Spring 2020 Message from the Provost

March 03, 2020

Hello all, and I hope you are having a wonderful spring. With the winter term in full swing, I wanted to update you on some of the initiatives that we are working on in the Provost’s Office.

President’s Academic Excellence Initiative (PAEI)

I am delighted to say that great progress is being made on the PAEI – an initiative aimed at extending the research impact of UBC.  The PAEI, or Academic Renewal, will increase the complement of our research faculty through a carefully developed plan for growth that will significantly enhance the research environment for our new and existing faculty members and graduate students. This will ensure that research and teaching come together, so that the benefits are available to all students (undergraduate and graduate) as well as post-doctoral scholars strengthening the research ecosystem and ensuring research impact.

I look forward to sharing more about this initiative in the coming weeks leading to June 2020, when the full PAEI program is scheduled to be presented to the Board of Governors for approval.  Please stay tuned.

Sustainability & Climate Change

In December, the UBC Board of Governors unanimously endorsed a Declaration on the Climate Emergency, responding to the advocacy of our community members and joining other organizations around the world.

The declaration also set out an intention to establish an advisory committee and a climate emergency community engagement process. In collaboration with the UBC Climate Hub, a UBC Climate Emergency Task Force has been established, co-chaired by Professor Walter Mérida, a Senior Faculty Advisor to the President and professor in the Faculty of Applied Science, and Michelle Marcus from UBCC350, to gather ideas from the university community.

Over the next few weeks, you can take part in a series of engagement activities around how UBC can apply ideas and feedback from students, faculty members and staff, to its work, plans, policies and practices in order to address the climate emergency. Please take part in this process, as well as encourage dialogue within your own units and departments.

Advancing Inclusion at UBC

In the coming weeks we have a number of events taking place at the Vancouver campus in support of advancing inclusion.

The IGNITE Book Club is designed with and for racialized faculty to allow for the exploration and discussion of memoirs written by renowned racialized authors. Designed to open up space and stimulate dialogue and discussion around race and leadership, IGNITE is one of several key initiatives that recognize and embrace the diversity of our faculty community, and provide an intentional space for racialized faculty to share their experiences. I was able to attend the event on February 24th, which was very thought-provoking indeed. Upcoming events are on March 12 and 26.

On March 19, Dr. Arig al Shaibah, Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion, at McMaster University, will hold a public lecture on her insights on equity, diversity, and inclusive organizational change in the academy. This lecture is part of the Provost’s Distinguished Lecture Series on Race and Leadership, and will be hosted by myself and moderated by Dr. Minelle Mahtani, Senior Advisor to the Provost on Racialized Faculty. Register for this event.

Integrated Renewal Program/Workday

As you will know, UBC is undertaking major renewal projects across the student administration and human resources and finance systems, aligned under one Integrated Renewal Program, with a launch date originally planned for April 2020. On February 14, 2020, the Board of Governors approved a new IRP HR and Finance launch date of November 2020.

To stay up to date on developments related to the Integrated Renewal Program, please bookmark https://irp.ubc.ca.

Update on Strategic Plan: Shaping UBC’s Next Century

We are hard at work on continuing to embed the Strategic Plan in every aspect of university life.

Five new Faculty strategic plans have been developed this past year across UBCV and UBCO, and another four are on track to launch later in the year. Additionally, four new portfolio strategic plans recently launched across both campuses. Please visit the Plans & Frameworks section on the Strategic Plan website to view all UBC plans. 

The Strategic Plan Implementation Advisory Committee met in December 2019, and reviewed the University's accomplishments to date as they relate to the Plan. I invite you to visit the Strategic Plan website at https://strategicplan.ubc.ca to read about our collective achievements.

Looking ahead, we will continue to share our accomplishments through a series of stories coming to the community over the next several months.

Indigenous Strategic Plan

As announced in today’s UBC Broadcast, I would like to invite you to take part in upcoming engagement sessions on UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan. We will be sharing what was heard from the community last semester at two drop-in sessions at the Sty-Wet-Tan Great Hall at the First Nations Longhouse on March 11 and March 12, 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.

I invite you to learn more about these events and the important journey UBC has undertaken in creating the Indigenous Strategic Plan.

Advancing Education Renewal

The open call for proposals to support advancing educational renewal – in alignment with Strategy #11: Education Renewal – has recently closed. Funded by UBC Vancouver's Academic Excellence Funds, the call for proposals on Education Renewal, as one of six targeted priorities for the university, has earmarked up to $1.5-million over two years, to support projects that advance one of three focus areas:

  • Improvements in Teaching Effectiveness
  • Program Redesign: Developing Program level Outcomes
  • Reimagining and Strengthening Graduate Programs

The call was open November 18, 2019, through February 6, 2020, and we received 32 applications across eight Faculties. I want to thank everyone who submitted an application and I look forward to announcing the projects selected for funding in April.

Funding Opportunities

The Online Learning Advancement Fund (OLAF) is accepting applications for funding to support the development of online cohort-based learning opportunities, either credit or non-credit, at UBC.

In alignment with Strategy 11Education Renewal, and Strategy 13: Practical Learning, of the UBC Strategic Plan, my office has committed $500,000 in recurring funding to support initiatives of different scale and scope.

Please visit the OLAF page to learn more. Letters of intent are due by May 12, 2020.

University Killam Professor 2020 Nominations

Nominations are open for the 2020 University Killam Professor designation, which recognizes exceptional members of faculty who are extraordinary teachers and researchers, leaders in their academic fields, and who have received national and international recognition. I encourage you to consider nominating a colleague for this year’s award.

Nominations are due by April 3, 2020. Learn more at the University Killam Professor 2020 page.


Over the past few months, we have announced a number of key appointments across the university, which I am pleased to share with you here:

  • Dr. Kendall Ho (Faculty of Medicine) has been appointed as Academic Director for UBC’s Community Health and Wellbeing CIC, a collaboration with Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), effective December 1, 2019.
  • Prof. Margaret Schabas (Faculty of Arts) has been appointed Senior Advisor to the Provosts on Academic Freedom, effective January 1, 2020.
  • Dr. Naznin Virji-Babul (Faculty of Medicine) has been appointed Senior Advisor to the Provost on Women and Gender-Diverse Faculty, effective January 1, 2020.
  • Larry Bouthillier has been appointed Executive Director, UBC Extended Learning, effective March 1, 2020.
  • Dr. Allison M. Macfarlane will join UBC as the new Director of the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA) in the Faculty of Arts, effective July 1, 2020.

We are also still in the process of seeking applications and nominations for the role of Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Academic Affairs.

If you have any questions about any of the initiatives coming out of the Office of the Vice-President Academic & Provost, you can reach me at provost.vpa@ub.ca.

Andrew Szeri

  • From the Provost

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