Message from the President: Campus protest

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Dear members of the UBC community,

The violence unfolding in Israel and Palestine continues to evoke complex emotions around the world, and many in our diverse community are deeply affected. The grief and suffering we all witness and feel is heartbreaking.

As you are aware, about a week ago a protest began at MacInnes Field on the Vancouver campus and is ongoing. There are currently about 75 tents and 100 people at the site. This protest is part of a broader movement that started in the United States and has now spread to Canada. Students are looking at a world in crisis and at their core, the campus protests are seeking the end of violence in Israel and Palestine.

UBC deeply values freedom of expression and respects its corollary of peaceful protest. We are actively monitoring the situation and prioritizing the safety of all our community members and visitors to campus. We have made clear the university’s expectations of the protestors at MacInnes Field. I want to stress again that protest actions must be conducted with respect for others and within the boundaries of UBC policy and the law and any action that contravenes this will be taken very seriously.

At this time of heightened tensions, we ask that anyone engaging in expressing views about the conflict be exceptionally careful in the way in which their views are articulated. We encourage everyone to maintain respectful dialogue when discussing these complex issues. It is absolutely essential that the university remains a place of reasoned debate where conflicting views can peacefully co-exist. Our academic and social mission depends on it.

One issue that has been raised across North America is the call for divestments. At UBC, the Endowment Fund does not directly own any stocks in the companies identified by the movement. Capital is held in pooled funds and managed by external investment managers, with the identified companies accounting for about 0.28% of the Endowment Fund.

As signatories to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the university’s investment managers are continuously adjusting their strategies based on the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations. We would welcome a respectful and robust discussion with student representatives from UBC on this issue.

Benoit-Antoine Bacon
President and Vice-Chancellor

Below you can read earlier messages related to the protest:

https://security.ubc.ca/2024/05/07/protest-at-the-vancouver-campus/
https://security.ubc.ca/2024/04/30/update-on-campus-protest/
https://security.ubc.ca/2024/04/29/protest-at-ubcs-macinnes-field/


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Participate in the 2024 Canadian Campus Wellbeing Survey

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Faculty and staff are invited to participate in the Canadian Campus Wellbeing Survey (CCWS) 2024 to help us understand your lived experience at UBC, as we prepare to refresh our existing wellbeing strategy. Your insights will have a direct impact on how our community members work, learn, and enjoy our campuses for years to come.

The CCWS is a comprehensive, voluntary, and confidential online survey that assesses the health and wellbeing status of students, faculty, and staff in the post-secondary sector. The survey consists of validated measures used in existing Canadian health surveys and it will take 15-20 minutes to complete. All responses will be anonymous and confidential. Results of the survey will be reported in statistically aggregated form only; it is not possible for UBC or CCWS to identify individual faculty and staff.

The survey deadline is May 17. You can access the survey at https://pair.ubc.ca/surveys/ccws-staff-faculty/

Please note student employees are asked not to take this survey as they received the separate CCWS for students in March.

Why should faculty and staff participate?

This survey will help determine where our wellbeing efforts are working and where we still have work to do. It will also allow us to compare the experience of UBC faculty and staff with other major universities across Canada, giving us a shared framework to inform larger, system-wide changes across higher education.

Our adoption of the Okanagan Charter, almost 10 years ago, strengthened our commitment to embedding the health and wellbeing of people, places, and the planet into the fabric of our institution. By understanding the experience of the people who teach, research, and work at UBC, we can ensure we continue to meet and improve on those commitments.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to provide valuable feedback.

Additional data security information

Your data will be collected anonymously, encrypted, password-protected, and stored on a computer in a secure UBC location. If you have any questions about this research project or how we plan to use the results, please contact the local principal investigator Dr. Stephanie McKeown, Chief Institutional Research Officer at stephanie.mckeown@ubc.ca

More information about the CCWS is available at https://www.ccws-becc.ca/

Adam Charania
Interim Vice-President, Human Resources

Alexandra Bayne
Managing Director, Human Resources, UBC Okanagan


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My sincere thanks as we complete winter session

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Unbelievably, this week already marks the end of winter session and the academic year. Let me congratulate everyone on the semester and wish all students the very best as we head into exam season. I look forward to seeing many of you on stage at convocation, and to seeing you go forth towards successful and self-determined lives.

For faculty and staff, this is also an important time as we support our students during the exam period. Thank you to all those who play a key role throughout this process.

It has been a wonderful adventure to discover UBC; to meet with students, faculty and staff, and learn more about this remarkable university. In recent months, I have visited many different areas of the university and will continue to do this, to experience first hand the exceptional work that is being carried out at UBC.

I would like to update you on issues that are important to our community. While there is much to celebrate at UBC, it is important to recognize that broader economic conditions, geopolitical issues, and policy changes specific to higher education are creating a measure of instability for the post-secondary sector as a whole.

Cap on international student permits

In January, the federal government announced a two-year temporary cap on study permits for international students. The cap does not impact international students already in Canada, and it does not include graduate students. However, it did cause concern for new undergraduate international students thinking about enrolling in Canadian post-secondary institutions this fall.

We have been working closely with the provincial government to ensure that all new international undergraduate students who are accepted and choose to enrol at UBC will have access to a federal study permit. We have emphasized the importance of welcoming outstanding international students to BC, while also reinforcing the important and diverse contributions international students bring to campus communities.

We are pleased that the cap that has been allocated to UBC is sufficient to move forward as planned with international enrolment for the coming year. As we speak, the Province is also issuing the letters of attestation that new international undergraduate students will need to receive their study permit. This is a good outcome for UBC and for British Columbia.

Operating Budget for 2024/25

I am also pleased to confirm that, at its meeting of March 27, the UBC Board of Governors approved the university’s 2024/25 operating budget. Despite unfavourable economic conditions and other challenges, UBC remains in a healthy financial position and will continue to prioritize investments in our key priority areas: teaching and learning excellence, research and innovation, and providing holistic support for our students. We also remain committed to driving positive social change, including advancing our Truth and Reconciliation and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion goals, as well as addressing the challenge of climate change.

Research Security

At the beginning of 2024, the federal government announced its new Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern intended to safeguard Canada’s research outputs in sensitive technology areas, such as AI.

I appreciate this new policy might be creating some uncertainty for researchers who are applying for funding through federal granting agencies. You may be wondering what these new requirements and responsibilities mean for you. The research security team in the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, is there to provide guidance to researchers around this new federal government policy, as well as training on research security. Please reach out as needed.

UBC remains fundamentally committed to enabling an open and collaborative research environment, while at the same time providing support to our research community to effectively safeguard research and sensitive information.

Ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine

As the term ends, the conflict in the Middle East continues to put a strain on our community. I know many of you are personally affected and deeply concerned by these events. My thoughts are with everyone who is suffering and grieving.

During my first week at UBC, on November 6, I wrote to acknowledge the many different and difficult emotions that the conflict naturally and legitimately evoked. My request to everyone was to take great care to remain respectful and compassionate towards each other and to uphold our shared commitment to fostering inclusion, dignity, and human rights at UBC. I want to thank our community for the calm, respect, and compassion that has been displayed by the overwhelming majority of students, faculty, and staff.

I also want to acknowledge that tensions emerging from the conflict continue and, as a result, some people may not feel completely safe or welcome at the university. In line with this, let me reiterate that violence, harassment, and discrimination of any kind have no place at UBC and will not be tolerated.

Maintaining a safe and welcoming environment is our priority and should be everyone’s priority. By our words and actions, we all have a direct and immediate impact on the university environment. By definition, there will be conflicting perspectives and disagreements, but it is essential to both our academic mission and our sense of community that these different viewpoints and opinions peacefully co-exist and are discussed in a respectful manner.

Respect, collegiality, and compassion for one another must not be selective to those who agree with us, but must also be extended to those with whom we disagree. Again, respect and compassion in no way curtail our ability to express our views. In fact, they protect and sustain that right by providing a safe forum for these exchanges and debates.

 

In closing, I would like to thank all our students, faculty, and staff for everything you do for UBC. Despite uncertainties in the higher education sector, UBC is well positioned to continue to deliver excellence in research, teaching and learning in the next academic year and beyond. Collectively, we have many opportunities to realize and much to look forward to.

Again, many thanks and congratulations for another strong year!

 

Benoit-Antoine Bacon
President and Vice-Chancellor


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2024 President’s awards for staff: call for nominations

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Each year through the President’s staff awards, we recognize and celebrate staff members who demonstrate outstanding achievement and excellence within the UBC community, and who enable us to shape the future of research, teaching, and work.

I invite you to nominate your staff colleagues for the 2024 awards. Nominations may be submitted by faculty, staff, and students. The deadline for nominations is 4pm on March 22. Below are further details about the awards programs, together with information about criteria and eligibility:

President’s Service Awards for Excellence

This is the premier staff award at UBC which honours staff with sustained exceptional contribution. All UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan staff with five or more years of continuous service are eligible for this award. Up to five recipients receive a medal and $5,000 each.

For the 2024 nomination details, visit: https://focusonpeople.ubc.ca/awards/presidents-awards-for-staff/

To view past recipients, visit: https://focusonpeople.ubc.ca/awards/presidents-service-award-for-excellence-recipients/

President’s Staff Awards for UBC Vancouver staff

The President’s Staff Awards for UBC Vancouver staff honour exceptional contribution in specific areas that are important to UBC. All staff at UBC Vancouver with two or more years of continuous service, and who are actively employed by UBC at the time of the award presentation, are eligible.

Five award categories are open for the nomination of individuals. The category of Collaborative Excellence is open for the nomination of groups of two or more staff. Up to 12 recipients/groups are selected (two per category) and recipients receive $2,000 each. The prize is split for recipients in the Collaborative Excellence category.

The six categories of the President’s Staff Awards are:

  • Leadership
  • Enhancing the UBC Experience
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Advancing Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence
  • Wellbeing
  • Collaborative Excellence (open for groups of two or more staff)

For the 2024 nomination details, visit: https://focusonpeople.ubc.ca/awards/presidents-awards-for-staff/

To read about last year’s award recipients, visit: https://focusonpeople.ubc.ca/awards/2023-presidents-awards-for-staff-recipients/

Staff Awards of Excellence for UBC Okanagan staff

Every year, the Staff Awards of Excellence for UBC Okanagan staff celebrate outstanding contribution in specific areas that are crucial to UBC. Nominations to the award program will open later this year. To learn more about the Staff Awards of Excellence, visit: https://hr.ok.ubc.ca/learning-and-engagement/awards-recognition/staff-awards-of-excellence/

Thank you for taking the time to nominate your colleagues and help demonstrate the excellent work of our staff at UBC.


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Invitation to attend the President’s installation virtually

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You are cordially invited to watch the livestream of the formal installation of Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon as the 17th President and Vice-Chancellor of UBC on Wednesday, November 22.

The installation ceremony will take place during the initial 30 minutes of the first ceremony of Fall Graduation in Vancouver. The installation of the President and Vice-Chancellor is a long-standing tradition at UBC and will include remarks from Dr. Bacon. More information is available below:

Date: November 22
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Livestream link: https://president.ubc.ca/installation/

Whether you are a member of the graduating class attending the event in person or joining the livestream, I hope you all participate in this important occasion as we formally welcome Dr. Bacon to UBC.

The Honourable Steven Point
UBC Chancellor


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Message from the President: On respect and compassion

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Dear members of the UBC community,

This is still very early days for me and I wish there had been more time to get to know everyone before writing this message.

As the war continues to unfold in Israel and Gaza, the violence, tension and uncertainty is understandably putting significant strain on our community. The human suffering is heartbreaking and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone who is grieving and hurting, both overseas and here in Canada.

The university is striving to support our students, faculty and staff who are affected by this tragedy. These measures have included, but are not limited to, accommodations, increased security on our campuses, emergency funds, and professional support services. We will continue to offer this essential support – contact information is provided below – and we encourage anyone who is in need to reach out.

As a global community, we may feel many different and difficult emotions about the situation that is unfolding. Now more than ever, we must take great care to remain respectful and compassionate towards each other and to uphold our shared commitment to fostering inclusion, dignity, and human rights at UBC.

While I know that as a community we are deeply committed to these ideals, I have regretfully been made aware of campus incidents that fall very short of these values. These have included forms of disrespect, bullying, harassment, discrimination, and intimidation. Hate and racism of any kind will not be tolerated at UBC. The university takes very seriously its responsibility to look into these reports and to act in accordance with our policies.

It is unacceptable that any student, faculty or staff not feel safe on campus. This runs absolutely contrary to our shared obligation to create learning and working environments where everyone feels a sense of safety, and belonging, and can contribute to their fullest potential. We must collectively summon the better angels of our nature to ensure the campus climate does not deteriorate.

We are by definition a diverse community where a number of divergent and conflicting viewpoints must peacefully co-exist. Central to this mission is the provision and protection of space for respectful debate and compassionate dialogue, so we can advance knowledge, discovery, and solutions to the world’s pressing issues. Without respect, collegiality and compassion for one another, our ability to fulfill this critical societal role is compromised.

Respect and compassion in no way curtail our ability to express views on global matters. In fact, they protect and sustain that right by providing a safe forum for these exchanges and debates. What we must ask of each other is care in the way we frame our thoughts so that they are respectful of other viewpoints, non-threatening, and aimed at finding solutions and ways forward.

Please let us remember we are all human and we all suffer in the face of tragedy, regardless of our specific point of view. Compassion is a universal understanding of the suffering of all beings, not only those with whom we agree.

I call on all of us to do everything in our power to reject fear, division, anger, polarization and hate. It is up to us to define the environment in which we want to live. I recognize this is perhaps the most challenging task of all but our shared future, as a community and as a society, depends on our shared belief that it is possible.

Thank you for taking the time to read this message. I wish everyone a wonderful day.

Benoit-Antoine Bacon
President and Vice-Chancellor

Information about supports for students in Vancouver is available here:

Information about supports for students in the Okanagan is available here:

Information about supports for faculty and staff is available here:


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Message from the President: Hello from a new colleague

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Good morning everyone,

Today I am honoured to begin my term as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia. I want to thank Chancellor Point, who chaired the search committee, and everyone who contributed to the search process. It is humbling and I am grateful.

I want to start by acknowledging that we are living in challenging times. We are facing geo-political unrest on a scale not seen in several decades, including devastating wars in Ukraine and now in Israel and Gaza. The human suffering is immense and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone caught in a war zone or displaced by war, and with those who grieve or worry for their countries and loved ones.

The aftereffects of the pandemic are still felt socially and economically in British Columbia and across the country. In particular we see inflation, housing issues, and a rise in mental health challenges and substance use. The effects of climate change are also hitting closer to home, in particular the fires that had a devastating impact on the Okanagan and nationally this summer.

We also seem more divided – polarized – and less sure of the best path forward. Universities are more important than ever before as a space where different ideas and viewpoints can co-exist and be discussed with the aim of finding solutions. I call on everyone to remain respectful and compassionate with each other in all our interactions – our ability to fulfill our academic mission and societal function depends on it. Our best hope for a better world remains research, reasoned debate and education.

Higher education is my life. It saved me from my own mental health and substance use issues as I struggled to recover from growing up in a dysfunctional, unsafe home. It has given me more than I can ever repay. I started and continue to serve in these types of positions because I know that what we do here matters on a grand scale.

UBC is uniquely positioned to shape the next century in BC, Canada and globally. The incredible strengths of UBC — the talent across both beautiful campuses, quality of the programs, research strengths across so many important fields, great student experience, as well as the deep commitments to Indigenous relationships, to inclusion, to sustainability and to building a better future for all — this epitomizes a thriving world-class institution in the 21st century.

While it is too early to speak of priorities, I wanted to share that I am aware of many ongoing initiatives that are essential for our continued success. These include, but are not limited to, and in no particular order:

  • The work of UBC researchers and students, spanning the full range of the arts and sciences, is outstanding. One example is the development of innovative clean technologies and climate solutions, supporting Canada’s shift to a low-carbon economy. Another is the UBC-led Canada’s Immuno-Engineering and Biomanufacturing Hub that aims to accelerate research and biomedical innovation.
  • UBC is deeply committed to truth and reconciliation with Musqueam, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, and all Indigenous Peoples. I look forward to working with the entire community towards full implementation of the university’s far-ranging and ambitious Indigenous Strategic Plan.
  • UBC is a progressive institution that always strives to create a safe and respectful environment where everyone can belong and contribute to their full capacity. Working together to always further enhance equity, inclusion and anti-racism at this critical moment in the world’s history will be essential to our shared success.
  • The challenges of affordability and financial supports for students are also a key priority and I was so impressed that about $400 million a year is being provided at this time. It is also clear that housing is pivotal to our evolving community. Campus Vision 2050 is exploring opportunities to increase housing supply and options for students, faculty and staff in support of UBC’s academic mission.
  • Addressing mental health and substance use on UBC campuses and nationally is a priority for me personally. Mental health and academic success are so intertwined that in many ways, they should be considered one and the same. I was pleased to learn that we will soon open the new Health Gateway Building and new Recreation Centre North that will both make a big difference for our students.
  • If we want to reach our full potential and full impact, we need like-minded partners and friends across all sectors of society. Government, industry, not for profit, and visionary individuals. FORWARD, the campaign for UBC publicly launched last year and will supercharge and accelerate research, teaching and learning and the student experience across both campuses to shape the future in three key areas: advancing healthy lives, healthy societies, and a healthy planet.

As I begin my role, I look forward to learning so much more about the different aspects of teaching and research at UBC, visiting our great Faculties and units on both campuses, and engaging with our community of students, faculty and staff to learn from you and benefit from your experience, expertise and advice. These conversations will be essential to generate ideas and develop our shared vision for UBC. I am excited to see all that we will accomplish together. Go Thunderbirds! The future is extremely bright for UBC.

Thank you for taking the time to read this message. Have a great day.

Benoit-Antoine Bacon
President and Vice-Chancellor
Professor of Psychology


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Support this year’s UBC United Way campaign

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Coming together and making a difference for our community is something we value at UBC. During our annual United Way Campaign, we want to encourage you to unite behind this cause to enhance health, care and inclusivity within our local communities.

We’re pleased to announce that the UBC United Way campaign officially launches on Thursday, October 12 in Vancouver and the Okanagan.

United Way British Columbia serves over 4 million people by strengthening vital connections that support people in need in our local communities. As part of our UBC community, you can help address the critical issues affecting our neighbours by continuing the long-standing tradition of supporting this great cause.

This Thursday October 12, you will receive an email from
ubc-campaign@uwbc.ca inviting you to make a payroll pledge online. We encourage you to show your support by becoming a donor. Our goal this year is to inspire 1,000 UBC faculty and staff across both campuses to contribute to the campaign.

To learn more about the UBC United Way campaign, visit:

UBC Vancouver: https://unitedway.ubc.ca/
UBC Okanagan: https://unitedway.ok.ubc.ca

Thank you in advance for supporting this year’s campaign. Whether you give your time, energy or financial support, your contribution makes a significant impact.

Deborah Buszard
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor

Lesley Cormack
Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, UBC Okanagan


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Join us as we welcome UBC’s new President and Vice-Chancellor

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In July of this year I was pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon as the 17th President and Vice-Chancellor of UBC.

Dr. Bacon will take up his role on November 1, 2023. In advance of that date, he will be visiting both campuses to meet UBC’s vibrant community of students, faculty and staff. I hope you will join us at one of the following welcome events:

UBC Vancouver
10.30am on October 18, 2023
Irving K. Barber Learning Centre
RSVP at https://ceremonies.ubc.ca/ubc-community-welcome-to-dr-benoit-antoine-bacon/

UBC Okanagan
10.30am on October 19, 2023
Richard S. Hallisey Atrium, EME Building
RSVP at https://ur.ok.ubc.ca/rsvpcampuswelcome

During both events, Dr. Bacon will say a few words and then mingle with students, faculty and staff in an informal atmosphere over coffee. On behalf of the UBC Board of Governors, please join us at these events and give a warm welcome to Dr. Bacon. For those who are unable to attend, rest assured there will be other opportunities to hear Dr. Bacon and share your messages of welcome over the fall.

Nancy McKenzie
Chair, UBC Board of Governors


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Announcing the reappointment of Dr. Ainsley Carry as Vice-President, Students

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I am pleased to announce that Dr. Ainsley Carry has been reappointed Vice-President, Students, for a second term starting April 1, 2024.

Dr. Carry joined UBC in 2019, and has made many notable achievements during his first term. A passionate advocate for students, he led the restructure of the VP Students portfolio to elevate student health and career services.

He was also pivotal in the launch of the Beyond Tomorrow Scholars program, while ensuring that the VP Students portfolio demonstrates a continued commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism and Indigenous engagement.

During his time at UBC, Dr. Carry has demonstrated a tireless commitment to the university and to creating an outstanding experience for our students. Please join me in congratulating him on his reappointment, and wish him well in his second term.

Deborah Buszard
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor


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