Letter from Santa

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I hope you’re all having a good start to our new academic year. As we say farewell to the summer and welcome in the fall, I am pleased to share the September 2020 edition of my Letter from Santa. In this issue, I discuss our COVID-19 guidelines, UBC Homecoming, fall graduation plans, anti-racism efforts and other news.

My Letter from Santa is a regular newsletter to members of the UBC community, where I share what I’ve been doing as president, as well as celebrate UBC milestones and accomplishments.

You’ll find all the stories at https://president.ubc.ca/communications/letter-to-the-community/.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


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Update on UBC’s fall graduation ceremonies

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As we welcome a new class to UBC, I would like to take the opportunity to invite you to celebrate the achievements of the students from the Class of 2020, who are preparing to graduate this fall.

Due to the restrictions that remain in place for COVID-19, we are not permitted to hold mass in-person gatherings. As we did in the spring, we look forward to celebrating our graduating students at a virtual ceremony. Our fall graduation ceremony will be held on Wednesday, November 25, 2020.

The virtual ceremony will hold many elements our in-person ceremonies include, as well as some unique components.

We know what an important event graduation is for our university community. The format of this celebration does not diminish our students’ achievements and hard work. In fact, a virtual ceremony provides us with the unique opportunity to bring our entire community together to celebrate the successes of our graduating students. So please, whether you know someone who is graduating or not, consider taking the time to join us.

Once it is safe to do so, we look forward to hosting all of the graduates affected by COVID-19 at an in-person ceremony.

For more information, and to attend virtual graduation visit graduation.ubc.ca.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


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New academic policy to accommodate students’ religious and cultural observances

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UBC has introduced a new academic policy to support students who are absent from classes and scheduled examinations in order to participate in observances of religious significance, or observances of cultural importance to students who are First Nations, Métis or Inuit.

The policy, J-136: Academic Accommodation for all Students’ Religious Observances and for the Cultural Observances of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Students, took effect on September 1. It replaces UBC Policy 65: Religious Holidays.

This policy recognizes the diversity of our students and the religious and cultural traditions that guide them. It also recognizes the First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples’ right to self-determination in spiritual matters, including the right to practice, develop, and teach their own spiritual and religious traditions, customs, and ceremonies, as set out in the Calls to Action resulting from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

For more information, visit: https://senate.ubc.ca/sites/senate.ubc.ca/files/downloads/J-136_Religious-Cultural-Observances_20200415.pdf

The participation in non-religious cultural observances for students who are not First Nations, Métis or Inuit is outside the scope of this policy. However, students who are not First Nations, Métis or Inuit may request academic concessions to participate in such observances. More information is available below:

UBC Vancouver
V-135: Academic Concession: https://senate.ubc.ca/sites/senate.ubc.ca/files/downloads/va_V-135.1_Academic-Concession_20200415.pdf

UBC Okanagan
Senate Policy on Academic Concession: https://senate.ubc.ca/okanagan/policies/abstracts/academic-concession

If you have questions, please email vancouver.senate@ubc.ca (UBC Vancouver) or okanagan.senate@ubc.ca (UBC Okanagan).

Kate Ross
Associate Vice-President, Enrolment Services and Registrar


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Share your thoughts on proposed amendments to the Deans/Principals Appointment Policy

The UBC community is invited to comment on a proposal to amend the Deans/Principals Appointment Policy (AP5) and its associated procedures.

A summary of the proposed amendments can be found at https://universitycounsel.ubc.ca/board-of-governors-policies-procedures-rules-and-guidelines/open-policy-consultations/proposed-amendments-ap5/.

Please submit feedback to the Office of the University Counsel at university.counsel@ubc.ca. The deadline for comments is October 13, 2020.

Further information about this policy proposal can be found online at https://bog3.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2020/09/5_2020.09_Proposed-Policy-Amendments.pdf.

Hubert Lai, Q.C.
University Counsel


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COVID-19 — Required use of non-medical masks at UBC, effective Sep 16

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UBC is implementing a new measure to help limit COVID-19. Effective Wednesday, September 16, 2020, UBC students, faculty, staff and visitors will be required to wear non-medical masks, when indoors on our campuses. This amends the previous policy which strongly recommended the use of non-medical masks in these settings.

The health and safety of the UBC community is our first priority, and we continue to monitor COVID-19 and follow effective safety practices as understanding of the virus evolves. The requirement to wear non-medical masks indoors recognizes that transmission is reduced when face masks are worn in conjunction with physical distancing and other safety practices.

Wearing a non-medical mask is one step you can take to protect yourself, your friends, your colleagues and your community.

The requirement for the use of non-medical masks applies to shared indoor spaces within UBC buildings, such as hallways, stairways, building entryways, washrooms and study spaces, classrooms, common areas in residences and other high-traffic areas. Further details related to the policy, its implementation, and COVID-19 Safety Plans will be posted online next week at https://covid19.ubc.ca/.

Exceptions will be provided for people with underlying medical conditions that inhibit their ability to wear masks. Masks may also be removed when taking part in certain athletic or fitness activities and in situations where wearing a mask impedes delivery and receiving of services. Further details regarding exceptions will be posted next week at https://covid19.ubc.ca/.

Even when wearing a mask, please continue to observe physical distancing as much as possible, as a mask is not a substitute for this practice. For those who are not able to wear a mask, for medical or other reasons, please be careful to maintain a safe distance for the protection of yourself and those around you.

As part of UBC’s commitment to the health and safety of our community, and the responsibility we all share in preventing the potential for COVID-19, students, faculty, staff or visitors are required to follow UBC’s COVID-19 Campus Rules when on campus, such as assessing yourself daily for COVID-19 symptoms and following signage and floor markings when moving around premises.

You are also asked to adopt public health measures such as staying home if sick, maintaining physical distance wherever possible, and frequent hand hygiene regardless of non-medical mask usage. Please refer to information about staying healthy, including advice on identifying COVID-19 symptoms and safety practices such as handwashing, at https://covid19.ubc.ca/health-guidance/. Useful FAQs related to UBC’s response to COVID-19 can also be found at https://covid19.ubc.ca/.

I would like to thank you in advance for your support in following this health and safety practice. By following this new policy, and continuing to adopt public health measures, we can all play a role in helping to limit COVID-19.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


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Welcome to the new academic year

If you are a manager of staff whose work is not computer-based, please print this email and display it in a common work area for them to review.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the new academic year.

Whether you’re a new or returning student, a faculty or staff member, this year is going to be unique. Many of you will be studying, teaching and working remotely, and some of you will be learning to adapt to new ways of working on our campuses and learning sites.

What remains the same this year is our commitment to ensuring that every student has an enriching and rewarding experience. With this in mind, I am pleased to share a special video message, where I discuss our plans for the Winter Session, Term 1 and 2. You can watch the video at https://president.ubc.ca/homepage-feature/2020/09/04/welcome-back-ubc/.

I am also excited to share my latest Letter from Santa. In this newsletter, I discuss our virtual welcome events and some major federal funding announcements. As usual, there’s also a round-up of news from around UBC. You can find all the stories at https://president.ubc.ca/communications/letter-to-the-community/.

As we prepare for the start of the academic year, I want to thank you once again for your patience and dedication to UBC. Whether in-person, or remote, I am excited to see our community come together once more.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


This message was sent to faculty, staff and students in Vancouver and the Okanagan.

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UBC’s approach for 2020/21 Winter Session, Term 2 (Jan – April 2021)

With the start of 2020/21 Winter Session, Term 1 approaching, UBC’s community of faculty and staff are preparing to welcome you, as new and returning students. Although we know the circumstances are different, the university is taking many steps to ensure that your learning experience is enriching.

The last several months have seen us responding to an unprecedented global crisis — one that has affected us all. As a university, with a commitment to high-quality teaching, learning and research, the challenge has been immense.

I am proud of the way we have come together during this time. Our faculty and staff are to be commended for their outstanding work in the transition to online teaching and learning, and remote working. We have also made significant investments to ensure that the delivery of our academic programs for 2020/21 Winter Session, Term 1 will be enriching and engaging.

Many of you may be wondering about 2020/21 Winter Session, Term 2, which begins in January 2021. I am pleased to say that for Winter Session, Term 2, we are keeping a focus on equitable access for all our students, with a blend of program delivery, ensuring we foster an inclusive learning community.

We are continuing to support those students who need our help — whether financially or academically, or through extra advice and counselling. Whether you are a new or returning student, you are encouraged to take the time to review helpful advice on keeplearning.ubc.ca and students.ubc.ca/new-to-ubc or students.ok.ubc.ca/new-to-ubc.

For Winter Session, Term 2, programming will be delivered online, with face-to-face instruction planned in programs ranging from health professions (for example Medical Education, Nursing, Dentistry, Occupational Therapy) to Creative and Performing Arts programs such as Theatre and Film and the School of Music. Faculties will provide updates on specific programs as planning continues.

We will ensure we adhere to all public health requirements, as we assess ways to expand our in-person classes. We will continue to monitor public health guidance, consult with local public health authorities, and provide further updates as the situation evolves. We also continue to work closely with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and with other post-secondary institutions within BC to ensure our plans are aligned with health and safety guidelines and WorkSafeBC.

As we look to increase opportunities to provide more on-campus programming, it is vital that we maintain the commitments we have developed over the last few months, prioritizing the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff.

UBC has developed some COVID-19 Campus Rules to ensure the health and safety of our community which include:

  • Assess yourself daily for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Stay home if you are ill.
  • If you have been exposed to someone or have symptoms of COVID-19, complete the BC self-assessment tool https://www.thrive.health/bc-self-assessment-tool.
  • Stay physically distant as much as possible.

You can find information about staying healthy, including advice on identifying COVID-19 symptoms and safety practices such as handwashing, at https://covid19.ubc.ca/health-guidance/. Useful FAQs related to UBC’s response to COVID-19 can also be found at https://covid19.ubc.ca/.

COVID-19 has demonstrated what we can achieve together, as a university. Our strategic plan: Shaping UBC’s Next Century outlines our vision as Inspiring people, ideas and actions for a better world. I can think of no better time for our community to come together once more, whether remotely or in-person, to help bring this vision to life.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


This message was sent to students in Vancouver and the Okanagan.

UBC Broadcast is used to communicate time sensitive, organization-wide information to faculty, staff and students. Learn more


UBC’s approach for 2020/21 Winter Session, Term 2 (Jan – April 2021)

If you are a manager of staff whose work is not computer-based, please print this email and display it in a common work area for them to review.

With the start of 2020/21 Winter Session, Term 1 approaching, UBC’s community of faculty and staff are preparing to welcome our new and returning students.

The last several months have seen us responding to an unprecedented global crisis — one that has affected us all. As a university, with a commitment to high-quality teaching, learning and research, the challenge has been immense.

I am proud of the way we have come together during this time. Our faculty and staff are to be commended for your outstanding work in the transition to online teaching and learning, and remote working. We have also made significant investments to ensure that the delivery of our academic programs for 2020/21 Winter Session, Term 1, will be enriching and engaging.

Many of you may be wondering about 2020/21 Winter Session, Term 2, which begins in January 2021. I am pleased to say that for Winter Session, Term 2, we are keeping a focus on equitable access for all our students, with a blend of program delivery, ensuring we foster an inclusive learning community. We are also continuing to support those students who need our help — whether financially or academically, or through extra advice and counselling.

For Winter Session, Term 2, programming will be delivered online, with face-to-face instruction planned in programs ranging from health professions (for example Medical Education, Nursing, Dentistry, Occupational Therapy) to Creative and Performing Arts programs such as Theatre and Film and the School of Music. Faculties will provide updates on specific programs as planning continues.

We will ensure we adhere to all public health requirements, as we assess ways to expand our in-person classes. We will continue to monitor public health guidance, consult with local public health authorities, and provide further updates as the situation evolves. We also continue to work closely with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and with other post-secondary institutions within BC to ensure our plans are aligned with health and safety guidelines and WorkSafeBC.

As we look to increase opportunities to provide more on-campus programming, it is vital that we maintain the commitments we have developed over the last few months, prioritizing the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff.

UBC has developed some COVID-19 Campus Rules to ensure the health and safety of our community which include:

  • Assess yourself daily for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Stay home if you are ill.
  • If you have been exposed to someone or have symptoms of COVID-19, complete the BC self-assessment tool https://www.thrive.health/bc-self-assessment-tool.
  • Stay physically distant as much as possible.

You can find information about staying healthy, including advice on identifying COVID-19 symptoms and safety practices such as handwashing, at https://covid19.ubc.ca/health-guidance/. Useful FAQs related to UBC’s response to COVID-19 can also be found at https://covid19.ubc.ca/.

Faculty and staff who are present on campus, at any time, are expected to have completed the mandatory training module and be familiar with their department/unit’s COVID-19 Safety Plan. You can find more information and resources at https://covid19.ubc.ca/re-occupancy-resumption-plans/.

As a reminder, for Winter Session, Term 1, remote work will continue for many UBC faculty and staff. Any changes to your current work arrangements will only be considered after your department/unit’s COVID-19 Safety Plan has been reviewed and received approval. Thank you once again to those of you whose roles required you to continue working on campus.

COVID-19 has demonstrated what we can achieve together, as a university. Our strategic plan: Shaping UBC’s Next Century outlines our vision as Inspiring people, ideas and actions for a better world. I can think of no better time for our community to come together once more, whether remotely or in-person, to help bring this vision to life.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


This message was sent to faculty and staff in Vancouver and the Okanagan.

UBC Broadcast is used to communicate time sensitive, organization-wide information to faculty, staff and students. Learn more


Join the virtual celebration of UBC’s 2020 Indigenous Strategic Plan

If you are a manager of staff whose work is not computer-based, please print this email and display it in a common work area for them to review.

I am pleased to inform you that UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan has now been finalized. This is a momentous occasion for UBC, as we take a leading role in the advancement of Indigenous peoples’ human rights. We are the first university in North America to commit to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to take a human rights-based approach to its Indigenous strategic framework.

To celebrate the plan and the advancement of Indigenous human rights at UBC, I would like to invite you to the UBC Vancouver celebration on September 14.

While COVID-19 prevents us from being able to hold this celebration in person, a virtual event does provide the unique opportunity for our community outside of Vancouver to join us – I really hope you can attend. We look forward to sharing details of the UBC Okanagan celebration in due course.

About the event

The celebration will feature guest speakers including Musqueam Elder Larry Grant, ʔaʔsiwɬ Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, other Indigenous leaders and human rights experts as well as a panel discussion with representatives from our Indigenous student, faculty, staff and alumni communities.

Further details are as follows:

Date: September 14
Time: 1pm – 2:30pm
Location: Zoom
RSVP before September 11: https://ubc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_9jDXDMbiT_6FB7GY0kBKqw

About the Indigenous Strategic Plan

The Indigenous Strategic Plan sets out a series of eight goals and 43 actions the university will collectively take, in the implementation of Indigenous peoples’ human rights.

The plan is the university’s response to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice. It is also UBC Vancouver’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. A number of you witnessed UBC Okanagan’s formal declaration of commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action last fall.

It was created with input from more than 2,500 students, faculty and staff across our campuses and learning sites – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – as well as from Indigenous community partners.

You can read the plan in full at https://indigenous.ubc.ca/indigenous-engagement/indigenous-strategic-plan/.

As was retold and reinforced throughout the plan’s creation, the environment and culture at UBC still has a long way to go in order for Indigenous students, faculty and staff to feel at home and to be able to thrive here. This plan isn’t the end – it is one step in the process.

I hope you will join me on September 14 to celebrate this significant moment in our university’s history.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


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Reappointment of UBC’s Vice-President, Health

If you are a manager of staff whose work is not computer-based, please print this email and display it in a common work area for them to review.

In June 2018, UBC announced that Dr. Dermot Kelleher had been appointed to a newly created role of Vice-President, Health.

The purpose of this role was to lead UBC Health by strengthening our links with the provincial government, BC health authorities and collaborative frameworks such as the Academic Health Sciences Network. The role was also intended to help facilitate greater collaboration and integration in research and learning across the university, with particular focus on large scale grants and new program development.

Dr. Kelleher is now reaching the end of his first term as Vice-President, Health, and wishes to be considered for an extension. In accordance with board policy, an Advisory Committee has been struck to review Dr. Kelleher’s performance since his appointment to the role, and to make a recommendation to the President concerning his extension.

In accordance with Board Policy AP6, membership of the committee is as follows:

  • Santa J. Ono, Chair
  • Andrea Reimer, Board of Governors
  • Mark Mac Lean, Board of Governors
  • Jennifer Jakobi, Okanagan Senate
  • Michael Coughtrie, Vancouver Senate
  • Anne Martin-Matthews, Associate Vice-President, Health
  • Naomi Maldonado-Rodriguez, student, UBC Okanagan
  • Georgia Yee, student, UBC Vancouver
  • Julie Wagemakers, Secretary (non-voting)

The Advisory Committee is now seeking feedback regarding Dr. Kelleher’s performance in relation to the duties and responsibilities, as outlined in the original job description, which can be found at https://health.ubc.ca/vice-president-health-profile.

All members of the UBC community, including students, faculty, and staff, are invited to share their views by September 11, 2020. You can email comments to vp.health@ubc.ca. All communications will be held in strict confidence.

I strongly encourage you to participate in this important process.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


This message was sent to faculty, staff and students in Vancouver and the Okanagan.

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