Professor teaching at the front of a class
August 11, 2017
2 mins read

Welcome to the Academy

Outside the walls of Athens, there was an olive grove – a sacred space – dedicated to the Greek God Athena.

On this olive grove was founded a gymnasium, where Plato and his followers would gather and have discussions. This was known as the academy. This is still known as the academy, and we are still here.

At UBC, we seek out and find the best and brightest minds, and we call them into our sacred place where we’ll encourage you to have conversations and discussions, so that we can generate ideas using the accumulated knowledge from multiple areas of the world.

You’re here to help solve some very big problems

I bet at some point in your life, you’ve heard, “How are you so good at this?” I know how I’ve answered this: “I don’t know. I don’t think I’m that good at it to be perfectly honest.”

What did you do with this question?  How did you answer it?

At UBC, your innate ability to learn has a purpose beyond just tests and exams. Now we can start using that information to solve some very big world problems.

Two students at the board solving a problem

You’re in a new learning environment

Our job as professors is to educate you. We will put you in a large lecture theatre, and get you up at 8 am for a laboratory experiment. We will have you watch videos before class and solve problems with us. We will sometimes go too fast, and sometimes not fast enough. We’re going to push you beyond your comfort level.

We will make you second guess that very ability that we saw and called you here to exercise. But never forget that it’s still there. Our job is just to refine it.

You’ll be challenged – but know that you’re not alone

University is going to be unnerving sometimes.  But remember, faculty are here to help you, to guide you through the early years. Even if you feel like you shouldn’t be here.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t belong here either.

I graduated high school and I worked at a steel mill. My family still works there. My job was to sweep the floors during the night. On my breaks, I would lie on my back on the picnic table in the summer and think, “How and what can I do to help?”

I started a crazy journey and here I am. I’m the first person in my family to go to University. The first one to get a degree, to go to graduate school, and to get a Ph.D.

For some of you, university may be difficult. But remember: it needs to be difficult because we have big problems to solve together.

With this, I would like to welcome you to my classroom. I’m a Faculty member, I’m a Faculty Fellow, and I’m a colleague of yours in the academy.

Students in a class