September 20, 2021

Pioneer in geriatric medicine. Canada’s foremost probability theory expert. A distinguished recording artist. These are just a few of the luminaries affiliated with UBC Emeritus College. Formerly the UBC Association of Professors Emeriti and based on the Vancouver campus, UBC Emeritus College is a resource for faculty, senior administrators and senior librarians transitioning to retirement after decades of service. 

It is also the first and only such college in Canada, and one of a handful worldwide – perhaps “because others don’t have the unwavering support and encouragement of their university leadership,” says Dianne Newell, a historian of technology and marine fisheries, and formerly, the College’s first Principal.

“It’s a win-win because emeriti can, among other things, continue contributing in a meaningful way, play an integral role in the university and strengthen its reputation, while students, researchers and faculties reap the benefit of their expertise, experience and skills,” adds Newell, also professor emerita of the History Department and of the Institute for Oceans and Fisheries, where she is interim director of the Centre for Indigenous Fisheries.

UBC Emeritus College Symposium 2019 "Scholarship in the Future University"

UBC Emeritus College Symposium 2019 "Scholarship in the Future University" (photo: Vincent L. Chan)

In addition to creating a “community of scholarship and camaraderie,” Emeritus College helps members deepen existing relationships, forge new alliances, volunteer and join networks. Multidisciplinary research and impactful scholarly initiatives result, not to mention a feeling of deep satisfaction for emeriti knowing they are channeling their ample experience towards the greater good in ways that work for them. 

Says UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Santa J. Ono: “Their continued involvement with the university is an example to us all. They recognize that retirement from daily university life does not necessarily mean withdrawing from UBC. Rather, it should be regarded as an opportunity for emeriti to flourish intellectually and socially, and to enjoy the many benefits a university has to offer.”

The College’s top aims are to advocate, assist with a fruitful transition to retirement, nurture social and civic engagement, recognize excellence and establish a presence on the local, national and world stage. Another top goal is partnering on international projects.

Bernard Shizgal (left) and Sid Katz (right) at the 2019 UBC Emeritus College Symposium

Bernard Shizgal (left) and Sid Katz (right) at the 2019 UBC Emeritus College Symposium (photo: Vincent L. Chan)

The University Senate grants emeritus status to retired long-standing faculty, active in mentorship, research and teaching. To date, UBC has 1,700 members emeriti, including nine Order of Canada recipients named this year alone. Along with members such as Newell, Donald Fisher, Carolyn Gilbert, Paul Marantz, Olav Slaymaker, Richard Spencer, Richard Tees and Stephen Tredwell all worked to make the College a reality in 2018.

An upcoming “Healthy Aging” virtual panel on Oct. 1 marks the College’s first foray into global collaboration. The event, presented with the recently established European Association of Professor Emeriti, celebrates the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing and World Day of Older Persons, also marked on Oct. 1. Distinguished speakers include UBC Emeritus Professor of Economics Dr. John Helliwell, OC, FRSC, and co-editor of the World Happiness Reports, and Canadian Medical Hall of Famer UBC’s Dr. Judith Hall, OC, MD, DSC, FRSC and FCAHS; England’s Emeritus Professor Sir Les Ebdon, European Association of Professor Emeriti President-elect, and from Germany, pediatrician Emeritus Professor Jochen Ehrich, MD, DCMT (London).

Despite recent inroads, however, Emeritus College is still underutilized, Newell says. Her hope is that the College will become involved with UBC’s Edwin S. H. Leong Healthy Aging Program once that initiative takes off in the near future. “Healthy aging,” says Newell, “is a personal and public health issue worldwide. We need to address it in a holistic way that’s constructive and respectful.”

As far as the future, Emeritus College Principal Joost Blom says: "the College is only beginning to explore the opportunities for collaborating with similar associations in other countries. Associations of academic retirees are not only a rich source of expertise on healthy aging, they also offer unique opportunities for developing and empirically testing ways in which retired people can be helped to maintain lives that are as full and rewarding as possible."

The first Council of the new Emeritus College on a business retreat at UBC in 2018

The first Council of the new Emeritus College on a business retreat at UBC in 2018 (photo: UBC Emeritus College)

Learn more about UBC Emeritus College.

See Emeritus College news and events.

Register for the Oct. 1 “Healthy Aging” virtual panel.

European Association of Professors Emeriti seal

Seal from the European Association of Professors Emeriti, co-host of the upcoming “Healthy Aging” virtual panel Oct. 1 (graphic: European Association of Professors Emeriti)


  • Global Capacity Development
  • Issues of Global Relevance
  • UBC as a Global Actor