Friday, April 13, 2018

Time for New Faces on the #UBCBoG

With the departure of several current members of the UBC Board of Governors either announced of imminent the time is right for a community wide discussion of what kinds of governors do we want shaping the future of BC's Flagship University.  Currently, outside of the elected reps, most governors come from either a legal or corporate background of one sort or another. But there are many other critical sectors of society that can offer expertise and considered advice. Over the past 16 years those voices have been excluded.

The board often has had a corporate human relations type person.  Why not a person from the trade union movement.  In the past we have seen major union leaders appointed to the board - they too are important leaders in society. I hesitate to suggest actual people, but imagine if the current BCFed President, Irene Lanzinger was appointed tot he Board! What an amazing person she is. The former BCTF President as a long history of involvement with public education leadership and has wide connections through out BC.  Organized Labour is a critical voce that needs to be heard.  Especially given the range of decisions UBC's Board is engaging.  To make these decisions without the expertise, experience, and sensibilities of Labour is crying shame.  

Another sector absent from the boards current composition is a person from a civil society organization. Perhaps from an environmental non-governmental organization or an agency.   Given the perspectives of many British Colombians about sustainable economic development it seems problematic that we do not have someone who can speak knowledgeably at the Board level on issues of ecology.  We especially need the knowledge and expertise of those who work in the environmental domain but do not have their roots in figuring out how to make money from it.  One of the recent appointees to the board, Joel Solomon, represents the clean capitalist (his words) approach to the environment.  We need a complementary voice that is not tied to business. What better place than from an ENGO like the David Suzuki Foundation, for instance.

Another important sector would be from First Nations leadership in British Columbia. There are Indigenous members of the board.  We are here for our areas of professional expertise, not necessarily for the fact of our Indigeneity (though, in my case I was elected by my peers as a faculty member).  Reaching out to First Nations leadership and asking for a prominent leader to participate is one important way of recognizing and affirming UBC's commitment to reconciliation and implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions call to action.  UBC constantly issues land acknowledgements before official meetings stating that we are standing on unceded traditional First Nations territory. It's time to put meaning behind those words by brining onboard leadership from the First Nations community. Rather than acknowledging, Musqueam and the  Okanagan Nation Alliance, for example, invite the Chief Councilor of Musqueam or the ONA Chair to participate in governing UBC.

These three leadership areas of society have been excluded from UBC's Board of Governors over the past 16 years. Isn't it time for new faces?  Let's put some action behind the words. Let's bring onboard people who in fact represent more than a narrow slice of the elite.

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