2017: A Year in Review

December 20, 2017
Grad Lori Nyce


UNBC’s JDC West team, comprised of 48 business students, finds success at the annual undergraduate business competition in Edmonton. The Entrepreneurship team wins the silver medal, the Athletics team wins the Champions Cup, and the entire JDC West team finishes second in participation. JDC West is the largest undergraduate business competition in Western Canada.


Premier Christy Clark announces the construction of the Wood Innovation Research Lab in downtown Prince George adjacent to the Wood Innovation and Design Centre. A $4.5 million joint federal-provincial investment, the lab will be used by faculty members and students in UNBC’s Master of Engineering in Integrated Wood Design. The City of Prince George is providing the land for the building.

Dr. Pamela Wright identifies plants as she works in the field. 

Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management Professor Dr. Pamela Wright is named a 2017 Wilburforce Fellow. The Fellowship allows her to continue her research in conservation planning and maintaining the ecological integrity of parks and protected spaces.

After a successful regular season, the women's basketball team qualifies for the Canada West playoffs for the first time since joining the conference. The Timberwolves drop a best-of-three first-round series to the University of British Columbia. 


UNBC creates the Canada 150th Anniversary International Scholarship program intended to attract international students while celebrating the diversity that has made Canada the influential and inspiring country it has become in the 150 years since Confederation. The program is comprised of 150 renewable scholarships, valued at $2,000 per year for up to four years and is available to students from around the globe.

UNBC is named one of B.C.’s Top 100 employers for the fourth time in six years by editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. The evaluators recognized UNBC for outstanding contributions in work-life balance, ongoing educational opportunities and parental leave benefits.

A parliamentary committee from Denmark visits UNBC campuses in Prince George and Quesnel on a two-day fact-finding mission that focuses on decentralized education systems and the delivery of economic supports in rural areas. Seven members of the Danish Rural Districts and Islands committee met with UNBC and other stakeholders about the opportunities and challenges associated with distributed models of education.


UNBC and Langara College establish a memorandum of understanding that will facilitate students transferring successfully from Langara to UNBC. Under the terms of the five-year agreement, Langara students who meet the eligibility requirements and have completed the Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degrees will be considered for admission into one of 10 different third-year Bachelor’s Programs at UNBC.

UNBC is named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for a sixth straight year. UNBC is one of just nine universities included on the list and is the only employer in Northern B.C. to earn the recognition.

Dr. Darwyn Coxson, a UNBC Ecosystem Science and Management Professor at UNBC receives one of three 2017 Distinguished Academic Awards from the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of B.C. (CUFA-BC). CUFA-BC’s Paz Buttedahl Career Achievement Award recognizes sustained outstanding contributions to the community beyond the academy through research or other scholarly activities by an individual or group over the major portion of their career. Dr. Coxson’s advocacy and research was instrumental in the establishment of the Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park, a 12,000-hectare protected area conserving rare ancient Western redcedar stands in the inland rainforest, 120 km east of Prince George.


Health Sciences Associate Professor Dr. Margot Parkes and a team of partners from across Canada are looking at how to prevent adverse impacts and optimize benefits from resource development through a $2 million five-year study. The team of more than 60 researchers also includes UNBC co-lead and Health Sciences Professor Dr. Henry Harder.

Funded through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the project is focused on the health, environment and community impacts of resource development, with specific emphasis on rural, remote and Indigenous communities. 

UNBC enacts a new Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy and accompanying set of procedures after more than eight months of research, consultation and community engagement specific to the policy’s development. The policy helps ensures the University community enjoys a healthier and safer work environment, provides clear definitions, outlines UNBC’s commitments and deals with matters such as jurisdiction and safety.

UNBC launches the public phase of the University’s first comprehensive fundraising Campaign. The $15 million Northern Leadership Campaign is focused on three key priorities: to strengthen research and teaching excellence, to inspire next-generation leaders and to create local solutions with global impact. The Northern Leadership Campaign website features stories demonstrating the impact of giving as well as ways to donate to UNBC.

2017 honorary degree recipients Roy J. Stewart and Fredy Peccerelli.

Roy J. Stewart, a UNBC founder and early champion, and world-renowned forensic anthropology expert Fredy Peccerelli receive honorary degrees at the 2017 convocation at UNBC’s Prince George campus. Stewart, a long-time lawyer from Prince George, served as final President of the Interior University Society in a role that was instrumental in leading to the establishment of UNBC. Peccerelli is the executive director and founding member of the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala and served as an Adjunct Professor in both UNBC’s Geography Program and Anthropology Departments in 2012-13. UNBC grants more than 700 credentials during the 2017 Convocation. Among the highlights are the first class of graduates in the Master of Engineering in Integrated Wood Design.


The Research Data Centre opens at UNBC, allowing researchers a secure connection to Statistics Canada population, household survey, and administrative microdata. The collected data will help inform public policy and public debate. The facility, housed in the Geoffrey R. Weller Library, received support from Statistics Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Northern Medical Program and Northern Health.

Four outstanding graduates who are making a difference as leaders in their professions and their communities receive 2017 UNBC Distinguished Alumni Awards. Western New England University chemistry professor Dr. Ronny Priefer, educator Leona Prince and computer scientist Dr. Baljeet Malhotra won Professional Excellence Awards. Community champion and long-time volunteer Tamara Sweet was recognized with a Community Service Award. Ken and Rhonda McIntosh, long-time supporters of UNBC’s Timberwolves Athletics programs and UNBC Copy Services Manager Barry Wong received Honorary Alumni Awards.

Dr. Alison Gerlach, a UNBC postdoctoral researcher receives a Banting Fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Gerlach is exploring how early intervention therapy services and programs, such as children’s occupational therapy, speech language pathology, and physiotherapy can be provided in ways that are responsive, culturally safe, and effective in Indigenous communities and families.


Students Nicole Hoffman and Jacey Wolfe paddle a birch bark canoe they helped build as part of an experiential learning field school.

Under the guidance of expert birch bark canoe builder Marcel Labelle, UNBC students craft a birch bark messenger canoe from scratch as part of an experiential learning field school in partnership with Le Cercle des Canadiens Français de Prince George and Two Rivers Gallery. The nine-credit field school combines two classroom courses with the hands-on canoe construction.


The Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre re-opens after hosting nearly 200 evacuees affected by the worst wildfire season in B.C.’s history. UNBC’s response to the provincial state of emergency also included faculty and staff providing their expertise in certain areas of need, providing the Neyoh residence as a home for 60 seniors from a Williams Lake assisted living facility, and making UNBC classrooms available as living quarters for out-of-province fire fighters.


Dr. Dan Ryan becomes UNBC’s Provost and Vice-President Academic. The Office of the Provost collaborates with governance, academic, administrative, research, finance and other service areas of the University to ensure UNBC delivers excellence in academic programs and research initiatives.

UNBC makes its debut in the prestigious Times Higher Education World University Rankings, placing among the top four per cent of higher-education institutions worldwide. The rankings include universities that are active in research and are globally focused. UNBC is featured in the group of universities ranked 601st to 800th. 

UNBC researchers receive a combined $1.115 million over five years in new funding from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant program. Seven UNBC researchers receive Discovery Grants worth $1.075 million over five years. In addition, two UNBC researchers receive Discovery Development Grants worth $40,000 over two years.

Dr. Sarah de Leeuw is one of the newest members of the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. 

Northern Medical Program and Geography Program Associate Professor Dr. Sarah de Leeuw joins the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. Dr. de Leeuw is one of 70 researchers from across the country to be inducted this year.

Study North BC launches, a marketing initiative designed to provide prospective post-secondary students with information about the high-quality education and training opportunities available at the four post-secondary institutions in the North.


UNBC places second in its category in the annual Maclean’s university rankings. It’s the 10th consecutive year UNBC is ranked in the top three, the only small university in Canada to accomplish that level of consistency.

Both the women's and men's soccer teams make their debut in the Canada West playoffs as each squad has its most successful regular season to date. Both teams bow out in the first round, with the men falling to Alberta and the women dropping their playoff opener to Calgary. 


Dr. Brian Menounos collects a sample as part of his field work for a paper documenting when the Cordilleran ice sheet melted. 

Geography Professor Dr. Brian Menounos is the first UNBC researcher to be the lead author in the journal Science for his work examining when the Cordilleran ice sheet, which once covered all of present-day British Columbia, melted. Menounos and his co-authors discover several alpine areas emerged from beneath the ice sooner than previously recognized. Their findings provide a model for researchers examining the deglaciation of modern-day ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. The research can also give scientists a better understanding of when paleo-humans may have migrated from Asia to North America.


Engineering Associate Professor Dr. Thomas Tannert is the latest faculty member to be named a Canada Research Chair. Tannert, who teaches in the Master of Engineering in Integrated Wood Design Program, is the new Canada Research Chair in Hybrid Wood Structures Engineering. Dr. Tannert also holds the BC Leadership Chair in Tall Wood and Hybrid Structures Engineering.