UBC appoints managing director of student housing as interim VP Students

UBC has appointed Andrew Parr, managing director of Student Housing and Hospitality Services, as the interim VP Students.

Parr replaces Dr. Louise Cowin, who resigned in May 2018 after an almost seven year tenure but stayed on in her role until late in the summer. He assumed his new role on September 10.

As the interim VP Students, Parr’s portfolio will expand from student housing to athletics and recreation, student services and development and a broad range of initiatives related to supporting the student experience.

“During his time at UBC, he has developed a new organizational structure and demonstrated leadership in student care,” said President Santa Ono in a bulletin to senior figures at the university.

“ ... I am confident that he will continue to provide strong leadership in his role as Interim Vice-President.”

In particular, Parr will join as UBC aims to strengthen the implementation of its new sexual assault policy, which was previously criticized by community stakeholders.

His appointment also comes at a time when UBC is working towards creating a government business enterprise (GBE), a trust separated from UBC but would have the university as its beneficiary, to create new housing on campus — a project that Parr has led with VP Finance Peter Smailes.

First publicly introduced to the Board of Governors at its April meeting, the potential establishment of a GBE would allow UBC to bypass the caps of provincial borrowing, which would help to expanding the growth of on-campus student housing. Its final proposal is expected to come back to the Board in April 2019.

Currently, despite the university adding over 3,200 beds over the last seven year and being Canada’s largest student housing provider, there remained a waitlist of over 6,200 in April 2018. Including approved projects, UBC plans to add around 6,300 beds across both campuses over the next 10 years to tackle this high demand.

The search for a permanent VP Students is still ongoing.

“As you know, a search for a new Vice-President, Students, is well underway and I am confident that we will find an exceptional candidate. More details will be provided in the coming months regarding this appointment,” said Ono.

This article has been updated to clarify that the April meeting was the first public introduction of GBE to the Board.