A fact-finding report has been released into allegations a University of B.C. professor’s academic freedom was violated, in the wake of the university’s leadership scandal.
It turns out, the university is in the wrong.
And now, it’s announcing a high-profile resignation.
Academic freedom not protected or supported
The report from former judge Lynn Smith says UBC failed to protect or support Jennifer Berdahl’s academic freedom, after her blog post in the wake of Arvind Gupta’s resignation as university president.
But Smith isn’t pointing fingers at any individuals, including then Board of Governors Chair John Montalbano, who Berdahl accused of trying to muzzle her.
Smith says while there was no intention to interfere with academic freedom, “sometimes, several relatively small mistakes can lead to a failure in the larger system.”
Despite not having blame placed on him directly, UBC says Montalbano handed in his resignation Wednesday night.
It came just after the Board of Governors reaffirmed his leadership.
Montalbano had previously stepped aside during the investigation.
University promises action
In a statement, UBC says it accepts the findings of the report.
It’s also is pledging to undertake a variety of actions, including hiring a specialist to protect academic freedom .
Interim President Martha Piper says UBC has a “positive obligation” to support and protect academic freedom, and clearly, that’s not well understood.
Piper says the university must now proactively change that.
UBC goes on to say its Board of Governors is thanking Montalbano for his years of service, and strong leadership.
In a new post, Berdahl says she is disappointed university leaders put the feelings and concerns of a powerful donor ahead of their responsibility to protect academic freedom.
But Berdahl says she is heartened by the reaction of students, faculty, the academic community and the public.
Mark Maclean, the president of UBC’s faculty association says Montalbano’s resignation is a good step toward accountability.
“We’ve had leaders of the board of governors who were also part of the series of events that led to that outcome, so I think some responsibility taken on by those leaders going forward is important.”