UNBC Board of Governors split vote on James Moore becoming chancellor
By Peter Ewart
On February 6, 2016, UNBC Board of Governors chair Ryan Matheson issued a letter to UNBC faculty, staff and students justifying why James Moore should become Chancellor of the university and claiming that the Board “feels he meets the criteria” (1).
But is it really accurate to imply that the entire Board “feels he meets the criteria”? In his letter, Matheson has left out a glaring fact. The UNBC Board appears to have been deeply split over the Moore appointment.
At a closed meeting on November 16, 2015, the Board voted on the appointment. According to a copy of the heavily redacted minutes of the meeting, the members of the Board included 14 individuals. With virtually all other information redacted, the final motion: 2015BIC.11.16.01 states: “That the UNBC Board of Governors appoint Mr. James Moore to the position of Chancellor, at the University of Northern British Columbia, commencing May 1, 2016, for a three year term” (2).
But what was the actual vote at this meeting? According to the minutes, the motion “carried” with 6 opposed and 1 abstention. Given that the membership listed on the minutes included only 14 names, just half (7) of the Board members must have felt that Moore met “the criteria,” while the other half disagreed or abstained.
Unfortunately, those redacting the documents chose to black out the parts that appear to deal with Board members’ discussion and views on the issue. What does become clear though is that the Moore nomination appears far from a consensus decision at even the highest level of the university.
So how do things line up at UNBC regarding this controversial appointment? For its part, the UNBC Faculty Association has expressed strong concerns about the appointment, and both undergraduate and graduate students overwhelmingly voted against it. In addition, the University Senate passed a motion criticizing the Board of Governors for failing to consult the Senate “effectively and sufficiently.”
Most recently, the Confederation of University Faculty Associations (CUFA BC) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) have spoken out about what they consider to be a failed appointment process (3).
Now we know that the Board of Governors itself was deeply split. All of this brings into question why Moore was nominated in the first place, as well as what appears to be a botched, undemocratic nomination process.
Choosing a chancellor should result in the bringing together of the different sectors of the university community. Instead, in this case, we have the opposite – deep division, mistrust, and acrimony (4).
For that, the responsibility lies with the highest levels of UNBC administration and governance which, despite the damage to the university and deep opposition even within its own ranks, have persisted in pushing this controversial appointment through.
Peter Ewart is a columnist and writer based in Prince George, British Columbia. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fry, Greg. “Board of Governors Chair defends Moore appointment. 250 News. February 6, 2016. 2016/02/06/board-of-governors-chair-defends-moore-appointment/
- “UNBC – Chancellor Selection – Document List and Timeline – Part 1 (the decision) https://www.dropbox.com/s/um6lpzieagjc3ct/Chancellor%20Selection%20-%20Documents_Redacted-2.pdf?dl=0
- Fry, Greg. “Pressure on Moore appointment mounts.” 250 News. February 3, 2016. 2016/02/03/pressure-on-moore-appointment-mounts/
- Ewart, Peter. “To be or not to be Chancellor of UNBC.” December 7, 2015. 2015/12/07/to-be-or-not-to-be-chancellor-of-unbc/