Being singled out by the Ubyssey as one of “The people who mattered at UBC in 2012-13” brought much honour and satisfaction, but also introspection. For someone who fusses regularly about whether his latest actions mattered, the mention by the venerable students’ newspaper was more than significant. First, you think of the people who helped you “matter,” but then you remember those who go out of their way to prevent you from “mattering.”
Many people mattered when I was “pushing through UBC’s housing action plan, an attempt to address the problem of attracting world-class faculty to one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets.” Stephen Toope mattered enormously and helped me matter.
Yes, I have “picked fights with NSERC, the federal agency in charge of research grants, for cutting money to graduate research programs.” But here again, those who really mattered are the courageous, principled and honorable colleagues (Greg Martin, Don Fraser, Jim Colliander, Walter Craig, Karel Casteels, Octav Cornea and many others) behind this, this, this and this.
The students’ newspaper also mentioned that I have been “an outspoken voice for democratizing university governance, since UBC’s Board of Governors is largely appointed by the province, not elected.” The fight on that front is unfortunately far from being won, as there is no shortage of people trying to prevent you from “mattering.”
The struggle to secure a more inclusive, more transparent and more democratic governance structure for the Board of Governors (BoG), for the UBC Properties Trust (UBCPT), and for UBC Investment Management Trust (IMANT) must continue.
The status of the elected members of the Board of Governors needs to be revised upwards. The lack of faculty representation on the Boards of UBCPT, and of IMANT is a relic of times past and needs to be rectified. These issues matter enormously for the future of a university, whose estate -literally- is in full development.
The upcoming search for a UBC president is hugely important to all these issues. It is therefore imperative that the members of the faculty make themselves matter in this important selection.