UBC to investigate alleged intimidation of professor by board of governors chair

August 19, 2015

The University of British Columbia has said that it will investigate allegations that the chair of its board of governors criticized and attempted to intimidate a faculty member for blog posts she wrote about the sudden resignation of former president Arvind Gupta. Jennifer Berdahl, a professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, said she was first contacted via email by Board Chair John Montalbano after she tweeted that UBC “failed either in selecting or in supporting [the president].” She added that Montalbano contacted her again several days later after she had written a blog post titled “Did President Arvind Gupta lose the masculinity contest?” According to Berdahl, Montalbano told her that he was embarrassed by her comments and that he would speak to her faculty dean about “the trouble [she] was causing.” Interim UBC Provost Angela Redish and Interim University President Martha Piper have issued a statement affirming that the university does not tolerate any suppression of academic freedom and describing the allegations as “unproven and untested at this time.” Globe and Mail | Inside Higher Ed | Times Colonist

Postscript: August 27, 2015

UBC Board Chair John Montalbano has announced that he will temporarily step down, handing the reins to Vice-Chair Alice Laberge. Montalbano will leave his position for the duration of the fact finding process being conducted by the university and the faculty association in response to the allegation that he intimidated professor Jennifer Berdahl after a controversial blog post. UBC | CBC | Globe & Mail | National Post | CTV News (CP)