Spring 2022 Message from the Provost

February 07, 2022

With today's resumption of the majority of in-person classes and academic activities, I would like to say 'welcome back' to those of you who have been remote since the start of term. I would also like to extend my sincere appreciation to all, for the work you are doing to maintain the very considerable academic activities of this great university.

I will be the first to say that, given the state of the pandemic, we're not in the place anyone wanted to be at this point in the academic year. We have had to make a number of decisions to keep the university functioning as best we can.

This past month has been a challenging one, and your flexibility and dedication as we respond to the latest wave in the pandemic has been invaluable to your students and your colleagues. From everyone in my office, I thank you.

Covid-19 Update

You will have seen the UBC Broadcast that announced the majority of instruction will be delivered in-person from February 7 until the end of Winter Session, Term 2. The decision was made collaboratively, in consultation with Deans, Academic Heads and Directors, and student leadership, considering the learning needs of students and the health and safety of the university community. Further details on arrangements for specific programs and courses will be provided by Faculties and academic units as we progress through the semester.

I encourage you to visit the Keep Teaching website to find resources for online teaching and student support during this time, as well as to find information to help you navigate the transition back to in-person learning.

To support the shift to offering mostly online instruction from the start of Winter Term 2, we provided $1-million to the Faculties, to assist faculty members and departmental instructional staff shift course materials online, as well as to hire additional teaching assistants and provide virtual "classroom" assistance and to provide support to students in distant time zones.

As we move to increased in-person learning activities over the course of this semester, let's work together to ensure that we're supporting each other and our students. I look forward to the revival of a vibrant and bustling campus.

Covid Safety

Safety for everyone in the UBC community remains our top priority. UBC's COVID-19 Safety Planning Framework continues to be informed by the BC Restart Plan and the COVID-19 Return-to-Campus Guidelines for B.C.'s Post-Secondary Institutions.

Everyone taking part in UBC activities should be aware of the relevant Covid Safety Plan for the kinds of areas where they work. Please visit Safety & Risk Services' Covid-19 page to learn about what UBC is doing to keep the community on campus safe.

To support the continuity of on-campus learning, instruction and research, UBC will be providing Rapid Antigen Test kits for students, faculty and staff who are showing symptoms of Covid-19, starting today. Rapid Antigen Test kits will be made available for UBC students, faculty, and staff with the presentation of a UBC identification card. You can learn more about details and locations at https://srs.ubc.ca/covid-19/covid-19-rapid-antigen-testing-kits/.

Climate Change

Climate Emergency Task Force Report

Endorsed in principle by UBC's Board of Governors and UBCV and UBCO Senates in 2021, the Climate Emergency Task Force (CETF) report highlights strategic priority areas in addition to emissions reductions for UBC to enhance its leadership on the climate emergency, including accelerated activities to embed climate justice, achieve full divestment, prioritize Indigenous perspectives, support climate initiatives led by Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour, and expand and strengthen climate education, research, partnerships, and wellbeing.

Progress against all of these areas is now available at https://climateemergency.ubc.ca. Please contact Nadia Joe and Pablo Beimler – Climate Emergency Senior Project Managers – for more information.

UBC Sustainability Initiative becoming Sustainability Hub

As last year's heat dome and atmospheric river drives home the real impacts of climate change, UBC's is moving ahead to increase our commitments to Sustainability and Climate Action. I am pleased to announce the new name and strategic plan for one of UBC's central sustainability units.

The UBC Sustainability Initiative is now the Sustainability Hub. This new name reflects a stronger emphasis on engagement, and reflects our goal to catalyze change for a just and sustainable world. The Sustainability Hub's new five-year strategic plan outlines how we will activate our mission, "Inspiring people to act upon the planet's most urgent challenges through UBC's academic and operational sustainability leadership".

The strategic plan launch is set to coincide with UBC's return to campus, and students, faculty and staff are encouraged to take an early look at http://sustain.ubc.ca/hub.

As a hub for action, facilitating collaboration is essential. The team, including Senior Director, Linda Nowlan and Academic Director Dr. Tara Ivanochko, would love to hear your feedback and talk about new opportunities to work together. Please get in touch.

Climate Action Plan 2030

Addressing the climate emergency remains UBC's top sustainability priority. In December 2021, UBC's Board of Governors approved the Climate Action Plan 2030, which has a number of ambitious climate action targets.  Priorities include significant long-term capital investment to decarbonize our campuses, as well as quick-start actions on policy, procedures, and programs aimed at reducing indirect GHG emissions related to commuting, food choices and waste.

These priorities include GHG reduction targets against a 2007 baseline for our Vancouver campus as follows:

  • 85% reduction in campus operations emissions by 2030
  • 45% collective reduction in emissions from extended impact sources by 2030
  • 100% reduction in GHG emissions by 2035

I invite you to read the Climate Action Plan 2030 to see UBC's commitment to taking strong action to reach net zero carbon emissions on our campuses. You can also take a look at the CAP 2030 Plan at a Glance via the interactive Storymaps website.

Campus Vision 2050

UBC Vancouver last updated its Land Use Plan over a decade ago. Since then, the core academic campus has grown, and the daytime and resident populations have increased significantly. This growth has taken place in the context of broader systemic changes at UBC including work on anti-racism, Indigenous reconciliation, housing affordability, climate action and transportation connectivity.

Over the next two weeks, UBC is consulting on a comprehensive land use planning process that will shape how the Vancouver campus evolves over the next 30 years. Campus Vision 2050 will involve engagement with the campus community to understand how we can use the campus land to meet the diverse needs and aspirations of the university, the community, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and the region.

Please visit the Campus Vision 2050 page to learn more and offer your feedback on how the UBC Vancouver campus can continue to grow and engage: https://campusvision2050.ubc.ca/.

UBC's Digital Strategy

UBC has made significant digital strides over the last five to ten years, across a number of our digital and technological systems. As we increasingly see how the pandemic is shaping society's approach to the use of technology in education, research and the workplace, we have an opportunity to assess how technology can enable and shape the university going forward, through the UBC Digital Strategy. How the university prioritizes and connects these advances will help define UBC over the next decade, with important implications for access, equity, and sustainability.

We invite faculty, students and staff to take the Digital UBC survey to share your experiences using technology at UBC, and perspectives on your priorities to help shape the digital future. Your ideas and input will be combined with voices from across the campus community to contribute to the development of UBC's first institution-wide digital strategy, and resulting roadmap. Find out more at https://cio.ubc.ca/about-ocio/digital-ubc/get-involved.

Jennifer Burns, UBC's Chief Information Officer, will be hosting town halls in the spring to share the preliminary road-map and plans for next steps, so please stay tuned for those events.

Faculty Accomplishments

Canada Research Chairs

The Canada Research Chair program has appointed 22 UBC researchers as new and renewed Canada Research Chairs, representing an investment of $19.5-million in UBC faculty.

Visit the VPRI website to learn more about this year's CRC appointments.

AAAS Fellow

Dr. Shawn Mansfield has been named as a 2021 AAAS Fellow for his work on 'distinguished contributions to plant science spanning industrially relevant lignocellulosic processing to research on fundamental molecular mechanisms/genetics of cell wall deposition, carbohydrate allocation, and cellulose and lignin biosynthesis.'

Order of Canada

On December 29, 2021, the Governor General announced 135 appointments to the Order of Canada. A number of UBC faculty and faculty emeriti were among this year's appointments. I would like to extend my congratulations to my colleagues for their accomplishments and this well-deserved recognition:

Officers of the Order of Canada (O.C.)

  • Dr. Pieter Cullis, O.C. (Faculty of Medicine)
  • Dr. Connie Eaves, O.C. (Faculty of Medicine / School of Biomedical Engineering and distinguished scientist at the BC Cancer's Terry Fox Laboratory)
  • Dr. Donald McKenzie, O.C. (Professor Emeritus of Kinesiology - Faculty of Education / Faculty of Medicine)
  • Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, O.C. (Allard School of Law / Academic Director, Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre)

Members of the Order of Canada (C.M.)

  • Dr. Walter Hardy, C.M. (Faculty of Science - Professor Emeritus)
  • Dr. Curtis A. Suttle, C.M. (Faculty of Science)
  • Dr. Peter Zandstra, C.M. (School of Biomedical Engineering / Michael Smith Laboratories)

Appointments and Departures

In recent months, we have had a number of appointments across UBC, which I am pleased to share with you here:


Dr. Susan Rowley has been appointed to a three-year term as Director of the Museum of Anthropology. Dr. Rowley has served as Acting Director since July 1, 2021.

Dr. Zu-hua Gao has been appointed as Head of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, effective November 1, 2021.

Dr. Margaret Moss,  Director of the First Nations House of Learning and associate professor in the School of Nursing, has been appointed as the interim Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion, effective December 1, 2021.

Dr. Eduardo Jovel has been appointed as the Interim Director of the First Nations House of Learning, effective December 1, 2021.

Dr. Bonnie Effros has been appointed as the Head of the Department of History for a five-year term, as of January 1, 2022.

Dr. Jonathon Leipsic has been appointed as the Head of the Department of Radiology, effective to June 30, 2027.

Dr. Steven Miller has been appointed as the Head of the UBC Department of Pediatrics, effective April 1, 2022.


Dr. Sara-Jane Finlay,  Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion, has left UBC as of Dec. 17, 2021 to take up another role elsewhere.

Dr. Pamela Ratner has stepped down from her role as Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Faculty Planning, as of the end of December 2021.

Professor Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond will be stepping down as Academic Director, Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, at the end of the 2021/22 academic year winter session.

If you have questions about any of the initiatives coming out of the Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic, you can reach me at provost.vpa@ubc.ca. Thank you again for all of your hard work and support, and wishing you all the best in the new year,

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

  • From the Provost

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