October 2020 | President's Newsletter | UNB

President's Newsletter

Issue #4: October 2020

Dear Colleagues:

For a great many people in the northern hemisphere, especially in academia, September rather than January is really the start of the new year. But this September has been different than we’ve ever known before. Gone are the crowds of students rushing to class, the numerous orientation and social events, and the usual energy and camaraderie of faculty and staff on our campuses.

COVID fatigue is a real phenomenon, well documented by various health organizations, the media, medical schools, even the esteemed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have all felt its effects at one time or another over the past six months. Routines and working conditions have changed, new protocols must be observed, everything seems more complicated and uncertainty reigns. In the face of all this, it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate the positive things that are also happening around us.

As President of UNB, I have the privilege of witnessing on a daily basis the resilience, adaptability and perseverance of you, our faculty, staff and students, who have carried on so capably despite the pandemic. I am inspired by the members of the University community who continue to achieve great things in these difficult times.

Excellence in Research

Dr. Waite elected Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada

One such achievement is Gary Waite’s recent election as a Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada, the country’s senior council of its most distinguished scholars. A professor of history on the Fredericton campus, Dr. Waite is an internationally renowned historian of early-modern Netherlandic and European religion and culture. Read more

Dr. Jayachandran receives Canadian Space Agency funding

On another front, the Canadian Space Agency has recognized the expertise of physicist P.T. Jayachandran, awarding him a grant of $300,000 to develop and install a new space weather monitoring instrument in the Canadian Arctic. He and his team of graduate and undergraduate researchers will perfect this technology to be ultimately deployed in space. Read more

Dr. Chopin joins international aquaculture project

Marine biologist Thierry Chopin has been invited to serve as a Research Professor in the international Astral Project, the All Atlantic Ocean Sustainable, Profitable and Resilient Aquaculture European Union project. Funded by the EU, 16 partners from 10 countries will spend four years focused on increasing the value and sustainability of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture for existing, emerging and potential Atlantic markets. Read more

Contributions to the community

New Catalyst experiential learning program

Closer to home, nearly 50 UNB students in both Fredericton and Saint John fanned out this summer through the new Catalyst program to assist businesses with COVID recovery. Organized by the Office of Experiential Education with funding from the federal and provincial governments, the students advised 32 different organizations, from nursing homes to retail establishments, on strategies to adapt to their new normal. The students put their education to work during eight weeks of paid employment and earned rave reviews from the businesses they helped. Read more

Moncton nursing students support community agencies

At our Moncton site this summer, 10 teams of Nursing students partnered with community agencies across the province to develop projects meeting the needs of those served by mental health, Indigenous, correctional and public health organizations. Accomplished entirely through virtual communication, the six-week experience not only fulfilled the students’ clinical requirements but also contributed significantly to the work of the partner agencies. Read more

Our ongoing commitment to Reconciliation, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Reconciliation, equity, diversity and inclusion underlie all that we do and all we aspire to do as articulated in our Strategic Vision: UNB Toward 2030.

Orange Shirt Day and Mi’kmaq Treaty Day

This fall we observed Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30, reflecting on and commemorating the experience of residential school survivors and their families. Though our on-campus numbers are fewer this year, many in the UNB community took a photo of themselves and posted it in solidarity on social media.

This was followed by Mi’kmaq Treaty Day on October 1, hosted by the President and the Mi’kmaq Wolastoqey Centre. At a well-attended online event observing the treaties between the Mi’kmaq and the Crown, and their continuing importance to Canada, speakers included Serena Francis and Kenneth Francis, Mi'kmaq Elders from Elsipogtog, and Wolastoqey Grand Chief Ron Tremblay. It was the first in a series of events I will be sponsoring this year to elevate the voices of Black and Indigenous peoples. Read more

Post-secondary education critical to pandemic recovery

Through teaching, research and service, there is no question post-secondary education will continue to play a key role in COVID-19 recovery. As time goes on and the possibility of returning to “normal” becomes less and less likely, it is incumbent upon us to help society find new ways of being and doing, supporting economic prosperity, innovation and social development. As a member of the Association of Atlantic Universities and Universities Canada, we are constantly working to reinforce the importance of our role.

The federal government’s recent Speech from the Throne (Sept. 23) spoke of training, education and accreditation, but there is a great deal more we can contribute to the public good. We look forward to working closely with our newly elected provincial government in demonstrating this. Many of the MLAs and ministers are UNB graduates including the Premier himself and the re-appointed Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, Trevor Holder. A collaborative partnership with government, as well as industry, community and international organizations, is a major pillar in our Strategic Vision.

The road ahead

I know we are facing serious challenges as an institution. We are dealing with a major financial shortfall. The online experience is not the same for students as the in-person interaction with classmates and professors. We are not able to gather with colleagues as we are used to doing. Regrettably, there have been some layoffs and we are reviewing the need for and timing for new hires. Many of the plans and goals that we had for this year have been put on hold.

And yet, the fact we are part of a close community at Canada’s oldest English-language university can sustain us through these difficult times. We have overcome many setbacks in the past and will do so again. Our mission is clear, our values are strong, and our commitment to education, research and scholarship is enduring. As I like to say, the world needs more UNB.

With kind regards,

Dr. Paul J. Mazerolle
President and Vice-Chancellor