Why the UBC Faculty Association Executive has called for the resignation of the Chair of UBC’s Board of Governors.

The Faculty Association sent a letter to Acting President Anji Redish last evening.  This blog post explains our decision to call for the resignation of Mr. Montalbano as Chair of the UBC Board of Governors.  The text of the letter to Dr. Redish is at the end.

Dear Colleagues:

The events at UBC following the unexplained resignation of Professor Arvind Gupta as President have been exceptional. Fallout from the resignation created the unprecedented situation in which the Chair of the Board of Governors is alleged to have compromised the academic freedom of a UBC faculty member. Academic administrators are also implicated in allegations surrounding this incident.

Since these allegations came to our attention last Wednesday, we have been working hard to maintain the integrity of the normal labour relations processes we use at UBC to resolve our grievances. While these processes have been working well as we investigate the roles that various academic administrators have played in this case, established procedures have been compromised as they pertain to the alleged actions of the Chair.

The concerns leading to this conclusion focus on the fact that the University itself has sidestepped standard protocols for handling grievances. More specifically, the Chair of the Board of Governors, the Board’s chief spokesperson, gave public, personal testimony related to the case in a University media release.   We were shocked that this happened in a formal University media release posted on a University website. (This media release seems to have been removed from news.ubc.ca late Tuesday evening.   We have a downloaded copy.)

Mr. Montalbano has confused personal interests with the University’s interests.

As a result of this communication, we had earlier in the day decided to call for Mr. Montalbano to step aside during an investigation of the allegations against him.

By late afternoon, we became aware Mr. Montalbano was giving a series of interviews on radio and television, entirely in contradiction to the August 17th press release signed by Provost pro tem Anji Redish and Interim President Martha Piper in which it was affirmed that: “it would entirely be inappropriate to comment further on the allegations until this process has been concluded.”

And, yet, Mr. Montalbano was doing precisely this in his capacity as Chair of UBC’s Board of Governors.

Finding a sound and proper process inside the University or with the Board for investigation of the concerns around Mr. Montalbano’s behaviours no longer seemed a viable option.

While the University has publicly said that a grievance involving Mr. Montalbano could be managed under our usual collective agreement processes, this no longer seemed possible. Mr. Montalbano is a government appointee, not a University employee, so establishing and implementing a fair process to investigate the Chair of the Board of Governors given that Chair’s dominating presence in and apparent mobilization of the entire system in his own interest seemed challenging, to say the least.

Indeed, even though we had initiated our usual informal processes with the University in a way that made it clear that there were serious allegations against Mr. Montalbano, Mr. Montalbano did not step aside as Chair pending the conclusion of a full investigation.

We have lost confidence that there can be an internal investigation process uninfluenced by Mr. Montalbano, either within our usual labour relations processes or through a Board-driven process.

Consequently, we are calling for Mr. Montalbano’s immediate resignation as Chair of the Board of Governors. He has shown an inability to allow proper procedures to proceed and has used his office as Chair of the Board to engage personally and publicly with the issues under investigation. This behaviour is ill judged and threatens the integrity of ongoing processes.

We did not take this decision to request Mr. Montalbano’s resignation lightly. His handling of Professor Gupta’s resignation and his mismanagement of subsequent events, are now compounded by breaches of standard protocols, and lead us to believe that his resignation will be in the best interests of the University and the public.

Please read our letter carefully.


Mark Mac Lean



Body of the Letter to Acting President Anji Redish. 

Dear Dr. Redish,

The Faculty Association at the University of British Columbia strongly supports and acknowledges the University’s commitment to academic freedom. We particularly support and agree with your unqualified commitment set out in the Statement from UBC on Academic Freedom dated August 17, 2015:

The collective agreement confirms that members of the University have the freedom, within the law, to pursue what seems to them to be fruitful avenues of inquiry, to teach and to learn unhindered by external or non-academic constraints. Suppression of this freedom, whether by the institutions of the state, the officers of the University or the actions of private individuals, would prevent the University from carrying out its primary function.

The principles of fairness and due process are also fundamental to the UBC community, and we must respect the law to ensure all members of the university community are enabled to contribute fully to their endeavours. As such, UBC has rigorous processes in place –- established with the agreement of the Faculty Association –- to investigate any allegation of breach of academic freedom. It is imperative that we follow this impartial process embedded within and protected by the collective agreement before pre-judging unproven and untested allegations at this time.

With those comments in mind, we are extremely concerned and dismayed by the Media Statement from the Chair of the Board of Governors of the University of British Columbia, Mr. John Montalbano, dated August 18, 2015. As you know, Mr. Montalbano’s actions and conduct are the subject of serious allegations. The allegations concern an attack on the very academic freedom cited in your statement and are in relation to the member of whom you speak in your statement of August 17, 2015. This is not all. In addition, serious questions have arisen over the Chair’s perceived conflict of interest involving his position both as Chair of the Board of Governors of the University and as a member of a Faculty Advisory Council. This is further compounded by the Chair’s personal communications with a Dean over internal operational and academic issues concerning a faculty member.

In our respectful opinion, it is wholly inappropriate for the Chair of the Board of Governors to comment on his personal interactions with a faculty member and to then seek to invoke the grievance and arbitration procedures set out in the Collective Agreement to address the concerns raised by the faculty member. Mr. Montalbano is appointed by the provincial government and is not an employee of the University. The procedures available to parties of the Collective Agreement are not his to invoke. Surely, as Chair of the Board of Governors, Mr. Montalbano should engage in more accurate and institutionally aware public communications about University processes.

Mr. Montalbano’s comments in the media release also fail to address the fact that the Faculty Association has, since shortly after the resignation of Dr. Gupta, engaged appropriate labour relations processes with UBC to express our serious concerns and to seek a thorough investigation respecting Mr. Montalbano’s actions and conduct.

Further, Mr. Montalbano should not, in his position as Chair of the Board, comment upon and or address such a process when he is, in fact, the focus of the investigation. Mr. Montalbano’s statement reveals –- once again –- that he fails to understand what a conflict of interest is. He is publicly mixing his personal dismay at the allegations against him with his responsibilities as Chair of the Board, and conflating his own personal interests with those of the University.

While he may, in fact, want to speak personally about the allegations made against him, he should do so only once he has stepped aside as Chair of the Board of Governors. To speak on behalf of the University and as Chair of the Board of Governors, and to release what amounts to a personal defense against the accusations as a University press release, on a University website, is a serious conflict of interest. It is, frankly, an abuse of his position. As was his phone conversation with the faculty member and any conversations on the matter that he may have had with that faculty member’s Dean.

His statement that he “welcomes” the formal grievance process, whenever it should arise, reveals a lack of understanding of basic procedures of the university: an investigation into those aspects of the issues that pertain to internal labour relations has been under discussion since last week, while the precise parameters of the investigation into Mr. Montalbano’s actions are yet to be determined.

By speaking to, and inserting himself publicly, into the university labour relations processes, he appears — once again — to be seeking to be directly involved in internal university affairs. In doing so, he continues to exhibit an inability to understand the seriousness of the conflict of interest allegations he is facing, or the responsibilities and limitations of his role on the Board.

While we understand his desire to speak personally about the allegations made against him, the manner and forum in which he has chosen to do so is utterly inappropriate and simply confirms our lack of confidence in him as Chair of the Board. In this context, we would point out that your statement as released by UBC on August 18 ends with the declaration that it “would be entirely inappropriate to comment further on the allegations until this process has been concluded.” The numerous media appearances by Mr Montalbano today in which he addresses the situation are clearly inconsistent with this key message from your office.

Both you and Mr. Montalbano have publicly committed to an investigation of his actions. Indeed, Mr. Montalbano said today he would welcome such an inquiry.  However, given the extent to which Mr. Montalbano is intervening in internal University processes, we do not believe that any inquiry process could be viable as long as he remains Chair of the Board of Governors, and as long as his personal interests are confounded with those of the University.

All things considered, we have reached the conclusion that Mr. Montalbano should resign immediately as Chair of the Board of Governors of the University of British Columbia.

Yours truly,

Mark Mac Lean


On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Association


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Why did Arvind Gupta resign as President of UBC?

Below is my letter to the faculty of the University of British Columbia.  It was emailed to my colleagues this morning.

I will be having a phone conversation with John Montalbano, Chair of the Board of Governors, shortly.

10 August 2015

Dear Colleagues:

Shortly before 1 p.m. on Friday, I received a phone call from the University to inform me Professor Arvind Gupta would resign as President of UBC effective at 1 p.m. that afternoon, and that a public announcement would be made at 1:15 p.m. This news came as a complete surprise to me, and I have spent the weekend trying to make sense of it.

This was a sudden and immediate resignation, and I am skeptical that the reason for it is simply that Professor Gupta wishes to return to the life of a Professor of Computer Science. We, of course, will not hear directly from Professor Gupta since such resignations typically come with a non-disclosure agreement.

The Board of Governors must explain what transpired to end Professor Gupta’s Presidency after only one year. What caused this leadership crisis?

Over the past year, I had conversations with Professor Gupta about his desire for UBC to thrive as a place where faculty are supported and valued unconditionally. He truly viewed us as his colleagues. Contrary to some of the public speculation since his resignation, he had a serious plan well under development to achieve the goals he set for himself and the University, and faculty were at the heart of his plan.

In support of this plan, President Gupta’s budget decisions were designed to move resources into the academic units, and to mitigate the impacts that high growth rates of student numbers are having on the entire university. As a result, significant amounts of money are set to move from non-academic operations to support research and teaching.

Does Professor Gupta’s resignation mean the Board no longer supports realigning the University’s resources to better support the research and teaching missions?

Professor Gupta saw faculty as the heart of the University and collegial governance as a fundamental principle upon which the best universities operate. Will the Board of Governors continue to use these principles as the basis of its relationship with the faculty?

I believe Professor Gupta’s resignation represents a serious loss to UBC. It certainly represents a failure point in the governance of the University. We need to understand this failure and the Board must recognize that we cannot move on until we do.

I also have questions about the future leadership for the University. We have in progress searches for a Provost and VP Academic, a Vice President Research, and a Vice President External and Communications. Those who fill these positions must ultimately hold the confidence of the President they will serve. What will happen with these searches now? President Emerita Martha Piper has considerable experience as a past UBC President, but should she hire three key Vice Presidents for the next President of UBC?

All of my concerns and questions aside, I am committed to working with Professors Redish and Piper under the same model of trust and openness with which I was able to operate with Professor Gupta. I have every expectation they will want to continue the positive relationship that has developed between the Administration and the Faculty Association over the past year.

I invite you to send me your responses to the President’s resignation. Please email me at fa.pres@ubc.ca.


Mark Mac Lean

President of the UBC Faculty Association



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Conversations with Faculty I: Educational Leadership Stream

I have been meeting with groups of faculty on the Okanagan campus in an effort to better understand the issues these colleagues face.  I have had several such meetings and will report out on them once the conversations they generate with the UBC Administration are far enough along to discuss some of the responses I am getting when I raise issues from these meetings.

The first meeting was with a group of faculty in our Educational Leadership Stream (often called a teaching stream at other institutions).

The following will appear in the upcoming Okanagan Bulletin.

I have been doing a lot of listening to UBCO faculty in the past few months. Academic Administrators, both on the Okanagan campus and down on the coast on the Vancouver campus, have been engaging with me on the issues that you have raised.

When I started inviting groups of members to lunch meetings at UBCO, I knew that I would learn a lot, but I had no idea how passionately our members would share their stories and concerns in these conversations. Some issues are local to the Okanagan campus, but some of the concerns raised need to be addressed in the broader University. I have been discussing your issues with the President, the DVC and the Provosts, all of whom have been responsive.

For the first conversation, I invited those in the Educational Leadership Stream (Instructors, Senior Instructors, and Professors of Teaching) to discuss their issues. These faculty members, who tend to be appointed as singletons or doubletons in departments at UBCO, have vastly different experiences from members in the professoriate, and from those in this stream on the Vancouver campus.  Addressing their concerns seems as much in the hands of the faculty as the Administration.

Collegial governance is an important theme for my presidency and the ways in which our colleagues work with one another to make decisions is as much a part of collegial governance as are the ways that Deans and the President interact with us.

For those in the Educational Leadership Stream at UBCO, there is a mysterious “80:20” rule that erroneously defines their work as 80% teaching and 20% service. (This seems to have come from a memo from the previous Provost.) There are two problems with this rule: (1) there are no percentages in our Collective Agreement to define the workload distribution for any rank, and (2) this rule ignores the added component of “educational leadership,” which is not the same as service, and which is a key component on which faculty in this stream are judged for tenure and promotion.

Moreover, there seems to be a lot of confusion over what is meant by “educational leadership.” In some cases, Instructors have been told not to worry about educational leadership until they are working towards promotion to Professor of Teaching, whereas it is a part of their job from day one.

The SAC Guide has had a working definition of educational leadership for several years (see page 50).  Since most faculty members eventually have responsibilities related to the hiring and tenure and promotion of our colleagues in the Educational Leadership Stream, we should each take the time to understand educational leadership activities so that we can  judge fairly our colleagues in these key collegial processes.

As someone who teaches a subject (mathematics) that many people find confusing, I know that good examples can be important.  This is probably true for understanding “educational leadership” – even a list of activities can be made clearer by some good examples. For pre-tenure Instructors, this may mean having a mentor and seeing examples of CVs and dossiers of successful colleagues in this stream. (Such examples of CVs and dossiers are likely to help faculty who are asked to judge this work, as well.)

Many of our colleagues in the Educational Leadership Stream also feel excluded from the decision making in their departments. Many feel undervalued and that they are treated as lesser faculty members (and, in fact, dislike the term “Educational Leadership Stream” and the titles Instructor and Senior Instructor). Because so many feel isolated in their departments – how can they speak up safely when they are the only one? – I am left wondering how well their colleagues understand how they feel. I can’t imagine any of us intending to treat any of our colleagues thus.

There are some ways in which our Collective Agreement directly supports the inclusion of Instructors/Senior Instructors/Professors of Teaching in departmental governance. For example, the Head must consult with representatives from each of the eligible ranks (and all of these are eligible ranks) in the Merit and PSA process. As another example, departmental workload guidelines should be developed collegially, with participation from members of all ranks.

My advice to Heads (and Deans): If you are making a decision that affects those in a particular rank, consult those who hold that rank.  (Promotion and tenure is a notable exception, but the collegial processes for this are defined in our Collective Agreement.)

As we reported on February 12th in our Bargaining Blog, when the new Collective Agreement is settled, all tenured and tenure-track faculty members in a department will be eligible to serve on the departmental standing committee for initial appointments. This means that those in the Educational Leadership Stream will be eligible to vote on the appointment of their new colleagues, regardless of the rank to which a candidate is appointed. Thus, initial appointments will be collegially determined and departments will need to adjust procedures to incorporate this change.

The Faculty Association will work with Educational Leadership Stream faculty at UBCO to build a network. This network will give these colleagues a chance to work together to support each other and to find a stronger voice for their issues on campus. Already there are strong leaders in this group working on this network, which bodes well for its success.

There were other issues that came up in this meeting, and I will report on responses I have had from the Administration directly to those in the Educational Leadership Stream in a separate communication. I want to be able to give them detailed information on each issue they raised.

If you have any comments on this or any other issues, please send them to me at fa.pres@ubc.ca.

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Governance: Associate Deans and the Hiring Process for Faculty

{Preamble: When I took on the role of President of the Faculty Association, I decided that the governance of our university would be the foremost issue on my agenda.  In my mind, the best universities in the world have strong input from their faculty into core decisions made by their administrations, and so UBC should be using a strong collegial governance model that includes this key feature. This post is the first in a series on governance: Faculty members from several departments raised the issue of Associate Deans sitting on departmental hiring committees with the Faculty Association.}

How would your department react if the Dean were to sit in on its hiring decisions?  What if the Dean were to send an Associate Dean to be part of the discussions instead?

In the 2010 round of bargaining for our Collective Agreement, the Administration presented a late proposal to add Associate Deans to Appendix A, the list of positions excluded from the bargaining unit.  When this became part of the Collective Agreement, Associate Deans became “management.” Consequently, they ceased to be covered by our Collective Agreement and ceased to be members of the Faculty Association.

Even though Associate Deans are “faculty” in the traditional sense of the word, and as defined under BC’s Universities Act, they are no longer peer participants in the key processes for appointments, tenure and promotion,  and merit and PSA that are laid out in our Collective Agreement.

An Associate Dean who goes up for a promotion to Professor would still be put through the usual process for this promotion, but this is a choice by the Administration to respect the nature of such academic decisions rather than an obligation they have arising from the Collective Agreement.

Additionally, Associate Deans are no longer eligible for CPI, merit, or PSA;  in fact, as mangers, their salaries are frozen by a Provincial directive.

As you can imagine, many Associate Deans were upset by this new state of affairs, as were many of the Deans.  I learned from my conversations with Deans that many of them were under the (false) impression that the Faculty Association had tabled this proposal in bargaining even though the proposal actually had come from the Administration.

The Administration disputes that the removal of Associate Deans from the bargaining unit means Associate Deans can no longer participate in the standing committees for appointments and for promotion and tenure in their own departments.  The Administration would not dispute that Deans are excluded from these committees.

In my mind, an Associate Dean is not independent from the Dean for the purposes of any procedures in the Collective Agreement because his or her first duty is to the Dean.

I recently learned that there is no policy that covers the appointment of Associate Deans, which means they can be hand-picked by a Dean with no other input into their appointment to this position.  Thus, Associate Deans could be viewed as avatars of their Deans.

This is a technical point, but an important one. Simply put, Associate Deans have a managerial role in our Faculties that precludes them from acting as regular faculty members in many circumstances. In particular, they have a conflict of interest in many of the decisions that are made at a departmental level because a Dean has a conflict of interest in such departmental decisions.

Decisions related to hiring are arguably the most important decisions made in departments. Certainly, to judge candidates for a tenure-track hire requires in-discipline competence, and so the appointment process is driven by judgments made by faculty in departments.

We expect hiring decisions to be made without interference from the Dean, and a process to do this is clearly established in Part 4 Section 5 of our Collective Agreement. Deans are not completely removed from the hiring process, of course.  Part 4 Section 5.10 states that the role of the Dean is to ensure that the faculty in departments have followed procedures and that their choices are consistent with the evidence presented.  That is, a departmental decision is only a recommendation to hire until the Dean has completed his or her review as defined in Part 4 Section 5.10 (a).  Once the Dean has sanctioned the outcome, the Head may make an offer to the candidate.

The Dean’s review is separate from the process carried out by a departmental standing committee.  This committee is comprised of eligible members of the department.  Faculty members in Appendix A, such as the President, the Deans, and the Associate Deans, are not eligible to be members of this committee.

For practical reasons, many departments choose a subset of the eligible faculty to act as a “search committee” to review candidates’ files, to seek input from the whole department, and to recommend a list of candidates to interview.

Some Deans are appointing Associate Deans as non-voting members to these departmental search committees.  However, any “search committee” is entirely in the purview of the department because its existence is connected directly to the powers and responsibilities of the departmental standing committee set out in our Collective Agreement. Even as non-voting members, the presence of Associate Deans on these committees constitutes unwarranted interference with the right of the faculty in a department to decide independently who should be hired.

The Faculty Association has filed a grievance to stop Deans from appointing Associate Deans to departmental search committees.

It is the Head who oversees the departmental consultation process, and the Dean should not have any direct presence, including through Associate Deans, on the departmental standing committee, and therefore on the search committee.

The Administration believes Deans have a right to put Associate Deans on search committees, even though they acknowledge that they have no right to put Associate Deans on the departmental standing committees.

One of the reasons given by the Administration to support their position is that it is the Deans’ role to ensure equity issues are properly considered in the hiring process.

Equity is the responsibility of all faculty members, all of whom are highly sophisticated professionals.  Deans may promote procedures that incorporate strong equity principles through pre-hiring meetings with the departments or the search committees.  Certainly, such meetings could be (and are, in practice) conducted by Associate Deans for the Deans. Such meetings should be distinct from meetings called to review candidates.

In Faculties that do not have departments, the equivalent of a Head is designated to oversee these processes.  This designated Head-equivalent should not be an Associate Dean because the Collective Agreement asserts that the procedures in non-departmentalized Faculties should mimic those in a Faculty with departments. In particular, for an initial appointment, there must be a collegial faculty committee that is independent from the Dean since that committee would make a recommendation for the Dean to review.

Before the Associate Deans were excluded in 2010, it was common practice to have an Associate Dean oversee hiring processes in some non-departmentalized Faculties, and this was not in violation of the Collective Agreement at that time. Things have changed, but some Deans are not following the changes made in 2010 to the Collective Agreement.

Is it possible for a faculty member who is an Associate Dean to participate in hiring decisions in their own departments as a department member and not as an Associate Dean?  Technically, no.   The individual Associate Deans do not get to declare when they are rank-and-file faculty members and when they are management.

One might imagine a world in which Associate Deans could take part in hiring decisions as colleagues in their own departments, but this world does not exist under our current Collective Agreement.  The Administration would have to table a proposal during bargaining to change this.  They have not done so in the two rounds of bargaining since the Associate Deans were excluded from the Faculty Association.

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UNBC: Faculty Salary Structure a Dead Duck

Career Progress?

Is this Career Progress?

This plot illustrates the reason that UNBC Faculty Association members went on strike:  their career salary structure is out of whack with those of their comparator institutions.  They are asking for some movement towards fixing this.




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UNBCFA Strike: Editor of Prince George Citizen Fears Contrary Opinion?

The faculty at three of UBC’s sister sister research-intensive universities in BC — UVic, SFU, and UNBC —  recently unionized and are in the middle of negotiating their first collective agreements.  The faculty at UNBC went out on strike last Friday to support their bid for a fair collective agreement.  UNBC faculty have anomalously low salaries relative to their comparator institutions across Canada.  The BC Government’s “mandate” approach to public-sector salaries will never address the structural problems in the case of UNBC salaries.

Neil Godbout, Managing Editor for the Prince George Citizen, a local newspaper, wrote an attack piece against the UNBCFA titled “Math doesn’t add up” on the weekend.  Being a mathematician, I found his finger-wagging over the math competency of a UNBC Professor of History quite amusing since Mr. Godbout clearly doesn’t understand the correct mathematical analysis needed to make his arguments. “Oops,” to quote Mr. Godbout.

Mr. Godbout also argues that people who live in northern BC should accept what I call a “northern discount” on their pay.

I wrote a Letter to the Editor in response, and sent it to the Prince George Citizen on Sunday.  It still hasn’t appeared and I have received no contact from the paper to confirm my identity, so I assume he is choosing not to publish my letter.  [Note at 4:10 p.m. on 10 March:  I just heard from Mr. Godbout that my letter will be published by the end of the week.  Apparently there is a queue for letters to the editor that is “first-come, first-served.”  I thank him for his response…..and I have some hope that he volleys back in print!]

So, I share it here:

BC’s research universities are creative engines that drive the innovation we need to diversify the provincial economy. A strong knowledge sector supports growth in other sectors of the economy, so UNBC plays a central role in the economic development of northern BC.

In less than 25 years, UNBC, a research university that provides a strong undergraduate education, has risen from an idea to one of the top universities in Canada in its class. This outstanding reputation is based on the excellent research, teaching, and community engagement of UNBC faculty members.  British Columbians should be proud of this accomplishment.

The faculty at UNBC will continue to produce research and to provide programs that will have a strong northern BC focus. UNBC faculty are motivated to explore the ideas that can shape government and business policy about northern BC. UNBC faculty will help attract and educate a key part of the workforce needed to build new knowledge-based industries in northern BC. As UBC has over the past 100 years, UNBC will grow to become a major economic driver for the province, particularly in the north.

To succeed, UNBC needs to attract and retain the kind of talented professors who will commit to spending their careers building the university. This means UNBC must address the pay gap that exists between it and its top competitors, or UNBC will begin to bleed faculty.

UNBC faculty members are simply asking for compensation and working conditions that match the high level of commitment they have made to grow UNBC into an exceptional university.

The editor of this newspaper has suggested that faculty at UNBC should accept lower salaries than faculty at comparable universities. Indeed, his arguments imply that the citizens of Prince George should expect lower wages just because they live in Prince George. Northern British Columbians should reject any notion of a “northern discount” on their pay.

Oh, and as a mathematician, I must point out that the editor’s “grade 7 arithmetic” approach to calculating average salaries is incorrect. Suppose you have a business with one manager who makes $100 per hour and 9 employees who make $10 per hour. Their average wage is not $55 per hour, but $19 per hour. Those of you making $10 per hour know very well what this means even if you don’t get the math.

Mark Mac Lean

President of the UBC Faculty Association

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Wrestling with Duality

{This post is the first article I have written for the newly revived Okanagan Bulletin, a publication of the Okanagan Faculty Committee of the UBC Faculty Association.  The article is addressed to the UBCFA members at UBCO, but it is relevant for any UBC person who wants to think about what it means for UBC to be a multi-campus university.}

One great university – two great campuses. Google this phrase and the top hit is UBC’s 2006 Annual Report. This vision of UBC has influenced the development of the Okanagan campus since that time. But what does this phrase really mean?

Even before I took office as President of the Faculty Association last July, I knew that I would have to understand the Okanagan campus and its place in the bigger university. More importantly, I knew that I would need to learn how to be the president of a faculty association that represents members on both campuses (and, as it turns out, in many other locations spread around the province) who are covered by a single collective agreement, but whose work contexts are very different. While geography and campus culture are important factors that affect the working lives of UBCFA members, I believe that the way the relationships between our two campuses are defined impacts tremendously how members at the Okanagan campus experience UBC, and also how they experience the Faculty Association.

The Vancouver campus is the larger of the two campuses: more than 85% of the Faculty Association members are in Vancouver, the main Faculty Association offices are in Vancouver, and all but one of the Faculty Association Executive Committee members is from Vancouver. The President of UBC and most of the UBC Executive are also located in Vancouver. It would be very easy in this situation for the Okanagan campus to become an afterthought, even if that were not the intention. After all, UBCO has its own local administration, led by the DVC and Principal, and the Faculty Association has its own local Okanagan Faculty Committee (OFC), led by a Chair who is a UBCO faculty member.   It would be very easy to fall into behaviours on both campuses that make it seem that the Okanagan administration and the OFC were the only ones really responsible for the Okanagan campus. So easy, in fact, that most of us see the campuses as two solitudes.  The reality is, however, that the Faculty Association’s Okanagan members are strongly affected by decisions taken in Vancouver by both UBC and the UBCFA, and so neither UBC nor the UBCFA can afford to ignore its dual identity.

As President of the Faculty Association, it is my job to understand the experiences of our Okanagan members so that I can honestly represent your views when I meet with members of the administration, both in the Okanagan and in Vancouver, and when I am chairing the UBCFA Executive Committee. I also have a responsibility to make sure that the Faculty Association itself serves our members well on the Okanagan campus. This means that I need to hear more from you.

Throughout the rest of this term, I will be coming up regularly to the Okanagan campus and I will be sending out invitations to lunch discussions on various topics and themes.  This will be an opportunity for me to listen to you on issues that you think are important in your lives as UBC faculty members. It will also be an opportunity for me to share with you some of the work we are doing on behalf of all our members.

I look forward to meeting more of you over the next months. Please email me (fa.pres@ubc.ca) if you have any questions or comments.

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