Dear Members of the UBC Community:
I hope that you and your loved ones are well.
I want to begin with excellent news for our UBC students, indeed for students across Canada.
On Wednesday the federal government announced a nine billion dollar student aid package in recognition of the economic impact of COVID-19.
The proposed Canada Emergency Student Benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students. Eligible students with dependants or disabilities would be eligible for $1,750 per month. The government has said these benefits are available from May through August.
In addition, the Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 for students who choose voluntary national service and serve their communities. The government will also extend federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and supplement existing federal research grants, to support students and post-doctoral fellows and enhance work opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.
Universities and student groups across Canada, including UBC, worked with the government to develop the measures outlined this week. We thank everyone involved for recognizing the impact of COVID-19 on our students and the key role that students and new graduates will play in helping the country move forward.
Our UBC students deserve to be celebrated and helped. Even as they face significant challenges of their own, they are looking outward to embrace the challenges of others – and they are providing solutions.
For example, a graduate student in early childhood education whose fieldwork is on pause due to social distancing, is taking on additional hours as a nanny so that the mother in that family, a medical microbiologist, can concentrate more on her crucial role with the BC Centre for Disease Control.
Medical and nursing students whose clinical rotations have been suspended are volunteering to help front-line health care workers with daily tasks like childcare, grocery shopping, responding to 8-1-1 calls and critical contact tracing
You can find their stories and more on the news.ubc.ca site under “Making a Difference”.
As I wrote on my blog this week, I want to emphasize that as a public institution and a partner, UBC is committed to working collaboratively with local and global communities on relief efforts now, and rebuilding efforts into the future.
I’m encouraged to see so many UBC faculty, staff and students already stepping up to support community partners in ways that are welcome and needed.
I hope you’ll check out my blog for more thoughts on what ethical engagement looks like at this time, how units across UBC are pivoting to support colleagues and partners, and ways to get involved.
I know some of you have questions about the Fall Term as we look ahead to possible reductions in physical distancing and other health measures.
UBC executives, faculty leadership and staff are working on contingency plans for September, working through possible scenarios and trying to determine the best course in consultation with health agencies and government.
It’s too soon right now to say what will happen this fall, but whatever the outcome, we will let the community know as soon as possible.
As the Board so correctly noted earlier this week, none of the university’s work in this time would be possible without our dedicated faculty and staff, many of whom are juggling child care, supporting elderly relatives and just trying to get through the day while still doing their work.
To our staff and faculty who are required to come to campus and keep operations and their on-campus research running smoothly – a special heartfelt thank you. I would like to note as well the tremendous work of those staff who are keeping our online learning platforms humming and helping faculty innovate and excel in online delivery
Of course, our continued gratitude goes out to all of those who are working from home, harder than ever.
Thank you for all you are doing.
I’ll close now with something all of us can be proud of at UBC – the university’s success in working to meet the United Nations’ sustainable development goals as measured by the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.
I’m proud to say that UBC ranks #1 in Canada, #2 in North America and #7 in the world in the rankings and is the only institution in the world to rank #1 in two categories – climate action and oceans research.
Congratulations to you all and I hope everyone has a relaxing weekend.
And as has become tradition in my video messages to you, here is my musical selection for the week. Jose Franch-Ballester and his student Dino Assunçao (who recently won the UBC Concerto Competition and also happens to be Jose’s cousin!) are in isolation together in faculty housing, and they have been recording videos every day to share with their family and community back in Spain. Here’s one of the more lighthearted works in that series of posts, Hurry No. 3 Galop by Otto Langley.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor