From the Boardroom: UBC on track to meet most strategic plan targets, president says

UBC’s Board of Governors met on Thursday in the University Centre Ballroom at UBC Okanagan (UBCO) to discuss the university’s strategic plan.

According to UBC, the strategic plan outlines the university's “collective vision, purpose, goals and strategies for the years ahead.”

Interim President Deborah Buszard presented a report on institutional priorities and key milestones relating to the strategic plan, which was put in place by the university in 2018.

The report included updates on priorities related to Indigenous reconciliation; equity, diversity and inclusion; academic transformation; climate action and sustainability; and operational excellence.

According to the report, all but one priority are classified as a green or yellow priority, meaning it is meeting milestones or targets, or requires monitoring to do so.

“This is really testament to the enormous amount of work that has been done over the past five to six years,” said Buszard. “UBC should feel very proud of its moving forward on the strategies that were included and the individual items that were identified as measures of our progress.”

According to Buszard, the priority not on track — for the Provost’s office to develop an equity admissions program — has been withdrawn from the plan.

Buszard noted it should have been removed from the strategic plan earlier on.

She said UBC has other “effective supportive admissions programs” like the Access Program which “offers flexible post-secondary learning options to people of all ages and backgrounds,” according to the UBCO website.

Buszard also noted that the strategic plan is “surprisingly lacking in priorities for what our core business [is], which is teaching, learning, scholarship and research … [it’s] an operational dashboard that's not dealing with our academic mission, but we do fortunately have other ways of reporting out on those things.”

Student governor Kareem Hassib questioned why the Musqueam-UBC relationship agreement priority was classified as yellow in the report.

UBC VP External Relations Robin Ciceri said the priority is coded yellow because the Musqueam Nation have asked for more time to review the land use plan.

Buszard also said UBCO’s agreement with the Syilx Okanagan Nation is slated to continue and be updated.

Student governor Eshana Bhangu asked why the UBCO transportation plan remains in the yellow category.

UBCO Principal Lesley Cormack said UBCO is in “active conversation” with BC Transit but the transit service has been “unable to increase bus service.” Cormack also said the university had budget constraints in the last fiscal year, resulting in the transportation planning group receiving less funding than requested.

“Students have actually been very strong advocates [for increased public transport] using some really nice data-driven arguments about where our students are, and when they need the bus services,” said Cormack.

UBCO Associate VP Finance and Operations Rob Einarson said UBCO and the UBC Okanagan Student Union (UBCOSU) are advocating for increased transit access.

“The students and their U-Pass is probably the single largest kind of stakeholder in public transit in Kelowna, and that does carry a degree of weight,” said Einarson.

Buszard said the new president and executive team should continue to update these goals and “focus on moving forward … and looking forward to the next big vision for the university.”