Dear friends and colleagues:
Today, we welcome thousands of new and returning students to our campuses. As we embrace the energy and excitement that comes with every new beginning, I would like to take an opportunity to reflect on UBC’s recent developments – and to look ahead to the coming academic year.
Welcome to our students
This semester, we will have about 63,000 full- and part-time students being taught by 5,500 faculty members in 190 degree programs. They come to us from every part of B.C., every province and territory in Canada, and almost 160 countries around the globe.
Our message to each and every one of these students – the potential is yours. You will be given opportunities to learn, to create and share knowledge, to be inspired and to shape your future. If you have the drive to shape a better world, UBC will support you in realizing your greatest potential.
More of our new – and continuing – students will be able to study in financial security, thanks to our Blue and Gold Campaign for Students. This campaign is designed to support a range of student awards including fellowships, scholarships, and bursaries. Soon to enter its second year, the Blue and Gold Campaign has already raised over $40 million. This year, we will continue to work to achieve our $100 million goal over three years.
Welcome to new faculty and staff
As a globally recognized university, UBC is committed to excellence in teaching, learning and research. A large part of what makes UBC unique is our people and their common drive to shape a better world. UBC faculty and staff share a spirit of transformation, optimism and commitment to their efforts despite the inevitable obstacles faced along the way.
We are welcoming new faculty and staff members to UBC this year, including Professor Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, the new Provost and Vice-Principal Academic for UBC’s Okanagan campus; Professor Meigan Aronson, the new Dean of Science; and Professor Heather Campbell, the new Director of the School of Community and Regional Planning.
We are also welcoming UBC’s four Canada 150 Research Chairs: Professor Judith Mank, an evolutionary biologist; Professor Joseph Penninger, a functional geneticist; Professor Azim Shariff, a social psychologist; and Professor Margo Seltzer, a computer scientist. Joining UBC’s growing cohort of Indigenous faculty is Dr. Michelle Daigle, with the Department of Geography.
I would also like to welcome some new additions to our senior administration team: Heather McCaw is returning to UBC as our new Vice-President, Development and Alumni Engagement and Peter Smailes, is the new Vice-President, Finance and Operations. Barbara Meens Thistle joined the team as Vice-President, Human Resources, in February, and Dean of Medicine Dermot Kelleher was appointed UBC’s first Vice-President, Health in June.
A warm welcome is also extended to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the inaugural Director of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre; Dr. Margaret Moss, the new Director of the First Nations House of Learning; Dr. Minelle Mahtani, the Senior Advisor to the Provost on Racialized Faculty; Kurt Heinrich, Senior Director of Media Relations; Greg Scott, Managing Director of Building Operations; and Tom Huisman, the new Director of Athletics and Recreation for the Okanagan campus.
There are, of course, many more faculty and staff joining the ranks of talented and dedicated people working at UBC, and I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of them. UBC is for people who see a better world for themselves and others, and have thecuriosity, courage and initiative to turn their vision into reality.
This term will see additional changes to the senior administrative team as Drs. Louise Cowin (Vice-President, Students) and Philip Steenkamp (Vice-President, External Relations) step down after contributing outstanding service to UBC. We have initiated searches for these positions and we look forward to announcing Louise’s and Philip’s successors.
Research, innovation, and scholarly activity
UBC’s Research and Innovation team, under the leadership of Professor Gail Murphy, has four major goals this year:
- to enhance support and services to indigenous communities and researchers to undertake collaborative projects based on community-led interests, reciprocal relationships and principles of mutual accountability;
- to support interdisciplinary and collaborative research through the research excellence cluster program and through mobility grants to enable researchers to interact between the campuses and through Cascadia;
- to establish core facilities to make sure our researchers have access to the infrastructure needed for leading edge scholarship and discoveries; and
- to establish innovation hubs in downtown Vancouver and downtown Kelowna to enable better partnerships and connections between UBC researchers and the community.
In the first week of June 2019, UBC will be hosting Congress 2019 of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Jointly organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the Congress is the largest interdisciplinary conference in Canada, and will bring together over 70 academic associations, which represent a rich array of disciplines.
Among the many new programs at UBC this year include a degree in forensic sciences offered jointly with BCIT and, with investment from the Province of BC, a new biomedical engineering program.
I’ve also had the opportunity to launch two new community initiatives this year. The UBC President’s Roundtables series brings experts and practitioners from across the region together with UBC faculty, staff, students and senior leaders to explore and activate solutions to pressing local issues. The first two Roundtables explored the overdose crisis response and regional climate action as part of the UC3 initiative; a third roundtable, planned for this fall, will tackle housing affordability.
Also launched this year, UBC Connects is a new public lecture series that features renowned thought leaders sharing their perspectives on pressing global issues. The next speaker is theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku, who will be on the Vancouver campus on September 26th for a student event and now sold-out public lecture at the Chan Centre. Visit the UBC Connects for details on past and current events in the series, media archive, and the future launch of our 2019 speaker lineup.
UBC’s Strategic Plan
With the endorsement of the strategic plan by the Senates and Board of Governors, we now begin the work of implementation of the plan, Shaping UBC’s Next Century, in collaboration across our campuses. We have identified priorities for transformative action, and will be working with campus leadership and our community to achieve our vision, “To inspire people, ideas and actions for a better world”.
The history of UBC’s first century is rooted in the initiative of students filled with the desire for a better life and dedicated faculty, staff and alumni creating pathways to a better future. Our motto, Tuum Est (It is Yours), continues to be a declaration of our drive to develop opportunities for people who want to create a better world.
In late 2017, UBC embarked on a multi-year journey to transform our Finance, Human Resources and Student administrative processes and system environments, in support of our Strategic Plan.
The Integrated Renewal Program is a business process transformation and system implementation program that will leverage the industry-leading cloud enterprise solution Workday to replace our current core administrative systems with a new integrated, user friendly, mobile-enabled platform.
The Program team has spent the first half of 2018 building the implementation plans for the Finance and Human Resources workstreams. The next phase for these two workstreams, “Architect”, began in August with the goal of confirming design decisions and aligning processes for the new system in anticipation of the Configuration and Prototyping stages.
Equity, diversity and inclusion
UBC’s commitment to building a more welcoming and inclusive campus is now formally reflected in our strategic plan. Over the coming months, we will collaboratively explore opportunities for action and will articulate those ideas through a more detailed plan that will guide our efforts around inclusion.
UBC’s new Senior Advisor on Racialized Faculty, Dr. Minelle Mahtani, will work with faculty and administrators across the university to develop and implement strategies that support UBC’s leadership in creating a welcoming and inclusive community for racialized faculty.
As you come back to campus, you may notice a more colourful spot near the AMS Nest. UBC’s new Pride Installation symbolizes our commitment to make UBC welcoming to all our LGBT2SQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans – transgender, genderqueer, non-binary, two-spirit, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) students, faculty, and staff – as well as the wider community members and allies. We are grateful to the graduating class of 2018 for providing the funding for this project as a gift to the university community.
In April of this year, we witnessed the official opening of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. At the Opening, I delivered an apology on behalf of UBC for the university’s role in the residential school system. Indigenous students have earned their place at Canadian universities, against the odds, and continue to strive to be among our very best students at UBC.
This past year also saw the installation of bilingual street signs on nine Point Grey campus streets with names in English and hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ – the traditional language of the Musqueam people – and the launch of an interactive map showing the locations of various world-class Indigenous public artworks on campus.
Looking forward, I am pleased that UBC’s new strategic plan identifies Indigenous engagement as a core commitment, and that the university’s new Indigenous Strategic Plan will be finalized later this year.
We also said farewell to Dr. Linc Kesler, who has stepped down as Director of the First Nations House of Learning and senior advisor to the president on Indigenous affairs. Dr. Kesler was awarded the President’s Medal of Excellence in recognition of his outstanding service to the university.
As mentioned above, Dr. Margaret Moss will serve as director of the First Nations House of Learning while Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot is the new senior advisor on Indigenous affairs. I look forward to working with them, and with Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre Director Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond as we continue our journey of reconciliation.
Our global connections
Earlier this year, I took part in the annual presidents’ meeting of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU). APRU 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.
Just last month I returned from a visit to Japan, where I met with the leaders of Keio University and the University of Tokyo. Along with Vice-President Research and Innovation Gail Murphy, I participated in a series of meetings at the University of Washington to continue and deepen our research and teaching collaboration in the Cascadia Innovation Corridor.
These are just three examples of the importance that UBC places on global connections – especially the Asia-Pacific Region. These connections, built over many years, have yielded a powerful set of partnerships and academic exchanges. The strategic plan calls for furthering and strengthening our global connections in general and with the Asia-Pacific region in particular. This is on top of the network of 337,000 alumni we now have in 148 countries, all connected through alumni UBC.
On the Vancouver campus we are increasing the number of student beds with the construction of the Exchange Residence, and planning and design for Gage Infill housing and Brock Phase II. We are also planning for future neighbourhood housing opportunities, particularly Stadium Neighbourhood.
We’ll also be continuing to advocate for completion of the Millennium Line Broadway Extension to Arbutus all the way to the Point Grey campus, while enhancing mobility on campus through the accessibility shuttle and the recently implemented Dropbike program.
I anticipate that the Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories Renewal and Expansion will be completed this year. The complex will provide modern teaching labs for life sciences undergraduate students. We also look forward to the completion of the MacInnes Field Parkade, this winter, which will be an underground parking facility located beneath the new MacInnes Field in the University Boulevard precinct. This new parkade will address short-term and visitor parking demand for destinations such as the Aquatic Centre, Alumni Centre, AMS Nest, Bookstore and commercial sites along University Boulevard.
At UBC Okanagan, I’m looking forward to the opening of the new Commons. Features of the Commons include the D. Ross Fitzpatrick Great Hall for students, the Lois and Cliff Serwa Reading Room, a 400-seat classroom, Visualization and Emerging Media Lab, and Special Collections and Archives.
Getting to UBC Okanagan will be easier than ever, with important new cycling and pedestrian routes connecting campus with the surrounding neighbourhoods. New bus routes and road connections will also make commuting more convenient, and allow us to convert a significant part of University Way into a pedestrian-friendly space.
We’re beginning detailed design of two new student residence facilities (with more than 400 units and a 500-seat restaurant), a research greenhouse and new engineering lab facilities for UBC-O, and updating Okanagan campus design guidelines and wayfinding signage across campus.
It is yours
Tuum Est — It is Yours. UBC provides the place, the people and the potential that students, faculty, staff, alumni and our partners value, but it is up to individuals with drive and initiative to make the most of what the university offers.
In closing, I would like to thank all of you for your commitment and dedication to UBC and its academic mission. This promises to be another great year!
Professor Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor