CUFA BC Calls on UNBC President to Rescind or Clarify Remarks About Liberals’ Election Promise to Faculty

Created 4 May 2017 15:05

CUFA BC President Jim Johnson sent the following letter to University of Northern British Columbia President Dr. Daniel Weeks regarding an email he sent to UNBC faculty on May 2, 2017. The email included remarks about a BC Liberals’ election promise, and could reasonably be construed as an endorsement of the Liberals’ re-election campaign.

The full text of Dr. Johnson’s letter to President Weeks is as follows:

May 4, 2017

Dear Dr. Weeks,

I am writing to you to express our concern and disappointment at the message you sent to faculty on
May 2.

In your message you outlined your support for a BC Liberal party proposal to increase Science,
Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) graduates at UNBC. As you know, or should know, these
proposals are also supported by both the Green Party of BC and the New Democratic Party of BC. We
were also troubled by your reference to “ongoing conversations with our partners in Advanced

These comments could fairly be interpreted as an endorsement for the re-election of the Liberal
government. I hope you would agree that University presidents should remain strictly nonpartisan
during an election campaign. I would refer you to the following response by UBC, quoted in the
Vancouver Sun on May 3, to a recent substantial campaign announcement regarding its medical school:

Dr. Dermot Kelleher, Dean of the medical school, could not comment on the Liberals’ proposal. Katie
White, a spokeswoman, said: “The institution does not comment on party platforms during the election.”

Your comments also exacerbate our concern that the politicized composition of Boards of Governors
could compromise the independence and integrity of BC’s research universities. Your highly
inappropriate statement to faculty, who in the end are your employees, does a disservice to the
entire UNBC community.

We call upon you to either retract or clarify your remarks.

Yours Sincerely,
James Johnson, President

To download a copy of the letter click here: Letter to UNBC President Weeks