The Ring

Around the ring

A decade of pioneering ocean science

On Feb. 8, 2006, Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) installed the world’s most advanced cabled seafloor observatory in Saanich Inlet—making history with the world’s first interactive realtime portal into the ocean. This allowed scientists, policy-makers, educators and the public to “enter” the ocean from anywhere, at anytime, via the internet, starting a decade of exploration, innovation and expansion that continues today. In celebration of this milestone, ONC has gathered together the top 10 reasons to celebrate.

Get ready for IdeaFest

Why does war inspire great art? How do you say ‘I love you’ in Tla-o-qui-aht? What happens when two galaxies collide?  These are just some of the big questions that will be brought to life at the fifth annual IdeaFest, from March 7-12. Join hundreds of UVic thinkers, innovators and artists as they explore topics ranging from human health and urban renewal, to space exploration and climate change. There are over 50 panels, workshops, exhibits, performances, open mics and tours to choose from this year. Come celebrate UVic and be inspired by research and creative endeavours from across campus. The full program of more than 50 events is available for easy online browsing on any device at

Full steam ahead for Strategic Research Plan

Ta da! After 18 months of extensive consultations with faculties, divisions, deans and other organizational units that support research, as well as external stakeholders, the University of Victoria has its first full-blown Strategic Research Plan.

“This plan marks an important milestone in our ascent to being one of Canada’s top research-intensive universities and a significant contributor internationally,” says Vice-President Research David Castle, who led its development. “It will steer our investment and management decisions for the next five years and further extend our reputation for excellence in research and innovation.

“Future success for UVic research depends on a clear sense of our organizational values, understanding the changing landscape of research, and being nimble enough to channel our existing strengths and resources toward new opportunities,” he says. “This plan is a road map for achieving that.”

The plan affirms UVic’s commitment to vital impact through excellence in research; discovery, creation and invention; community-engaged research; research-inspired educational programs; and international research.

Also detailed are the university’s research resources, including a steady growth in research income; a proven track record in innovation; consistently high placement in national and global research rankings; award-winning researchers; world-class research infrastructure; 17 interdisciplinary research centres, and a strong body of talented graduate students and post-doctorial fellows.

“Taken together, these resources reflect UVic’s accumulation of research expertise and achievements,” says Castle. “They empower us to anticipate and exploit new opportunities in an ever-changing and highly competitive research environment.”

The plan identifies eight broad areas of existing research strength—or dynamic research capabilities—that provide UVic with a strong foundation for future research success. They are (in alphabetical order):

  • creativity and culture
  • data science and cyber physical systems
  • environment, climate and energy
  • global studies and social justice
  • health and life sciences
  • Indigenous research
  • ocean science and technology
  • physical sciences and engineering, mathematics and computer science

These eight areas were discussed during the Strategic Research Plan engagement process, says Castle. They were validated for continued relevance and updated to include newly emerged capabilities.

At the heart of the plan are five high-level priorities that will guide the university’s research-focused investments and management decisions for the next five years. They are:

  • defining and achieving research excellence
  • enhancing the integration of research and education
  • expanding partnerships, innovation and entrepreneurship
  • improving research competitiveness through differentiation and specialization
  • enhancing and optimizing the provision of research services.

Associated with these priority areas are dozens of specific objectives, along with strategies that describe how the objectives will be achieved and how progress will be measured.

Implementation will be aligned with other university planning processes and will take place over the five-year term of the plan, says Castle, adding that strategies taken up in any given year will be subject to resource considerations and other constraints and opportunities that arise.

Castle thanks the UVic research community, and key funders and partners, for the time and effort they invested in the strategic research planning process, as well as the invaluable leadership of the Strategic Research Plan advisory committee.

“All of these contributions have created a plan that will guide our research mission in the coming years and support our researchers as they continue to push new ideas, discoveries and creations forward for the benefit of society and the world around us.”

Browse, print or download a copy of the Strategic Research Plan.

Elliott pole restoration

What’s with the tent in the Quad? The S,yewe Legend Pole (also known as the Elliott pole) in the UVic Quad was commissioned by Coast Salish carver Charles Elliott to mark the 1990 Learned Society conference at UVic. In 2013 Legacy Art Galleries staff noticed signs of rot at the base of the pole. Upon inspection by the artist, Royal BC Museum conservator George Field and Legacy Galleries Director Mary Jo Hughes, it was determined that the rot was caused by the issues around the original installation of the pole. Sitting directly on a cement pad, the cedar core of the pole has been acting like a wick, basically drawing water up from where it pools on the cement pad. After a thorough conservation report and an engineering inspection, a plan has been developed to restore the pole and alleviate the problem of continued water damage.

The pole will be taken down by Facilities Management in early February and it will lay in a heated tent in the centre of the Quad for several weeks. Once it has dried out enough, carver John Elliott, working under the guidance of Charles Elliott, will remove the rot, replace any losses, treat the wood for insects, apply sealant and repaint the pole. This may take up to two months depending on how long the drying process takes. The refurbished pole will be raised on a new mounting system that will keep it from touching the ground and away from water. Later in the spring UVic will hold a rededication ceremony.

The S,yewe legend:

A long, long time ago, when our land was still heavy with forest, one young man, SWIWLES,S, became a new dancer. He was a very good dancer. He had a good style (S,IY,LE). His people were very proud of his dancing. When the moon of the Frog (WEXES) came along it was time to end the dancing season (PELKOE). The new dancers would then venture into the forest and take their uniforms off. They would put their hats on their canes and place them in the hollow of a cedar tree. It was at this time the creator (XALS) appeared to SWIWLES,S and he told him that his style was very good; that through his bathing, venturing into the forest, and keeping a clean mind he would receive a gift for his goodness. The gift SWIWLES,S would receive would enable him to foretell the future. He would become a S,YEWE. The creator warned him never to tell anyone of the gift he received. So the young man returned home happy and excited about the gift he had received. When he and his wife went to bed that night he could no longer contain his excitement. He thought to himself, that if he whispered in his wife's ear, no one would hear. The moment he whispered into his wife's ear, he realized that he had wronged the Creator.

The very next morning, SWIWLES,S and his wife packed their things and put them in their canoe. They paddled towards Cordova Bay and when they arrived the creator spoke to them from amongst the Blue Herons at Point Roberts. The young man told his wife not to listen. He said, "Get off the canoe and we will go up into the forest and hide." Since they did not stop, the creator became angry. He cast a Quentoles (stone) at them. Just as SWIWLES,S was pushing his wife up the hill the round black rock struck them and they turned into stone. Today one can still see the pair pushing each other up the hill the with Qentoles lodged in the man, at Cordova Bay.

—Told by Philip Pelkey; interpreted by Earl Claxton Sr.; written and edited by John Elliott and Linda Underwood

Beyond the ring

Two more U-Windsor residence halls to be demolished

The mounting costs of deferred maintenance are being cited for the decision to demolish two more residence halls at the University of Windsor. The university announced that Clark I and II residence buildings, built during the 1980s, are now slated to be taken down, following the October 2015 demolition of Electa Hall. The university said “the age of the buildings, the extensive nature of renovations needed, and the shifting demographics of students seeking residence accommodation” were driving forces behind the decision. 

UK and US lead international student satisfaction, but Canadian enrolment is rising faster

A December 2015 report commissioned by the UK agency responsible for higher education shows that Canadian universities grew their international student cohorts at a faster pace than the UK, US, Australia, Germany or New Zealand from 2007-2014. Canada’s 70 per cent growth rate led the US (52 per cent) and the UK (46 per cent) even though satisfaction was higher among those educated in the UK and US. Canada may be on the right path, however, with a steady rise in international student satisfaction since 2000. 

BC degrees drive employment outcomes

There are no guarantees in an uncertain economy but the surest path to career success begins with a university education, according to a December study of student outcomes released by the Research Universities’ Council of BC. The report underlines the importance of a university degree in today’s economy, showing that graduates get the jobs they want, in the regions where they want to work, and are paid competitive salaries that escalate over the course of their careers.

Key findings include:

  • Two years after graduating, the median salary for the Class of 2012—the most recent surveyed—was $50,000 per year, well above the average for other young people entering the workforce.
  • 92 per cent of university graduates are satisfied or very satisfied with their education and 93 per cent give top marks to the quality of instruction they received.
  • A significant majority of graduates from BC’s regional research universities choose to stay in the communities where they were educated.

This report represents five years of data collected by BC Stats.

Cassels to moderate meeting on regional economic development

On Saturday, Nov. 7, UVic President Jamie Cassels will act as a moderator for a meeting convened by the Greater Victoria Development Agency and stakeholders to propose and discuss a new approach to regional economic development for Southern Vancouver Island. The meeting will bring together local mayors and business stakeholders, along with the presidents of Royal Roads and Camosun College, to establish consensus for participation and set goals for the region—including increases in jobs, average wages and outside investment—to be addressed by the new regional authority. Read the proposal for a new economic development approach (pdf).

This public event will be held at Camosun College Interurban Campus and will be webcast live on Saturday.