Dear Members of the UBC Community:
I hope that you and your loved ones are well.
Six long weeks ago we issued a bulletin to our campuses telling you all to go to ubc.ca for travel and health information related to COVID-19.
Looking back, it’s incredible to see how much has changed for the university community since then and how many times we’ve reached out to inform you of those changes.
Today we told you about another – Term 2 of summer session will be online. This decision was made in order to safeguard the health of students, faculty and staff and it is in keeping with the guidance of health agencies.
COVID-19 is a global challenge that does not affect UBC alone but is having impacts on our university.
The duration and magnitude of these impacts are not clear at this time, because the virus that causes COVID-19 is only just beginning to be understood.
Now let me remind everyone about what UBC has done over the past several weeks. We have moved to largely online instruction and curtailed all but COVID-19 and other essential research. We have made difficult decisions regarding closure of events to ensure the safety of our community. These critical decisions have impacted almost every member of our community.
We feel especially for the class of 2020 who anticipated a typical and much deserved celebration of their hard work only to see convocation postponed.
But the university is also playing a thought leadership role in the provincial and federal responses to COVID-19.
In terms of research, ground-breaking work is underway across all disciplines, including published research that has the potential as a possible future treatment for COVID-19.
The university has been a top recipient of federal research funding that lies at the core of Canada’s response.
You can see examples of that research at covid19.research.ubc.ca
The university has also been responsive to both provincial and federal requests for support with supplies, space and volunteers. Our clinical faculty are on the front lines of the battle and the battle is not yet over.
We have been in contact with provincial ministries such as Advanced Education Skills and Training, Health, and the Provincial Health Office in aligning our decisions with their guidelines and in articulating the need for support of our students and employees.
We have also been in touch with multiple federal ministers to articulate impacts on our students, researchers and trainees. These regular contacts have already helped to enhance support from both the provincial and federal governments.
Internally, three programs are being developed to support our students:
- First, I have created a President’s Student Emergency Fund that incorporates funding from the province as well as new donor-funding.
- Second, we are working on an enhanced bursary program with a rapid online application process to gain support.
- Third, we are developing a mechanism to provide emergency funding to faculty to support trainees where funding has been interrupted.
In making all decisions we have and will be guided by these core principles:
- protecting the academic core mission of the university;
- looking after the progress and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff; and
- being mindful of accessibility and affordability of a UBC education for our students.
All of this, my friends, represents an enormous amount of unexpected work. We are grateful for the support of the entire university community that has allowed us to respond to a fast moving, ever evolving situation.
This is not business as usual and we will need your support moving forward.
We are currently engaged in modelling multiple possible scenarios of the time course and impact of this pandemic. This will permit us to make data-driven decisions, sometimes tough decisions, to prepare for any eventuality.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. We all need to work together to get through this challenging time.
But that is what we will do – I have not doubt. What UBC has accomplished already has been miraculous and, working together, we will prevail and we will emerge even stronger; more resilient. Because that’s simply the UBC way.
And as has become tradition in my video messages to you, here’s Demi Chao, MM Choral Conducting ’19 graduate of the UBC School of Music, singing “Souvenirs” by Kina Grannis for #SongsofComfort.