The future of UBC could be determined by … Housing

Providing faculty housing is partly how Stanford grew from nowhere in 1960 to elite in 1980. Columbia’s renaissance in the 1980′s as one of the top Ivy league institutions has been credited to opportunistic housing purchases around campus which allowed the university to pursue a transformational faculty and staff housing assistance policy. UBC President Stephen Toope identified housing as “the biggest challenge that UBC faces going forward in terms of recruitment and retention both of students and faculty.” We couldn’t agree more.

“I have spent more time working on faculty housing than almost any other issue I have encountered during my tenure as provost, and I recognize the vital importance of this task”. That was Columbia University Provost Claude M. Steele in 2008, announcing the extension of the University’s pilot housing assistance program. It is time that we start working on this issue at UBC, because if we don’t face up to it, housing insecurity for faculty and staff may end up being extremely costly to this university, and not only in dollar value.

The good news is that the President of UBC, as well as its Board of Governors have asserted their commitment to build more favorable, more affordable and more sustainable living and working conditions for faculty, students and staff at this University. As chair of the Community Planning Task Group (CPTG), I am committed to helping them with this task.

But first, faculty, staff and students need to realize that any serious housing action plan will require that the university sacrifices some of its resources, at least for the short term.   It is therefore imperative that we all participate in making the case by getting engaged in the process, including those among us, who may already have had the fortune of resolving their personal housing challenge under more favorable circumstances in the city’s real estate market.

To facilitate this, we have launched a website/blog for the UBC HOUSING ACTION PLAN. This website will be used to update the UBC community on where we are in the process. We are also hoping that it will also be a useful open forum for discussions on these issues.

Please join the conversation and contribute to that weblog. Tell us about your own and/or your colleagues’ housing challenges, how you think UBC can assist in resolving them, as well as what you know about other universities’ ways in dealing with similar situations.

We need your help and your support.

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