Congratulations to the Class of 2020

Congratulations from Paul Nicklen (BSc ‘90, Hon. D. Sc. ‘17), acclaimed photographer, film-maker, marine biologist and co-founder of SeaLegacy.

Message from Peter Loock, Dean of Science

Congratulations to the Class of 2020 on behalf of all of us in the Faculty of Science. You have done it! You made the transition from UVic Student, to seasoned and world-weary alum. Your head is full of knowledge, you have a set of new best friends, the world is your oyster – and now, what?

I am Peter Loock, a Professor of Chemistry and the Dean of Science since January 2020. As Dean, I represent the Faculty of Science to my colleagues within the university but also externally – provincially, nationally and internationally. It is also my responsibility that the six departments in our Faculty have all the resources they need to deliver a world-class program.

I only moved to UVic in January 2020 and much like a first-year student I had to find a place to rent, try to make friends, and find a place on campus that serves decent coffee (Munchie Bar!). I thought the snow day in February was an undeserved hardship for the university – and then the COVID pandemic struck. So much for “hardship”…

By comparison, you are a UVic veteran. You collected course credits and grades and obtained a degree. And this is what university seems to be all about at times. That degree will open doors to you and opportunities, but it will only help you in getting your first job and, maybe, your second job. By the time you apply for a promotion, your third job, start a company, switch careers, have a family (too soon? sorry!), no one will ask you for your transcript anymore or be concerned about your second-year biology grades.

Instead, what lasts is far more profound than transcripts.

First, you made connections that can last a lifetime. The connections to your friends and the memories of cram sessions into the night, making up excuses for a late lab report, and discovering a new café together – this will last a lifetime. I am still in touch with my university friends and even married my university girlfriend!

Also, please value your connections to your university. It is our job as profs to not only to teach you science and math, but also help you be successful in your careers. Remember, that we can write reference letters, make introductions, refer you to colleagues in research labs – and may even get you into the graduate school of your choice. Very few profs will decline a request to help an ambitious student; we know that our success as mentors is measured by your success.

You have become a part of a large family with over 110,000 alumni worldwide. Fun fact: if those alumni were distributed evenly over the landmass of Planet Earth you would find one alum every 1300 square kilometers, meaning that you are never more then 36 km away from another alum! And all these people can help you advance in your career – just ask!

You have become a scientist or mathematician in the last years. This is more than having a degree. You have learned how to distinguish fact from hype, data from wishful thinking. You became aware of the limits of our knowledge, and you have the tools and the expertise – and the responsibility! – to make our world a better place for all to live. Sustainable, cleaner, safer, healthier and free from superstition. Please remember your responsibility to society in all you do. As the famous philosopher Uncle Ben Parker said to Peter Parker said: “With great power there must also come great responsibility.”

Finally, do me one favour: stop reading this and give your parents, your guardians, your family and whoever is with you and supported you over the last years a big hug.

Seriously. Drop the book now and give them a hug.




Everyone back now?

Unfortunately, we cannot take selfies in awesome gowns this year, but I hope that you remain in touch wherever life takes you. Please do drop by should you come back to campus. Now that I know where to get good coffee, I’d love to have a cup with you and catch-up.


Best Regards,

Peter Loock, Dean of Science