In a letter to the Faculty of Applied Science at UBC, Dean Marc Parlange made some of his views known as to “the complex — and confidential — resignation decision of former President Arvind Gupta,” while throwing his support behind Chancellor Lindsay Gordon and others in the current UBC administration. The Dean seems to be unaware of what the leaks have revealed about the so-called “resignation” and how “confidentiality” had been handled by some in the UBC administration. He seems, however, conscious of the ongoing campus protests, the Faculty Association’s in-depth analysis of the situation, and the AMS principled statement. He wrote, “I have been less impressed, however, with some recent developments elsewhere within the university community regarding this same matter”. What’s remarkable is how dismissive the Dean seems to be of the concerns of the faculty and students, whose associations are calling for transparency and accountability at UBC. Questions are already being raised about the link between the Dean’s statement and the groundswell support for the petition advocating a vote of non-confidence in the Board of Governors. The Dean’s message also coincides with recently published articles inquiring about the role of Deans and mid-level management in the current crisis.
Here are the relevant paragraphs of the Dean’s “State of the Faculty” address.
“It is fundamental to our vision that we partner with our communities both inside and outside the university. As Dean of ApSc I have been impressed by the strong and open connections that exist both within the senior administration and amongst the other Faculty Deans. I am so pleased that President Martha Piper has stepped up to lead UBC in a positive and forward-looking manner and impressed by the manner in which Provost Angela Redish and the Vice-Presidents continue to go to bat for us to ensure an unparalleled research and learning environment. In the same way, I have found interactions with the entire Board of Governors and the university Chancellor, Lindsey Gordon, to be entirely supportive, professional and exemplary. It is clear to me that those at UBC’s helm are capable and conscientious, and that they have the university’s best interests at heart. They have my full support.
He then weighs in on the developments in his Faculty and “elsewhere within the university community”.
One of our core Applied Science values is that we engage both within the university and outside with respect and scholarly generosity within an open and inclusive culture. We are committed to providing a safe and respectful environment for difficult conversations about issues relating to our disciplines. I have found these core values reflected by colleagues in the upper administration and my fellow Deans, particularly with regards to the complex — and confidential — resignation decision of former President Arvind Gupta. I have been less impressed, however, with some recent developments elsewhere within the university community regarding this same matter.”
The Dean ends his message, however, by reassuring those faculty, who are expressing their concerns.
“We are a university that can handle a diversity of opinions and viewpoints. And we’re a university that can work together in a constructive and respectful manner to forge a positive path forward.”
“The faculty association is a union, and our engagement with the faculty association is really around terms and conditions of employment,” Mr. Steenkamp said. “So we are trying to work our way on how we engage with the faculty association on the governance issue.”
So there you have it: _Mr._ Steenkamp is telling your faculty that its formal collective organization (the Association) should really just sit down and think about ‘terms and conditions of employment’. In other words, leave the running of the university to your betters. Academic credentials-shmedentials, and collegial-pollegial governance. One can almost hear ‘argle-bargle’ in the distance.
It is shocking to many of your academic colleagues around the world that the professoriate at UBC would tolerate an administration which displays such utter contempt for the primacy of the academic mission.
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