Faculty’s motion of no confidence in BoG passes

The Faculty Association (FA) has passed a motion of no confidence in UBC’s Board of Governors.

After being moved and seconded at a general meeting on March 22, the FA — which represents 3357 faculty members at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan, including professors, librarians, archivists and program directors — held voting online for a week. There were 800 members who voted in favour and 494 who voted against.

In terms of total membership, 23.8 per cent of eligible voting members were in favour of the motion, 14.7 per cent were against it and 61.5 per cent did not vote.

“Today’s result indicates that there is deep concern amongst many faculty members about the board and governance issues,” said Mark Mac Lean, president of the FA, in an email to The Ubyssey. “The board needs to deal seriously with the issues we have been raising over the past several months, such as openness and transparency, management of conflict of interest and the way that the board operates.”

Mac Lean said the FA will be presenting at the board meeting in April with suggestions on how the board could fix its governance issues.

Practically speaking, the no confidence motion does not have any immediate discernible effects. The Board of Governors does not technically need the confidence of the faculty to continue functioning.

However, it does not encourage cordial relations between the two groups. Mac Lean hopes that the motion will begin a warming in the relationship.

“I hope that the Board of Governors will begin to engage with the Faculty Association, which is the representative body for faculty at UBC,” he said. “For months, we had been rebuffed in our efforts to generate the meetings with the board that are necessary to move the university past its current governance crisis.”

Mac Lean noted that he received a letter today from Stuart Belkin, chair of the Board of Governors, in response to Mac Lean’s concerns about the small amount of time the FA has been allocated to present at the April meeting.

“Mr. Belkin has assured us we will have sufficient time to present and discuss faculty concerns and suggestions with the board. I'm taking this is as a sign of a significant thaw in relations. That said, we have some difficult conversations ahead,” said Mac Lean.

In a statement released today, UBC Vice-President, External Affairs Philip Steenkamp pointed out that although the FA was a crucial bargaining agent and an important voice for faculty on campus, the faculty also has three representatives at board level.

“I know that the board is looking forward to this discussion and to a thoughtful consideration of the views of all representatives as they work to improve board practices under the guidance of a renewed board that includes seven new members — five newly appointed members and two newly elected student members,” said Steenkamp in an email to The Ubyssey.

“We take the concerns of the Faculty Association very seriously and we look forward to a respectful and ongoing dialogue about improving governance practices. We are committed to working towards continuous improvement in all that we do.”

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