Ceremonies History


From the time of the University of British Columbia’s first Congregation, a Ceremonies Committee was appointed from faculty by the President to assist in staging the event. The committee chairman supervised the Congregation activities while other ceremonial activities were handled by ad hoc committees. In that the ceremonial functions of the University fell primarily within the mandate of the Chancellor, the committee worked closely with both him and the latest President.


The Ceremonies Office evolved slowly beginning with the arrival of Sir Ouvry Roberts in the President’s Office. He began as Director of Traffic and, in the early 1960s, gradually assumed responsibility for staging the public functions of the University. The Ceremonies Office was first located in the Wireless Station. Malcolm McGregor replaced Roberts as Director of Ceremonies in 1968. The Office moved to the Old Administration Building in the late 1960s and assumed responsibility for staging the public functions of the University.


In 1977, Dr. Benjamin N. Moyls succeeded McGregor as Director of Ceremonies. Moyls was, in turn, succeeded by Dr. John K. Stager (1985-1990) and then Dr. Charles E. Slonecker (1990-2003). Following the retirement of Dr. Slonecker, the office was restructured to meet the daily administrative demands.


In 2004, Eilis Courtney took over as Director of Ceremonies, the first woman and the first non-academic in this role. Many academic responsibilities became the role of the University Marshal, a newly-titled part-time position within the office and Nancy Hermiston, Professor of the UBC School of Music and Director of the Voice and Opera program, was hired for this prestigious job.

In 2005, UBC Okanagan opened and the UBC Okanagan Ceremonies & Events office was created, with similar responsibilities for the Kelowna campus.

2018-Present Day

The Vancouver office has a staff of 10 full-time employees, led by Director of Ceremonies Liz King Osadczuk. Based on the Point Grey Campus and working a hybrid schedule both on campus and remotely, the team manages twenty-eight Spring Congregation ceremonies, ten Fall Congregation ceremonies and over one hundred other events throughout the year including special academic ceremonies, university milestones, dignitary visits, recognition events for students, faculty and staff, and events to support university initiatives, strategic priorities and commitments. The office is home to the university’s annual United Way campaign and facilitates the Events Professionals Network, a community of practice for event planners at UBC. The Office serves as the protocol office for the university, working closely with colleagues at Musqueam and in BC and across Canada to develop and maintain university protocols to support special events and ceremonies.