I am finishing my 3-year term representing the faculty on the UBC Board of Governors. The elections of new faculty representatives will start on November 25th. The other faculty rep., Andrew Irvine (from Philosophy) is finishing his second term and is not eligible to run again. Faced with the prospect of having no continuity, no institutional memory, no Board experience, and no historical perspective in the faculty representation, I eventually decided to run for a second term.
There are three other candidates, all hailing from the Faculty of Arts:
Margery Fee (English)
Richard Johnston (Political Science)
Darrin Lehman (Psychology)
We were asked to submit a 150 words (max.) statement to be made available to prospective voters, a manifesto of some sort. Here is what I submitted:
For the past 3 years, I have represented the faculty on the Board of Governors, abiding by the strictest standards of collegiality, objectivity, and independence, and arguing ¬unreservedly for accountability, transparency, and the preservation of academic freedoms. I have also advocated for, and contributed to, a more pro-active and collaborative role for the Board in long term strategic planning.
Recent developments have, however, taken these responsibilities and challenges to a whole new level. The passage of Bill 20 and its implications for the university’s land use planning, and the re-evaluation of UBC’s current status as a “Government Reporting Entity” represent major milestones in our university’s history.
The presence of a strong and knowledgeable voice that ensures continuity and independence for the faculty’s representation, and one that carries the memory and record of years past is more important than ever. I am therefore seeking the privilege to represent you for a second term.
I will say more in future blogs about the “land use plan” and the “GRE”. For now, let me say why is continuity important. Because it is a fact that the official minutes of Board meetings do not tell the whole picture, as they only reflect a tiny fraction of what really occurs during these multi-faceted discussions. Often, irreversible motions are voted on, and major financial decisions are approved, on the sole basis of a verbal promise and/or a personal commitment to the Board. It is an important part of the accountability process to get an Administrator to sometimes look you in the eye and to explain –for example– why a certain capital project is at the final Board stage 4, yet the remaining funds for its completion –expected since Board stage 1– are still not secured, thus leading the Board towards undesirable funding alternatives.
As far as I am concerned, this is good enough reason to be advocating for a larger number of faculty representatives on the Board, as well as for a suitable staggering of their period of service.