2019 GRO Network Conference Itinerary

Below is the planned itinerary of the upcoming 2019 GRO Network Conference. 

Please note that the itinerary is not final and subject to change without notice. 

* 2019_GRO_Conference_Itinerary_print.pdf
Print version of the 2019 GRO Network Conference itinerary.

Wednesday, June 12th

4:30 - 5:30 PM

Ponderosa Studios
2075 West Mall

Optional tour of the UBC Campus

Arrived a bit early and looking for something to do ahead of the opening reception? Adriaan de Jager will be leading a tour of the UBC campus, starting and ending at Ponderosa Studios.

6:30 - 9:00 PM

Cecil Green Park House
6251 Cecil Green Park Rd

Opening reception

Thursday, June 13th

8:00 - 9:00 AM

Ideas Lounge
6331 Crescent Road

Breakfast and business session

9:00 - 10:20 AM

Sage East
6331 Crescent Road

Session 1: Institutional Responses to TRC/UNDRIP – “Education is the key to reconciliation.”

The greatest social challenge and opportunity of our generation is reconciliation. As Senator Sinclair stated upon the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, “education is what got us into this mess… but education is the key to reconciliation.” This panel will look at how universities within British Columbia are working to answer the TRC’s Calls to Action and how they are working to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


  • Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Canada Research Chair of Global Indigenous Rights and Politics, University of British Columbia
  • Dr. Onowa McIvor, Associate Professor, Department of Indigenous Education, University of Victoria
  • Dr. Sarah Morales, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria
  • Dr. Deborah Saucier, President, MacEwan University
  • Jeff Vasey, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, Government of British Columbia (Moderator)

10:20 - 10:30 AM

Coffee break

10:30 - 11:30 AM

Sage East
6331 Crescent Road

Session 2: The University Value Proposition on the Skills Agenda.

Universities remain at the centre of Canadian economy. When many think of post-secondary, they think of cost, grades and ability to find good employment upon graduation. This panel represents academic and industry/business perspectives and will explore the value of post-secondary as it is now, and how it can shift to the changing world to ensure we have the most trained and educated workforce to meet the jobs of tomorrow.


  • Greg D'Avignon, President & CEO, Business Council of British Columbia
  • Kathy Kinloch, President, British Columbia Institute of Technology
  • Dr. Philip Steenkamp, President and Vice-Chancellor, Royal Roads University
  • Jennifer Vornbrock, Executive Director, Community and Government Relations, University of Victoria (Moderator)

11:30 - 11:50 AM


11:50 AM - 12:50 PM

Sage East
6331 Crescent Road

Session 3: Internal Government Relations Round Table Sessions

Attendees will break into multiple groups to discuss various internal key topics in Government Relations. After one hour of group discussion, groups will present their discussion findings to the other groups. 


Working with Boards and Chancellors

Universities are built on the model of shared governance between their executive and boards. Boards are largely responsible for ensuring effective governance of the institutions property, revenues, business and affairs. Yet, how do we ensure that we are working effectively with boards to leverage opportunities? Whether you are new to the post-secondary sector or need a refresher on how to work effectively with university boards, this session will allow explore effective relationship management and best practices when working with boards and chancellors.

Issues Management

Issues management is an anticipatory process that requires many GRO officers to keep an eye on the ever-changing landscape of Canadian politics, business and post-secondary education. This allows us to respond to emerging trends or big changes. Yet, as we know, not all issues can be anticipated, some spring on us out of nowhere. This session will focus on best practices of effective amongst your peers. Here you will be able to share your insights and hear from others’ experiences.

Smaller Institutions

Larger institutions often receive a bigger spotlight, but there is a world of exceptional research and academic programs taking place at smaller institutions across Canada. But how can smaller universities stand-out in a landscape where much of the media attention is focused on larger universities across the country? This session will allow for an insightful discussion of best practices and personal experience of how to make smaller institutions and their exceptional work stand out.

12:50 - 1:15 PM

Break: free time to return any materials to hotel rooms

1:15 - 1:45 PM

Transportation to SFU Vancouver Campus

2:00 - 3:30 PM

SFU Segal Graduate School of Business
500 Granville Street

Keynote presentation: Paul Wells, Senior Editor, Maclean's Magazine

Nobody knows Ottawa better than Paul Wells, the senior editor of Maclean’s magazine and former national affairs columnist at The Toronto Star. In more than two decades on the Hill, Paul has covered seven federal elections, three prime ministers, and a big piece of Canada’s history. Fresh, funny and authoritative, Wells speaks in both official languages on all of the matters of the day, from the nation’s position in the global economy, to the inside scoop on what’s really happening inside the Parliament buildings and beyond.

After the presentation, join us for a Q&A session with Mr. Wells, moderated by Ijade Maxwell Rodrigues, Chief of Government and Community Relations at York University. 

3:30 - 3:45 PM

Coffee break

3:45 - 4:45 PM

SFU Segal Graduate School of Business
500 Granville Street

Session 4: Implementation of Budget 2018: What’s working and not working in Canadian research

Following the Naylor Report in 2017, the Government of Canada announced $925 million over five years for fundamental research in Canada through Budget 2018. A year after this investment, our panel looks at how the implementation of this funding is taking place, what is working and what is not. The panel will also explore where the Naylor report roadmap stands and where we might be able to go from here.


  • Dr. Martha Crago, Vice-Principal Research & Innovation, McGill University
  • Dr. Joy Johnson, Vice-President Research & International, Simon Fraser University
  • Dr. Gail Murphy, Vice-President Research & Innovation, University of British Columbia
  • Adriaan de Jager, Associate Vice President, Government Relations and Community Engagement, University of British Columbia (Moderator)

5:00 - 6:00 PM

Break: free time to explore downtown Vancouver

Take some personal time to explore what Downtown Vancouver has to offer. 

6:00 - 10:00 PM

Earl's Yaletown
1095 Mainland Street

Dinner and board game competition

Join us for dinner at Earl's Yaletown, located in the historic Yaletown district, an area known for it's old warehouses and the site of the old Canadian Pacific Railway works yard. After dinner, stick around to play a selection of board games against your GRO Network colleagues. 

10:00 PM

Transportation back to Ponderosa Studios at UBC

Friday, June 14th

8:00 - 9:00 AM

Liu Institute for Global Issues
6476 NW Marine Drive


9:00 - 10:00 AM

Liu Institute for Global Issues
6476 NW Marine Drive

Session 5: Facilitated Roundtable: Hot Topics in Canadian Politics: Populism, Free-Speech and Post-Secondary

Canadians like to consider our country as more progressive and inclusive than others across the globe. Yet, over the course of the last several years there has been a rise in populist rhetoric on post-secondary campuses across the country. This has led to an increased debate with policy and funding implications for post-secondary institutions. But how far should free-speech extend on campus, has ‘political correctness’ and identity politics shut down debate? Or has the rise of populism in North America distorted academic freedom to act as an unchecked license to teach and espouse whatever ideas we want regarding identity and humanity without considering the implications to marginalized groups? Let’s discuss.


10:00 - 10:15 AM

Coffee break

10:15 - 11:45 AM

Liu Institute for Global Issues
6476 NW Marine Drive

Session 6: Federal Election Panel

The 2019 Election looks to be one of the most contested and divisive in recent memory. With issues such as climate change, carbon pricing, internal trade, populism and immigration being brought to the forefront. The rhetoric will be divisive, and entrenched in partisanship. This panel will explore and possibly predict the different parties paths to victory or ability to disrupt the electoral scene as we inch closer to October 22nd.


  • Nikki Hill, Principal, Earnscliffe Strategy Group
  • Justin Ling, Investigative Journalist
  • Hamish Telford, Associate Professor, Political Science, University of the Fraser Valley
  • Sonia Theroux, Co-Executive Director, LeadNow
  • Rob Esselment, Associate Vice-President, Government Relations, University of Waterloo (Moderator)

11:45 AM - 12:00 PM

Liu Institute for Global Issues
6476 NW Marine Drive

Closing remarks

12:00 PM

End of conference

1:30 - 3:00 PM

4004 Wesbrook Mall

Optional tour of TRIUMF