UBC: Undeveloped-Brain-Cs (by Adam Goodwin)

UBC: Undeveloped-Brain-Cs

by Adam Goodwin | 2015 | Last Updated: August 19, 2015

Blog Title

If you are wondering about the title of this blog post, here is some background.

Recently, The University of British Columbia’s (my alma mater) president resigned only 13 months into his 5 year contract. Since the events have unfolded, there have been a series of behaviours that have led some to question the senior leadership and management of the university.

In business, the “Cs” can represent the C-suites – the CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CMOs, et al. – the organization’s senior leaders and managers. So the title is meant to suggest that UBC’s current leaders need to learn a few things about how to run a world-leading university.

Below is a rough series of events, key individuals, and background information.

Key People in this Blog Post

  • Arvind Gupta, UBC’s 13th President, and resigned in early-August 2015 (Wikipedia bio);
  • Jennifer Berdahl, UBC Professor in the Sauder School of Business (UBC profile);
  • John S. Montalbano, UBC Board of Governors Chair (UBC profile);

The Events

  • August 7, 2015: UBC press release stating that Arvind Gupta, UBC’s president, has resigned only one year into a five year contract (UBC press release; Globe and Mail article; CBC piece);
  • August 9, 2015: The Georgia Straight (a Vancouver-based news outlet) publishes an article outlining a blog post by Jennifer Berdahl (Georgia Straight article).
  • August 9, 2015: Inside Higher Ed’s Kris Olds publishes an article that may help frame the resignation and feelings afterwards (feature);
  • August 10, 2015: Berdahl’s blog post published questioning if Gupta left because of his minority status, and his leadership and management styles (the blog post);
  • August 10, 2015: UBC’s Faculty Association sends a public letter (letter);
  • August 10, 2015: Professor Ghoussoub publishes a blog post on his well-read and respected blog (blog post);
  • August 13, 2015: Nassif Ghoussoub, a very influential and long-time professor of the UBC community, calls for the resignation of BOG Chair, Montalbano (Georgia Straight);
  • August 14, 2015: UBC Board of Governors sends a response to the UBC Faculty Association definding BOG’s commitment and vision for the university (UBC BOG letter);
  • August 16, 2015: Berdahl publishes a blog post suggesting that UBC administrators breached her academic freedom (blog post);
  • August 17, 2015: The Georgia Straight publishes three articles on the series of events (the resignation and Berdahl) in a span of about 4 hours (update on Berdahl; UBC Faculty Association calls for Montalbano to resign; UBC announces it is investigating Berdahl’s allegations of academic freedom breaches);
  • August 17, 2015: The Ubyssey, UBC’s student newspaper, publishes an article suggesting that they stumbled upon an unannounced UBC BOG meeting, and were then told there was actually no meeting (Ubyssey article; Ubyssey video); and
  • August 17, 2015: Several other Vancouver-based media outlets cover the recent developments (Vancouver Observer; VanCity Buzz; CBC).
  • August 17, 2015: Global TV posts a video of one of its reporters chasing the BOG chair after the university tried to distract media (Global TV video)


For background information, here are a few links that may be of interest to you.

  • A list of UBC’s Board of Governors (UBC’s BOG);
  • CBC article from March 2015 outlining the announcement that Gupta would be UBC’s next President (CBC article);
  • Globe and Mail about a body found at Gupta’s house, which is owned by and at UBC (article);
  • Gupta’s twitter account (last tweet was a re-tweet from @UBC on August 5) (@ArvindUBC);
  • Gupta’s profile on his UBC Presidency webpage (UBC webpage for Office of the President);
  • Martha Piper, UBC’s Interm President, and 11th President (before Stephen Toope, who Gupta replaced) sends an email to the UBC community (Piper’s letter);
  • One-on-one interview between Gupta and UBC Public Affairs about Gupta’s vision and leadership philosphy (interview transcript); and
  • UBC news release about the founding of the Montalbano Professorship in Leadership: Women and Diversity (UBC release).

My Thoughts

As I am not fully informed about all of the events leading up to Gupta’s decision to resign, and what has happened since, I will reserve my thoughts for a future blog post.

[August 19, 2015: I have since written a blog post about some of my thoughts. It can be viewed by clicking here.]

Your Call to Action
What are your thoughts on some of the ideas presented in this blog post? Share your opinion by commenting below or on social media!
Further Reading
Based on your reading of this blog post, you may also be interested in: Bucket List: June 2015.
These are one person’s thoughts and opinions.  We welcome your feedback and own thoughts. Feel free to comment below or connect with us via social media.
Adam Goodwin is a Canadian who has lived and worked in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North America, who is currently attending one of the world’s best sport management programs at the University of Windsor.  He is a proud introvert and silent leader.  He has traveled to 50 major global cities around the world, and has worked with universities, non-profits, consulting firms, and sport organizations.  He has family and friends around the world.  Follow his travels, work, projects, and thoughts on Twitter (@adam13goodwin) and on this blog (click on the bottom right-hand corner to sign up for weekly email notifications).

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