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A “rock band” moment or two (September 7th—Imagine Day)

[Note: My first few blog entries will be a little post facto, as they’re being added late.]

I have to hand it to UBC – it’s an institution that surely knows how to make an impression. Within an hour of arriving for work, I was looking at the first of two groups comprising over 1,500 incoming Arts students arrayed from the first row orchestra to the top balcony of the Chan Centre. As I was introduced, I heard something about a $100 M budget and scores of departments, schools, and interdisciplinary centres, and it all became very, very real – and a little scary — to me.

Following the Chan “Meet the Dean” sessions, I joined some students sitting on the Main Mall for pizza. Then, after picking up my academic regalia, I tried to find my way to the Doug Mitchell Winter Sports Arena for something that the calendar on my iPhone was calling a “Pep Rally”. Talk about being under-prepared…. As the academic procession lined up I caught a glimpse into the Arena: 7,000 screaming students in the colours of their Faculty (and wow, so much Arts purple!), the theme from Star Wars playing, the Musqueum Warriors group drumming us in, hand slaps from students, videos playing on the stage and even a smoke machine! This was truly a rock band moment, all about welcoming our new students and capturing the palpable sense of enthusiasm and excitement. The event seemed to seemed to exemplify UBC’s sense of its strength and potential as an institution not afraid to speak of changing the world — an institution where the President was comfortable delivering a slam poetry address with the President of the student association. I have to say that while looking behind me at a video on the themes of Place and Promise, I had a strong sense that I was in the right place at the right time.

Finally, back on the Mall, the CASS folks had arranged for a booth to be set up with XBox Rock Band instruments to get the new dean jamming on trap set with students. For an hour or more, students walked up to the guitars and vocal mic and we ran through some Nirvana, Radiohead, and even Bon Jovi. My daughter, Fiona (7) joined us on guitar for a few tunes. A great jam, with a lot of UBC musical talent on display, and of course it was a killer way to start my new job.

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