Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre, Vancouver
Thank you everyone, and thank you especially to Susan and Ken Chow.
(To the Chows:) We are delighted to have you lead us through the program this evening. But UBC is also honoured and deeply grateful for your dedication and generosity all the other days of the year.
I am inspired by your support for the university – especially for your contribution to programs like the UBC Geriatric Dentistry initiative at Villa Cathay.
Ours is a better university – and a stronger community – for your efforts. Thank you.
And, again, thank you all! And Happy New Year!
It seems only yesterday that we were here celebrating the arrival of the 10th Lunar New Year and, suddenly, 2018 has gone to the Dogs and we are gathered to ring in the Year of the Pig.
I was born in the year of the Tiger and Tigers, apparently, are very compatible with Pigs. So, I believe this will be a very good year – for UBC and, perhaps, even for the Chows!
I’m also delighted to note that this is UBC’s largest Lunar New Year dinner so far.
This is yet more evidence of the size, strength and importance of the Chinese community in the life of this exemplary university.
And UBC is exemplary. You have already heard that we stand among the top 50 research institutions in the world. We’re in the top eight outside the United States.
Department by department, our achievement is even more impressive. We rank 5th in ecology; 10th in computer science; 22nd in Mathematics and 25th in Medicine. In the humanities, UBC stands 22nd in Literature, 23rd in Economics and 28th in Law.
And, again, thanks in no small part to the Asian connections evidenced in this room, Times Higher Education holds UBC to be the most international university in North America.
So, we have an extremely strong base on which to build. And now we also have a new strategic plan, which we have called Shaping UBC’s Next Century.
I like to think of the plan as a roadmap, guiding UBC into its second 100 years.
It sets out our collective vision, purpose, goals and strategies.
It will inform our decisions, guide our actions, and, I hope, inspire the very best in our community — our students, faculty and staff, and you, our most cherished partners.
That said, as I look to the benefactors and supporters gathered here this evening: you hardly seem to need our guidance
If anything, we surely can draw further inspiration from your leadership.
Let me offer just two examples of the innovation, activism and philanthropy that seems to define the influence of UBC’s Chinese Canadian community.
The first example, which was suggested by faculty and staff in our Sauder School of Business, is the Peter Lee Asia Initiative.
I hope you know a little of the extent of UBC’s links to the great Asian capitals.
As you’ve heard, I have recently returned from a fabulous trip to China, where we found increasing appetite for alumni activities not just in Hong Kong, but in other centres, as well.
Now, thanks to support from Peter Lee and this five-year Asia Initiative, we will be adding a senior staff position based in Shanghai.
Our new team member, Parker Xu, will enable UBC to increase programming for UBC alumni. He also will work to help Sauder distinguish itself in China as Canada’s foremost business school.
A second example, suggested by the Faculty of Medicine, is the Edwin S.H. Leong Healthy Aging Program.
Before I talk about this, I have to put on the record that, as UBC President, I have an absolute policy of playing no favourites. I work to support every faculty and every initiative with equal enthusiasm.
But I have to admit that I feel a personal investment in this program – as might many of you.
Thanks to a remarkably generous $24-million gift from Dr. Edwin Leong, the Faculty of Medicine is redoubling its efforts to become the Canadian leader in healthy aging.
Dr. Leong’s gift will greatly expand UBC’s capacity to conduct research aimed at helping people to live longer and, importantly, to help us all enjoy a better quality of life in our later years – to age in good health.
We’re currently conducting an international search to identify a preeminent researcher to lead this program.
So, with profound thanks to Dr. Leong, here’s to a successful search.
And to us all – may we all enjoy long and healthy lives.
Now, I said I have no favourites among faculties or programs, but I’ve made no secret about having a favourite community on campus – one that inspires and energizes me every day.
It’s students. They are our most important responsibility and our most valuable resource.
So, I am extremely passionate about the Blue & Gold Campaign for Students – the largest fundraising campaign for students in UBC’s history.
Launched last year, we are working toward a goal of raising $100 million in student support over three years.
This is crucial funding. It enables us to increase access for students with financial need. It will help us identify and recruit excellent students; and to enrich students’ educational experience generally.
So, as we pass the halfway point in the campaign, I am very pleased to report that, as of December, the larger community had already responded with more than 17,000 gifts totalling $54.5 million.
Again, these funds will have an almost infinitely varied potential.
For example, one donor is an alum from Hong Kong, Benjamin Fok, who graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science. He established an endowed bursary fund in memory of his late father Dr. Henry Ying Tung Fok – a distinguished international businessman and philanthropist.
This bursary will assist undergraduate students in the Faculty of Science with preference to those in honours programs in Mathematics or Environmental Science. The award was given out for the first time last fall to three highly deserving students.
There are many more students who need our help – and there is much more we can do. So, I hope that if you haven’t had an opportunity to support the campaign already, you will consider doing so, soon.
Now, I am going to bid you good evening and, once more, Gung hay fat choy!