First annual meeting delivers goals to public

More than 200 members of the public as well as representatives from business, labor, education, community groups and government joined UBC President Martha Piper at the University of British Columbia's first-ever annual general meeting Oct. 22.

The meeting, held in downtown Vancouver at the Robson Square Conference Centre, updated the community about UBC's goals for the future, key accomplishments of the past year and its financial position.

A campus annual general meeting will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3 from noon - 1 p.m. in the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

"UBC belongs to the people of British Columbia," said Piper. "This meeting is an important opportunity to demonstrate the ways the university is helping to meet the economic, social and cultural needs of the province."

For the first time in almost a decade, UBC has been engaged in developing a vision for the future following extensive consultation with members of the university community and the public.

Input has also been received from a 33-member Community Advisory Council comprising representatives from government, business, labor, and cultural groups.

As well, Piper has traveled throughout the province seeking input from representatives of the provincial and municipal governments, the presidents of post-secondary institutions, business leaders, high school students and UBC alumni.

"Predicting the future is always a risky business," Piper said. "Yet, in today's world it is increasingly understood that institutions that fail to plan for the future are putting themselves at risk."

Named in honour of the Great Trekkers, whose determination led to UBC's creation, the vision document, Trek 2000, sets out the university's five key areas of focus: people, learning, research, community and internationalization.

Piper said UBC is poised to become the best university in Canada and one of the world's finest public universities.

UBC Chancellor William Sauder, Harold Kalke, chair of UBC's Board of Governors, UBC's five vice-presidents and Arts student Vivian Hoffman, president of the Alma Mater Society, were among the speakers.

Video vignettes of faculty, students, staff and alumni reflected the university's positive impact, both at home and abroad. They included: Law graduate Chief Steven Point, who helped develop a constitution that now forms the basis of the Sto:lo Nation's self-governance; Engineering student Kevin Maloney, who has received valuable work experience in Chile through the Engineering Co-operative Program; and English Prof. Jerry Wasserman, whose students find his enthusiasm for learning infectious.

Also featured were Judi Majewski, a volunteer counsellor with UBC Women's Resources Centre who helps people make positive changes in their personal and professional lives and UBC graduate Brad Douville, chief engineer with UBC spin-off company Westport Innovations. The company's diesel bus technology has the potential to improve air quality around the world.

UBC has experienced an eventful year, from the appointment of Piper, to becoming Canadian university football champions, to the opening of the Sing Tao School of Journalism, the first graduate program in journalism in Western Canada.

The year also saw the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting held at UBC's Museum of Anthropology. There was significant anti-APEC demonstration at the meeting and security measures used by the RCMP are now the subject of an RCMP Public Complaints Commission enquiry.

UBC's revenues for the 1997/98 fiscal year were $794 million, with the provincial operating grant accounting for 34 per cent or $272 million of the total -- a decline of $1.3 million from the previous year.

Domestic student tuition fees were frozen at the same levels as 1996/97. More than 33,000 students studied at UBC in 1997/98.

The university's endowment has grown significantly over the past 10 years to a market value of $579.9 million. The income generated can be spent only in accordance with purposes established by the donors or UBC's Board of Governors. The principal must be maintained.

A new sewerage charge, levied by the Greater Vancouver Regional District accounted for the university's operating deficit of $2.7 million. The deficit will be eliminated over the next two fiscal years.