Board Governance Update

On behalf of the Board of Governors I am writing to give you an update on actions the Board is taking to address governance concerns raised by members of the University community.

I am aware that the Faculty Association met yesterday to discuss a motion of no confidence in the UBC Board of Governors and is currently holding an electronic vote of its membership. While the primary faculty role in University governance is through the elected faculty members on the Board and on the Senates, we respect the views of the Faculty Association as we do other organizations at the University.

To this end, the Board has invited representatives of various University groups to attend the April 14 Board meeting to discuss concerns about governance. This meeting will be an opportunity for invited groups to provide written submissions, verbal presentations, and to engage in discussion. We also welcome written submissions or comments from any members of the University community to bog.ubc@ubc.ca.

webcastView the meeting via live webcast on April 14, 2016
(8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.)

The Board looks forward to this discussion and will listen to and consider the views and recommendations of these representatives as it works to improve Board practices. As newly appointed Board Chair, I have asked the Governance Committee to review the rules and procedures that govern meetings. In my view, most Board items should be considered in sessions that are open to the community; some items of a sensitive nature, usually involving personnel or commercial matters, may need to be reviewed in confidential sessions, but these will be the exception. Furthermore, we will be working to ensure that notices for every Board meeting are posted publicly, and that minutes of open sessions are posted for public review in a timely fashion.

The Board is undergoing significant renewal. In addition to five newly appointed members, we will be joined at the April 14 session by two newly elected student members.  Board members (elected and appointed) come from a variety of backgrounds, bring a wide range of skills to the job and many have previous board experience. We are indeed fortunate to have such a wealth of talent to draw on to chair and serve on the various committees and provide critical advice on the many issues that come forward for consideration and decision. I have full confidence in all Board members and I want to commend them for volunteering significant time and energy to Board duties. With a renewed Board and a commitment to good governance, we are determined to earn the trust of faculty, staff, students, alumni and the broader community.

In 100 short years, UBC has advanced from small beginnings in ramshackle premises on the Fairview slopes to a large, world-renowned institution with beautiful campuses in Point Grey and the Okanagan. This outstanding record is one that reflects significant public and private investment, the strength of the bicameral form of governance, and, most importantly, contributions of exceptional students, faculty, staff and alumni. We on the Board are honoured to be part of this tradition and are committed to act in the best interests of the University, moving it from strength to strength.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the Presidential Search Committee. There is no more important task facing the University right now than the selection of a new President. I am encouraged that the Committee, mandated by the Board and the Senates, is making good progress on this front and is on track to name a new President by June 30, 2016.

On behalf of the Board, I want to thank all the groups that have confirmed their interest in presenting to the Board on April 14. Their views and those of other members of the community will help inform the actions we will take to strengthen board governance.

Stuart Belkin
Chair, Board of Governors