By Vinayak Vatsal, Professor of Mathematics, UBC
Much has been made at UBC on the subject of governance, sparked by such diverse issues as the sudden resignation of Arvind Gupta, the violation of academic freedom that occurred in the aftermath of the resignation, the university’s non-response to complaints of sexual assault, and the handling of a petition to ask for divestment from fossil fuels.
Most of the discussion has been focussed narrowly on the Board of Governors and senior administrators, since it is within their ambit that this series of unfortunate events lies. A vote of non-confidence in the Board was held, and more than 800 faculty members voted to censure the Board for its perceived failures.
But largely forgotten in the discussion are the facts that UBC is a bicameral institution, and that the UBC Senate is is endowed by the University Act with expansive powers to manage the academic affairs of the institution. In principle at least, the…
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I apologize for a comment which is not directly relevant to this post, but have you seen this news from England, specifically the Mathematics Department at the University of Leicester?
It should be noted that even if one felt the cuts are necessary, the method by which this is to be done (forcing people to re-apply for their jobs, in a ghoulish version of Musical Chairs) seems at best counter-productive, at worst inhumane.
It’s a matter of time before Canadian Universities are similarly impacted — first they will come after the fine arts, then they will come after the pure sciences……analogy.
The UK has been turning to foreign students as a valued source of funding more predominantly starting in the eighties — this has not plugged the funding gap. Pattern followed by US and Canadian Universities some decade and a half later.
Same funding cuts can be seen occurring in the US – with the private liberal colleges burning through their endowments — and overall rise in adjunct faculty.
Perhaps Universities were placed too high on pedestals — without a close loop feedback on what the community can actually support longer term — ultimately there will be changes for living beyond our means.
Alberta is chomping at the bits to trim feathers on it’s public Universities — a prolong real-estate crash in BC, if it occurs, may do the same here.