President’s Newsletter




Welcome to the Summer 2023 issue of Letter from the President, a regular communication to the UBC community.


Kathleen Michel of Upper Nicola Indian Band and Westbank First Nation’s Rose Caldwell pose outside UBC Okanagan’s Engineering, Management and Education Building. They are part of UBCO’s first-ever cohort from the Bachelor of Nsyilxcn Language Fluency program.

Celebrating our Graduates

UBC celebrated its largest-ever graduating class ever this year. The milestone included a record 177 Indigenous graduates from UBC Vancouver and 126 from UBC Okanagan.

Significantly, this ceremony also marked the first occasion in which eight Syilx Okanagan students graduated with a degree taught in their language, Nsyilxcn, delivered on their land. This accomplishment was the product of an innovative partnership between the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) in Merritt and the En’owkin Centre in Penticton.

At the Vancouver and Okanagan ceremonies, a total of eight honorary degrees were awarded to deserving individuals for their exceptional contributions to society. These included JoAnn Callender, a Bahamian cultural ambassador; Morna Edmundson, Artistic Director of Elektra Women’s Choir and EnChor Choir; Roy Forbes, a renowned singer-songwriter; ii naa sii pii taa kii Beatrice Little Mustache, a child and adult welfare advocate; David Morley, former CEO of UNICEF Canada; Snxakila Clyde Tallio, a Nuxalk First Nation ceremonial speaker and knowledge keeper; former UBC Chancellor Lindsay Gordon; and suiki?st Pauline Terbasket, a member of the Syilx Okanagan Nation and influential Indigenous leader.

You can relive the joyful moments at


UBC Team Develops Font for Musqueam Language

A team from the University of British Columbia has designed a new font that allows characters from the Musqueam language to not only be easily typed on a computer, but to match the formal institutional font used on university documentation and signs.The new font is also capable of typesetting the language of the Syilx, a nation located in the same area as the university’s Okanagan campus. Read more here.

Bachelor of St’át’imc Language Fluency degree Receives Ministry Approval

UBC Okanagan’s Bachelor of St’át’imc Language Fluency degree has received ministry approval, making it the third Indigenous language fluency program developed in collaboration among a variety of Indigenous partners and post-secondary institutions, in addition to the Bachelor of Nsyilxcn Language Fluency and the Bachelor of NłeɁkepmx Language Fluency. The program is anticipated to welcome students in the fall of 2023.

Dr. Yasmine Abdin (right) and her collaborators are transforming bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands into carbon fibre. (Photo credit: UBC Applied Science/Paul Joseph)

New Process Developed at UBC to Make Lightweight Electric Cars

A new process developed at UBC to make lightweight electric cars is steering closer to reality.

At her lab in the Faculty of Applied Science, UBC materials engineering assistant professor Dr. Yasmine Abdin and her collaborators, Dr. Frank Ko and Dr. Scott Renneckar, have successfully transformed bitumen into carbon fibres – spinning the black, sticky substance from Alberta’s oil sands into a crucial product for the energy transition. Read more here.


News from around UBC

Faculty of Applied Science: a team of SALA faculty are representing Canada at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, with an exhibit highlighting Canada’s housing crisis.

Faculty of Education: Beginning in September, adult learners who are Deaf or hard of hearing can enroll in a BC Early Childhood Education (ECE) Basic Certificate program that has been adapted to meet their learning needs. It’s the first program of its kind in Canada. Full story • Dr. Claudia Ruitenberg, Professor, Educational Studies, has been appointed president-elect of the international Philosophy of Education Society (PES). Dr. Ruitenberg will serve as president in 2024–2025 and will preside over the Philosophy of Education Society Conference in March 2025. Full Story

Faculty of Forestry: Congratulations to the ten Forestry faculty who received NSERC and SSHR awards last month. • UBC Forestry Introduces nine new micro-certificates • The Spring Edition of Branchlines magazine is out.

The Faculty of Medicine: As part of the Healthcare Travelling Roadshow, UBC learners travelled across rural B.C. to inspire northern and rural high school students to pursue a career in health. • A UBC team led by Dr. François Bénard received more than $23 million in federal funding to develop precision radiopharmaceuticals that promise to transform cancer treatment in Canada and beyond. •  More than 130 Indigenous medical students have graduated from the Faculty of Medicine’s Indigenous MD Pathway and are now providing culturally safe and accessible health care for families and communities across B.C. and beyond.

UBC Okanagan: UBCO offers an Indigenous Master of Science in Nursing pathwayDr. Peter Simpson was appointed Associate Provost, Academic Affairs and Strategy • The Wine Research Centre is now offering a micro-credential in wine tasting • A scholarship from the Stober Foundation has been gifted to UBCO in honour of late Kelowna business leader Dave McAnerney.

Faculty of Science: Dr. Celeste Leander, Professor of Teaching in the Departments of Botany and Zoology, has received a 2023 West Coast Teaching Excellence Award. The honour, awarded to top post secondary teachers in British Columbia and the Yukon by the BC Teaching and Learning Council (BCTLC), recognizes Dr. Leander’s deep commitment to student-centred teaching.

Peter A. Allard School of Law: A $100,000 donation from the Honourable Frank Iacobucci and Nancy Iacobucci has established the Frank and Nancy Iacobucci Entrance Award in Law for Indigenous Students. The award will support First Nations, Inuit or Métis students with financial need who are entering the JD program. •  Allard Law and the Canada Climate Law initiative are partnering to offer a new micro-certificate program focused on climate risk and ESG for corporate governance and decision-making.

UBC Sauder: Following the official unveiling of Third Space Commons, a new UBC Faculty of Applied Science teaching and learning space on campus, three UBC Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) students shared how they were involved in its carbon-minimal construction. Ao Lin Shen, Ben Rener, and Olivia Butzelaar are among a group of 60 UBC students from across 14 programs and three faculties who have just put the finishing touches on the 2,400 square foot building situated at 6363 Biological Sciences Road. •  UBC Sauder has recognized four faculty members for their outstanding achievements and efforts in teaching and research for the 2022/2023 academic year. Tracey Gurton is the recipient of the 2023 Killam Teaching Award, Conor Topley is the recipient of the Arne Olsen Teaching Prize, Rebecca Paluch is the recipient of the Talking Stick Award, and Yanwen Wang is the recipient of the Research Excellence Award, Junior Category. • The UBC Sauder’s Open Enrolment and Custom Executive Educations Programs have both been recognized as #11 in North America in the newly-released Financial Times Global Executive Education Rankings for 2023, and are consistently ranked among top providers of executive education by the Financial Times.

Workday: As UBC moves closer to Launch 1 of Workday Student in October of 2023, there is a continued focus on the “Go Decision”. This is the term used by IRP Student to determine if the program is ready to launch Workday Student. The Go Decision involves rigorous checks based on a pre-approved set of criteria including measures of system, support, and community readiness. The “Go Decision” happens in late July. You can read more about the Go Decision here (CWL required).


I wish everyone a wonderful summer.

Deborah Buszard
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor

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