Message from the President - Fall Update to Campus

Dear members of our UPEI Campus Community,

The start of our 2015 academic year has been a great one thanks to many.

Led by our UPEI Student Union, NSO was a tremendous success. Student leaders are to be applauded for delivering a great complement of NSO activities aimed at building a sense of community and belonging for our new students.

UPEI student leaders have also dedicated much energy to our larger community over the past month by raising money for Cystic Fibrosis research and treatment through Shinerama, as well as their partnership with the Prince Edward Island Marathon for Outrun Stigma, which raises money and awareness for mental health initiatives. Our students’ leadership is further demonstrated through their strong action to encourage fellow students to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming federal election. These acts of civic responsibility set an example for all and reinforce the fundamental role we each must play in our community.  

UPEI’s Welcome Day 2015 was the best to date with UPEI faculty and staff doing an outstanding job of welcoming our students and their families to campus on one of the nicest days of the summer.  I was also fortunate to attend the Atlantic Veterinary College’s “Blue Coat Ceremony” where first-year DVM students are welcomed to UPEI. This year, more than 4,300 new and returning students are studying at UPEI. We are very pleased to offer students a world of possibilities through top quality programs and experiences.

A new page in UPEI’s history was written on September 10 with the orientation of 157 UPEI Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Design Engineering students at Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park. Due to the interest expressed by students to continue their degrees at UPEI, a decision was made to offer Year 3 of the Sustainable Design Engineering program a year earlier than planned. As a result, 12 students from UPEI, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s, Cape Breton, and Brazil universities now form the inaugural third year cohort of the program and will be our first graduating class of this new degree program.  

Our varsity sports year has also started in a big way when our larger community of Panther fans, alumni, sponsors, and supporters came together with UPEI student-athletes and coaches to kick off UPEI’s athletics season on September 17. The event exhibited the tremendous pride that exists in our community for UPEI varsity sport. We also received the wonderful news that 80 of our student-athletes from the 2014–15 season achieved CIS Academic All-Canadian status for their efforts in the classroom, another increase over the previous season. Be sure to cheer on our student-athletes as they start their seasons!

I was delighted to witness UPEI faculty member, Dr. Gordon MacDonald (Professor of Mathematics and Statistics), being honoured with an AAU Distinguished Teaching Award for outstanding teaching over a number of years. This award is well-deserved by Dr. MacDonald who exhibits great passion for teaching and helping students reach their full potential and has dedicated an abundance of time and expertise to the growth of our University by serving on many committees. On behalf of UPEI, I congratulate Dr. MacDonald on being recognized in such a meaningful manner.

Last week, we thanked UPEI friends and supporters at the annual Donor Picnic. Their contributions to the University are appreciated by students, staff, and faculty alike. It was equally moving to hear what motivates people to give to UPEI from the perspective of donor Shauna Sullivan-Curley, and how scholarships and awards impact students from the perspective of Business Administration student and student leader Nathan Hood.

Just this weekend, I received the good news that two School of Business case competition teams have started the year off right by finishing one and two in a strategy-based case competition, sponsored by KPMG, at 45th Annual Atlantic Schools of Business (ASB) Conference in Fredericton. Congratulations to winning UPEI team, Hannah Dawson, John Donaldson, Kate Kinsman, Cullen Mullally and second place UPEI team, Erin Devine, Bogdan Belomestnykh, Robert McIsaac, and Harrison Wood. We are all Panther proud!

Just a few weeks into our academic year, there is indeed much to celebrate.

However, amidst this great start to the year, we have been acutely aware of the challenges faced by many. As a community of learners and global citizens, we share a responsibility to understand, be reflective, share knowledge, and take action in coordinated and engaged ways.

In honouring recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, UPEI is committed to being fully aware of the role our institution must play in promoting a better understanding of Aboriginal history and culture, and supporting healthy relationships based on mutual understanding and respect with members of our Aboriginal community. UPEI looks forward to continuing to work alongside our partners in a meaningful manner to contribute to the reconciliation process through higher learning.

As the Syrian refugee crisis tragically unfolds, we have individually and collectively been called to respond to the devastation and need of our fellow humans. We thank the students, faculty and staff who have worked together to put into action UPEI’s response to the Syrian crisis in the hopes that by restoring access to higher learning for students whose lives have been broken, that they will have the opportunity to rebuild their futures.

In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to carry out initiatives outlined in our UPEI Strategic Plan to achieve our vision of helping our students reach their full potential in both the classroom and the community.

I encourage everyone to mark their calendars for a day of celebration on Friday, October 2 beginning at 10:00 am in the Dr. Steel Recital Hall when UPEI will host a Recognition of Founders unlike any held before.

This year, UPEI’s Recognition of Founders is especially significant in that it will honour the five past presidents of UPEI. Dr. Ronald J. Baker, Dr. Peter P. M. Meincke, Dr. Elizabeth R. Epperly, and Hon. H. Wade MacLauchlan will join us for the ceremony and participate in a public lecture entitled "The Past Inspiring UPEI's Future" which will be moderated by CBC's Bruce Rainnie. Dr. C. W. J. ‘Willie’ Eliot will be recognized posthumously during the event.

Following our Recognition of Founders, a transformative and inspiring announcement will be made that will impact the future of our students and UPEI.

And at 2:00 pm, our campus will honour individuals responsible for the development and contributions of UPEI’s Atlantic Veterinary College through the presentation of the Hon. Eugene F. Whalen Green Hat Award. This presentation will take place at AVC in The McCain Foundation Learning Commons. All are encouraged to attend.

October 2, 2015 will be a milestone day that will make us all proud. Please be sure to join in these events!

UPEI has many other community events taking place in the coming days, ranging from Panther home games, to the First Annual Blessed John Henry Newman Dinner with Professor Peter Erb (Friday, October 2 beginning at 6:00 pm in Schurman Market Square, Don and Marion McDougall Hall). Please be sure to visit so you are aware of all our upcoming University events.

Finally, for the information of our campus community, I am including below an update that was recently provided to Senate on UPEI’s preliminary enrolment and course registrations for fall 2015 (as of September 17, 2015 compared to September 18, 2014).

Although we are pleased that we have seen improvements in our application numbers, conversion rates, first-to-second year retention rates, international student recruitment numbers, and graduate student numbers, our overall headcount is down by 2% as of the reporting date. This is due in part to the exit of a double cohort of Bachelor of Education students, lower PEI high school application numbers, and a continued decline in student numbers within the Faculty of Arts.

In the near future, Prince Edward Island will experience an increasingly significant decline in the number of students attending PEI high schools. Between September 2013 and September 2014 alone, the total Grade 12 enrolment within PEI high schools fell from 1,828 students to 1,755. This downward demographic shift—combined with the larger regional demographic challenge in the Maritimes—is troublesome. However, we are aware of the projections and working hard to implement initiatives in areas such as recruitment, retention, programming, and service to mitigate the impacts. As always, your efforts and collaboration to ensure we offer our students the best education and the best experiences possible are needed and appreciated.

A further update on UPEI enrolment will be shared with campus on October 15, when the AAU issues its official enrolment report.

Thank you again for all you contribute to UPEI, our students, and community.

Best wishes for a pleasant fall!


UPEI Preliminary Enrolment Update for Fall 2015
(Reported as headcount as of Thursday, September 17, 2015 compared to Thursday, September 18, 2014)






by Faculty/Program






























Veterinary Medicine










Graduate Programs





Full-time total





Part-time total










Grand total






Total Course Registrations
17,151 (-2%, 388 fewer)

Students by Origin (all years of study)
PEI students***
2,605 (-7%, 199 fewer students=60% of total student body)

Domestic students (other than PEI):
927 (+3%, 24 more students=21% of student total body)

International students:
795 (+11%, 81 more students=18% of total student body)

* Though enrollments have declined in the Faculty of Arts by 13%, registrations for Arts courses have only decreased by 5%.

**Decline due in part to the exit of a double cohort of Education students.

***The overall decline in students from PEI is attributed in part to fewer students graduating from PEI high schools and an overall decline within the university-aged demographic.

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