Message from the President: Hello from a new colleague

1 November, 2023

A message from Benoit-Antoine Bacon, President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor of Psychology

Good morning everyone,

Today I am honoured to begin my term as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia. I want to thank Chancellor Point, who chaired the search committee, and everyone who contributed to the search process. It is humbling and I am grateful.

I want to start by acknowledging that we are living in challenging times. We are facing geo-political unrest on a scale not seen in several decades, including devastating wars in Ukraine and now in Israel and Gaza. The human suffering is immense and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone caught in a war zone or displaced by war, and with those who grieve or worry for their countries and loved ones.

The aftereffects of the pandemic are still felt socially and economically in British Columbia and across the country. In particular we see inflation, housing issues, and a rise in mental health challenges and substance use. The effects of climate change are also hitting closer to home, in particular the fires that had a devastating impact on the Okanagan and nationally this summer.

We also seem more divided – polarized – and less sure of the best path forward. Universities are more important than ever before as a space where different ideas and viewpoints can co-exist and be discussed with the aim of finding solutions. I call on everyone to remain respectful and compassionate with each other in all our interactions – our ability to fulfill our academic mission and societal function depends on it. Our best hope for a better world remains research, reasoned debate and education.

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