COVID–19 — Santa Ono’s address to the community (May 15)

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As we continue to navigate the situation regarding COVID-19, I would like to share another update on UBC’s response.

Today, I would like to update you on UBC’s plans for the fall term, the resumption of on-campus research activities, and operational and safety planning as we move forward. I also discuss UBC’s Climate Emergency Declaration and how you can get involved with our response to the climate emergency.

You will find my update, in both video and text format, at https://president.ubc.ca/letter-to-the-community/2020/05/15/weekly-update-may-15/

As in previous weeks, I am also pleased to close with a musical #SongsofComfort performance.

This May long weekend will signal the province moving into Phase 2 of the BC Restart Plan. These are positive signs, but we must all remember to continue to take care and stay within the guidelines of BC’s Provincial Health Officer.

I wish you and your loved ones an enjoyable long weekend.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


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UBC’s operational and safety planning

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Last week, Premier John Horgan announced the gradual reopening of provincial sectors as set out in BC’s Restart Plan for COVID-19. We would like to take this opportunity to update you on this plan and UBC’s approach to operational and safety planning.

The four phased Restart Plan was received with both appreciation and a recognition that this reopening must be a cautious process and that foremost is the health and safety of British Columbians.

The province is currently in Phase 1 and expected to enter Phase 2 after the May long weekend when additional sectors will be reopened under enhanced protocols. BC will enter subsequent phases as transmission rates stay low and continue to decline. Post-secondary institutions have been identified as a component of Phase 3, which will take place between June and September, if transmission rates remain low. The final phase will be reached at the time when there is wide vaccination, community immunity, or broad successful treatments for COVID-19.

The provincial government is working with representatives from various sectors to develop the health and safety measures that will need to be in place before moving to the next phase. In parallel with these sector plans, UBC is developing an operational safety plan and approval process that Faculties and administrative units will be required to complete before any changes can be made to the remote work arrangements currently in place. We will provide you with more information about this process within the next two weeks.

Please do not change your current personal work arrangements until your Faculty’s or administrative unit’s operational and safety plans or reopening plans have been approved by the Executive.

A series of core measures* are set out in the Restart Plan for the post-secondary sector, which include:

  • Routine daily screening for all students, faculty and staff.
  • Routine and frequent environmental cleaning.
  • Explicit policy for students, faculty and staff who have the symptoms of a cold, flu, or COVID-19 with coughing or sneezing not coming into classes or taking part in extra curricula activities and sports.
  • Increased use of online learning balanced against the need of social interaction for learning and development.
  • Early arrival and self-isolation for 14 days of international students.

* Please note: we expect further guidance from the provincial government regarding implementation of the core measures within the next few weeks.

As you know, there are many different types of service and activity provided at UBC, including health services; museums, art galleries, and libraries; child care; agriculture; retail; recreation and sports; and restaurants. UBC’s operational safety plans will take into account the standards of practice for these specific sectors as identified in the Restart Plan.

We anticipate that before mid-June, the post-secondary sector will receive information on the safe organizational practices, as approved by WorkSafe BC. We will provide further updates as soon as we can.

Thank you, once again, for your ongoing commitment to the health and safety of the UBC community.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


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COVID-19 — Plans for the phased resumption of on-campus research

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In March, UBC introduced curtailment of on-campus research on both our Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. Since that time many of you have made great efforts to support this transition, conducting your research and scholarly activity remotely.

We recognize that the on-campus curtailment has had significant impacts for many of you, your graduate students and your research teams. Thank you once again for your commitment to the university.

In collaboration with our Faculties, we are now planning for the phased resumption of on-campus research from the beginning of June, adopting a gradual approach over the summer months. Conducting on-campus research and scholarship will be limited to those who require on-campus resources and cannot conduct this work remotely. As a reminder, and in keeping with public health guidelines, the majority of our faculty and staff will need to continue working remotely, wherever possible.

As part of our planning, UBC is working with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and post-secondary institutions within BC to ensure we are aligned with health and safety guidelines and WorkSafeBC. The phased resumption of on-campus research is also being informed by feedback we received during consultation with Faculties and units, including town halls that engaged more than 950 faculty members.

We have asked the Faculties to develop plans to embark on this phased approach. The plans will be led by Deans and Associate Deans of Research, with coordination and guidance provided by the Office of the VP, Research & Innovation. Given the complexity of coordinating safe access to different spaces within buildings, and managing the associated demand for multiple on-campus services, there is still significant planning to be done.

It is important to stress that health and safety remains our priority. As such, UBC will continue to work closely with the provincial government to ensure our plans are consistent with public health requirements. We also recognize that this will be an iterative process, and we may need to be prepared to reinstate curtailment measures, should the situation regarding COVID-19 change.

For more information, please visit https://research.ubc.ca/COVID-19/phased-resumption.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor

Gail Murphy
Vice-President, Research & Innovation


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Process for reappointment of UBC President and Vice-Chancellor

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The current term of the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia, Professor Santa J. Ono, expires on August 14, 2021. The board is required to determine, prior to the final year of Professor Ono’s first term, whether it wishes to reappoint him to a second 5-year term.

The Executive Committee of the Board of Governors and Professor Ono have agreed that the President and Vice-Chancellor shall be considered for reappointment. In light of this, a Presidential Reappointment Committee has been established to review the performance of Professor Ono (and the university under his leadership), and provide a report and recommendation to the Board of Governors by July 2020.

The Presidential Reappointment Committee is broadly representative and comprises the following members of the Board of Governors:

  • Committee Chair: Michael Korenberg, Chair of the Board of Governors
  • Committee Vice Chair: Sandra Cawley, Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors

Members:

  • Chancellor Lindsay Gordon

Elected members of the Board of Governors:

  • John Klironomos (UBC Okanagan – faculty)
  • Mark Mac Lean (UBC Vancouver – faculty)
  • Jeanie Malone (UBC Vancouver – student)
  • Nicole Udzenija (UBC Okanagan – staff)

Government appointed members of the Board of Governors:

  • Alison Brewin
  • Azim Lalani (appointed to the Board on the recommendation of the Alumni Association)
  • Nancy McKenzie
  • Andrea Reimer
  • Bill Sundhu

To assist in preparing its report and recommendation, the Presidential Reappointment Committee will conduct a broad-based consultation that includes both on and off-campus individuals and organizations. The committee would like to hear from members of faculty, students and staff, on both campuses, all of whom are invited to submit comments regarding Professor Ono (and the university under his leadership), with reference to his reappointment.

The committee will also be approaching student leaders, the UBC Faculty Association and union leaders representing UBC personnel, Indigenous leaders, alumni, donors, business and community leaders, certain Senators, Deans, senior members of the Administration, community leaders, members of government and other post-secondary leaders, to solicit their input.

The deadline for comments is June 15, 2020. Please visit:https://bog.ubc.ca/presidential-reappointment-committee/ to learn more about the process and how to provide your feedback. If you have any questions, please contact Karen Hakkarainen, Secretary to the Board of Governors at board.secretariat@ubc.ca.

We greatly value your engagement in this process.

Thank you very much,

On behalf of the Presidential Reappointment Committee:

Michael J. Korenberg
Chair, UBC Board of Governors


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COVID-19 — UBC’s approach for the fall term

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A few weeks ago, I sent a message regarding Summer Term 2 in which I said we were actively planning for how we might teach later this year. I am now pleased to confirm the approach that UBC is going to take to ensure a high-quality experience for our students in fall 2020.

COVID-19 has created many challenges for our students, faculty and staff. It has also highlighted the incredible commitment you have towards UBC – and our commitment to creating an enriching experience for our new, and returning students.

As part of our planning, we are working 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.

UBC’s approach will allow us to deliver high-quality teaching and learning – while ensuring the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. It is based on the guidelines and direction of the Provincial Health Officer, public health agencies, and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. These include:

  • Prioritizing the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff.
  • Demonstrating our commitment to delivering a quality educational experience.
  • Collaborating with other post-secondary institutions, and the provincial government.
  • Adopting a phased approach to in-person learning (under the direction of the Provincial Health Officer).

UBC’s approach to fall 2020

During fall 2020, UBC will primarily offer larger classes online with selected smaller classes conducted in-person, adhering to physical distancing and other public health requirements. We will maintain a clear focus on ensuring high-quality face-to-face instruction, where possible, and high-quality remote instruction. Individual Faculties will be sharing updates about specific programs in the coming weeks.

Supporting our students

We are working to ensure that the necessary supports are provided for our students, particularly those who are experiencing financial challenges, or who need extra advising or counselling. The requirement to maintain physical distancing also includes planning for any potential impact that travel restrictions might have on our international students, such as obtaining study permits or having difficulty travelling. Details about plans for residences and co-curricular activities will be shared as soon as they are confirmed.

Ensuring our health and safety

We are pleased to see positive signs of ‘flattening of the curve’ in BC, but we know that we must take care and proceed in keeping with provincial public health directives and guidelines. Our planning for fall 2020 is intended to be both robust and nimble. While we are keen to facilitate more people on campus, it is important to stress that health and safety remains our first priority as we continue to ensure that our plans are consistent with provincial public health requirements.

Thank you to our students for your patience and commitment during recent weeks, and we are excited for the new students who will be joining us. Thank you once again to all our faculty and staff for your commitment to the university.

The last few weeks have shown what we can achieve together, as a university. Looking ahead, we are excited to see how UBC can continue to create enriching experiences this fall. Whether you are a student, staff or faculty member – we look forward to engaging with you in fall 2020.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


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COVID–19 — Santa Ono’s address to the community (May 8)

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As we continue to respond to the impact of COVID-19, I would like to share my regular update on UBC’s response — including stories of how our community is coming together.

This week, I discuss UBC’s plans for our virtual graduation ceremonies on Wednesday June 17. I know what important events these are, for our students and also our faculty members.

The ceremonies will include many elements of a traditional ceremony, and some unique ones as well. Being a virtual ceremony also means they can be opened up to our entire community, so I encourage you, whether you know someone who is graduating or not, to join us.

I believe it is more important than ever that we stay connected, support and celebrate each other. Spring graduation reminds us of the achievements of our students and the strength of our UBC community.

You will find my update, in both video and text format, at https://president.ubc.ca/letter-to-the-community/2020/05/08/weekly-update-may-8/.

As in previous weeks, I am also pleased to close with a UBC musical performance in support of #SongsofComfort.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


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COVID–19 — Update on UBC’s spring graduation ceremonies

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Following my message in March informing you of our plans to hold a virtual spring graduation, the university has been working hard to design an occasion that will do justice to the achievements of the Class of 2020.

Earlier today, I sent a message to our graduating students, sharing details of this celebration. I would now like to share our plans with you.

Graduation for the Class of 2020 will be held on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. We will hold one ceremony for students graduating from UBC Vancouver and one ceremony for students graduating from UBC Okanagan. The virtual ceremony will include many elements of a traditional ceremony and some unique ones as well.

I know what an important event this is for our faculty members, in particular, to see our students successfully completing their years of study. While I understand this virtual ceremony will not be the same as seeing our students graduate in person, it is an opportunity to come together as a community to celebrate their outstanding achievements.

Being a virtual ceremony also means it can be opened up to our entire community, so I encourage you, whether you know someone who is graduating or not, to join us. During these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever that we stay connected, support and celebrate each other. I would also like to reiterate that UBC is committed to holding an in-person graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 when it is safe to do so.

More details of the virtual ceremony will be shared online in the coming weeks. Please visit graduation.ubc.ca (UBC Vancouver) or graduation.ok.ubc.ca (UBC Okanagan) for more information.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


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COVID–19 — Santa Ono’s address to the community (May 1)

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As part of UBC’s response to the situation regarding COVID-19, I am sharing my regular update — including stories of how our community is coming together.

This week I discuss how UBC is actively planning for the fall term. I also want to reiterate my thanks to our faculty and staff for your continuing commitment to maintaining university operations while we look ahead. And thank you to our students for your commitment and support during this period of transition.

Community engagement remains a key focus, and our students continue to show how volunteering can make such a difference. You can read their stories at https://news.ubc.ca/. I also encourage you to access the mental health supports and resources available — recognizing that the current physical distancing is having an impact in so many ways.

You can find my update, in both video and text format, at https://president.ubc.ca/letter-to-the-community/2020/05/01/covid-19-update-may-1/. As in previous weeks, I am pleased to close with a UBC musical performance in support of #SongsofComfort.

Physical distancing doesn’t mean we have to be socially disconnected from one another, and I encourage you to use technology to check-in with each other. Whether it’s an informal chat, quiz or home-based scavenger hunt — let’s find ways to stay connected during this time.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor


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COVID–19 — UBC planning update

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As you know, earlier this week a UBC Broadcast was sent out confirming the continuation of Remote Work Arrangements until further notice, in keeping with the guidelines of the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Thank you again for all the work that has been done through this transition, to safeguard the health and safety of the UBC community.

The decision to extend Remote Work Arrangements is consistent with the direction provided to public sector employers by the provincial government this week. This is in follow-up to information provided by the Public Sector Employers’ Council Secretariat (PSEC Secretariat) in March. As part of this direction, PSEC Secretariat has provided guidance regarding the principles that should be followed in making staffing decisions, as the situation regarding COVID-19 evolves.

These principles recognize that employers across the public sector are being affected in different ways and require flexibility in planning and managing staffing decisions. We know that some employers have had operations affected due to revenue reductions and changes in service delivery levels.

For post-secondary institutions within BC, the factors affecting budget planning are not yet determined and this is true for UBC. For example, it is still too early to know how travel and physical distancing restrictions related to COVID-19 will affect the levels of both domestic and international enrolment.

On our UBC campuses, many services are dependent on enrolment and on-campus activities. We know that we will experience budget challenges, and we will take every step to mitigate the effect on staffing and operations. This is also why it is so important now that everyone across the university minimizes all discretionary spending.

For the immediate term, and until we have a clear financial and operational picture for the university, we do not anticipate making any changes to our staffing levels. We will work together with you, and with our unions, and we are committed to communicating regularly as we move forward.

Peter Smailes
Vice-President, Finance & Operations

Marcia Buchholz
Vice-President, Human Resources

Deborah Buszard
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal, UBC Okanagan

Andrew Szeri
Provost and Vice-President, Academic, UBC Vancouver


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Extension of Remote Work Arrangements and on-campus research curtailment

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As you know, the health and wellbeing of our university community remains our priority, and we are continuing to follow guidance from the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, to limit the spread of COVID-19.

In keeping with the direction from Dr. Henry that the requirement for physical distancing remains in place, we are extending Remote Work Arrangements and on-campus research curtailment as outlined below.

Remote Work Arrangements

UBC’s Remote Work Arrangements will continue to apply to faculty, staff, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and student employees until further notice. Thank you to everyone who has made the transition to remote working in the last few weeks, and to those who have continued to provide required on-campus services during this time. You can find FAQs to support Remote Work Arrangements at http://www.hr.ubc.ca/covid-19/.

On-Campus Research Curtailment

We appreciate that many researchers have been able to transition to conduct their research and scholarship remotely. However, we are aware that this curtailment has significantly impacted many faculty members, graduate students, research trainees, postdoctoral fellows and research staff. To address this, we are working with Faculties on both campuses to consider how we will gradually ease curtailment restrictions in ways that are consistent with public health requirements. This advance planning effort will allow us to safely and judiciously increase on-campus research activities when public health conditions allow. We will advise you as to where we are in the planning process within the next two weeks. Please visit https://research.ubc.ca/covid-19 for more information about the ongoing curtailment and the status of exempted activities.

As a reminder, FAQs related to COVID-19 and UBC’s response can also be found at https://covid19.ubc.ca/.

We will provide further updates regarding Remote Work Arrangements and on-campus research curtailment as the situation evolves. In the meantime, thank you for your ongoing efforts and commitment to the university.

Marcia Buchholz
Vice-President, Human Resources

Gail Murphy
Vice-President, Research & Innovation

Andrew Szeri
Provost and Vice-President, Academic, UBC Vancouver

Ananya Mukherjee Reed
Provost and Vice-President, Academic, UBC Okanagan


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