Notes on Academic Freedom Dialogue hosted by UBCFA

Robert Lee Auditorium in the Alumni Center, UBCFA Fall General Meeting:

My central takeaway from the discussion below and the preceding actions by the Sr. Advisor on Academic Freedom is that faculty at UBC should be concerned. Guppy's Historical Note on academic freedom at UBC references the Smith report but presents no analysis of the issues surrounding the Berdahl Case. Why? When asked about the lack of consequences to senior and honorific administrators who collectively violated academic freedom at UBC, Professor Guppy confirms that the history shows that there are no consequences. His position is not equipped with any authority other than to provide guidance. When pressed, Professor Guppy pointed out that his role is to advise the Provosts and that he was not appointed by the President. However, the position that Guppy presently occupies was created by M. Piper. The terms of reference in the announcement of the position promises that UBC will hire a "specialist who will proactively work with faculty, staff, and governors to ensure that academic freedom is safeguarded and preserved at UBC." Guppy has previously reported that he does not have access to the full Smith report. Why? And why wouldn't he demand access to that document to carry out his charge? Between the time of Piper's promises and today, it seems that the important role of the Sr. Advisor on Academic Freedom has been directed to avoid interacting with any aspects of the Berdahl/Gordon/Helsley/Montalbano case that launched the position.

UBCFA Fall General Meeting, Tues. Oct. 24

Posted on October 10, 2017 at 1:00 AM. Technical delays led to the meeting actually starting at 1:13pm.

Join us for a Dialogue on Academic Freedom,

presented by Dr. Neil Guppy, Professor of Sociology &

Senior Advisor to the Provost, Academic Freedom

The UBCFA Constitution requires that a general meeting be held every Fall term. This year, the first order of business will be to appoint Hedden Chong LLP as auditors for the 2017 fiscal year. Following this, Professor Neil Guppy will lead a Dialogue on Academic Freedom.

Date and Time: Tuesday, October 24th starting at 1:00 p.m. Locations:

Robert H. Lee Family Boardroom, Alumni Centre

(6163 University Blvd)

UBC Okanagan (Video Conference) – Sci 331

We hope you can join us!

Faculty Association Executive

Nancy Langton brings the meeting together at 1:12p. The agenda is approved. The auditors are approved. The business actions are carried out very efficiently.

Neil Guppy

This is (essentially) identical to the presentation I gave to the Board of Governors. He highlights the intial tasks:

This presentation was delivered many times across campus. The one thing that has changed up about this....I did not know that much about academic freedom when I stepped forward for this role. Many things come out of the blue and I've found the topic to be expansive and surprising. Does academic freedom apply to staff? I'd say yes at this time.

UBC Senate statement (1976) on academic freedom

What is academic freedom?

At what point should a Dean be able to criticize a strategic plan for the university? Is there a line where the critique of the administration should not be allowed? cites the Potter case at McGill. M. Piper, wrt this line, would not be able to speak her personal opinion since she would be speaking on behalf of the university.

My own view is that UBC is good on a, b and not so good on c, d.

Smith report remarks

Gupta....Montalbano/Berdahl.....slide changed too fast for me to keep up.

The public version of the Smith report is up online. Key points

Who has academic freedom?

Who controls academic freedom?

Restrictions and Responsibilities

Is academic freedom more than "freedom of expression"?

Specific Issues of Academic Freedom


How do we handle the collision between the university and an individual?

What are the consequences for the failure to defend of academic freedom? When Justice Smith finds that Mr. Montalbano, Chancellor Gordon, and the leadership at Sauder contributed to a collective failure of academic freedom at UBC, why are there no consequences? OK, Mr. Montalbano resigned by the Chancellor, a position that is meant to be honorific, was reappointed to the Board. What is the impact of violating academic freedom?

What would you do now if a case like Berdahl/Montalbano arose again?


Buckingham case at USask

Issue with grade changes case

Who owns the content created for online courses?

The meeting closed at 1:59pm.

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