The Honourable Lynn Smith, Q. C., completed her fact-finding process last week and presented the parties with her report. We thank Professor Smith for her fair and impartial process and for producing a high quality, nuanced report, a public summary of which is attached here. Summary-of-Process-and-Conclusions-Final
The key finding of the Smith Report is that the University of British Columbia failed in its duty to support and protect Dr. Berdahl’s academic freedom and that it interfered with her academic freedom. The finding thus has two clear implications. First, the University itself actively impinged Dr. Berdahl’s academic freedom by the cumulative effects of various University actors’ behaviour. And, secondly, because the duty is a positive one, requiring affirmative and proactive support for academic freedom in situations such as Dr. Berdahl’s, the University’s silence in relation to the attack by others on Dr. Berdahl’s academic freedom was an additional failure.
More specifically, the conclusions to be drawn from the Report are as follows. The Report finds that the University acted without regard for the well-being and interests of Dr. Berdahl. Following her online posting of a blog, Dr. Berdahl became the target of attacks by email, by social media, and in columns appearing in the national press. At no time did any university official speak out in defense of her right to academic freedom or issue any other statement of support for her or scholarship. The Smith Report, consequently, concludes that, as a result of the combined acts and omissions of Mr. Montalbano and others, Dr. Berdahl “reasonably felt reprimanded, silenced and isolated.” The events initiated by the University following the publication of Dr. Berdahl’s blog post have had, the Report continues, a “significant negative impact” on Dr. Berdahl.
The main agents involved in the University’s response to the blog post were the Chair of the Board of Governors, Mr. John Montalbano, the Chancellor of the University, Mr. Lindsay Gordon, the Sauder Dean’s Office, as well as UBC staff and others advising the Board on how to handle the aftermath of President Gupta’s resignation. Senior academic leaders were conspicuously absent and silent.
While Dr. Berdahl received support from international scholars and experts in her field, and from faculty throughout UBC and other universities, we are troubled that neither the Administration nor the Board spoke fully and publicly in defense of Dr. Berdahl’s academic freedom. The silence with respect to Dr. Berdahl on this issue from these two central sites of university leadership is extraordinary. Senior administrators and board members bear responsibility for this failure.
These mistakes and missteps in the case of Dr. Berdahl have occurred under Mr. Montalbano’s leadership, often as a result of his direct personal involvement.
We await the responses from the Administration and the Board of Governors.
Mark Mac Lean, President
- 590,032 hits
- Canada’s 2021 budget and science | FrogHeart on Shiny, happy, oblivious science
- Richard Froese on It takes more than talent and hard work to win academic awards
- RR on NSERC has lost its bearings … again
- Walid on NSERC has lost its bearings … again
- NSERC has lost its bearings … again | Piece of Mind on NSERC has lost its bearings, but who is responsible?
- UBC: The ill-fated revolt of those who ought to know better
- Shiny, happy, oblivious science
- NSERC has lost its bearings … again
- The Learning & Research of the UBC Board of Governors (II)
- The Learning & Research committee of the UBC Board: What a difference a year makes (I)
- UBC: Failures in governance are slowing down the pace of academic renewal
- A research community at the mercy of a leaderless NSERC
- A busy first four months on the UBC Board of Governors
- Academic publishing in the time of sanctions and boycotts
- Maurice Sion: 1927 – 2018
- Robert M. Miura: 1938 – 2018
- When the Walls of Governance Come Crumbling Down
- Why I am voting against the tuition increases for domestic students
- Resignation of the director of the Wall Institute: The reaction
- Why I am resigning from the directorship of the Wall institute
- Accountability and Governance at UBC: Budget
- NSERC corrects a mistake, but many remain unaddressed
- Is the BIRS programme multiple disciplinary enough for NSERC?
- Calling on #UBC to step up and support our alumni Loujain Al-Hathloul (Arts, 2014)
- Reboot NSERC by engaging and empowering the researchers it serves
Follow me on TwitterMy Tweets