The Senate welcomed Valerie Kuehne as the new Vice-President Academic and Provost, effective July 1, 2015, after holding that position on an interim basis following the resignation of Reeta Tremblay.
MINOR IN VISUAL ARTS
The Senate approved the motion to create a minor in Visual Arts at UVic, effective September 2015. The minor will be a 16-unit undergraduate program that can be paired with any faculty’s Honours or Major programs or used as part of a General Degree in Humanities, Science, or Social Science. The Visual Arts Minor Proposal Committee believes that this minor will further the University’s Strategic Plan by promoting interdisciplinary study and fostering greater creativity through engagement with experiential learning opportunities and hands-on studio experience.
CANADA FIRST RESEARCH EXCELLENCE FUND
Vice-President Research David Castle began the meeting by discussing UVic’s recent proposal to the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, which was submitted for consideration last Monday. UVic proposed a seven-year plan for the creation of Canada’s first ocean institute with a focus on marine energy, living resources, and transportation, as well as the maintenance of clean coastlines. Castle believes that this plan will not only make a difference in B.C., but also in the High Arctic and across the Atlantic Coast. The Fund will announce the results of the cometition this July.
According to Castle, crafting this proposal was a “remarkable feat.” UVic’s proposal was drafted between December 2014 and March 2015. During this time, UVic also partnered with the University of Guelph on a biodiversity project and joined forces with Simon Fraser University for a proposal on engineering materials as they relate to fuel development.
The Fund received 43 submissions aimed at a pool of $1.5 billion, and the competition will be fierce, according to Castle.
STUDENT MENTAL HEALTH STRATEGY
Associate Vice-President Student Affairs Jim Dunsdon presented an update on UVic’s Student Mental Health Strategy, which was launched in March 2013. As a part of this initiative, the National College Health Assessment (NCHA) surveyed 1 454 UVic students and 34 039 Canadian students on the topic of mental health. Results were released in the spring of 2013.
According to this survey, 54.2 per cent of UVic students and 56.5 per cent of Canadian students identify themselves as experiencing “overwhelming anxiety.” Dunsdon identified academics, finances, intimate relationships, career concerns, and sleep difficulty as the main causes of stress and anxiety for university students. Under this umbrella, 51.7 per cent of UVic students and 53.8 per cent of Canadian students reported that they felt “things were hopeless,” and 89.9 per cent of UVic students and 89.3 per cent of Canadian students felt overwhelmed with all they had to accomplish.
In the first year of the Mental Health Strategy, UVic created a website to centralize resources and tools for students, faculty, and staff on campus; an Assisting Students in Distress Folder to provide faculty with quick tips and a guide of campus resources to support students in distress; a Literacy Program to enhance mental health awareness and aid the recognition of early warning signs in vulnerable students; and a series of mental health grants to support student-led initiatives.
In 2014, the Literacy Program trained 340 members of the campus community during 26 hour-long sessions. UVic has booked 13 more sessions, with an additional six pending approval. Two of the eight mental health initiatives proposed last year were approved. In 2015, the University aims to build a more welcoming and supportive community for students dealing with mental health issues.
Correction: The original article erroneously stated that the Canada First Excellence Research Fund will select finalists this July, when in fact the final results of the first round of funding will be announced this July. The article has been amended to reflect this.