The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia (CUFA BC) represents over 5,500 professors, lecturers, instructors, professional librarians and other academic staff at British Columbia's five research universities. Our goal is a system of publicly-funded post-secondary education that is of high-quality and broadly accessible. We believe that anyone who can benefit from post-secondary education should be able to try and attain that education regardless of their economic or social circumstance.
(Vancouver – October 15, 2015) The Confederation of University Faculty Association of British Columbia (CUFA BC) calls on the University of British Columbia and the Ministry of Advanced Education to respond to today's report from the Honourable Lynn Smith Q.C.
The report details numerous failures by the University of British Columbia to protect the academic freedom of Jennifer Berdahl, Professor of Leadership Studies in Gender and Diversity at the Sauder School of Business. Smith found that several senior leaders at UBC interfered with Berdhal's academic freedom and that the University of British Columbia did not live up to its "obligation to protect academic freedom.”
“The report outlines a systemic failure to prioritize the academic freedom of Dr. Berdahl and uphold the values of free and unfettered academic inquiry. The University must commit to ensuring that this never happens again " said Michael Conlon, Executive Director of CUFA BC.
Today's report by Smith lays out the chronology of events and concludes that Montalbano's actions in the case were "unprecedented and unwise." Smith was retained by agreement of UBC and the Faculty Association to investigate claims that academic freedom was breached by UBC Board Chair John Montablano when he called Dr. Berdahl to complain about her blog posting discussing the abrupt departure of former UBC President Arvind Gupta.
Montalbano, who funded the very position of Professor of Leadership Studies in Gender and Diversity at the Sauder School of Business held by Berdahl, has resigned his position on the UBC Board in the wake of the report.
"It is appropriate that Montalbano has resigned from the UBC Board but today's report also points to a larger failure of governance at our institutions and calls for an examination of Board structures to ensure they reflect and serve the communities they represent" said Conlon.
British Columbia, unlike most other provinces, has a majority of political appointees to the Board of Governors of its institutions. In its recent submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance, CUFA BC notes that the province now contributes less than 50% of the funding for our member institutions and should reform the current Board appointment structure to reflect that reality.
"The Government of British Columbia needs to use this regrettable episode as a wakeup call to start a meaningful dialogue with CUFA BC and our member institutions on the issue of Board governance and the autonomy of BC's research universities" concluded Conlon.
Minister of Advanced Education Andrew Wilkinson has rebuffed invitations for a meeting with both the UBC Faculty Association and CUFA BC.
For further information contact: Michael Conlon, Executive Director, 604-646-4677 (o), 778-994-2616 (c). The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia represents over 5,400 professors, lecturers, instructors, and librarians at the five research intensive universities in British Columbia.
CUFA BC outlines value of investment in research universities to BC Legislature.
Each fall the BC Legislature's Select Standing Committee on Finance invites submissions from the public on the budget priorities for the following year. CUFA BC President Doug Baer, and Executive Director Michael Conlon presented to the Committee on September 21, 2015. They impressed upon the committee the value of quality, public education not only to individuals, but to society and the economy as a whole. In particular, Drs. Baer and Conlon discussed the challenges faced by research universities due to the steady decline in provincial funding. Drs. Baer and Conlon provided the Committee with research on the economic return of university graduates, particularly those with graduate degrees. CUFA BC also called for the creation of a Graduate Scholarship program similar to other provincial programs.
CUFA BC's Distinguished Academic Award Adjudication Committee is pleased to announce the winners of this year's awards:
Early in Career Award: Dr. Chris Darimont, University of Victoria.
Dr. Darimont is an interdisciplinary conservation scientist who applies natural and social science tools to confront conservation problems that are both conceptually interesting and acutely applied. Although Dr. Dairmont and his fledgling lab group have broad scholarly interests, they maintain three primary research domains: i) landscape ecology at the marine-terrestrial interface, ii) conservation biology of harvest management, and iii) conservation ethics. The wildlife and people of the central coast of British Columbia – an area popularly known as the Great Bear Rainforest – comprise a study system of particular interest. While this geographic focus invokes a strong sense of place, the research is designed to have a global reach.
The Early in Career Award is sponsored by Scotiabank.
Ehor Boyanowsky Academic of the Year Award: Dr. Bruce Lanphear, Simon Fraser University.
Paz Buttedahl Career Achievement Award: Dr. Antonia Mills, University of Northern British Columbia.