Academic freedom download Smith report on Berdahl case #UBC #ubcclean #ubc100 #ubcnews #bced

by Stephen Petrina on February 8, 2016


Download full Smith Report

On 7 August, the University of British Columbia announced the sudden resignation of President Arvind Gupta. The next day, Professor Jennifer Berdahl queried whether he lost a masulinity contest. The UBC Board of Governors Chair, John Montalbano, took exception to this query and expressed to Berdahl his dismay. Sauder School of Business administrators also objected and requested she downplay the post and tread carefully so as not to insult financial donors, such as Montalbano, when speaking and writing.

On 17 August, Provost pro tem Angela Redish and Interim President Martha Piper issued an important Statement from UBC on Academic Freedom.

On 25 August, UBC and the Faculty Association agreed to find the facts of the “alleged breaches” of academic freedom. On 15 October, UBC released a 10 page summary of the 84 page Report written by the Honourable Lynn Smith. The Summary is peculiar in its exclusion of any facts of administration or management.

Following a Freedom of Information request, the University disclosed the full Report, albeit heavily redacted.

In the full Report, Smith offers a very helpful analysis of academic freedom, reaffirming “the ‘right to criticize’ either UBC or other societal or governmental Institutions” (p. 21).

Part and parcel of academic freedom, criticism or critique of University management, managers, decisions, and direction was reaffirmed in June 2015 in BC in a case involving faculty member George Rammel’s academic freedom in criticizing the Capilano University President’s directions and decisions.

The Berdahl and Rammell cases, combined, are extremely important for academic freedom.

Academic freedom includes criticism or critique of the management of the University or Faculty, etc. without fear of reprisal or sanction.