Sunday, August 23, 2015

After Gupta Resigns BoG Chair Tells Prof to Cool It: Resign Mr Montalbano.

One would  have thought that the Gupta Resignation Story (GRS) would die a quiet death over the late summer vacation season.  But no, the story keeps getting more like a Lewis Carol story with each passing Friday afternoon.

Here's a recap: late one August Friday afternoon (Aug. 7) the Chair of the UBC Board of Governors and the University Chancellor send out a joint broadcast announcement under the heading: Leadership Transition.  We are told, in a set of sentence so short and spare that Papa Hemingway himself could have written them, that Gupta had resigned and Martha Piper was being drafted out of retirement to steer the UBC ship for the next year.  GRS MRK I.

Over the weekend a few faculty and student souls pen a handful of speculative words on the matter. The well known Prof Goussoub, the Sauder School of Business star Jennifer Berdahl, the UBC Insiders, a former Ubyssey hack (affectionately used), and Ed faculty member Wayne Ross, all offered their thoughts.  I even managed to have an opinion as well.

The following Monday the president of UBC's faculty association pens a very polite and quiet letter.

The GRS seemed to stall out here.  But then, again on a Friday afternoon the Chair of the BoG writes a letter to the faculty association that can be politely summed up as saying: don't worry, be happy. Meanwhile, the Chair of the Board (apparently without having to convene a special meeting of the Board, which is what he advised the UBCFA would be required to respond to the FA's letter) had called Professor Berdahl directly to complain about her blog post and simultaneously tell her that he had spoken with her Dean.

Those outside of the academic world might not get the severity of a high placed administrative figure telling a faculty member that they have spoken with one's dean.  Given the relative power dynamics there is no way to understand that communication except as a veiled threat (at best).

The GRS MRK II has now begun.

From a perplexing story about a sudden resignation we now have what looks like a botched attempt to silence a senior star faculty member.  The story is no longer simply a resignation.  This is a full fledged attempt by a government appointee to try to minimize faculty academic freedom, to silence dissent, and to do so using some of the most hamfisted old fashion macho techniques imaginable.

If there was any doubt before, that doubt has evapourated.  Mr. Montalbano you must resign and appologize for infringing upon the academic freedom of UBC Faculty.

No comments: