Fall 2019 Message from the Provost

October 25, 2019

Hello everyone – I hope the fall term is going well for faculty, staff and students alike. Now that a new school year has started, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on some of the initiatives we are currently working on in the Provost’s Office.


Work continues on the development of the Indigenous Strategic Plan, which is expected to be finalized in early spring 2020. An Indigenous consulting firm and a project manager have both been engaged to support the consultation around the plan, and an implementation committee has also been convened. Our Indigenous leadership team have been working collaboratively not only to develop the plan, but also to draft UBC Vancouver’s responses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action.

During this time of progress and growth, I would also like to recognize some of the great strides made on engagement and collaboration on Indigenous affairs, including at the First Nations House of Learning (FNHL) and the Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (RSHDC). This progress has been made under the strong and collaborative leadership of Margaret Moss, Sheryl Lightfoot, Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond and Elizabeth Shaffer. From the creation of the Indigenous Collegium at the First Nations Longhouse – which is intended to be a home away from home for Indigenous students – to the development of Indigenous programming by the RSHDC at this year’s Congress, Margaret, Sheryl, Mary-Ellen and Elizabeth continue to grow and strengthen community engagement and collaborations across campus. I am proud of both the FNHL and the RSHDC for the exciting work that has been successfully accomplished so far, and look forward to continuing our work together.


The Office of the Vice-Provost, International, recently completed a nine-month consultation process on UBC’s global engagement.

Four themes surfaced from the consultation: UBC as a global citizen, global citizenship of UBC students, contributing to building a better world by focusing on issues of global relevance, and global capacity development. Together, these themes provide support and inspiration for impactful global engagement for UBC.

In addition, six specific action directions emerged as broad pathways to guide our collective action and the creation of implementable projects. The action directions focus on partnerships, transformative experiential learning for students, infrastructure (people, data and processes) to engage in cross-disciplinary research focused on issues of global relevance, and strategic communication.

The final draft strategy will be presented to the UBC Executive at the end of October, followed by submissions to Board and the Senates on both campuses at the end of November and in early December.


Staff, faculty and students from across the university have been working hard to bring the strategic plan: Shaping UBC’s Next Century further to life. Last month we launched a new website where community members can follow the plan’s implementation through a series of stories, metrics and updates. I encourage you to visit the new site and explore some of the amazing work that is being done across the community in support of the strategic plan. You can also take the opportunity to share your own strategic plan stories with us.

In addition, we’re launching a Call for Proposals this November in support of Education Renewal (Strategy 11) – one of the priority areas the university is focusing on over the next two years. Funded by UBC Vancouver’s Academic Excellence Funds, the call will support projects that advance one of three identified focus areas: improvements in teaching effectiveness, redesigning academic programs and/or strengthening graduate programs.

We will share more information about this call in the coming weeks, and I encourage all interested faculty, staff and students to apply.


The Integrated Renewal Program (IRP) team continues to expand its engagement with the UBC community as we approach the April 2020 implementation of Workday for the HR and Finance systems.

Since September, the IRP team has conducted three leader sessions: one with the President’s Office and VPs, a further with UBC Deans, Department Heads and Directors, and a third session with Administrative Leadership (AVPs and Service Unit Directors) to provide an initial look into Workday and discuss what leaders can do to help enable faculty and staff to navigate this change. The IRP team continues to conduct Workday demo events intended for all faculty and staff to provide a peek at our new system and renewed processes. The next demo is scheduled for October 30, and you can register to attend here.

All faculty and staff will be affected in some way by the coming changes, so I encourage you to continue participating in IRP events and otherwise staying informed. UBC’s intent with the IRP is to provide reliable data and smooth administration through a modern system and more efficient processes to support individuals across the community to focus on teaching, learning, and strategic initiatives. One example of the exciting enhancements supporting that intent is a new grants dashboard in Workday. The dashboard will help Principal Investigators better manage their grants by providing real-time information and reporting – an advancement over today’s grants management process.

To support all of us during the transition, the IRP team has built a robust change agent network, called the Transition Network, which includes representation from all Faculties and administrative units. This group of UBC leaders and process experts is working with the IRP team to put in place the resources required to enable a successful launch. They will also help ensure that the community is kept informed along the way. The full list of Transition Network members will be posted to the IRP website in the coming weeks.

To stay informed about the IRP, visit irp.ubc.ca, and for regular program updates direct to your inbox, subscribe to the IRP newsletter.


I am pleased to announce the creation of two new President’s Excellence Chairs in the subjects of Global Migration and Network Cultures. As you may be aware, the President’s Excellence Chairs program was developed to attract exceptional scholars to areas in which UBC already has tremendous strength. 

The chair holder in Global Migration will be dedicated to understanding and engaging in debate about the drivers and consequences of international migration while also collaborating closely with the UBC Migration Cluster. This consists of 50 faculty members from a wide range of disciplines and is funded by the Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters competition.

Network Cultures is an interdisciplinary field that examines data-driven knowledge environments and the cultural and political processes they produce. This interdisciplinary area of research focuses on information systems, rather than individual texts, and how they interface with other such environments.

I’m also excited to announce that Dr. Sophia Frangou – a Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, where she headed the Psychosis Research Program – has joined UBC as our new President’s Excellence Chair in Brain Health.

Dr. Frangou is an internationally-prominent clinician scientist, and her research focuses on uncovering pathophysiological processes underlying psychosis, with emphasis on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder using clinical, genetic, cognitive and neuroimaging techniques. Dr. Frangou holds a medical degree from the University of Athens Medical School, as well as a Master's Degree in Neuroscience and a PhD in Psychiatry, both from the University of London.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Frangou to UBC!


The past few months has brought a number of new and extended appointments across the university, including:

  • Hillary Gosselin, who was appointed Associate Vice-President, Development, effective July 1, 2019,

  • Karamjeet Heer, who was appointed Comptroller, commencing July 2, 2019, and

  • Rickey Yada, who was reappointed Dean of the Faculty of Land and Food Systems for a second five-year term, effective October 1, 2019.


In addition to the Education Renewal Call for Proposals mentioned above, there are a number of funding opportunities available to faculty, staff and students.

The new UBC Vancouver OER Fund – established through the UBC Academic Excellence Fund – is committing $250,000 in annual funding for the next four years to support open educational resources (OER) initiatives. Through two grant pathways, the fund supports affordable and inclusive access to learning materials while enabling professors to provide high quality, relevant and engaging learning materials for students. The deadline for applications is November 29, 2019.

A call for proposals has also been launched for Small Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF) Innovation Projects, to fund grassroots projects which promote experimentation with pedagogical approaches. This year, a special call related to Interdisciplinary Team-Teaching Grants has also been developed, aimed at piloting interdisciplinary innovation in existing undergraduate courses. Eligible UBC Vancouver faculty members can apply to the Small TLEF and special call by November 14, 2019.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, I welcome your thoughts and can be contacted at provost.vpa@ubc.ca.


  • From the Provost

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