Coronavirus update: May 29, 2020 - 1:00 pm

May 29, 2020

We continue to adapt to new processes and new approaches in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I remain impressed with how our students are showing tremendous resilience and patience in such uncertain times. I am also exceptionally happy with how our faculty and all employees are collaborating to ensure we meet our challenges and opportunities head on. Thank you all! 

In today’s update:

Welcoming the International Community

I am sure by now you have heard of violent attacks against Asian immigrants and Asian Canadians in Canada and in the U.S.A. The attacks seem to be based on the premise that people from countries other than our own are somehow more likely to transmit COVID-19. This perspective is a grim reminder that racism remains a fundamental blemish on our very humanity. 

Here at UNBC, I know that we have embraced a much different philosophy. Over the years, we have enhanced and strengthened the durability of UNBC's relationships with China. We have pursued and developed new academic and research collaborations with Chinese institutions and scholars. We have developed scholarship programs designed to encourage international students to join us at UNBC. And, we have worked to develop partnerships in many Asian countries in order to have a diverse international student body.

International students bring talent and ingenuity that can’t be understated. They also bring different perspectives that prepare our domestic students for entering a global workforce.

I understand that the impression of a Canadian lifestyle has been tarnished by these vicious and unwarranted attacks, but I know that by discussing these issues as a community in an open fashion, we stand a better chance of being empowered to stand up to the vile behaviours being displayed by a tiny minority of the population. 

Safety, particularly the safety of our students, remains UNBC’s paramount concern and top priority. We welcome all international students, and for that matter faculty and staff as well, with open arms. I know that those who choose to join us will find a warm welcome in Prince George and northern B.C., and I know our community will do all we can to ensure they are safe and respected.

Registration Opening

Monday is a big day for the UNBC community. We’ll open the Fall semester registration and I hope to see many of our current students choosing to return. Information such as the instructor, time, and, critically, the mode of delivery for courses will be viewable when registration opens. As we anticipated, we will offer the vast majority of courses via alternative modes of delivery. As you will also see, as a direct result of our planning and safety considerations, some courses will proceed in a face-to-face format. 

The Winter semester schedule will remain viewable, but we won’t be able to finalize the course delivery mode until later in the year, as we need to monitor the COVID-19 situation.

Questions around housing, student life, retail services, the Northern Sport Centre and more will naturally come on the heels of opening registration. We will provide more information as soon as we can. Please know we are developing plans based on guidance from the Provincial Health Officer, various government ministries and other public health and safety organizations.

I thank the Deans, Chairs and Faculty for all their efforts in preparation for the Fall term. I appreciate all your patience as we work through this process.

2020 Graduating Class

I also want to say a huge congratulations to our graduating class of 2020! This week was meant to be your special week of convocation and celebrating with your family and friends on your outstanding accomplishment. Do not let the COVID-19 situation take away from this. I encourage you to take part in our virtual convocation (watch the Convocation website and your email for information), and I look forward to saying congratulations in person when we host your traditional convocation in the future.

Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and questions with me as we adapt to change during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Remember to continue visiting our Coronavirus (COVID-19) website, as that is where we will post the most recent information.

To the entire UNBC community, thank you, and be safe!

Geoff Payne
UNBC Interim President and Vice-Chancellor

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