The relevance of this blog is being tested earlier than we thought. Are you all wondering why the results of the elections for the 2 faculty representatives on the UBC Board of Governors haven’t been announced, even 3 weeks after their conclusion?
Well, it is because UBC’s governance is being challenged big time. I am somehow in the middle of this mess and your help is urgently needed. So, please tell us –sooner and not later– what you think, and what you know about related legal matters and precedents, whether at UBC or elsewhere.
What’s the problem? Well, the candidate who received the second highest number of votes in that election, is a Senior Associate Dean! In a widely distributed letter to the UBC faculty, the President of the Faculty Association explains the situation. I will be returning to this subject in future posts.
Message from the President
7 January 2011
RE: Faculty Representation on Board of Governors
An unprecedented situation has arisen recently regarding membership on the Board of Governors that has caused me, as President of the Faculty Association, to send a letter to the Chair of the Board of Governors earlier this week, alerting him to a potential problem arising from the recent elections.
The Board of Governors of UBC comprises 21 members: The President, the Chancellor, 11 appointed members, 3 elected students, and 5 elected employees of the University, of whom 3 are to be faculty members and 2 are to be employees other than faculty members. It has always been the position of the Faculty Association that the 3 elected employees representing faculty members must be persons who are employed as faculty members, not as management. For that reason our position has always been that the Vice-presidents, the Deans, and other people in management positions are ineligible to be elected to any of the three “faculty member” positions on the Board.
Previously this stance, that Vice-presidents, Deans, and other people in management positions are ineligible to be elected in any of the three faculty member positions on the Board, has not been an issue between the Association and the University. We have no reason to believe that the University takes a position contrary to this. However an unfortunate confluence of events has created a potential problem. At the time the nominations and election for the faculty member representatives on the Board took place, Associate Deans were faculty members who were entitled to run for, and be elected to, the Board. However, just shortly after the election, the Board of Governors ratified the recently negotiated Collective Agreement in which the parties agreed that Associate Deans are, like Vice-presidents and Deans, not employed as faculty members but instead are managers. As it happens, one of the persons just elected to a faculty member position on the Board is an Associate Dean, and thus no longer employed as a faculty member under the Collective Agreement. This has created the problem about which I have alerted the Board Chair.
A little context on this issue might be helpful. At the bargaining table UBC took the position that Associate Deans are managers (that is, that their principal employment responsibilities were management responsibilities), and thus that the Associate Dean position should not be subject to membership in the Faculty Association. After consulting our legal counsel, reviewing relevant statutes, and considering the situation at other universities, the Association came to the conclusion that the University was right. Associate Deans are managers as defined by BC law. Further, by law, managers are not employees and cannot be members of the bargaining unit. Therefore if Associate Deans are truly managers, as UBC asserts and as we ultimately accepted, they must be excluded from the bargaining unit by law. That is also why Deans, though they may teach and/or do research, have never been a part of the bargaining unit.
We believe that the intent of the University Act is to provide for five elected employees on the Board, three of whom are to be employed as faculty members and none of whom may be managers. The Faculty Association is responsible to make sure that the faculty representatives on the Board of Governors represent the voice of the faculty, not the voice of the administration (i.e., management). Thus the Association position has to be that the faculty representatives on BOG must be employed as faculty members, not as management. As President, it is my job to champion our members’ voices, and make sure that the university administration listens to our members.
It has been a longstanding precedent at UBC that Deans and Vice Presidents do not serve on BOG, recognizing that they hold management positions, and the letter simply reminds the Chair of the Board of Governors that this precedent must be upheld in the face of Associate Deans being removed from the bargaining unit. As president of the Faculty Association it is my responsibility to make sure that we do not allow a precedent (of permitting Associate Deans to serve on BOG as faculty representatives) that could lead to a dilution or even negation of one of the few aspects of the university governance where faculty have oversight rights and responsibilities.
I will continue to make sure that the voices of faculty members are heard at UBC in all areas of governance. Please feel free to contact me to discuss these issues further.
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!
Nancy Langton, Ph.D.
President, UBC Faculty Association
112, 1924 West Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
ph 604 822-2651