John Montalbano

October 15, 2015 14:29 ET

Statement from John Montalbano

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Oct. 15, 2015) - It has been my pleasure and privilege to serve on the Board of Governors of the University of British Columbia, an institution for which I have great respect. During my term as Chair, many difficult and important decisions were made by the Board of Governors, and they were always made in the best interests of the university. The Board of Governors has a fiduciary duty to manage the affairs of the university ensuring strong governance, fiscal responsibility and the highest ethical standards. I believe UBC's Board of Governors, a group of volunteers comprised of students, staff, faculty and community leaders, has upheld such responsibilities in an exemplary manner.

Some recent events have received a meaningful amount of attention and resulted in a fact finding process conducted by the Honourable Lynn Smith, QC.

I am gratified that Ms. Smith's report confirms that I was mindful of the need to protect Professor Jennifer Berdahl's academic freedom, that I acted in good faith and that my intentions were not to infringe on Dr. Berdahl's academic freedom when I spoke with her.

In Ms. Smith's words: "Mr. Montalbano, on his own, did not infringe any provision of the Collective Agreement, the UBC Statement on Respectful Environment, or any of the applicable university policies."

Ms. Smith's report states that no single individual bears responsibility, but that the institution as a whole failed in its responsibilities to support academic freedom. UBC is taking steps to address its responsibilities and I endorse those actions.

Moreover, The Honourable Kenneth J. Smith, Conflict of Interest Administrator to the UBC Board of Governors, was asked by me to review my activities relative to the Code of Conduct for Members of the UBC Board of Governors. Mr. Smith found that I acted in good faith and that I have no perceived or real conflicts on the resumption of my duties as Chair.

Based on the findings of those two reports, the UBC Board of Governors has asked that I resume my duties as Chair.

I feel, however, that my presence might serve as a distraction from the important work facing UBC in the months ahead. The fiduciary duty of a governor of the university is to place the interest of the university first. Therefore, despite the wishes of the Board, I am declining the offer to return as Chair and will resign from the Board of Governors. In so doing, I hope that the university and its key stakeholders can move forward harmoniously to ensure that we remain focused on the teaching and research mission of the university, as well as attract superb presidential candidates worthy of this fine institution.

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