#UBC Dean Search shut down and Advisory Committee dissolved

by Stephen Petrina on December 11, 2020

Responding to a Petition and attached Letter (below) questioning the decision to exclude an extremely competitive African Canadian applicant from the shortlist in the search for a new Dean of Education at UBC, President Ono shut down the search and dissolved the Advisory Committee. The UBC President also indicated that Provost and Committee co-Chair Ananya Mukherjee Reed resigned from the Committee, seemingly in support of the conclusions and questions raised by the Petition and its 150 signatories.

On 9 December 2020, the UBC President wrote to faculty, staff, and students:

Yesterday, I received Prof. Ananya Mukherjee Reed’s resignation as co-chair from the President’s Advisory Committee for the Recruitment of a Dean for the Faculty of Education. This is effective immediately. I met with the PAC Committee yesterday and heard from members regarding the viability of the search moving forward, and they felt that the search could not proceed. After careful consideration and consultation with the Committee, I have decided to end the current search for a new Dean at this time.

Of course, it is extremely rare for a Dean search to be cancelled in response to grass roots efforts. It is certainly a step in the right direction of accountability. A next step is answering the various questions raised about this Advisory Committee: Why did they do what they did? In the midst of Black Lives Matter, why did they exclude a competitive African Canadian applicant?


November 26, 2020
Dear President Ono,

This Letter and attached Petition are in response to the President’s Advisory Committee for the Selection of the next Dean of the Faculty of Education’s decision to exclude Dr. Samson Nashon from its shortlist. I write on behalf of the 150 faculty, students, staff, alumni, emeriti, and community members who signed this Petition to add Dr. Nashon to the shortlist. The Petition identifies flawed procedures underwriting the President’s Advisory Committee’s decision. For example, the Committee excluded African Canadian faculty, staff, and students

The University of British Columbia’s Strategic Plan, Shaping UBC’s Next Century, emphasizes “our intention to be a leader in diversity and equity” (Strategy 1: Great People, p. 41). Leadership in diversity and equity entails fighting against racism at all levels of administration, research, service, and teaching.

The 150 signatories to this Petition expect action to back up the commitments. We hope that you will address our collective concerns, convey them to the President’s Advisory Committee, and consider what can be done to redress the problem and rectify the injustice. This raises a serious procedural question of how a Committee that excluded Dr. Nashon from the shortlist can now fairly include and consider his candidacy?

The Petition with signatories is attached. On behalf of this groundswell of support for Dr. Nashon’s candidacy, thank you very much for addressing our concerns and request.

Respectfully, the [150] signatories of the Petition.

cc. Dr. Andrew Szeri, Provost and Vice-President Academic, UBC Vancouver (Co-chair)
Dr. Ananya Mukherjee Reed, Provost and Vice-President Academic, UBC Okanagan (Co-chair)