Executive Director’s Message: Great Canadian Citizens

In this issue, you can read an article that reflects on the impressive tenure of outgoing UBC President Stephen Toope. Asked to identify his highest priorities or proudest legacy, Professor Toope pointed to the efforts that have gone into enriching the undergraduate experience. His column reiterates this, and also emphasizes the role alumni play in improving students’ experience of university.

Stephen Toope’s successor, computer science professor Arvind Gupta, has indicated his intention to honour that legacy. He describes his own students as being curious, driven and energetic about what they do and says they give him hope for the future. Professor Gupta (two of whose three daughters attend UBC) wants to ensure students leave UBC prepared to fully participate in and contribute to the world.

“UBC plays a vital role in creating the next generation of great Canadian citizens,” he said. “They have to be engaged and able to thrive in an evolving world.”

A university’s graduates are a reflection of how successful it has been in providing an enriching and relevant student experience. And if part of UBC’s vision is to advance a civil and sustainable society, then its graduate body represents significant potential.

The your evolution initiative that Professor Toope mentions in his column is a good indicator of that potential. A few weeks ago, we invited you to tell us about the socially beneficial projects you are involved in – both through partnership with UBC and out in the broader community. A new website was built, supported and extended through social media. Participants could upload information about their projects, seek volunteers from among other alumni, and gain awareness for their cause (plus they stood to win a professionally produced promotional video).

If we built it, would you come? Yes you would! So far, more than 100 alumni projects have been uploaded – dealing with everything from children’s literacy to food security. Clearly, alumni UBC has some highly motivated members who are passionate about their causes. Although the video competition is now closed, the website is still active and I encourage you to visit it at yourevolution.ubc.ca. There will be more chances to win prizes and gain exposure for your projects in the coming months.

The vision of alumni UBC is to realize the promise of a global community with shared ambition for a better world and an exceptional UBC. Your evolution, while just a small sampling of how alumni are making a difference, provides an opportunity for us to celebrate them for their contributions to society and as role models for our students.

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