January 2023



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


A Message to the UBC Indigenous Community

Earlier this month, the UBC Vancouver Provost and I issued a message to the UBC Vancouver indigenous community members. In the message, which you can read in full here, we recognized that our engagement with the Indigenous community has not been adequate or sufficient to date. In particular, we should have met more promptly with the UBC Indigenous community. We are taking steps to do that now.

Roadmap for Change: Implementing anti-racism commitments at UBC

On January 25, I was honoured to participate in Roadmap for Change: Implementing anti-racism commitments at UBC. The virtual event was held so that students, faculty and staff from faculties and portfolios across UBC Okanagan and UBC Vancouver could hear about the work of the ARIE Task Force, learn about key recommendations from the ARIE TF Final Report and find out about next steps for implementation of UBC’s equity and anti-racism commitments.


30-Year Vision: Draft for Input

Over the past year, UBC has explored what’s important for the future of the campus and how land use planning can help to get us there. The result is a Draft 30-Year Vision that outlines how the physical campus will grow and change over the next 30 years. The Draft Vision is available for community review and feedback between January 17 and February 7, 2023.


UBC Announces Three New Killam Professors

Nemy Banthia, Dominic McIver Lopes and Natalie Strynadka have been announced as UBC’s three newest University Killam Professors. The University Killam Professorship recognizes exceptional teachers and researchers who are leaders in their fields, and who have received international recognition for their talents and achievements. It is the highest honour UBC can confer on a faculty member.

First Nations Longhouse Expansion

I was pleased to take part in the official opening of the First Nations Longhouse East Wing on January 25. The one-storey addition contains a multi-purpose room and meeting room and will support expanded programming by the First Nations House of Learning.


Congratulations to UBC’s Order of Canada Recipients

Congratulations to all the UBC-affiliated Order of Canada recipients: alumni Ronald Deibert, Heather McGregor and Gary Segal; emeriti faculty Allen Eaves (Medicine), David Ley (Geography) and Pitman Potter (Peter A. Allard School of Law), and Faculty of Medicine clinical professor Paula Gordon. UBC is proud of you!

Researchers Identify Sea Sponge with COVID-blocking powers

UBC researchers have identified three compounds that prevent COVID-19 infection in human cells, derived from natural sources including a B.C. sea sponge. The discovery paves the way for the development of new medicines for COVID-19 variants made from natural sources. And given nature’s abundance, there could be a wealth of new antivirals waiting to be discovered.


UBC named one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People in 2023

UBC has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People in 2023. This special designation recognizes the employers that offer the nation’s best workplaces and programs for young people starting their careers. View the announcement on the UBC Focus on People website to see why UBC was selected for this award.


News from around UBC

Alma Mater Society: Want to build your leadership skills and develop your professional network? If that interests you, why not run for a Student Leadership position in this year’s AMS Elections. Positions for AMS Executives, Senate (Faculty and At-Large), Board of Governors, Student Legal Fund Society, and Ubyssey Board of Directors are up. Nominations are open until February 17, 2023. Learn more atwww.ams.ubc.ca/elections. Check out the AMS Guide to Elections to learn more about how elections work at your student union.

Faculty of Applied Science: Danilo Caron, UBC’s first IBET Momentum Fellow, aims to decolonize engineering design and project delivery • Three faculty members were presented with Dean’s Faculty Awards for Service, and seven staff members were recognized in the Dean’s Staff Awards for Excellence. • Over $5M was awarded to UBC Engineering research advancing climate change mitigation.

The Faculty of Arts welcomed its new Dean, Dr. Clare Haru Crowston. In a Q&A, Dr. Crowston discussed what drew her to UBC and what she is most looking forward to in her first few months as Dean of Arts. • The Phil Lind Initiative, an annual dialogue series and course hosted by the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, kicked off its 2023 series on January 27. This year’s theme — “(Un)Civil Discourse” — focuses on polarization in the United States. Guest speakers include Masha Gessen (Jan 27), John McWhorter (Feb 16), Safiya Noble (Mar 2), Linda Greenhouse (Mar 23) and Jonathan Haidt (Apr 20). Each event is open to the public and free to attend.  

Faculty of Land and Food Systems professors collaborated on Canada’s Food Price Report 2023, an annual cross-country update on food price forecasts. Overall price increases are predicted to be 5% to 7% for the coming year, the highest since the inception of the report 12 years ago. This project is a collaboration with Dalhousie University, University of Guelph, University of Saskatchewan, and UBC Food and Resource Economics faculty members and alumni. • Dr. Sean Smukler is the new director of the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm effective Jan. 1, 2023. He will lead strategic planning for the Centre, a local-to-global food hub working towards a more sustainable, food-secure future. Dr. Smukler is also an advisory member on the Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s Regenerative Agriculture and Agritech (RAA) Advisory Group.

Faculty of Medicine: Researchers at UBC’s Life Sciences Institute have identified a compound that shows early promise at halting infections from a range of coronaviruses, including all variants of SARS-CoV-2 and the common cold. • Dr. Dermot Kelleher, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Vice-President, Health at UBC has been appointed as an inaugural member of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s new Standing Committee on Science, where he will help shape the future direction of Canadian health and biomedical research. • Professors emerita Elaine Carty, founding director of UBC’s midwifery program, and Dr. Carol Herbert, a former head of the department of family practice, are to be inducted into the 2023 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

UBC Okanagan: The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring “UBCO Downtown: Meet Your New Neighbours” on February 9. UBC Okanagan Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Lesley Cormack will provide an insider’s view of UBCO Downtown.

Peter A. Allard School of Law: Allard Law Professor Emeritus Pitman Potter was awarded the Order of Canada. He is recognized for his precedent-setting scholarship in the field of Chinese legal studies and for his dedication and service to his community.

Faculty of Science: Marine ecologist Dr. Mary O’Connor has been appointed director of UBC’s Biodiversity Research Centre (BRC), effective January 1, 2023. Dr. O’Connor, who previously served as the Centre’s associate director, investigates the adaptive capacity of biodiversity and ecosystem function in changing environments. • Congratulations to Mathematics Professor Sujatha Ramdorai, who has received the Padma Shri award from the Indian Government, and to Professor Dolph Schluter, recipient of the Crafoord Prize in Bioscience.

UBC Sauder’s Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics is running a JEDDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Decolonization & Inclusion) Seminar Series, featuring academic and business thought leaders sharing their experiences and strategies for creating more just, equitable, diverse, decolonized, and inclusive workplaces. The next seminar will be February 17, 2023: Ashleigh Shelby Rosette (Duke University). For more information and registration for all upcoming seminars, click here.



Deborah Buszard
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor