Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Deans' Gupta Letter and my reply to Dean of Arts

Dear Prof Averill,

It is a disappointment to receive this letter from the Deans of UBC that ignores the clear record of subterfuge practiced by the highest levels of governance at UBC.  It is evident to many of us that great effort appears to have been made to keep regular faculty and the general public in the dark regarding the secret ad hoc processes and back door channels used to depose former President Gupta.

I  know that I am not alone in expressing a lack of confidence in the highest levels of UBC’s administration.  It would appear that our lack of confidence may well need to extend to the academic leadership as well.

The “op-ed” ignores what now appears to be a culture of secrecy, a persistent pattern of subterfuge, and the perception of tainted governance processes.

With regret I find my self disappointed in  the Deans’ apparent lack academic leadership.


Charles R. Menzies, PhD
Director of the Ethnographic Film Unit at UBC
Chair: Anth Undergrad Studies Committee 
Co-Editor, Collaborative Anthropologies (U. Nebraska Press)
Department of Anthropology, UBC
6303 NW Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1


Twitter @charlesmenzies

From: anth-sesfacstaf <ANTH-SESFACSTAF@LISTS.UBC.CA> on behalf of Anthropology Head's Office <Anth.Head@UBC.CA>
Reply-To: Anthropology Head's Office <Anth.Head@UBC.CA>
Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 8:09 PM
Subject: FW: for distribution - OpEd letter from the Deans...

From: Tom-Wing, Margaret
Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 7:49 PM
To: Tom-Wing, Margaret
Subject: for distribution - OpEd letter from the Deans...

Feb 10/16   
To Arts Heads' Assistants & Administrators, AUS President, and Dean's Office (w/fyi copy to HD group):  
I write on behalf of Dean Gage Averill.  Please distribute the following message and attachment to faculty, staff, and student leaders in your units. Dean Averill has shared this with the Heads/Directors group. With thanks, - Margaret  

Begin forwarded message:

Feb 10, 2016 

Dear friends: 

A letter from UBC deans, including me, has been submitted to the Vancouver Sun for Thursday's edition as an op-ed.  I wanted you to see it first.  The op-ed piece clears up one issue of fact in recent media coverage of UBC, speaks to the importance of the search for a new President and Vice-Chancellor, supports UBC debate on issues of governance, and stresses our support for the work of the Chancellor, President Pro-Tem and Provost Pro-Tem. 

With all best wishes,


Gage Averill
Dean | Faculty of Arts | The University of British Columbia
Buchanan A240–1866 Main Mall | Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
t: 604.822.3751 | f: 604.822.6096

1 comment:

  1. The Dean's Reply (8:50pm)
    Hi Charles:

    Thanks for your note. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m no fan of secrecy (or of subterfuge!!). You’ll note that the letter doesn’t support all governance decisions or processes (or all administrative decisions and actions) and speaks of the importance of asking questions about governance. Personally, I think that Martha and Anji have done a terrific job under difficult circumstances, and the letter notes that they have the support of their deans, but I expect many dissenting views—that’s the nature of our community. The letter does correct one persistent but completely untrue rumour, but otherwise looks ahead to the a presidential appointment process and a healthy examination at governance at UBC.

    I hope you know that I deeply support the right of all of our faculty to criticize and organize, and I think the deans' letter is supportive of free exchange of ideas and debate. I noted that the FA raised the issue today that they believe a dean (or deans) has tried to suppress discussion of the petition. I would agree with them that it is incumbent on us all, i.e. the entire university community, to support the right to free speech and activity.

    UBC should be a place for difficult discussions… discussions on issues that roil the community: divestment, sexual violence, response to the anti-gay flag burning this weekend, animal testing… things that universities often try to sweep aside, and this includes how well we achieve our high expectations for transparency, inclusion, democratic participation and good governance.

    In any case, thanks for caring.

    All best wishes,