Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Student Governors call out lack of #UBCBoG Transparency

UBC-V student governors took to twitter November 30th to call out #UBCBoG's lack of transparency.  December 5th's full meeting of the board has a mere one hour of public discussion. 

Over the past three years the current board has winnowed down public meetings from a day and a half to one hour. They have shifted much of the decision making into committees of the board, which are restricted to small subsets of the full board and few of those decisions make it on the floor of the whole board for discussion. 

Link to full thread.

Link to full thread.

Not since the Board forced a university president to resign has it hid behind closed door in camera meetings so extensively. That moment resulted in a faculty vote of non-confidence in the Board of Governors. The closed door actions of the board motivated me to run for election to the board in 2016. Over the 2017-2020 term the board had it's own little Prague Spring and more issues ended up in open meetings, more discussion was held, and the administration faced closer scrutiny for its decisions. But it didn't last.

Under the technocratic guises of efficiency the current board leadership has essentially removed the possibility of public scrutiny from the boards' own actions and, consequently, from the actions of the university administration. But it goes beyond that. They have also used an expansive definition of conflict of interest to exclude faculty and student governors from key committees and important decisions

UBC is a public institution. As such it has obligations to the people of British Columbia that differ from typical Non-government organizations or private corporations. An environmental or civil society NGO is only beholden to its board and funders. A private corporation to its shareholders. But a public university has an obligation far more profound, it needs to be responsible to the entire province. It is not sufficient that unelected government appointees are informed. That is not sufficient to carry out the duty to the people of BC. 

UBC's Board of Governors needs to take UBC's own publicity materials to heart, be bold, be innovative, be open.

Read UBC's guide on writing boldly at this link.

Our Board of Governors needs to reestablish open, transparent, and democratic practice that serve the best interests of the university. That is not achieved by locking themselves behind closed doors. Governors are there becuase it is presumed they have something important to say. That they bring a particular expertise, knowledge. or life experience to the table. To sit quietly behind closed doors seems unbefitting of a research university that is supposed to lead boldly.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Campaign: week one

I extend my thanks to those colleagues who have already voted, and to those who let me know they were supporting me. I always feel honoured to be trusted by colleagues who offer me support. I also appreciate those colleagues who may disagree with me, may not wish to support me, and find the way to share positively our differences. What makes a university work is our ability to ensure and maintain support for a diversity of perspectives in the engagement of research and teaching.

Voting remains open until December 8th at 4pm. 

Here are the instructions to vote:

To Vote  

  1. Go to:
  2. Click “CWL login” on the right hand side to login with your CWL credentials
  3. Click “Vote” next to the “UBC Vancouver Faculty Representative - Board of Governors (2022-2023 Triennial Elections)”
  4. Vote for your preferred candidates (up to 2) by clicking on the box next to the candidate’s name
  5. Click on “Submit Vote” then click “ok” to confirm your submission before logging out

Polls will be open via WebVote from the morning of Thursday 24 November 2022 until 4 pm on Thursday 8 December 2022.


I have enjoyed the chance to talk with colleagues over this past week about issues that are important to us and to our university. Two related issues have come up:  housing and campus growth. The current Campus Vision 2050 also shines a spot light on these questions.

I am a proponent of restricting campus development in ways that focus solely on the university's academic mission. That means orienting housing developments in the residential areas in ways that allow those faculty (and staff & students) who want to live on campus to be able to do so.  The university has restricted its faculty housing to rental or leasehold, but there are many other housing options that could be included in the mix (co-housing, coops, shared equity, etc). I have been a campus resident since being hired at UBC. My family and I know only too well the difficulties of Vancouver housing.  Our family of four spent our first several years in an 800 sq ft apartment on Osoyoos Crescent, another half dozen years renting from UBC's Village Gate Homes. We now live in one of the few co-development housing projects built by UBC in Hawthorn Place. The Board is a place where we can actively make a difference in housing supply on campus, but  we need clear strong support from governors to do this. Having faculty representatives who understand this is important in making the case at the Board. As we move forward with Campus Vision 2050 we need to ensure university-connected housing is the priority.

We also live in the midst of a climate emergency. In this context we need to be very careful about how we proceed with campus growth. Growth and expansion simply for the sake of growth is no longer socially responsible. However, we have to ensure we maintain what we have, keep up with changes in faculty laboratory and physical plant needs, and ensure our classrooms can support modern teaching.  Many of our buildings no longer provide what the building people call 'thermal comfort.' Many of these buildings also lack in proper and effective ventilation systems capable of keeping people safe with airborne viruses. We need to rebuild a lot of campus infrastructure. 


Living and working on this campus, raising our family here, has kept me connected with many facets of our university world. Living here I meet colleagues I might never have meet if I lived off campus.  I find value in working with colleagues, neighbour's, and friends to keep our community of scholars a great place to be, and strive to make it even better. 

I trust that you will find reason to count me among your choice for faculty governor when you vote in this election.