UBC’s new president sets high goals in installation ceremony

WATCH ABOVE: UBC’s new president is kicking off his first term hoping to make it one of the top public schools in the world. Geoff Hastings reports.

Arvind Gupta may have become president two months ago, but the University of British Columbia’s new leader wasn’t formally “installed” until today.

The elaborate and traditional introduction of a new president took place at the Chan Centre today, as Gupta made his first address to the entire UBC community.

Gupta’s speech was long on goals but had some specifics. He said UBC would double co-op positions and internships. He set a goal of UBC moving from a Top 25 public university in the world to the Top 10. And he pledged that UBC would increase its base funding for research by $100 million.

“Excellence in research makes our reputation – enabling us to attract the best faculty, students and staff from around the world. Excellence in research is what guarantees the value of our diplomas,” he said.

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Gupta becomes president during a time of change for universities. Earlier this year, the provincial government put forward a new plan for post-secondary education that focusing more spending on career-based programs.

READ MORE: B.C. government unveils school-to-jobs plan

UBC’s new president knows that finding a job is a much higher priority for today’s university graduates than it was when he was a mathematics student at McMaster.

“I wasn’t at all thinking what I was going to do afterwards,” he said in June before taking his post. I notice now, at least my daughters even out of high school, they’re thinking what am I going to get out of a university degree? It’s in the air more. I think back then you just went to university and hoped things worked out in the end.”

Gupta believes one way UBC can help students more workforce ready is by increasing its outside partnerships.

“We should see the outside world as our partner in forming these young people,” he says.

“I think real success comes from being on our campus, and definitely taking part in what we offer here, but also being out in the world.”

What that tangibly means for UBC remains will be seen in the coming years. For today, Gupta exhorted students and faculty to be proud of their university – and to leave an impact on the world.

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“The world has changed, but people have not,” he said.

“I think we all recognize – as my parents did – that each generation has a responsibility to take the world as we find it and do our utmost to make it better. I have met so many of you who share that sensibility – that sense of responsibility to UBC. We didn’t come here for what we might get; we came for what we can give.”

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