UBC Faculty Association says it has lost confidence in UBC chair John Montalbano
The UBC Faculty Association executive committee has issued the following letter:
17 August 2015
As you may know, last week the UBC Faculty Association presented a request to the Board of Governors asking for more details on the resignation of Professor Gupta as President. We received the Board’s response on August 14.
We are disappointed that the Board’s response provides no new information. In essence, it asks the university community — and the public at large — to take on faith, the fact that the Board has acted responsibly and in the public interest. While the Board should normally have the trust and confidence of the university community, events surrounding the resignation of Professor Gupta make this increasingly difficult.
The resignation of Professor Gupta as President of UBC is not simply a “personnel matter” for the University, as the Board claims. Rather, there is a high expectation of complete transparency and accountability around the resignation of a President of a public institution as significant and vital as UBC.
This expectation has not been met. The absence of an informed explanation since the August 7th resignation has led to ill-informed speculation taking the place of information. In our opinion, this situation makes any non-disclosure provision in Professor Gupta’s exit agreement contrary to the public interest and contrary to the best practices expected of a major public institution.
Furthermore, the handling of Professor Gupta’s resignation and its aftermath have exposed serious weaknesses in the governance of the university, due to the apparent failure to manage significant and perceived high-risk personal conflicts of interest involving Mr. Montalbano, the Chair of the Board. The concerns raised in this regard compound those already expressed about the lack of transparency in the processes surrounding the President’s resignation. In our opinion, these conflicts of interest should not have existed in the first place and must be remedied immediately.
Specifically, the Chair of the Board also sits on a Faculty Advisory Council, and we are advised has been in communication with a Dean over internal operational and academic issues. This arrangement circumvents the formal organizational bicameral structure of the university, which would require that communication between the Board and the university be routed through the President (or acting President). The role of the Board is to set general policy and to manage, administer, and control of the property, revenue, business, and affairs of the University, and not to become involved in academic governance.
The Chair of the Board should not be able to meddle directly in internal academic affairs. Yet, disregard for this organizational structure as well as interference in academic affairs, is precisely what is alleged to have happened this past week in relation to the comments made by a faculty member concerning the President’s resignation by the Chair of Board.
We are also concerned — in reference to the same faculty member — about alleged violations of academic freedom and of the university’s respectful environment statement committed by a number of individuals, including the Chair of the Board of Governors. While these allegations are still under investigation, there are sufficient facts known to lead us to question how well those involved, including the Chair of the Board himself, understand the principle of academic freedom, and whether they understand their obligations under UBC’s public commitment to providing a respectful workplace environment. Each of these principles is a fundamental tenet of a university.
Mr Montalbano's apparent lack of understanding of the principles of academic freedom, and the questionable judgement he is alleged to have exhibited in interfering with internal operations and with university employees, have caused the Faculty Association Executive Committee to lose confidence in Mr. Montalbano as the Chair of the Board of Governors.
Given the conflicts of interest, and the missteps that that have come to light this week, we believe it is even more imperative to have the full story behind the resignation of Professor Gupta as President of UBC. Full disclosure is the only way to restore trust in the governance of the University of British Columbia.
- Mark Mac Lean, President (Mathematics)
- Vinayak Vatsal, Vice President (Mathematics)
- Hugh Neary, Treasurer (Vancouver School of Economics)
- Doris Doudet, Secretary (Neurology)
- Lara Boyd, Member-at-Large (Physical Therapy)
- Thomas Kemple, Member-at-Large (Sociology)
- Deanna Kreisel, Member-at-Large (English)
- Nancy Langton, Member-at-Large (Sauder School of Business)
- Karen Smith, Member-at-Large (Microbiology and Immunology)
- Danny Vickers, Member-at-Large (History)
- Kristina McDavid, Chair, Librarians and Archivists Committee (Library)
- Sarika Bose, Chair, Contract Faculty Committee (English)
- Margaret Wright, Chair, Member Services and Grievance Committee (Social Work)
- Jim Johnson, Chair, Okanagan Faculty Committee (Economics)
Aug 17, 2015 at 3:14pm
the Board has already stated that they legally bound to a confidentiality agreement...they CAN'T speak any more. I don't agree with this fact, I believe in transparency myself...but at this point, I don't see the purpose of insisting when there is nothing the Board can legally do. Often these non-confidentiality agreements are about protecting the client (ie Gupta), rather than the other way around.
Aug 17, 2015 at 4:25pm
The Chair ought to resign given his public statements about University Presidents being "Disposable" or words to that effect.
Then he like a 5 year old calls up the dissenting Profs basically threatens lectures her.
Now the Faculty Association OPENLY stating a NON CONFIDENCE statement!
The Chair ought to do the Honorable thing and Resign or be Fired.
As for the Board don't get me started on them with their entitlements while we the Public put foot their bills and paychecks in Point Grey.
Aug 18, 2015 at 6:44am
As a public institution, all taxpayers in British Columbia have a dog in this fight. We absolutely require transparency regarding process and expenditures. Neither the Chair of the Board of Governors nor any other member of the UBC community can use taxpayer money as a personal ATM to pay for expensive job searches, frivolous power struggles, golden parachutes, etc. It is disruptive, disrespectful and undermines academic freedom.
The Board of Governors could be well reminded that the open discourse among faculty and students, including governance, IS the university. The administration is there to help that to happen. It is a serious breach of ethics when administrators are telling faculty members what they can and can't say.
University of Bolshevick Communists
Aug 18, 2015 at 8:15am
Is it me, or is this the kind of thing you expect out of the students union or a frat? Hell, put them in charge, they can't do any worse.
Aug 18, 2015 at 2:48pm
For a pubic funded institution UBC why is there an entitled Chairman from Canada's largest Banking organization naming Professorships etc after himself?
It is unacceptable for a Public institution to be subject to the whims of a Banker Chairman.
In the private sector if Chairman speaks about a CEO / President the way he did there would probably be lawsuits etc against the Chairman and company.
Than there is the matter of Deficits and the loss of Confidence of the Faculty Association.
In the private sector if your employees don't respect your judgment or leadership you resign or are fired.
Look at the Reddit CEO.
Do you think UBC in a huge Deficit ought to be spending the following or flying only Economy?
Here are the Board Compensation look at the Life of Luxury here...
Mr. Toope - $123,000 on expensive Airfare only one the Publics Dime
Total Compensation 3 years ....
2014/15 = $279,276
2013/14 = $587,366
2012/13 = $582,860
Source UBC :
As a business owner operating in multiple currencies and countries for Software Development i deal with Banks in the EU, US and Canada.
Canada has by far the most expensive Banking Fees by the protected oligopolies.
UBC is no place for drones at UBC or the huge compensation & expenses on the public dime.
Get rid of them and don't give me the excuse of attracting "talent" at the Board what BS.
And by the way I am pulling my accounts from RBC going elsewhere.