional successes. Dr. Henry’s scholarship examines race, class, language, gender and culture in socio-cultural contexts of teaching and learning in the lives of Black students, Black oral histories and Black women teachers’ practice in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. • Dr. Handel Kashope Wright has been invited to serve as a member of the national Inter-institutional Steering Committee on Inclusive Higher Education of the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education. The Inter-institutional Steering Committee will encourage the development of communities of practice, foster implementation and accountability by member institutions of the Scarborough Charter, and interface with governments, communities and others to secure implementation of the Scarborough Charter.

Faculty of Land and Food Systems: The UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre in Agassiz will begin renovations in April to upgrade research and meeting spaces, and prepare for the installation of state-of-the-art robotic milking machines. The Centre will capture an immense amount of automated data for research studies, and become one of North America’s largest robotic milking research facilities by the end of 2022. • LFS and BCIT are co-launching a series of micro-courses in a new Micro-certificate in Food Safety Management program, created to fill industry’s need for more quality assurance professionals specializing in food and beverage.

Peter A. Allard School of Law: In February 2022, Allard Law announced two new awards aimed at supporting students who identify as Indigenous, Black or as a person of colour. • A new $1.8-million grant from the federal government will support a cross-Canada research team in creating tools for diagnosing Canada’s core housing needs and identifying the best land for social and affordable housing. The project is led by Allard Law professor Dr. Alexandra Flynn and School of Community and Regional Planning professor Dr. Penelope Gurstein.

The Faculty of Science has launched the digital magazine FOCUS, which Dean Meigan Aronson calls “a thematic approach to exploring collaborative research and intellectual connections across and beyond UBC Science.” FOCUS will be published twice a year. To subscribe, or to see the inaugural issue on flight, click here.

UBC Okanagan: In February, as part of the Black History Month activities designed to honour the contributions of Black Canadians, the FINA Gallery displayed ‘Rooted Sentiments’, an art exhibition of a BIPOC artist collective founded by MFA student Michaela Bridgemohan exploring themes of exclusion and intersections of identity. • UBC Okanagan hosted Emerge, a week-long career event featuring to help support Black students and students of colour navigating the job market. • Updated Nsyilxcn street signs were installed at UBC Okanagan. Working with the En’owkin Centre and the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA), these updated signs were created to support shared understanding and awareness and learning of the language of the Syilx people.

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences: To wrap up the Faculty’s 75th anniversary year, a series of stories were created to reflect on the many milestones collectively achieved across the Faculty’s four strategic pillars: People and Place, Education, Research, and Practice. Each includes thoughts and reflections from faculty and staff members past and present. • The Our Practice podcast has returned for a second season. Episode 1 focuses on formulating impactful recommendations. • Members of the UBC Pharm Sci community shared their reflections and advice in recognition of International Women’s Day earlier this month (#BreakTheBias).

UBC Sauder’s social entrepreneurship program, LIFT (Leadership, Innovation, Fundamentals and Training), is continuing to build capacity through new international outreach efforts. LIFT pairs UBC Sauder student mentors with budding entrepreneurs abroad and has now expanded beyond Kenya into Ghana under the leadership and inspiration of UBC Sauder MBA student Abigail Okyere.


As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments on this newsletter.


Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor







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