From the Boardroom: BoG talks COVID-19 planning, climate emergency task force in brief meeting

Today’s 30-minute open session of the Board of Governors (BoG) meeting was little more than a brief summary of UBC’s response to COVID-19 so far.

BoG Chair Michael Korenberg opened the meeting noting the shift from the initial phase of the university’s response to the pandemic to a second phase in which they will begin planning for the upcoming fall term.

Restart updates

President Santa Ono read through a laundry list of recent changes UBC has implemented in response to the pandemic, including the move of the second summer term online.

“This decision was made, as in previous decisions, to safeguard the health of our students, faculty and staff, and it is in keeping with the guidelines of both the public health officer as well the Vancouver Coastal Health authority,” Ono said.

The fall term, as announced this week, will be a mixture of online and in-person, with all in-person classes adhering to physical distancing and other public health guidelines.

As for the release of specific faculty decisions, Ono said that they are working on it “as we speak.”

Working with the government, Ono noted that the university has been focusing on getting support for research and for international students.

UBC will also be working with the province to develop its own “restart plan.”

‘Genuine appreciation’

A majority of the meeting was taken up by acknowledgements of the work being done by UBC faculty and students throughout the pandemic.

Dr. Dermot Kelleher, the dean of the Faculty of Medicine and UBC’s vice president, health, thanked faculty and staff for their work on the front lines of the pandemic and in their research.

“I think we can look back with pride on what UBC faculty have managed to accomplish in response to this COVID pandemic,” he said.

He incorrectly claimed that students have not been on the front lines, but acknowledged the work they’ve been doing.

“They have contributed in many, many different ways, including working on modelling of the pandemic with the Centre for Disease Control, or just simply helping people to navigate the complexities of life under COVID.”

Climate emergency task force

In a brief break from pandemic talk, Ono said that the UBC Climate Emergency Task Force will submit an update in June “on time and on schedule.”

He noted six emerging themes of the task force: teaching, learning and research; administration and investment; community support and engagement; campus operations; commuting; and advocacy and partnerships.

“They have been working hard, even though we’re in the midst of COVID and much of that has been remote,” Ono said.