Saturday, April 10, 2021

President's Advisory Committee for hiring a new Dean of Arts, UBC-V: election.

Update, April 20, 2021. The election is over and I was not among the four elected. Thank you to those who did vote me for, I appreciate your trust!


Seventeen faculty members have put their names forward to be elected to one of four spots on the hiring advisory committee.  I am one of those seventeen.

This is my official statement as submitted to the UBC elections folk:

Charles Menzies (hagwil hayetsk) is a professor in the department of Anthropology. As a researcher his work focusses upon Indigenous/non-Indigenous relations in laxyuup Gitxaała (north coast British Columbia) and North America ( ). Charles has also served as a member of the UBC Faculty Association Executive, the UBC Board of Governors, and is currently an elected member of the UBC-V Senate (

Short and to the point.

I thought about what one might say in such a statement. There are many possibilities. 

One could focus on all of the administrative positions one has held (or currently holds). I am not an administrator.

One could focus on all the academic accomplishments in one's career. That doesn't strike me as relevant to representing colleagues in the selection of a new Dean.

One could highlight the values that I hold and would apply to the selection of a new Dean. That seems more apt, but not what I did.

Instead I presented three things. My name and role at UBC. A summary statement of my research. A listing of my public, elected service roles at UBC.

I stand on a record of community-based service. I might also have mentioned my role as an elected resident director of the UNA for four years.  From my time as a member of the UBC faculty association executive to being an elected governor on UBC's board my pressing interest has been in transparency and open democratic processes.  On the faculty association I was part of the change that resulted in all committee chairs being elected, not appointed. At the UNA I pushed for the end of appointed voting directors. I ended up on board of governors after having been part of the UBC Clean movement that called for open meetings and democratic procedures. Grassroots, democratic, and participatory are values I am proud to uphold.

While I was an elected member of the board of governors I was involved in hiring processes for several senior administrators now working for UBC. It was an illuminating experience to observe the ways in which corporate head hunting firms structure the fields of choice.  In those discussions it was important to have the diverse student and faculty voices that often stood apart from the more corporate directions of administrators. Selecting a Dean will require a diversity of people at the table. As an Indigenous British Columbia (Gitxaała Nation) and a social justice activist I bring a particular perspective that is unique among my fellow candidates. 

Right now the University Administration is trying to get approval through Senate and the Board of a revised hiring process for Deans that would encode a process that is more focused on obscuring, than it is on opening. There is an important place for confidentiality in hiring processes. Deans, though, are public academic leaders who will serve a large constituency. It is more important that the process of hiring them is open, transparent, and democratic then it is secretive and out of sight.

As a member of the hiring committee I would be a voice for all of us who desire more openness in UBC policies and practices, a person who will place social justice at the center of the process, a colleague who understands that those of us from the grassroots have an important voice that needs to be heard among the administrators who inevitably will populate this committee.

I trust that you can count me as one among your four choices.

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