February 15, 2018
From Deborah Buszard, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the UBC Okanagan campus, and Andrew Szeri, Provost and Vice-President Academic at the UBC Vancouver campus:
It is our pleasure to announce that the Board of Governors has accepted the President’s recommendation to appoint Dr. James Olson as the new Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science for a five-year term, commencing March 1, 2018.
Dr. Olson, Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has been serving as the Interim Dean since July 1, 2017. Prior to this appointment, he has served in several roles, with responsibilities for the leadership and strategic direction in the Faculty, including Associate Dean of Research and Industry Partnerships since 2014 and the director of two UBC research centres.
Dr. Olson cares deeply about the Faculty and the University, greatly values collaborative approaches, and brings a strong commitment to excellence in research and education, while providing direction to six engineering departments, five schools and five research centres, serving 7200 undergraduate and graduate students, at both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses.
Instrumental in leading the successful expansion of the number of engineering seats at UBC, he is dedicated to providing increased opportunities for BC students to receive an engineering education. He has long been a champion of reimaging professional education to increase diversity, international experience and cultural fluency, business and leadership skills, experiential learning, entrepreneurship and policy and decision making. His recent accomplishments include the successful launch of UBC’s new School of Biomedical Engineering; initiating UBC’s technology venture incubator – HATCH; starting a community engagement event – Innovate; and developing the Faculty’s research goals for its strategic plan – Engage 2020.
Dr. Olson is internationally recognized as an expert in the development of sustainable forest products and for his contributions to developing BC and Canada's bio-economy transformation strategy. He has extensive experience fostering research success across the university, personally leading the development of UBC’s bioproducts cluster that has recently been awarded a President’s Excellence Chair, a Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC), $17M in Canadian Foundation for Innovation funding and establishing the BC Bioproducts Alliance – a collaboration between UBC, FPInnovations, Genome BC, Mitacs, the BC Government and the BC forest sector. Dr. Olson continues to make impactful contributions to industry partnerships and collaborations, leading a globally unique industry consortium focused on industrial energy efficiency.
Dr. Olson received his BASc in Engineering Physics and his PhD in Chemical Engineering, both from UBC. He has received a number of awards and distinctions including the FPInnovation Professorship, two NSERC Synergy awards, and the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Innovation, among others. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineers.
We would like to thank faculty members, staff, students and external stakeholders for participating in the search process, and for providing valuable feedback to the Advisory Committee. We are grateful to the members of the President’s Advisory Committee for their commitment of extensive time and energy throughout the search.
We hope you will join us in congratulating Dr. Olson on this achievement. We are certain that the Faculty will continue to build on its strengths under Dr. Olson’s leadership.