VPFO Monday Update

Last week’s updates from UBC

General updates about UBC and its response to COVID-19 continue to be updated at covid19.ubc.ca.


Department updates

Facilities – Building Operations, Energy & Water Services, and Infrastructure Development

  • School of Biomedical Engineering Building (SBME) receives Board 1 approval – Approval allows for the project to proceed to the next stage – hire a design team and proceed to schematic design. The building will be located where the DH Copp Building currently stands. For project information, visit Infrastructure Development’s project page.


Finance – Comptroller, Finance & Operational Excellence, and Treasury

  • Year End: The Financial Reporting team is finalizing UBC’s financial results and financial analysis. Consolidated financial statements will be finalized by April 24th and the OAG has started their audit remotely.
  • Budget 2020/2021: The Board of Governors has approved continuation of the 2019/20 base budget allocations, as well as incremental funding totaling $36.1M (UBCV) and $9.2M (UBCO) for necessary and urgent Category 1 priorities. Also approved:
    • $7.9M for student initiatives, funded from domestic student tuition, allocated as part of the 2% tuition increase.
    • Up to $8M in order to support strategic priority initiatives, including: Indigenous Strategic Plan implementation ($2M), Sustainability and Climate Action ($1M), and the President’s Academic Excellence Initiative ($5M).
    • $15M (UBCV) and $5M (UBCO) as contingency funding to address unexpected costs arising from COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 Financial Impact Analysis: The Comptroller team continues to work on the COVID-19 Financial Impact analysis and is working on a revised budget expected to be submitted at the June board meeting.
  • FinOps/OpEx Strategic Planning: Financial Operations and Operational Excellence teams are developing a list of high priority activities to maximize productivity and strategic value during the working from home period.
  • Operational Excellence: The Operational Excellence team is developing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the VPFO. The VPFO has 33 KPIs and so far 25 draft reporting dashboards have been developed.
  • Financial Operations Front Desk Hours: Please be reminded that Financial Operations has changed their front desk operating hours to 8:30 am to 11:00 am, Monday to Friday. Visitors are encouraged to only come to the physical office if absolutely necessary, and to call 604-822-2187 prior to visiting to arrange a time.
  • Brinks has reduced their secure pick-up from a daily service to a weekly service: They will be picking up from the FinOps TEF3 location each Thursday at 10:00 am.
  • Cheque Printing: Please note that cheque printing in Financial Operations is no longer running daily. Cheques are printed/processed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Regular Finance Meetings: FinOps/OpEx leadership holds a Department Operations Centre (DOC) meeting twice weekly. Treasury leadership meets each Tuesday, and FinOps/OpEx are currently holding a meeting with leadership, managers, and team leads each Thursday. The Comptroller’s team is also holding a weekly Thursday meeting.


Operations & Advising – Communications & Engagement and Human Resources

  • ISC recruitment plan: HR is working with Central HR Advisory and IT HR teams.
  • Training readiness for Workday: HR is working with VPFO departments on HR processes aligned to Workday security roles.
  • Working on AEP validation with the IRP engagement team to determine next steps and support process and other changes.
  • VPFO HR on-site support schedule this week:
    • April 20: Alena Martin, Gregor MacDonald
    • April 21: Arvind Kang, Rachel Lau
    • April 22: Liana Chang, Elliot Campbell, Kasia Burza
    • April 23: Alena Martin, Gregor MacDonald
    • April 24: Matt Furgal, Kaisa Burza
  • Brand Workshops: Communications & Engagement usually runs a Brand Workshop every April and October. This year we’re trying something new and with several short interactive Zoom video sessions throughout May on communications topics you can use right now to succeed in our new work environment. Stay tuned!


Safety & Risk Services

  • KN95 Masks: If you are responsible for procuring PPE, please do not buy KN95 masks for occupational use at UBC. Supply shortages in N95 respirators have prompted the assessment of KN95 respirators as an alternative. However, KN95 masks have been deemed inappropriate for occupational use at UBC due to the inability to properly fit test them and lack of vendor clarity around manufacturing standards. Visit srs.ubc.ca/covid19 for more information on PPE at UBC.
  • A Note on Elevated Risk: If you encounter an area or situation that appears to have an elevated risk of contact with COVID-19, leave the area immediately and contact your supervisor for assistance. If your staff member reports an elevated risk to you, please contact ready.ubc@ubc.ca for next steps.
  • UBC Health & Safety information relating to COVID-19, including UBC’s stance on PPE, can be found at srs.ubc.ca/Covid19


Other notable updates


From Peter Smailes, Vice-President, Finance & Operations: When there’s so much change and challenge I believe it’s important to both “take time for you” and to stay socially connected. For me that’s meant a lot of time on Zoom and making sure I take a break for lunch each day.

I was thinking that it would be great to combine those ideas. While it would be nice to have lunch with everyone, I know that is logistically impossible… but I want to try an idea. I would like us all to have lunch together on April 21st by self organizing into teams and groups across the VPFO and hosting fun, themed, virtual lunches using Zoom. Read more about how to join Peter (closes at 1 pm today).



The ERA is supporting UBC’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic by providing insights on our evolving and increasing risk profile. They have assessed our major risks to determine how they might be impacted by the pandemic, and have prioritized five focus areas where we can play an essential role in managing risks and opportunities. Read the Full memo from the ERA [PDF].



Following the broadcast message about the increased cybersecurity controls, some clarification from Don Thompson, UBC’s Chief Information Security Officer:

  • For employees with UBC-managed equipment, UBC IT Desktop Services will initiate and complete the installation on user’s behalf. For most, this process will be invisible and seamless.
  • For individuals using their own device for university business (for example, using a personal home computer to connect to UBC VPN or to remote into their UBC desktop), self-serve instructions to manually install and configure the security software is available.

For more information, review the complete note from Don Thompson.



Team members from across all of our portfolio areas were featured in a story on water systems at UBC in Municipal World Magazine this past week. The story was published in their print magazine, as well as on their website [membership required], using information from our original feature on water at UBC.



A special edition of Pathways from the Faculty of Medicine, dedicated to supporting and empowering seniors, along with their families and caregivers during the outbreak. The feature offers advice, insight and ideas from faculty members on the front lines and looks at how the Faculty of Medicine is rapidly redeploying its energies to advance cutting-edge research, from creating vaccine candidates to testing how existing medications could be repurposed to treat COVID-19.


Helpful news

People have been suggesting news articles that they have found informative or helpful at work. These are provided for information and entertainment only. Unless noted, UBC doesn’t specifically endorse or supply editorial to this content.

Sharing an article that may be helpful to your peers? Send it to communications@vpfo.ubc.ca at any time.