An Era of Innovation
At the start of the decade, everyone is relieved to have ‘survived’ the millennium without ‘Y2K’ and the unwitting destruction of the world’s PC-based computer systems, or the fulfillment of the many doomsday predictions that litter the Internet prior to midnight, December 31, 1999 (one year before the correct Gregorian start date of the millennium).
The new age is relatively unremarkable until 2001 when the shock of the 9/11 attacks reverberates around the globe. Shortly after, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) compounds the anxiety and nervousness felt across Canada when the disease leaps the Pacific Ocean and strikes Toronto, killing 44 people.
In every way, it is a new era.
In the 2001 Annual Report, UBC President Martha C. Piper urges the UBC community to think as global citizens with a “global conscience” and defines the role of universities as one that prepares students for the ‘world out there’. UBC is no longer content to educate future provincial leaders, states Piper. It must prepare its students by “searching for answers, building communities, leading debate, finding solutions and redefining the role of a good citizen: these are the challenges of the new era.”
The Canadian Federal government establishes the Canada Research Chair (CRC) program to create 2,000 Canadian university research professorships, with the goal of attracting the world’s top scholars into disciplines ranging from natural sciences to engineering, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences. The unique two-tier system provides scholars with either a Chair tenable for seven years (Tier 1) funded for $200,000 per annum and renewable indefinitely, or a Chair tenable for five years (Tier 2) funded for $100,000 per annum and renewable only once. UBC receives 160 Canada Research Chair professorships that will not only help the university fulfill its Trek 2000 strategy but, as Indira Samarasekera, UBC's vice-president, Research explains, it will allow UBC to “build human capital vital for the future well-being of Canada.”
Meanwhile, student enrollment at UBC continues to grow, with over 50,000 students from all over the world and more than 6,000 graduate students connected to and with one another via digital access in and out of the classroom.
Similarly, staff levels continue to increase; UBC is now also the largest employer in the Lower Mainland with more than 9,200 faculty and staff and channeling more than $1 billion into the BC economy. As one of the top three largest endowments in Canada, UBC faculty members conduct thousands of research projects annually.
In an effort to offer more opportunities for ‘lifelong learning’, UBC Robson Square opens in the heart of downtown Vancouver, in the Arthur Erickson-designed complex that also houses the British Columbia Law Courts. In the same year, UBC joins Simon Fraser University, BCIT, and the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (now the Emily Carr University of Art and Design) to create the Great Northern Way Campus, located on an 18-acre site on the False Creek Flats and what is a land gift from Vancouver-based heavy-equipment firm Finning International.
Enrollment, funding and endowments are on the rise and, for the first time in UBC’s history, infrastructure keeps pace with the construction of new facilities such as the Clean Energy Research Centre, the Life Sciences Centre, the James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research, the Brain Research Centre, the Mood Disorder Centre for Excellence, and the Michael Smith Laboratories.
In turn, the Centre for Integrated Computer Systems Research (CICSR) secures funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the BC Knowledge Development Fund provides more than $22 million to expand the centre’s infrastructure and strengthen UBC’s interdisciplinary ‘muscle’. Founded in 1985, CICSR now changes its name to the Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems (ICICS) and opens its membership eligibility to any UBC faculty member pursuing “emerging human-centered technologies research”.
In 2005, UBC’s second campus, UBC Okanagan (UBC-O), welcomes its first students. Set in BC’s beautiful Okanagan, UBC-O’s enrollment doubles in its first five years to 7,500 students, including 500 graduate students. Along BC’s far West Coast, the Faculty of Dentistry helps establishes a dental clinic and dental residency program in Haida G’waii.
Explore the era
- UBC Library. (2015, March 24). UBC Student Enrolment. Retrieved from http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/enrolmnt.html
- University of British Columbia. (2000). Annual Report 99/00. Retrieved from http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/pdfs/presidents/2000.pdf
- University of British Columbia. (2001). Out there: 2000 – 2001 annual report. Retrieved from http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/pdfs/presidents/2001.pdf
- University of British Columbia. (2006, April 11). Trek 2010: A global journey. Retrieved from http://www.vision.ubc.ca/GlobalJourney.html
- Header image: Martin Dee
- Pull quote and president images: The University of British Columbia Archives, Martin Dee
- Timeline media: The University of British Columbia Archives, Martin Dee, Individual UBC Faculties and Departments
- Slideshow media: The University of British Columbia Archives, Martin Dee, Brian Houle (UBC Robson Square), UBC Campus and Community Planning (Wesbrook plans), UBC Properties Trust (Great Northern Way Campus)
UBC is proud to mark its 100th anniversary as a global leader in education, research innovation and community engagement.
Learn more about the UBC Centennial.