Dr. Minelle Mahtani to leave position as senior advisor to the provost on racialized faculty

Dr. Minelle Mahtani is leaving her position as senior advisor on racialized faculty to VP Academic and Provost Andrew Szeri at the end of this month.

VP Academic and Provost Andrew Szeri announced Mahtani’s departure in a statement released Thursday afternoon. Mahtani will be completing a faculty fellowship at UBC’s Public Humanities Hub and will be the new 2021/23 Brenda and David McLean Chair for the faculty of arts’ Canadian studies program.

“We are very pleased for Dr. Mahtani, but sad to be losing her many contributions in the Provost’s Office,” Szeri wrote.

Mahtani wrote in a statement to The Ubyssey that she had “mixed feelings” leaving the role.

“We are [at] a time of racial reckoning at the institution, where we must come face-to-face with the recognition that the complicit history of its white supremacist foundations have inextricably informed the experiences of racialized faculty – past, present and future,” she wrote.

“I feel happy that some of the scaffolding I have put into place, in some small way, created a space for a different kind of living at the university for some racialized faculty, but I am under no illusion that ultimately we require and must demand systemic changes to ensure that we not only recruit, but also retain and promote, more racialized faculty.”

Mahtani served as the Provost Office’s senior advisor since September 2018, providing support to UBC’s institutional commitments to advance equity and inclusion in the scholarly and leadership environment for faculty members. Her two-year term was renewed in September 2020, according to the statement.

During her first term, Mahtani created the IGNITE book club series, where racialized faculty interviewed racialized writers, the Provost’s Distinguished Lecture Series on Race and Leadership and a roundtable with communication experts to discuss the best ways to share stories related to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Other accomplishments include influencing policies that promote equity for racialized faculty and providing recommendations to support UBC’s leadership to create a welcoming and inclusive community for these faculty members.

“I wish to thank Dr. Mahtani for all the work she has done to advance opportunities for racialized faculty at UBC, and offer my heartfelt congratulations to her on the exciting new opportunities that lie ahead,” Szeri wrote.

Mahtani is also a member of the Task Force on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence, created after President Santa Ono made extensive anti-racism commitments last summer. The task force is expected to release recommendations and a final report at the end of the summer.

In her statement, Mahtani said she was pleased at the “exhilarating success” of the National Forum on Anti-Asian Racism and the “visionary foundational principles” of UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan.

“The time is now. Regardless, I will continue to be a fierce advocate, wherever I am placed, to work for this change at UBC. We deserve to see it,” she wrote.