UBC President Arvind Gupta says the future of UBC Okanagan and the Central Interior are not only linked, but are dependent upon each other for growth and success.
Gupta, who became UBC’s 13th president in July, told a Kelowna Chamber of Commerce business luncheon Friday that there is both opportunity and strength to be gained from close ties between UBC and the Okanagan.
“Great cities and great universities exist in symbiosis, feeding, inspiring, and energizing one another. Today, every city counted amongst the world’s ‘most liveable’ boasts a world-class university,” Gupta said.
“We are turning UBC inside out, tearing down any remaining walls between us and you, putting our resources – human, physical and virtual – in service to the community,” said Gupta. Community is a broad term for UBC’s new president – including industry, government, the non-profit sector, high-tech and health management, along with parents, students and residents of the Okanagan.
“In every sector, our goal is to raise the bar, improving the health, prosperity and sustainability of the Okanagan Valley, the province, the country and the world,” Gupta said.
“I want to impress upon you the importance of this region and this city in making UBC a great university. Our relationship is entirely reciprocal. Everything we do to help you, helps us in turn. And everything that you do, as businesses, as community members – as the demanding parents of worthy students – helps to make us better.”
Growth in research, taking a leadership role on innovation, developing professional programs in areas of high demand, and physical growth are all being considered as UBC charts its course.
Gupta noted that UBC is developing an innovation strategy that includes building strategic partnerships, improving community access, increase the employability of students, support the innovation ecosystem in the region, and build UBC’s internal innovation support structure.
Gupta stressed that access to UBC is reflected in the university’s ability to accommodate all prospective students. “For example, this campus has distinguished itself provincially and, I suspect nationally, by making space and providing the support necessary to ensure the success of Aboriginal students,” he said.
Thanks to programs like Aboriginal Access Studies, the number of students who self-identity as Aboriginal has grown from 58 to 333 over the past nine years – an increase of 474 per cent.
Gupta also said he is committed to spending considerable time in the Okanagan – listening to people, engaging partners and building relationships. “My goal is to be here so often that everyone stops thinking of me as a visitor,” Gupta said.
“As I contemplate how we’ve grown, I can’t help but to reflect that at every point in our development, we have been embraced by the people and businesses of Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley.”
Dr. Arvind Gupta was named the 13th president and vice chancellor of the University of British Columbia on March 12, 2014. His five-year term began July 1, 2014.
Gupta was the CEO and scientific director of Mitacs, a national organization with headquarters at UBC, which he has led since 2000. He has been a UBC professor of computer science since 2009.
He is a respected expert in science and innovation policy who has forged meaningful research collaborations between civil society and universities. His research expertise is in combinatorial algorithms with applications to fields such as bioinformatics, which utilizes computer science to better understand genetics.
Since 2012, he has been a member of the Government of Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council, an advisory body that provides external policy advice on science and technology issues and produces national reports measuring Canada’s science and technology performance against international standards of excellence.
In 2010, Gupta was appointed to a six-member expert panel to review federal government support to industrial research and development. The report and recommendations of that panel, entitled Innovation Canada: A Call to Action, have had a significant and ongoing impact on government innovation policy.
Gupta speaks frequently on research and innovation policy across Canada with public, private and academic audiences. He is a regular contributor to the national dialogue through opinion editorials on international collaboration and recruitment, international competitiveness, innovation and productivity.
Gupta earned a PhD from the University of Toronto in 1991. He sits on a number of boards, including the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, the Banff International Research Station, the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute, the Canadian Mining Innovation Council, Mprime Network and Mitacs, as well as serving on the International Scientific Advisory Board of GRAND-NCE, a federally funded body exploring the applications of digital media.
Arvind Gupta resides in Vancouver with his wife Dr. Michelle Pereira. He has three daughters, two of whom are students at UBC.