Spring 2019 Message from the Provost

June 03, 2019

Hello all, and welcome to the start of the summer semester. I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on some of the initiatives the Office of the Provost has been working on over the past several months.

But first, I’d like to extend a special congratulations to everyone who received their degree during our graduation celebrations. Attending university and working to discover your passions is one of the greatest and most rewarding opportunities in life, and each of this year’s graduates should be very proud of their accomplishments. I sincerely hope each one of you will do great things with the education and experiences you gained here at UBC.

2019/20 Budget

At UBC, our annual budget-setting process is about more than simply allocating funds to proposals and projects across the university; rather, it helps us support the initiatives that are collectively most important for the institution. This year’s budget, which was recently approved by the Board of Governors, is built upon the foundation of the university’s strategic plan, Shaping UBC’s Next Century, which sets the stage for numerous projects to inspire the best in our students, staff, faculty, alumni and partners in the years to come.

As you may have seen in a recent budget communication, over the next two years UBC will focus on six key areas within the strategic plan:

These strategies will not only guide our spending decisions, but they have also helped adjust our funding for certain areas.

Moving forward, key investments will be made to improve recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff, as well as teaching, learning and research infrastructure and support. Student mental health, student financial aid, research support and local and global engagement are also important initiatives that will receive funding.

In addition to these funding decisions, changes have been made to the Excellence Funds (now to be known as the Academic Funds) to better meet the needs and opportunities of the UBC community. The fund has been stratified into five individual funds supporting: strategic excellence, academic capital projects, revenue sharing, student financial aid and the Integrated Renewal Project.

Of course, there are many aspects of the budget that aren’t listed here, so I encourage you to read the full document to understand where UBC sees itself over the next year. The budget can be found on the Finance website.

New appointments

2019 has brought a number of new and extended appointments across the university, including:

  • Angela Towle has been reappointed as Academic Director of the UBC Learning Exchange for a third term.
  • Anne Martin-Matthews, a professor in the Department of Sociology, has been appointed UBC’s new Associate Vice-President, Health, effective February 15, 2019.
  • Robin Ciceri has been appointed as the new Vice-President, External Relations, effective March 1, 2019.
  • Ainsley Carry has been appointed as the new Vice-President, Students, effective April 1, 2019.
  • Damara Klaassen has been appointed the new Executive Director of the International Student Initiative, effective April 15, 2019.
  • Joanne Fox of UBC Vantage College has been reappointed for a second five-year term, commencing July 1, 2019.
  • Matthew Evenden, a professor in the Department of Geography, has been appointed Associate Vice-President, Research and Innovation, effective October 1, 2019.

Congress 2019

Between June 1-7, UBC will host the 88th annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. With an expected 10,000 attendees, the Vancouver campus will be transformed into a vibrant place full of engaging events, lively discussions and entertaining activities.

Congress is an opportunity to explore a unique showcase of scholarly excellence, creativity and leadership, regardless of your area of study or Faculty. This year’s Congress will feature more than 2,000 engaging events; 270 will be free and open to the public, and 92 events will showcase the work of UBC faculty and students.

I believe this year’s Pedagogy Hub will be of particular interest to all faculty members; designed by UBC Arts faculty members, the Hub is a physical and intellectual space where you’ll be able to participate in panels and interdisciplinary events related to current challenges in teaching and learning. Conversation topics range from educational technology and innovations in teaching to language learning and changing classroom climates – topics which impact all of us in academia.

The free Big Thinking series is held throughout Congress and will bring together artists and public figures, including Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan, science and environmental communicators David Suzuki and Ian Mauro, and visual artist Stan Douglas, to name a few. The series will feature the arts as a platform to engage with scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.

Other areas of interest include the Career Corner workshops, where everyone from graduate students to established faculty members can learn how to advance their academic careers, publish and market their research, improve their lesson planning and teaching skills, and find out about careers outside of academia. And then there’s the Congress Expo, which will feature the largest showcase of academic books in Canada. The Expo will host more than 50 exhibitors as well as book launches, book signings, career presentations and networking receptions.

This list represents just a small handful of the worthwhile and engaging events taking place during Congress. There will be something for everyone, and I encourage all faculty members to explore Congress programming and participate in this thought-provoking conference.

International strategic plan

I’m pleased to report that progress is being made with the university’s international strategy. Following consultations with UBC senior leadership, the Office of the Vice-Provost, International, launched Phase II of the international strategy planning process in February. Since then, the Office has established and convened a Working Group consisting of faculty, students and staff from both campuses, as well as hosted workshops for the broad UBC community, which attracted over 200 attendees. The next phase of the plan’s development includes sharing the framework, themes and action directions with the broad UBC community online, along with a survey later this summer.

National Centre for Faculty Development and Diversity

As part of UBC’s efforts to support the career growth and aspirations of our faculty, postdocs, graduate students and administrators, the university has renewed its institutional membership in the National Centre for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD).

The NCFDD supports academics’ career growth by providing professional development, training and mentoring opportunities, while also helping to increase research productivity, help faculty members acquire specialized skills, become more effective teachers and take control of their time. In fact, since starting our institutional membership in 2017, over 300 UBC academics have created accounts to take advantage of this resource, with very positive feedback to date.

I hope all faculty, postdocs and graduate students will take advantage of this valuable learning opportunity. More information about NCFDD and how you can sign up can be found here.

Integrated Renewal Program (IRP)

On April 1, 2020, UBC will start using Workday for Human Resources and Finance administration. I am pleased that UBC is investing in our administrative systems, because they are over 25 years old and no longer able to support UBC’s work as a leading public university. Workday will help UBC simplify some of our processes and provide us with one set of data, meaning we will be able to spend more time on strategic priorities and less time and energy tracking down reliable information.

There is still a lot to do before we start using Workday, and the IRP team is hard at work ensuring that the system and the processes will meet UBC’s needs well into the future. Watch for more details to be posted later this month to the project website.

The team also hosts monthly HR updates; you can find the schedule and more details on the IRP website. Monthly Finance updates will kick off soon, and both the schedule and more details will be posted to the IRP website this month.

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


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