Open Letter to the Elected Members of the UBC Board of Governors

“The Board of Governors shall promote a culture of integrity at the University through its own actions, its interaction with senior executives and external parties, and through selection and review of the President.”—UBC Board of Governors Code of Conduct and Ethics

Dear Elected Board Members:

Thank you for taking the time to speak to the UBC community about your votes in favour of accepting the resignation of President Arvind Gupta and your continuing belief, despite subsequent turmoil, that these votes served the best interests of UBC.  I have a few further questions:

In light of the fact that there were some meetings of an unspecified committee of BoG members in the process leading to Gupta’s resignation and that at least some of you were either not aware of these meetings or have now a sense of their impropriety, do you now believe that your judgment as to what was in UBC’s best interests at the time was unreliable, due to your failure to understand or to participate fully in the process that led to that resignation?

In light of the fact that Gupta was prevented by the then Chair from speaking to the BoG, do you now believe that the information you had upon which to base your judgment was biased, fragmentary, and unreliable?

Did you know that Gupta did not have his contractually-required annual performance review?  If you believed he did have that review, did you ask to see the report?  In your view at the time or now, was this violation of the President’s contract in the best interests of the University?

Much has been made of the fact that some details of the resignation fall under the BC Privacy Act.  All actions of the UBC BoG, however, fall under the BC University Act.  This Act enjoins each of you to act in the best interests of the University.  Is it impossible to explain without violating confidentiality the general reasons why the BoG accepted Gupta’s resignation?  If faculty and students do not know the reasons why you accepted the resignation and if we do not know why new information about the processes that led to it fails to alter your judgment regarding that resignation, how can we know if you were acting then or are now acting in accordance with the law? 

Similarly, all BoG activities are guided by the UBC Board of Governors Conduct of Conduct and Ethics.  This Code enjoins you to be a “guardian of the University’s values” and “to direct the Administration to ensure that the University operates at all times … to the highest ethical and moral standards.”  In your opinion, did you yourselves or the BoG as a whole act in the matter of Gupta’s Presidency and resignation as a guardian of the University’s values or to the highest moral and ethical standards?  Did you, as you are further enjoined to do, “promote a culture of integrity” in your actions in this matter?  Have your actions subsequent to the resignation—your support of Montalbano while he was being investigated for alleged violations of academic freedom, your failure publicly to call for more transparency in governance in the wake of highly visible faculty and student protest and action—promoted a culture of integrity or exhibited the highest moral standards?

If UBC faculty and students (or the residents of BC) cannot know if you have acted and are acting in good faith in accordance with the law and with the BoG’s Code of Conduct and Ethics, why do you expect us now to have confidence in your judgment or in the judgment of the BoG as a whole?  How can we support your choice of the next President of UBC?

In the absence of answers to questions like these I, as a member of the UBC academic community and as a resident of BC, cannot support the continuation of the current Presidential search.


Alan Richardson

Professor, Department of Philosophy, UBC