August 20, 2015 - 10:30 AM
VANCOUVER - Faculty members at the University of British Columbia are calling for the immediate resignation of the man at the centre of an ongoing dispute over academic freedom.
Board of governors chairman John Montalbano came under fire from the faculty association and Prof. Jennifer Berdahl after UBC's president quit in early August.
Berdahl accused Montalbano of trying to muzzle her over a blog she wrote about Arvind Gupta's resignation, and the faculty association previously asked the chairman to step aside so an investigation could take place.
The group's new demand for Montalbano to resign follows his request Tuesday for Berdahl to file a formal grievance under the collective agreement.
The faculty's association says Montalbano spoke to the media, contradicting an earlier statement in which the university declined to comment until the matter had been resolved.
The group has accused Montalbano of mobilizing the entire university "system" in his own interest and says it no longer seems possible to handle the process under the collective agreement.
"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," said Mark Mac Lean, president of the faculty association.
"His handling of Professor Gupta's resignation and his mismanagement and subsequent events are now compounded by breaches of standard protocols, and leas us to believe that his resignation will be in the best interests of the university and the public."
The Opposition New Democrats are also criticizing the board of governors, saying it is operating in chaos, secrecy and conflict and putting the school's reputation at risk.
Berdahl, gender and diversity professor at the Sauder School of Business, received funding for her position from Montalbano.
Montalbano has said he did not threaten to pull the funding or criticize her for "embarrassing" UBC's governors.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015