UBC’s new president is not a mathematician, but …

The last time I saw the fabulous Frances Bula, she said that she liked my tweets whenever I commented on mathematics and mathematicians. I think she really meant for me to leave the rest of the news and analysis to her and the pros. However, thanks to Stuart Belkin, I now have a chance to do both. I mention the Chair of the UBC Board because I hear that –fortunately I must say– he is the one in charge these days, including of the presidential search.  The remarkable choice of Santa Ono (yes Santa!) as UBC’s 15th president is nothing but a victory to those among us calling for a renewed spirit of research excellence, academic freedom, diversity, decency, humanity and fair-play among the UBC leadership, be it mid-level and up. Continue reading

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An open letter to Faye Wightman, Chair of the UBC Alumni Board of Directors

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From Roger Francois, Professor, Canadian Research Chair, FRSC, UBC Alumni ’87 (PhD)

Dear Ms. Wightman,

I could not attend the meeting of the Board of Governors on April 14th because of a scheduling conflict but owing to the new openness of the board under the leadership of Mr. Belkin, I was able to view the proceedings later that evening. What I saw and heard encouraged me to believe that I was witnessing a new era of earnest dialogue between the various stakeholders of the university. The representatives for UBC students, faculty, and staff raised their cases frankly but respectfully, and the response from the board members conveyed the desire to build bridges and work towards addressing the concerns of the different constituencies of UBC.

It was therefore very unfortunate that this atmosphere of goodwill was partly clouded when you took the stage, although the silence that followed your rather condescending…

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An open letter to Stuart Belkin, Chair, UBC Board of Governors

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Re: Ms. Wightman’s presentation at the April 14th meeting of the Board of Governors

From: Prof. Kalina Christoff, Department of Psychology

Dear Mr. Belkin,

As a faculty member at UBC, I was delighted to hear today’s discussions between the Board of Governors and various UBC representatives. It was encouraging to hear your thoughtful responses to each presenter and the engaged questions that a number of Board members asked. I was just starting to feel a pleasant sense of hopefulness and, dare I say, a glimmer of trust in the Board of Governors — when suddenly, a cold bucket of water was poured over my head in the form of Faye Wightman’s presentation.

Ms. Wightman’s tone all but destroyed the atmosphere of respect that was created throughout the preceding 1.5 hours. In the space of 10 short minutes, she managed to gravely insult, disrespect and belittle faculty members and others who have…

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Thank you Chair Montalbano and Chancellor Gordon: UBC couldn’t have done it without you

“I think governance is always expressive of the gang that are there doing it at any one point in time.” With this statement, Stuart Belkin seems to be distancing himself from the practices of former Chair, John Montalbano, Chancellor Lindsay Gordon, and the Board members who supported them, actively or not, in the ouster of former President Gupta. Eight months into this ever-intensifying debate, we say it is time to solemnly declare our deep gratitude to this “gang.” For without them, we probably wouldn’t have had this debate, and surely not on so many sensitive issues relevant to the future of our university. Thanks to them, the UBC centennial will enter the history books as the year when the faculty woke up to their power and responsibilities.

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Handling of conflicts of interest should be high on UBC’s governance reform

Any discussion of governance reform that will move UBC forward, and facilitate the task of the next president, must not only address the procedural irregularities around Gupta’s dismissal, but must also identify those who resisted the former president’s proposed changes and priorities, so that we can learn their reasons, their motives, and the extent of their reach to Board members and other power brokers.

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Why I Lack Confidence in UBC’s Board of Governors: Its Disrespect for Faculty

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ByJenniferBerdahl, Montalbano Professor of Leadership Studies, Sauder School of Business

There are many statements by faculty explaining why they lack confidence in the University of British Columbia’s Board of Governors. Our BoG is dominated by political appointees who represent a narrow band of British Columbians: wealthy business people who donate to the Liberal Party. Some of these appointees appear to break tax and FIPPA laws. Our BoG has little faculty voice: compare the 3 on our Board (15%) to the 12 on UofT’s (25%). Our BoG is unique among its peers in not belonging to the Association of Governing Boards, which provides guidelines for best practices in selecting and training board members, managing conflicts of interest, and conducting business in a transparent and accountable way. These structural weaknesses of our Board undermine good governance at UBC.

But for me, it boils down to this: over the last eight months, our BoG has openly disregarded…

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Faculty Awakening has already made a difference

PowerDo not despair, Carla. There is no reason to feel blue. You have not only awoken your faculty friends, you have reminded them that they are the university. You have empowered them again and they appreciate you for it. The “assholes” (as you so aptly call them) may not be listening, but the majority of your colleagues are. Rejoice, the Times They Are A-Changin’.

Only yesterday, the premier of our province announced upcoming legislation to require all BC universities to have sexual assault policies. This was not random. This did not happen after the 2013 pro-rape chants by some UBC Sauder Business School students. This is happening now because you and your colleagues chose to speak up and fight for the victims of sexual harassment and violence, and for adequate processes to protect them.

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