Documentation:Guide to Teaching for New Faculty at UBC/Welcome to Teaching at UBC

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The University of British Columbia, established in 1908, has a student population of 50,000, on campuses in two cities, Vancouver and Kelowna. UBC enrolls students in 7 faculties at the Okanagan campus (UBCO) and in 12 faculties at the larger Vancouver campus (UBC-V). UBC has a large population of international students; they come from over 143 countries and comprise 12.6% of the total student population. The UBC Library is the 2nd-largest research library in Canada. Its collection includes 5.9 million volumes, 6.2 million microforms, more than 833,000 maps, audio, video and graphic materials and nearly 80,000 serial subscriptions. The library has more than 520,000 e-books, the largest biomedical collection in Western Canada, and the largest Asian-language collection in Canada. UBC aspires to be one of the world’s best universities, one that will prepare students to become exceptional global citizens, promote the values of a civil and sustainable society, and conduct outstanding research to serve the people of British Columbia, Canada, and the world.

To achieve these goals, the University has committed to the following mission:

The University of British Columbia will provide its students, faculty, and staff with the best possible resources and conditions for learning and research, and create a working environment dedicated to excellence, equity, and mutual respect. It will cooperate with government, business, industry, and the professions, as well as with other educational institutions and the general community, to discover, disseminate, and apply new knowledge, prepare its students for fulfilling careers, and improve the quality of life through leading-edge research.

The graduates of UBC will have developed strong analytical, problem-solving and critical thinking abilities; they will have excellent research and communication skills; they will be knowledgeable, flexible, and innovative. As responsible members of society, the graduates of UBC will value diversity, work with and for their communities, and be agents for positive change. They will acknowledge their obligations as global citizens, and strive to secure a sustainable and equitable future for all.

Those who teach at the University have the responsibility of helping to make this educational vision a reality.

As a new faculty member there are a number of support services to help with your transition into the UBC community. Some departments and schools support new faculty members with start-up funds, and mentoring for both teaching and research. Central units like Human Resources, the Faculty Association, and the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) offer a range of seminars, workshops, and support services for both new and experienced faculty. It is important to find out how your local context works: who to ask for help, what services and supports are available locally and centrally, and what to do if you are having difficulties and just need to talk to someone. Your department head or school director should be able to direct you to the appropriate people and services.


It can be helpful to be aware of the governance structure and the required protocols applying to your work at the University. Generally, the Board of Governors is responsible for business operations and the Senate for the academic operations of the University.

UBC is a large research-focused institution with a well-developed central governance model:

UBC Governance Model

Board of Governors

Responsible for the management, administration and control of the property, revenue, business and affairs of the University. The BoG approves new faculty appointments. In day-to-day business the Provost approves appointments, then the BoG reviews and accepts these appointments.


Responsible for academic topics and issues that affect the University community. The Senates (UBC-V and UBCO) set policy for awarding of degrees, establishing new programs, curriculum changes, admission requirements, academic scheduling, appeal and adjudication processes and the overall mission, educational goals and objectives, and educational policy for UBC. The Senates can also review a variety of other issues as specified by the Board of Governors.

Office of President

  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor UBC Okanagan
  • Provost and Vice-President, Academic, Vancouver
  • Vice-President, Finance and Operations
  • Vice-President, Development and Alumni Engagement
  • Vice-President, External Relations
  • Vice-President, Research and Innovation
  • Vice-President, Students
  • Vice-President, Human Resources
  • University Counsel
  • Provost and Vice-Principal Academic UBC Okanagan
  • Dean, Faculty of Medicine


The chief executive officer is responsible for the supervision and directs the academic work of the university. The president is also the chair of the Senate and Vice-Chancellor.


The Provost and Vice-President Academic is responsible for the academic mandate of the University at its Vancouver campus, and provides leadership in planning, policy development and management of resources to achieve strategic goals. The portfolio encompasses the Faculties and Colleges, as well as academic support units such as the Library, Information Technology, Continuing Studies, and units with responsibility for supporting teaching, learning and research.

Administration and Services

UBC Services & Structure
Acadamic Units

12 Faculties (UBCV), 7 Faculties (UBCO) & 2 Colleges:

Applied Science Applied Science
Arts Arts & Science
Dentistry Creative & Critical Studies
Education Health & Social Development
Forestry Education
Graduate Studies Graduate Studies
Land & Food Systems Management
Pharmaceutical Sciences College of Health Disciplines
Sauder School of Business College for Interdisciplinary
Science Studies
Administrative Units


Financial Services

Human Resources

Student Services

Ancillary Units


Land & Building Services

Food Services



Most Units have Departments. For example:
Faculty of Applied Science

* Office of the Dean

* School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture

* School of Nursing

* Dept of Chemical & Biological Engineering

* Dept of Civil Engineering

* Dept of Electrical & Computer Engineering

* Dept of Mechanical Engineering

* Dept of Mining Engineering

* Dept of Materials Engineering

* UBC Okanagan School of Engineering

* AMPEL (Advanced Materials Process Engineering Lab)

* ICICS (Institute for Computing, Information, and Cognitive Systems; ENVE, GEOS, IGEN, ENPH)

* CERC - Clean Energy Research Centre

* Pulp & Paper Centre


Financial Services


* Payroll

* Accounts Payable

* Research & Trust Accounting

* Revenue Accounting

* Reporting

Land & Building Services


* Plant Operations

* Campus & Community Planning

* Facilities Management

* UBC Utilities

Some Helpful Scenarios

We will review a few common scenarios to highlight the typical processes and protocols at UBC.

Learning about your Teaching Context

It is important to recognize that your teaching takes place within an institutional and disciplinary context. As such, it is wise to familiarize yourself with the various levels of support available to you (within and across disciplines) in order to enhance scholarly approaches to teaching and learning, as well as to note the following important benchmarks for the quality of teaching and learning at UBC:

  • Guide to Re-appointment, Promotion and Tenure Procedures at UBC (2009-10) - section 3.2, p13 Teaching;
  • UBC’s Place & Promise Visioning Document (e.g.,priorities and goals for student learning);
  • Your Discipline/Program Expectations with respect to the student learning experience and graduate attributes
  • UBC Modules (6) for Student Evaluation of Teaching

Student requests a disability accommodation

UBC is committed to providing access for students with disabilities while maintaining academic standards. Policy 73: Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities governs UBC’s decision-making in this regard. Because the provision of academic accommodations can be complex – given the range of possible instructional and exam formats – this goal is best accomplished through collaborations between you, the student, and a Diversity Advisor – Disability from Access & Diversity. You can contact Access & Diversity at

Each partner in this collaboration brings an important perspective: the student has a unique, personal knowledge of their disability, the instructor has content knowledge and an understanding of the required learning outcomes, and the advisor has a broad knowledge of disabilities and their impact on academic performance. A student requesting an academic accommodation is required to present you with a letter from Access & Diversity that identifies the academic accommodations they are eligible for in an academic setting. Students need to present appropriate documentation to Access & Diversity in order to receive this letter, so it is not appropriate for you to request documentation of their disability.

After receiving an accommodation request, you should make plans to discuss the range of recommended accommodations with the student within 10 days and then work with the student to implement these in your course. For example, you may allow the recording of lectures for students requiring an audio record of the content. During exams, you should facilitate exam accommodations in accordance with the student’s disability, for example, give the student additional time for exams.

Student misses Test, Exam, Deadline due to Medical Reasons/Family Emergency

Students may request academic concession in circumstances that may adversely affect their attendance or performance in a course or program. Generally, such circumstances fall into one of two categories, conflicting responsibilities and unforeseen events.

Students who, because of unforeseen events, are absent during the term and are unable to complete tests or other graded work, should normally discuss with their instructors how they can make up for missed work, according to written guidelines given to them at the start of the course (see UBC Grading Practices to help construct an appropriate policy for your syllabus). Instructors are not required to make allowance for any missed test or incomplete work that is not satisfactorily accounted for. Students who, because of an unforeseen event, experience a prolonged absence during a term or who miss a final or term-end examination must report to their Associate Dean of Student Services or director to request academic concession as close as possible to the time that attendance is adversely affected.

Students who feel that requests for consideration have not been dealt with fairly by their instructors may take their concerns to the office of their dean or director.

Student has cheated

Academic dishonesty is a reality in many courses, whether it is plagiarism on essays and reports, or cheating on tests and exams. Expectations for student conduct with respect to academic dishonesty is stipulated in UBC Policy 85. Typically, when academic dishonesty or scholarly misconduct is suspected, you should ensure that all records are preserved.

Then you can make a decision on how to proceed, whether to address minor problems within the course and the confines of the instructor-student relationship or where a serious violation has occurred, to initiate a more formal response to the conduct.

To initiate a more formal response you should discuss the event with your department head or program or school Director and involve the Associate Dean of Student Services for your faculty.

Once the more formal process is initiated, records and allegations are forwarded to the Vice-President Students and may result in the appointment of a committee that conducts an investigation, and then forwards their findings back to the Vice-President. The UBC Senate ultimately decides penalties. During the process, the student has many opportunities to respond to the allegations and appeal the decisions through the Senate Committee on Student Appeals on Student Discipline.

You want to develop/offer a new course

New course ideas are typically first reviewed by the local curriculum committee, and then forwarded to the department head or school director, the Dean, and ultimately to the UBC Senate for approval. All new course proposals must also be reviewed and approved by the Library. More information is available at

Many new courses are first offered through existing directed study courses, and are later submitted, reviewed, and approved for incorporation into the UBC calendar.

You can get help with course design and course re-design from the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT). CTLT offers a variety of free workshops and hosts a number of communities of practice – these are open to anyone in the UBC teaching community.

Alternately, if a student approaches you with a suggestion for a new course, you may wish to direct him/her to Student Directed Seminars. Modeled after a program at UC Berkeley, Student Directed Seminars provide an opportunity for senior undergraduates to initiate a small, collaborative, group learning experience on a topic of their interest. Each seminar is sponsored by a faculty member, who provides advice and guidance to the student coordinator.