Facing allegations that he violated a professor's academic freedom, John Montalbano has resigned at least temporarily as chair of the UBC board of governors.
Vice-chair Alice Laberge has stepped up to become acting chair while an independent investigation looks into the conduct of Montalbano and Sauder School of Business officials.
"Today, the Board of Governors accepted a request from its Chair, John Montalbano, that the Board ask the Vice-Chair, Alice Laberge, to assume the duties of Acting Chair for the duration of the Fact Finding Process agreed to by the University and the Faculty Association. Mr. Montalbano intends to fully participate in the process that will be undertaken by the Honourable Lynn Smith, Q.C. and wants to ensure the integrity of the process is not hindered by his performing the duties of Chair," the board said in a statement issued on Tuesday (August 25).
The statement continued: "Ms. Laberge has agreed to assume the duties of Acting Chair of the Board and respects John’s commitment to participate in the Fact Finding process. Mr. Montalbano continues as a member of the Board.
"The Board of Governors looks forward to welcoming Dr. Martha Piper to her role as Interim President on September 1, and to working with her to support the University’s research and teaching mission as one of the world’s leading universities."
The same day, UBC and the UBC Faculty Association issued a joint statement about the fact-finding process, which will report to those bodies by October 7 and prepare an executive summary for public circulation by October 15.
"After collegial and congenial discussions, today the University of British Columbia, represented by Acting President Angela Redish, and the UBC Faculty Association, represented by President Mark MacLean, have agreed to a process to review the concerns raised by the Faculty Association in their letter of August 18, 2015," the statement said.
The statement continued: "We are pleased that the Honourable Lynn Smith, Q.C has agreed to undertake this fact-finding process, effective September 1, 2015. Lynn Smith will summarize her findings and conclusions in a report that will be available to the public."
The Canadian Association of University Teachers also called for Montalbano to "step aside" as UBC chair while the university investigates allegations that he violated the academic freedom of Jennifer Berdahl, the Montalbano professor of leadership studies in gender and diversity at UBC's Sauder School of Business.
Aaron Bailey, president of the Alma Mater Society, issued a statement on August 21 declining to add the student union's voice to those wanting Montalbano out.
The lingering controversy stems from the unexplained departure of UBC president Arvind Gupta.