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An Open Letter to the UNBC Board of Governors

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To the UNBC Board of Governors
RE: The Appointment of James Moore as University Chancellor

 

Dear Madams and Sirs,

 

As a proud alumnus of the University of Northern British Columbia, I am writing you to express my dissatisfaction with the appointment of James Moore as university chancellor. As chancellor, James Moore is the symbolic head of the university, and I would urge the Board of Governors to consider what appointing Moore to this position says both about the university and its vision for the future.

The University of Northern British Columbia has recently enjoyed a great deal of academic recognition. (Allow me here to extend my congratulations about your first place Maclean’s ranking.) Given these successes, it is only natural, I think, for the university to celebrate itself by installing a former student as chancellor. However, I have strong reservations about the choice of candidate, and I would like to lend my voice to those who have already called upon the university to reverse its decision to appoint Mr. Moore as chancellor. My objection to Mr. Moore’s appointment are twofold: First, the principles—if they can be called so—which guided Mr. Moore as a Member of Parliament are incompatible with the values of UNBC and the broader academic community; and, second, his appointment was made unilaterally by the board of governors without adequate approval from the university senate and faculty.

As a Member of Parliament, Mr. Moore was complacent with the so-called muzzling of government scientists and his government was often hostile to non-vocational postsecondary education. In addition to this, I am deeply troubled by the relationship between the Conservative Party, whom Mr. Moore represented in Parliament, and Universities Canada. The failures of Mr. Moore’s party to engage meaningfully with Universities Canada and its constituent institutions highlights, in many respects, the inappropriateness of his appointment. To be candid, I am not satisfied with Mr. Moore’s attempt to distance himself from his party’s dismal postsecondary education platform.

The Conservative Party’s recent foray into racially divisive politicking is also incompatible with UNBC’s motto—‘En Cha Huna [He/She Also Speaks]—which emphasises the importance of differing cultural and racial voices within the university community. And while we certainly cannot hold Mr. Moore responsible for his party’s more dubious behaviours, we must remind ourselves of Mr. Moore’s contemptible treatment of indigenous communities and economically disadvantaged persons across Canada. His dismissal of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women undermines the unique and delicate relationship which UNBC has established with local indigenous communities. I would invite the board of governors to please consider whether they can, in good conscience, ask Dakelh Elders to continue blessing future UNBC convocation ceremonies with Mr. Moore sitting upon the chancellor’s throne.

My scruples about Mr. Moore’s character notwithstanding, I am also concerned about the appointment procedure. The UNBC board of governors certainly has the executive authority to appoint a new university chancellor. However, such appointments usually follow the recommendations of the university senate—and the faculty and student groups which are represented therein. I am alarmed by reports indicating that UNBC’s senate was opposed to the appointment. The failure of the board of governors to consult the broader university community when appointing a new chancellor is an egregious display of executive entitlement. But, more than this, it suggests a disheartening level of disunity and contention among the university’s governing bodies. Having recently been named Canada’s best undergraduate university by Maclean’s, I am wondering how UNBC will sustain itself when the foundations on which it is built have been so visibly corroded by an unseemly appointment like James Moore.

 

Best Regards,
Brycen Dwayne Janzen, BA, MA (UNBC), PhD Student (McMaster)

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1 Comment

  1. Paul Sanborn says:

    Way to go Brycen! Let’s hope that the BoG finds a face-saving way to walk this back before any more damage is done to UNBC.

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