UBC lands 160 research chairs

Injection of new federal research funds will help attract faculty, says new vice-president, Research

by Hilary Thomson staff writer

UBC will be able to establish 160 research chairs valued at $120 million over five years, according to allocations recently announced by administrators of the new Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program, part of this year's federal budget.

"This new funding is critical to retaining and recruiting outstanding faculty, an important component of our Trek 2000 strategy," says Indira Samarasekera, UBC's new vice-president, Research.

"It will strengthen research capacity and help build research excellence at a time when faculty retirements are projected to increase. The program is visionary in scope as it focuses on people and allows us to build human capital vital for the future well-being of Canada."

This year UBC has been allocated funding for 29 chairs valued at $4.4 million. Faculties are developing proposals for these chairs in a broad range of areas.

The program provides for two types of chairs. UBC will receive funding of $200,000 for Tier I chairs that are intended for senior professorial appointments of individuals who are internationally recognized as leaders in their fields. Tier II chairs, designed to attract future research stars, will be funded at a level of $100,000.

Universities will also have the opportunity to request Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) support for infrastructure in their chair nominations.

UBC will submit its nominations for chairs in the fall and the first funding decisions are planned for mid-December. Nominations will be integrated with the university's strategic research plan now being developed in consultation with the faculties and due to be completed in September.

A total of 242 chairs have been made available to B.C. universities over the five-year period. Forty-eight chairs will go to Simon Fraser University, 29 to the University of Victoria and five to the University of Northern British Columbia for a total of $181.5 million in funding.

Funding for each CRC chair will flow to the university once the candidate has been approved through a rigorous peer-review process and has taken up the appointment.

The CRC program aims to create 2,000 new research chairs over the next five years through a total federal government investment of $900 million.

The program is administered by the three federal granting councils --the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research--in partnership with CFI and Industry Canada.