By Peter Wylie, Associate Professor, Economics, Philosophy and Political Science Unit, I.K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus
I believe that over the last 12 months or so the BoG has failed to meet the standard of the University Act that it act in the best interests of the University. I believe that in forcing the resignation of a new president just 1 year into a 5 year term the BoG has acted contrary to the best interests of the University. I am not sure in whose interests the Board has acted: The UBC Properties Trust? The senior administrators and deans? The corporate donors? Certainly not the University, its staff, students and faculty, whose interest was served in having a legitimate president.
What I see from the inadvertently leaked documents is a palace revolt, a coup d’état, a Star Chamber character assassination of a legitimate president without due process; akin to something that would occur in the worst caricature of a banana republic rather than a respected public university. A coup that is costing the University (i.e. the BC taxpayers) millions of dollars in contract payouts, acting salaries, repeated search costs, and massively more in non-financial terms in destabilization, destruction of trust, lost reputation and lost legitimacy in multicultural and multiracial BC and its flagship university (the current BoG and senior administration has returned to its post-colonial white supremacy). I see UBC as a currently failed and illegitimate institution, one that I am currently embarrassed to be associated with and will continue to be embarrassed to be associated with as long as it continues to admit no meaningful recognition of the abject failure of its BoG in the past year and takes no meaningful action to clean itself up.
I also have no confidence in the current presidential search since it is chaired by a chancellor intimately involved in the coup and attempted cover-up. We have two of the co-principals in the coup down, Montalbano and Peet, one to go, Gordon. Normally as Meatloaf sang, two out of three ain’t bad, but all three need to go to give at least a semblance of legitimacy to the repeated search process. A vote of no confidence in the BoG should, I hope, help this along as a necessary next step in what is unfortunately shaping up to be a long, torturous and painful process for all associated with UBC.
So for these reasons and until there is a finding-of-fact in a legitimate external review of the BoG actions in the matter of the forced resignation of the former president, and until Lindsay Gordon resigns from the search committee (and perhaps also the BoG and as Chancellor, not sure about that) I have no confidence in this institution or its BoG. I will also have no confidence in its selection for the next president as long the only assurance that he or she (and indeed the University) will have that a secret cabal of the BoG will not again begin to sabotage the term within a few months of it beginning will be that: “No we would not allow such a thing; that would be not nice.”
I have no personal or vested interest or association with any of the people involved (Gupta, Gordon, etc.). My disinterested concern is about process, not people. I am not a member of the UBC Vancouver math department or a FOG (Friend of Gupta). My main issue that it is embarrassing for me to be associated with an institution that has allowed its BoG to act in this way, and would prefer not to have to work under this cloud of distrust for my remaining few years of my career. I would like the University to properly address these critical issues forthwith and until it does it will be unable to rebuild my trust in it or enthusiasm for it. For these reasons I am voting No Confidence in the Board of Governors, to send this institution a clear message of my current dissatisfaction with it.