Dear Members of the UBC Community:
I hope that you and your loved ones are well and that you are staying safe.
First, I’d like to share some good news. A few UBC faculty members, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students were caught in a travel ban in Peru. At least one faculty member and one graduate are now home, thanks to government officials. We expect the others home safely soon.
Earlier this week we announced an extension to on-campus research curtailment and remote work arrangements for faculty, staff, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and student employees until the end of April. We will reassess at that time, in conjunction with our government and healthcare partners. Thank you for continuing to work from home and for respecting the research curtailment. I know that it’s a challenge for everyone and we all look forward to getting our work and research back on track as soon as possible.
Many students have asked me about financial help during what we know is a very challenging time for them.
I understand your concerns and I can assure you that financial help from UBC is available to domestic and international students in need. Just yesterday the province announced new emergency financial assistance as well, for which we are very grateful.
To help respond to the increased demand for financial aid, this week we launched the Student Emergency appeal. Both the President’s Emergency Student Fund for students in Vancouver, and the A.W. Hunt, QC Student Emergency Assistance Fund for students in the Okanagan, are available year-round for those who require temporary financial relief.
If you are a student in need, please contact your enrolment services advisor for help. You can also find information at students.ubc.ca.
If you’re an international student, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Please include your student number so we can give you the most accurate information for your situation.
Believe me, you are not alone – we are here for you.
Many alumni and friends have asked us how they might support our students in need. Indeed, several people have already given to support our students. If you’d like to support the Student Emergency Fund you can do so at support.ubc.ca.
We’ve also heard from international students with questions about staying in Canada, travel restrictions and their ability to complete studies and work in Canada. The answers to those important questions are at students.ubc.ca.
In my last update, I mentioned how proud I was of the UBC researchers, faculty, staff and students who are stepping up to help others at this time. This week, I’d like to share some more stories of how the UBC community is helping.
Many UBC researchers are working on critical COVID-19 research. One group is focused on accelerating the development, testing, and implementation of measures to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Another is working on developing and implementing measures to rapidly detect, neutralize, manage, and reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
This research is already bearing fruit. Already, an international team led by UBC’s Dr. Josef Penninger found a phase 3 clinical trial drug that effectively blocks the cellular door that the virus that causes COVID-19, uses to infect its hosts. This breakthrough publication in the journal Cell is already on line. As Dr. Penninger has said, “there is hope for this horrible outbreak.”
To Dr. Penninger and his team, and to all UBC researchers and students working to find answers to global questions, my thanks.
Other UBC faculty are reaching out to the community with a series of webinars. The first – How can we reduce COVID-19 anxiety? – took place earlier this week. You can see it at alumni.ubc.ca. Thank you to all those who organized or took part.
I’d also like to thank the many UBC faculty and emeriti faculty who have provided expert commentary to the media, helping the public separate fact from fiction, and expanding public knowledge, which is the key to safety and security as we move forward.
You’ve heard it said many times before – these are truly unprecedented times. For many members of the UBC community, teaching and learning online can bring new challenges and frustrations. I want to urge everyone participating in online courses to do so respectfully. Please, be kind and calm with one another.
Thank you all for your patience, your understanding and your empathy. Together, we will get through this.
I’d like to close with something special. Mikey Jose and his sister Tricia Jose, organized a virtual choir of more than 150 voices from around the world to sing a song of hope and unity. I’m proud to say that Mikey is a UBC student and Tricia is a UBC graduate.
Many of UBC’s very own students, alumni, and staff are featured, representing values of solidarity in the face of adversity, even when socially distant. Please enjoy. If you can, donate to your local charities or to our student campaigns, and share to spread some good news and positivity. Click below to enjoy the performance.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor