#UBC appoints VP communications in thick of PR disaster #ubc100 #ubcnews #caut #bced

by Stephen Petrina on September 22, 2015

With the University of British Columbia wallowing in the depths of a legitimacy crisis of administration, the longtime Ontario and BC Liberals deputy Philip Steenkamp was appointed the University’s new Vice-President, External Relations and Communications. Obviously, his communication with the BC Liberals will be easy.

VP Steencamp’s real test is communication and PR with the community, including, most locally, faculty, staff and students, and media who have lost confidence in UBC’s senior and middle executives and managers. That’s a tall order.

So we shall now see what a $300k+ salary buys an administration in crisis. We shall now see if the new VP can rescue UBC, basically his Office of Communications and Community Partnership and the Public Affairs Office, from its PR bloopers and blunders, including the handling of Chair Montalbano and BoG in the press.

MacLean’s called out the Public Affairs Office as a PR “disaster” while the Ottawa Citizen says UBC’s sunk deep into “damage-control.”

The previous VP Communications, Pascal Spothelfer, came and went in two years.

In the meantime, interim President Piper has yet to shake up PR and the senior admin. Something has to give…


frank 09.23.15 at 10:47 pm

Subject: Important Announcement
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 2015 12:58:52 -0700 (PDT)
Thread-Topic: Important Announcement
Importance: high
To: sfu-faculty-staff
From: Andrew Petter
Dear SFU Colleagues:

I am writing to let you know that Philip Steenkamp, Vice President of External Relations, will be leaving SFU on November 30, 2015 to take up an appointment at UBC as Vice President, External Relations and Communications.

Philip has been with us for four years and during that time has created an effective, service-oriented portfolio supported by a capable team. Among his many achievements are the development and delivery of strategies for Government Relations, Communications and Marketing, Community Engagement, and Internationalization. I also want to thank Philip for his contributions to the implementation of key initiatives such as the strategic vision, SFU Public Square and SFU’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. He has provided important leadership to the Surrey and Vancouver campuses and worked hard in support of the Woodard’s Cultural Unit, Centre for Dialogue, SFU Art Galleries, Bill Reid Gallery, SFU Community Trust and the United Way campaign. He also deserves thanks for taking on the role of Acting Vice President, Finance and Administration over the last few months.

I have valued Philip’s judgment and creativity, his ability to manage multiple tasks, and his calm and collaborative approach to issues. Please join me in thanking Philip for his service and wishing him well in his new position.

I will provide further information in the coming weeks of my plans to replace Philip in this position.

Andrew Petter
President and Vice Chancellor
Simon Fraser University

Stephen Petrina 09.24.15 at 7:17 pm

Thanks so much frank, for sharing this Important Announcement. Yes, yes, yes, throwing a good birthday party is important. We have much to learn from the more youthful SFU when it comes to partying. And this transition date is a sign of true service to the university system. VP Steencamp is not even taking a single day off as he makes the transition from SFU to UBC. On the same day, driving across town, emptying the SFU office and unpacking into the UBC office. And if the two universities really wanted to share executives, and if the BC government really wanted to cut back on postsecondary expenses, they would give dual appointments to the execs. For example, there is no reason why President Petter couldn’t preside over both SFU and UBC, both campuses, at the same time.

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