Louise Cowin, vice-president, students, has been reappointed for a second term of five years and, needless to say, she is quite happy about the reinstatement.
“[I feel] really delighted actually to be given the privilege of the opportunity for a continuation. I think there’s a lot of important work to be done and I’m very excited,” said Cowin.
Cowin initially joined the university in 2011 with a background in education and sports studies. Cowin’s resume includes several prestigious Canadian universities prior to working at UBC, such as the University of Toronto, Queen’s University and the University of Dalhousie.
Cowin has already stayed with the university for just under four and a half years and will be leaving a long legacy.
At the time of her arrival, the three key areas of her portfolio — student development and services, student housing and hospitality services, and athletics and recreation — were working independently from each other, according to Cowin.
“I feel like we have a sense of identity ... having knitted together these separate pieces into a whole,” she said.
Cowin also identified the changing dialogue around well-being as something she is proud of, noting there’s a new sense of purpose and forward momentum thanks to some of the more recent initiatives surrounding mental health and well-being such as a $2.5 million investment in counselling services.
Continuing this progress is one of the things Cowin is excited to do in her upcoming term, which officially begins on October 1 of this year.
While she also identified making good of challenging situations and responding in a constructive manner as something else she looks back on with pride over her first term, this has been an unusually challenging year for UBC.
Media scrutiny has been following the campus in an unprecedented manner since former President Arvind Gupta's resignation, accusations that the former board chair breached academic freedom and reports of mishandled sexual assaults.
“In terms of the turmoil, there's also 50,000 students going about their business of their education. This is their time at UBC, this is their moment,” said Cowin. “We've got to keep our eye on that ball very squarely. So while the focus of the media has been on the churn, the every day work of the people in my portfolio has been going to support the students who are here, right now.”