This afternoon John Montalbano, chair of the UBC Board of Governors, sent The Ubyssey a statement in response to recent allegations that he infringed on the academic freedom of a UBC professor.
Montalbano began by thanking the Board of Governors for their continued confidence in his leadership, in the face of calls for his resignation.
"My intention in contacting Professor Berdahl … was to discuss her blog post and to further understand the professor’s concerns," the press release states. "I asked the professor if she would be comfortable with discussing the blog and, in particular, I asked if she thought the discussion would in any way compromise her academic freedom.… At no time did I ask the professor to retract any of her blog and at no time did I threaten her funding. In fact, I reinforced that her funding would continue. At no time did I intend to impinge her academic freedom. At the end of our telephone call, Professor Berdahl agreed that we had a productive conversation and though we didn’t agree on all points, she confirmed that I did not ask for any retraction, that I affirmed her funding and did not interfere in her academic freedom. Given this, I’m sure most people can understand that I’m upset and hurt by the allegations that our call was an impingement on the professor’s academic freedom. I have immense respect for Professor Berdahl and I am saddened that our interaction has caused her such concern."
The statement ended by reiterating the Board's committment to a thorough and transparent investigation of this matter. Montalbano noted that he looks forward to working with Martha Piper, UBC's incoming Interim President as of September 1.