Message from the Provost

January 19, 2017

Welcome back to the new term – and happy 2017.

Looking back on 2016, there is much to celebrate, especially the installation of our new President, Santa Ono. But that is so last year! For 2017 the future looks rosy but very busy.

First on my agenda is the Excellence Fund, established last year to create opportunities to invest in a number of strategic activities. This year we are investing in graduate student scholarships; supporting junior faculty to attract graduate students; creating 6 new President’s Excellence Chairs; and much more. More broadly, this is budget season – and while I enjoy number crunching, the budget is not simply a matter of numbers; it is the document that describes how the university will invest its scarce resources. With Andrew Simpson, VP Finance and Operations, I am meeting with many stakeholders to prepare the budget for the Executive and ultimately the Board. I will be meeting with academic department heads on February 1 to seek their input so please speak to your head (or write to me directly) if you have specific areas you think we need to address.

Another key priority in the office is supporting initiatives that address the challenge of breaking down silos in a world where so much innovation happens at the boundaries of disciplines. I am working with the Deans to bring to Senate proposals to create a School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and a School of Biomedical Engineering. UBC Health also remains a focus as we work to achieve greater collaboration across UBC’s health programs. And at the same time, we are working to strengthen connections between Continuing Studies and the Faculties, and bring excellence to the community through the development of programs for learners outside the traditional student age spans and roles (for example with high school programs).

And there is so much more: IT investments in the student information system and the learning management system are moving forward – and a special thank you to the many who have been working with the teams on those projects. We’re also enhancing the university’s housing program, creating great spaces for graduate students and further developing research space. 

As you can see, there is much to be done, and I look forward to paving the way for my successor and ensuring a smooth transition in the VPAO. I thank you in advance for your continued support and collaboration in my final term as Provost.


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